Re: AntiDraft Policy - a failed standard of the Sixties

Rich Cowan (
Wed, 7 Aug 1996 08:31:52 -0400

The fact that the antiwar movement lost so much strength when
Nixon announced the end of the draft points to some major
weaknesses in the movement itself.

I'd like some feedback on this proposition, but it seems
that the movement itself suffered from a lack of coordination;
it was structured to short-term national responses but not
really ready to build long-term infrastructure, except maybe
through local community projects. Some trends...

1) SDS had split (was that 1969?) into multiple factions, and
ceased to exist at the national level.

2) The New Liberation News Service also had an internal faction
fight, and lost momentum.

3) Sexism within the New Left alienated women's participation and
a largely separate movement developed for women's liberation.
Ramparts demonstrated sexism within the new left.

4) Students were given the right to vote and much radical energy
was diverted into more mainstream within-the-system activities
such as the Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGS).

If national coordination could have been maintained through stronger
national organizations, would the dropoff in energy have been so

How many organizations started by the new left had a long term
(10-30 year) timeline? On the Right the Young Americas Foundation
was started in 1969 by a Vietnam vet and grew gradually to a $300K
budget by 1983, and now the budget of the group is $3 million!

Now, I was 10 years old in 1972 so I'd appreciate some words
of wisdom...

Rich Cowan

Center for Campus Organizing * Box 748, Cambridge, MA 02142
(617) 354-9363 Rich Cowan,