Re: [sixties-l] Awakenings - Then and Now

From: Ted Morgan (
Date: Mon Jun 19 2000 - 03:22:39 CUT

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    I appreciate Jvaron's response to my comments & questions about 60s awakenings.
    By focusing on the media aspect, I am trying to pull out those factors that we
    have to consider today in any mobilization that tries to pull the US & world out
    of this horrific globalizing McWorld spin we're in. So there's alot that's
    relevant to Seattle and DC protests, which I hope we can talk about.
    By the same token, in response, I wasn't meaning to suggest that there weren't
    genuine reasons for the militance. In fact, I think the war, in particular, and
    the way (a) it ground on and on and on, irrespective of any antiwar activity or
    public opinion shift, (b) successive administrations (and much of the mainstream
    media --e.g., james Reston in the NYT) blamed the antiwar movement for prolonging
    the war, while they, naturally, 'wanted peace' (!), and (c) the highly
    significant fact of government repression, police violence, and provocation by
    plainclothes agents provocateurs --all drove people to escalate the level of
    confrontation. In short, the watchword became 'whatever it takes' to force an
    end to the war, and as quite a few folks from the Stop the Draft Week in
    Oakland/Berkeley on said the tactic was to make the price of continuing the war
    escalating social chaos and disorder and non-governability at home. Iwas
    involved in quite a few protests, but I never went "on the offensive." Maybe
    because I wasn't cracked over the head with a billy club, maybe because of my
    beliefs about the human on the other end, I'm not sure. But I can't say that the
    militancy was not called for (stopping short of inflicting harm on others, I
    think). I believe it helped end the war; at least it constrained what Nixon was
    able to get away with, put a time pressure on his negotiations, etc. and forced
    him & Kissinger to agree to something they subsequently denounced (and violated
    all over the place) --which ended the war. In that sense, it was worth it.
    But, the cost was the possibility of building a broader movement for radical
    democracy --a movement that would bring it more and more people who recognized
    the bankruptcy of the system in so many respects. As the antiwar movement helped
    to force an (eventual!!!) end of the war, it also alienated much of mainstream
    America. They may have been against the war by 1968, but they also tended to be
    anti-antiwar. We've paid a huge price for that in the years since.

    Ted Morgan wrote:

    > I really enjoyed the post on the whole issue of "awakenings" -- what one
    > might call a process of intense politicization or radicalization -- as
    > activists in the 60s and subsequent generations of activists experienced
    > them. It's a vast subject, so here's just a few initial points:


    > 3) I don't think the "extremism" of the late 60s was as media-driven as
    > people often claim. In my research I am fascinated to learn why some poeple
    > took that radical leap into organized violence. There is, so far as I can
    > tell, no (objective) determinant of why person x would take such a leap, but
    > not person y. For the most part, the folks I study represent one distinct
    > variation on the above pattern, and it was a combination of existential,
    > ethical, ideological and experiential factors that brought them to the point
    > of violence. Yes, the media may have given them an exaggerated sense of
    > their importance and agency, but mostly I detect a sincere (if often
    > misguided) desire to do the hard and risky work of making revolution and,
    > from a moral standpoint, to take a militant stand against the immorality of
    > the US gvt. and broader "sstem." This too, is of course, a simplification --
    > I provide the necessary detail in my manuscript.

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