Across the Western world, the smoldering division is becoming one between unelected wealthy and foreign private investors and the participatory democracies of civic societies with their faltering elected governments. Why did it resonate with so many activists? The SDS manifesto, known as the Port Huron Statement, was adopted at the organization's first convention in June 1962, based on an earlier draft by staff member Tom Hayden. Globally, however, the unfettered appetites of capitalism have created an intolerable human condition. Most of the participants were shaped and informed in part by Marxist traditions. On the other hand, as Richard Flacks, a principal author of the PHS, has noted, we underestimated another realignment: the flight of white Southern voters from the Democratic Party, predicted by Johnson and encouraged by Nixon’s 1968 “Southern strategy.” This resulted in two backlash victories by Republicans (Nixon, Reagan) and the transformation of the white South from solid Democratic to solid Republican. The future of democracy is uncertain, but we are committed to its urgent renewal today. Freedom and equality for each individual, government of, by, and for the people--these American values … In Inspiring Participatory Democracy Tom Hayden, one of the principal architects of the statement, analyses its historical impact and relevance to today's movements. Ms. Baker, as everyone referred to her, was critical of the top-down methods of black preachers and organizations, including her friend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She argued that SNCC should remain autonomous and not become a youth branch of the older organizations. As a result of the civil rights movement, there came a generation of white liberal politicians like Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Al Gore, along with a huge complement of black elected officials from the South, from local sheriffs to Congressmen like John Lewis (a SNCC member) and Jim Clyburn (vice chair under Charles McDew of the South Carolina State student movement in 1960). In June 1962, a group of mostly white, middle-class college students met in Port Huron, Michigan, to draft a manifesto for the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). The technological revolution of the Internet and social media is propelling a global revival of participatory democracy. The new generation claimed that this strategy was based on delusional liberal hopes. Beginning in 1968, the Weatherman (later the Weather Underground) faction surfaced as new “communist revolutionaries,” inspired by the revolutions in Vietnam and Cuba, and the Black Panthers at home. What do Chavez, Gonzales, and Tijerina all have in common? Despite, or perhaps because of, the nuclear near-miss over Cuba in 1962, President Kennedy became an important critic of the cold war before his assassination. However, it stated that this "will involve national efforts at university reform by an alliance of students and faculty" who "must wrest control of the educational process from the administrative bureaucracy", ally with groups outside the university, integrate "major public issues into the curriculum", "make debate and controversy". It was written by political activist… What did we mean by participatory democracy? “It is to this latter yearning, at once the spark and engine of change, that we direct our present appeal.”. It seemed we agreed that we were something new: a movement, perhaps an embryonic blessed community. But the Statement also called for economic democracy, as distinct from the New Deal’s more bureaucratic approach: the major resources and means of production should be “open to democratic participation and subject to democratic regulation.” There was a danger of “bureaucratic coagulation” and too much emphasis in Kennedy’s New Frontier on “problems are easiest for computers to solve.” There should be experiments in decentralization, we said, devolving the power of “monster cities” to local communities seeded with more developmental incentives. When those from an earlier tradition pointed out, sometimes vehemently, that we were not only not new but descendants of the left, the New Left became our hybrid brand. The elite of the World Economic Forum, flying into Davos on corporate jets, were challenged by the World Social Forum, in which thousands of campesinos, indigenous people, workers, students and artists made their way to Porto Alegre, Brazil. Porto Alegre showcased a model of “participatory budgeting,” in which local citizens are directly involved in decisions to allocate public funds for neighborhood needs. The Port Huron Statement correctly predicted that if nuclear war with the Soviet Union could be prevented, there still would be an ongoing “international civil war” between proxies of the United States and Soviet Union. This year marks the first presidential campaign in our lifetime when the gluttony of Wall Street, the failures of capitalism, the evils of big money in