Re: democracy/60s and 90s

Julia Stein (
Mon, 17 Jun 1996 12:48:52 -0400

>So I guess my take on the significance of the sixties is the explicitly
>(antiwar, civil rights, antipoverty, equal rights, etc.) or implicitly
>(cultural) political impulse for democracy --equality, empowerment,
>self-actualization, community, etc.-- is central to what the decade/movement
>etc. was about, and this impulse is on the one hand embedded in part in
>American liberal idealism but on the other hand suppressed by the very liberal
>institutions (technocracy, capitalism...) that prevail in this very modern,
>liberal system.
>Thus those atop this system, reinforced by their own internalization of status
>quo ideology, were/are threatened by this democratic impulse, and thus they
>fought it through scapegoating, selective representation, & other forms of
>propaganda (to say nothing of out & out repression) whenever & wherever they
>could -
Ted Morgan

Thanks to everyone for name of books on decline of '60s movements and also
thanks for reproductive rights statements. And thanks to Ted Morgan for his
excellent post on democracy movement in '60s and anti-democracy movements
from LBJ through Newt Gringrich.

As the '60s history is a now becoming for many a fading memory, the
democracy movement in this country starting right after the American
Revolution has also been forgotten. This movement fought for 3 reforms as
cornerstones of democracy: free public education (including women and
African-Americans); free public libraries; and suffrage. Before 1800s New
England farmer William Manning demanded not only free public schools (for
men and women) but also newspapers controlled by the common people so that
they might be able to protect themselves from the learned gentry. He was
one smart farmer.

I think the '60s was really just an extension of this democracry movement
in that it began with a fight to register blacks to vote: a fight to
extend the suffrage. It took off when northenrn students at UC Berkeley
began to fight for their free speech rights which had been taken away
during the McCarthy period. Free-speech fights occured through the 1960s,
and even extended to free speech in high schools. Teen had rights, too!
Also, there was an explosion of underground newspapers run by civilians and
by GIs. Also, public education was cheap and being extended. My tuition at
UC Berkeley was $180 a year. It was! Really! Low tuition allowed working
class kids to attend.

Reagan began to attack democracy by raising tuition at UC and working to
eliminiate poor kids from UC. Jarvis/Gann anti-taxers in California were
the anti-democratic movement par excellence by convincing the voters to
pass Proposition 13 which has lowered property taxes & made cut-backs in
state services. Cut those libraries! Cut those public schools! Raise those
tuitions! So what if public schools and public libraries are the bedrock of
American democracy--gut 'em. The Communications Deceny Act is integral to
an attack on democracy as it promotes censorship of the Internet and mergia
mania of media conglomerates. Also, Gov. Wilson in California is against
the Motor Votor Act as he really doesn't want people to register to vote.
Also, the courts are attacking low power radio stations (god forbid poor
people have their own radio!). Yesterday President Clinton just came out
for curfews on teens (he wants to protect them by taking away their
rights!). I'm sure that others could come up with more examples of recent
anti-democracratic actions in this country.

Yes, Orwell would be amazed how well the anti-democractic movement has
convinced so many to gut needed government services and cut taxes is good.
It's really brilliant the way Newt Gingrinch at al. can convince people to
attack democracy as a positive good!