Re: Pro-democracy movement

Thu, 20 Jun 1996 17:49:16 -0400

Martin writes in response to Julia,

> The sixties, insofar as this relates to a
>widespread youth movement, didn't begin until after the voter registration
>drives in the South.

Although this qualifies the sixties ("as this relates to..."), it is, I think
a far too narrow & decontextualized perception of what the 60s were/are. If
ANYTHING produced the tumult & activism of the 60s, I think the voter
registration drives, especially Freedom Summer, would be right about at the
top of the list of seminal factors (with, of course, other roots back into
sit-ins, Freedom Rides, boycotts, JFK, etc.). Perhaps ironically, it echoes
the bizarre (but convenient) notions of "the Sixties" paraded by conservatives
like Jonathan Yardley, Joseph Sobran, & Allen Bloom.

>Were the sixties, at least substantially, about personal freedom? I have no
>quarrel with that interpretation. Was it about democracy? Well, uh, gee,
>it's not that I want to say anything bad about democracy, nor did the sixties
>for that matter, but that interpretation doesn't ring true. It's a great
>sound bite, but if no one buys it -- and why should they -- why press it? It
>does not illuminate, it obfuscates. Martin

Ok, I'll bite. My book, The Sixties Experience: Hard Lessons about Modern
America revolves around the interpretive contention that 60s movements
converged around a "democratic vision." [I repeat myself.] I argue that
civil rights, black power, (other equal rights movements), the student
movement & the critique of oppressive education, the antiwar movement, the
counterculture, the women's movement, the ecology movement are all linked in
their ideological/philosophical/personal embrace of a vision of democracy
grounded in the full empowerment (liberation, development, fulfillment, etc.)
of all persons through direct participation in their social & cultural
environment. That is, I argue, a vision of democracy with direct links to
democratic theories going back as far as the Athenian city-state, albeit with
modern & postmodern reads (especially on equality). Check it out, Martin.

Ted Morgan