politics and a discussion of fundamental reform will be front and center in election debates. But Vietnam wrecked all that, plunging our young movement into five years of draft and war resistance, and provoking an escalated militancy against the warmakers. A massive research and publicity campaign should be initiated, showing to every housewife, doctor, professor, and worker the damage done to their interests every day a racist occupies a place in the Democratic Party. On this episode, Jeremi and Zachary, with guest Dr. Vaneesa Cook, discuss the Port Huron Statement, and the shifting ideals of democracy in America. Early in 1960, the SLID changed its name into Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). The implication was that no genuine explanatory framework existed for a radical US social movement outside Marxism, a thesis that ignored or downplayed deep historical currents of populism, pacifism, religious reform and slave rebellions in American history. The assassination of a president simply wasn’t factored into any models we took seriously about reform or revolution. I am not describing these post–Port Huron Marxist tendencies as mad delusions, as many have. No doubt the crisis that gave rise to Occupy will not be fixed by an election, but that’s beside the point. In a world haunted daily by the prospect of nuclear war, a country roiling in the civil rights movement, and being inextricably drawn into a civil war in Southeast Asia based on the so-called domino theory, what could be a more noble goal? J. Edgar Hoover’s orders to “neutralize” protest leaders are well documented. Tom Kahn, special assistant to AFL-CIO president George Meany and later director of the federation’s foreign operations, was the very person at the League for Industrial Democracy who in 1961 tried to fire Al Haber and me, locking us out of SDS headquarters in New York because he believed the PHS was soft on the Soviets. If so, “participatory democracy” and the priorities of Port Huron continue to offer clues to building a committed movement toward a society responsive to the needs of the vast majority. In foreign policy, the statement took issue with the American government's handling of the Cold War, both the existential threat of nuclear war, and the actual arms race. SNCC played a direct role in shaping my values, as it did with many SDS founders. The Statement therefore included a twenty-page attack on this cold war mentality, half devoted to a proposal for phased nuclear disarmament, half to a welcoming attitude toward anti-colonial revolutions. You may unsubscribe or adjust your preferences at any time. Radical reform depended on independent social movements in combination with awakened progressives within political institutions rather than any revolutionary conquest of state and corporate power. While Occupy could not and would not agree on making detailed demands, it did agree, as noted earlier, on “direct and transparent participatory democracy” as its first principle. After twenty years of celebration, we decided in 1962 that those New Deal reforms were stagnating and insufficient, and that it was time to begin again. Perhaps it would take a vanguard of martyrs to incite an American revolution, or so the thinking went. The overall strategy of realignment envisioned participatory democracy directly connected to a new social movement, one capable of forging a new governing majority on a national scale, with young people as shock troops building a “bridge to political power” composed of liberal Democrats, peace groups, organized labor and the civil rights movement. One of the major differences has to do with anarchism, or “direct democracy,” which plays a major role in the thinking, structure and practice of many Occupy activists. Politicians lied about taking us to war. On May 9, 1970, one week after the National Guard killed four protesting students at Kent State, and after Walter Reuther demanded an immediate withdrawal from Vietnam, he and five others were killed in a charter-jet crash. We asserted a belief that “men [are] infinitely precious and possessed of unfulfilled capacities for reason, freedom and love.” (Use of the term “men” was unquestioned; Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique was one year away.) That’s under attack in an effort to minimize the state. The SDS call for a participatory democracy echoes today in student-led democracy movements around the world, even appearing as the first principle of the Occupy Wall Street September 17 declaration. For the first time, students were thinking of themselves as “agents of social change.” The buoyancy of this strategy, perhaps carried on the innocence of the young, was a momentous break from the culture of the left in those times, which was dispirited by McCarthyism, bogged down in poisonous factional disputes and weighted with the ideological language and baggage of a Marxism that remained foreign to most Americans. The same spirit of popular