two questions/60's
Tue, 14 May 1996 11:31:20 -0400

Two questions arise when meditating on the 60's: 1) why
did the activist/radicals forego liberalism/pragmatism to
develop communities at a time when they had enormous credibility
and support- why did they forego this in favor of an elitist
'marxian' view that developed an 'either/or' proposition that
is interesting philosophically but is suicide in politics.
The radicals, in fact, did exactly what the conservatives
wanted to do but couldn't. That is, undermine faith in liberalism
and destroy not simply goodwill but the patience needed to
develop any number of ideas over time. Ideas such as racial
integration, a more inclusive culture of opportunity, and the
adoption of environmental values. The conservatives, all during
the 60's and 70's, waited on the sidelines and then jumped to
the center as the center disintegrated when the academic/intellectual
types would not support it.
The second question could be phrased like this: why did
academia decline so precipitously from the 60's onward? Those
of us who remember going to college in the 60's remember the
excitement, vitality, connectedness between academia and the
rest of the world, flashing ideas that challenged every orthodoxy
in and out of the academic world etc.
The academic world is now seen (by the looming society around
it) as a marginal arm of the public sector that is supported mainly
for its research/development capabilities--that, and strong football/
basketball programs. What happened? Why does the academic world,
generally, lack credibility and/or compelling interest?
These questions are central when you zero in on what was
happening in America at that time.
I think one of the great lessons of the 60's is that
cultural vitality 'begins' somewhere ie. academia, then moves
onward leaping from one vital node to another vital node until
the generation is exhausted.
Good luck