participation that inspired OWS drove the electoral successes of Latin American nations emerging from dictatorships in the 1990s. tn_pos: 'rectangle_1', The CIA’s role in the AFL-CIO and foreign policy came to light as the byproduct of hearings into tax-exempt foundations by Representative Wright Patman in September 1964, confirming our worst suspicions. Our diagnosis of the prevailing apathy was that deep anxieties had fostered “a developed indifference” about public life but also a yearning to believe in something better. Subscribe now for as little as $2 a month! tn_author: ['tom-h'], I don’t mean to say that all Occupiers oppose reform. SDS developed from the Student League for Industrial Democracy (SLID), the youth branch of a socialist educational organization known as the League for Industrial Democracy (LID). It advocated for participatory democracy … Led by Tom Hayden, the 25,700 word statement outlined a new vision for America’s future, including disarmament, a revised Democratic Party, and … The Reuther wing was tied to Johnson’s leadership and unwilling to break from Meany. This is the fiftieth anniversary year of the Port Huron Statement, the founding declaration of Students for a Democratic Society, issued as a “living document” in 1962. It is also a measure of the depths of despair we fell to in the years to come, a despair that lingers today among those who experienced both the beautiful struggle and the bitter fruit. Tom HaydenTom Hayden, the former California state assemblyman and senator, author, lifelong activist, and Nation editorial board member, died in Santa Monica on October 23, 2016. Most of the thinkers who inspired the early SDS—Mills, John Dewey, Camus, Lessing, James Baldwin—were shelved in search of an ideology that only Marxism seemed to offer. Vietnam seemed to prove that militarism and imperialism were central to American society, whether liberals or conservatives were in power. The authors hoped that the movement would not get sidetracked on single-issue struggles but would stay focused on the broader struggles on all fronts at the same time. Political realignment was advanced that same year when the Supreme Court decreed that voter representation must be based on population rather than the land holdings of growers. – The Port Huron Statement, 1962 Participatory democracy – with its battle-cry "let the people decide" – was the call of 60-some young American activists … The latter had developed a largely anti-communist orthodoxy in the wake of the HUAC and Army-McCarthy hearings. The Port Huron call for a life and politics built on moral values as opposed to expedient politics; its condemnation of the cold war, echoed in today’s questioning of the “war on terror”; its grounding in social movements against racism and poverty; its first-ever identification of students as agents of social change; and its call to extend participatory democracy to the economic, community and foreign policy spheres—these themes constitute much of today’s progressive sensibility. tn_ptype: 'article', The folk music revival was at its peak; the Beatles were just ahead. Even a philosophical anarchist (or “libertarian socialist”) like Noam Chomsky has written in favor of radical reform: There is a state sector that does awful things, but it also happens to do some good things. The Free Speech Movement’s Mario Savio described himself as a non-Marxist radical shaped by secular liberation theology who was “an avid supporter of participatory democracy.” We were all influenced by Ella Baker, an elder adviser to SNCC with a long experience of NAACP organizing in the South. Early in 1960, the SLID changed its name into Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). LID descended from the Intercollegiate Socialist Society, started in 1905. It was an establishment far more flexible, even liberal, that had presided over the growth of the white middle class in the 1950s. Last year’s revolt against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, which continues to this day, was another show of participatory democracy in action. Well, anarchists can’t seem to understand that they are to support that…. We went through a near-death experience during the Cuban missile crisis. Two thousand full-time FBI agents were deployed, with massive use of informants and counterintelligence programs. Soon Northern students were streaming south for the Mississippi Summer Project, in 1964, whose aim was to unseat the state’s white Democratic delegation and replace it with a democratically chosen slate, the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, at the convention that year in Atlantic City. Six years later Ramparts magazine revealed that the secretive Control Group included CIA agents whose work was to promote a pro–cold war global student movement. The civil war between so-called red and blue continues to this day, with the red lines eerily drawn around the Old Confederacy and much of the West where the Indian wars were fought. Facebook and Twitter are credited with a key role in movements from Cairo to the volunteer campaign for Barack Obama. After waiting several years for Wall Street to self-correct, the people of the 1930s began demanding what became the Wagner Act, Social Security, the Works Progress Administration, the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Federal Writers Project, which made life better for generations to come. [2] It issued a nonideological call for participatory democracy, "both as a means and an end",[2] based on non-violent civil disobedience and the idea that individual citizens could help make "those social decisions determining the quality and direction" of their lives. [2] Under Walter Reuther's leadership, the UAW paid for a range of expenses for the 1962 convention, including use of the UAW summer retreat in Port Huron.[3]. The early SDS certainly identified with the Wobblies, the anarchists who organized the 1912 Bread and Roses strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts; the Haymarket Square martyrs; and the historic wildcat strikes across the Western mining country. tn_loc:'atf' The climate of officially sponsored terrorism ebbed in the South, and leaders like the Rev. If that was true, what was the point of depending on mainstream public opinion? In 1966 new SDS leaders rejected the PHS as “too reformist.” It was certainly true; the PHS did envision reforms—substantive rather than token, rapid though not overnight—and revolution was seen more as an undefined aspiration or long-term hope. This led to a language and a form of thinking cleansed of ideological infection, with an emphasis on trying to say what people were already thinking but hadn’t put into words. I was one of many hundreds who moved into inner-city neighborhoods to engage in community organizing against poverty, establishing groups that took over local boards in Newark, New Jersey. It may be wishful thinking, but I believe the evidence is that Kennedy would not have sent 100,000 ground troops to Vietnam, as his successor did (after promising not to). It narrows the domain within which public influence can be expressed. The Statement’s economic program was an extension of the New Deal and a call for deeper participatory democratic reform. He was targeted politically by Hoover and the Chicago police “red squad” before being attacked in his office with a claw hammer by someone who was never apprehended. We are people of this generation, bred in at least modest comfort, housed now in universities, looking uncomfortably to the world we inherit. Though I was already a student editor and a budding pamphleteer, I remember myself, just 22, as a kind of vessel for channeling a larger spirit that was just in the air—blowin’ in the wind—and coursing through the lives of my friends. College enrollments were booming in the 1950s and 1960s, and many students objected to the way college administrators attempted to control their personal lives. 1 percent, who in 1962 owned more than 80 percent of all personal shares of stock. Cuba was one such focal point, and Vietnam became another. in the 1950 sociological study by that title. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the 1962 Port Huron Statement, the founding document of SDS. By using this website, you consent to our use of cookies. On the other hand, the right-wing AFL-CIO foreign affairs department carried on the anti-communist crusade with its covert operations. The Port Huron Statement was the most important manifesto of the New Left student movement of the 1960s. And yet the Port Huron Statement, the manifesto of the New Left issued in 1962 by members of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), still echoes with a modern voice. This argument may be criticized as purely hypothetical, but it tries to capture the immensity of our dream and how close it seemed to our grasp. The unmovable obstacle to the coalition we hoped to build with organized labor was the secret pro–cold war element within liberalism, directly and indirectly tied to the CIA, which was fiercely opposed to our break from cold war thinking. For Zinn, the reforms at best were reluctant concessions “aimed at quieting the popular uprisings, not making fundamental changes.” But were all those reforms meaningless? True The movements of the 1960s challenged the 1950s understanding of freedom linked to the Cold War abroad and consumer choice at home. The statement also presented SDS's break from the mainstream liberal policies of the postwar years. Nor was their deep paranoia unjustified. Starting in the 1980s, pro-democracy movements flourished across Latin and Central America in the wake of guerrilla campaigns. Once again today, there are questions about whether reform is legitimate or enough. Participatory democracy was a psychologically liberating antidote to the paralysis of the apathetic “lonely crowd” depicted by David Riesman et al. The Port Huron Statement was the most important manifesto of the New Left student movement of the 1960s. To submit a correction for our consideration, click here. But we believed that social movements should insist on the democratic reform of state and corporation, not expect their overthrow or implosion. She spoke of and personified participatory democracy. Realignment was embraced by King, Bayard Rustin and Michael Harrington, and was the implicit agenda of the vast March on Washington for Jobs and Justice in August 1963. Of course, there are differences between the Port Huron Statement and the Occupy Wall Street manifesto, but they should not be overstated. These issues were prefigured in the PHS in the briefest of complaints about computerized problem-solving and in the outcry two years later from Berkeley students in the Free Speech Movement, who felt they were being processed like IBM punch cards. It appeared that the SDS demand for new priorities was being recognized when Kennedy initiated and signed a partial nuclear test ban treaty with the Soviet Union in October 1963. A PDF file of a scan of the draft document is also available. Spontaneous democratic demonstrations erupted in Russia late last year, organized on Facebook by young people seeking honest elections. The Vietnam escalation was accompanied by hundreds of uprisings in black communities, with the cost in lives still uncounted and billions of dollars wasted. We have come a long way from the Free Speech Movement’s outrage at IBM cards, to the exploding vista of instant information and interaction that has played a critical role, from the Zapatista uprising and the Battle of Seattle to the recent eruptions of interactive, live-streaming, participatory democracy all over the world. I prefer to wait and see. Even today I find it hard to explain the “power and excitement,” the “dignity” and the “persuasiveness” of this document, which sprawls over 124 pages in book form. The UFW’s four-year global consumer boycott of grapes was a channel of participatory democracy that attracted thousands of new activists. The PHS was even prophetic in condemning the. tn_articleid: [84840], But there is a broad suspicion of seeking reforms that require alliances with top-down organizations, especially with progressive elected officials. But the early SDS saw no alternative to winning reforms from the state and corporate sectors. The legacy of McCarthyism, if continued in the 1960s, would mean that all our work, from the sit-ins to the Freedom Rides to the Port Huron Statement, would be marginalized as taking the wrong side in the cold war. The Port Huron Statement was a broad critique of the political and social system of the United States for failing to achieve international peace and economic justice. AFL-CIO staff were also involved in the US invasion of the Dominican Republic in 1965 and in controlling Saigon’s labor federation, protecting the flow of US military supplies into South Vietnam’s ports during the war. The oppressive paradigm the PHS tried to discredit was the cold war between two blocs engaged in nuclear brinkmanship. It included the November 1969 Moratorium against the war, up to that point the largest peace march in American history; Earth Day 1970, for which. In fact, a few sons and daughters of former Communist Party members were present, but their previous family dogmas and loyalties lay shattered by the crushing of the democratic Hungarian revolution in 1956 and the revelations about the Stalinist gulag by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. The Reuthers helped fund and support the early SDS as well as the UFW and the Southern voter registration campaigns and marches. targeting:{ Typically they would say, “I fought in World War II; I fought in Korea; and all I want before I die is the right to vote.” (Many decades before, the 22-year-old Emma Goldman learned from a similar experience, after an early lecture in which she had scornfully dismissed the eight-hour day as a stupid token demand. Police or troops occupied at least 127 campuses, and 1,000 students were expelled in the spring of 1968 (which, as Kirkpatrick Sale notes, made them instantly draftable). ), The Values section of the PHS reflected our eclectic, existential, sometimes apocalyptic, take on life. As the killing of JFK and the Vietnam escalation were burying the original hopes of SDS, a new radical resistance was taking root, and with it new ideological searching. Instead of the Port Huron concept of a majority progressive coalition, they favored forming clandestine cells behind enemy lines, a formulation that regarded the white American majority as hopelessly racist and privileged. In doing so, they sought the rejection of the extant anti-communism of the time. It was written by SDS members, and completed on June 15, 1962, at a United Auto Workers (UAW) retreat outside of Port Huron, Michigan (now part of Lakeport State Park), for the group's first national convention. 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