Re: [sixties-l] Lingua Franca | Who Owns The Sixties?

From: John Johnson (
Date: 09/28/00

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    Just a short retort:
    This article and its sources is the kind of dribble of those in their 
    academic ivory towers SDS always fought against.
    SDS's semi official membership hovered at around 100,000.  That can be 
    multiplied by 10 to get a more accurate figure and multiplied again to get 
    at those SDS's actually directly influenced.
    For instance one campus I organized on had about 6 official member 
    regularly got 50-70 per meeting.  If we had crucial meeting or rally that 
    would grow into the hundreds.  If we called a demonstration the figure 
    would be in the thousands.
    In Los Angeles the vast majority of SDS chapters were on working class 
    campuses, including high schools.  Its true that SDS began with what could 
    be described as intellectuals, though most were activist of one sort or 
    But nation wide SDS was primarily a  working to middle class if you say 
    middle class were the working class folk who had decent well paying jobs at 
    the time.
    SDS had ties and relationships with a wide variety of other groups., Black, 
    Hispanic, Asian, labor, the military, the arts, women,  etc.
    SDS members were prime movers in the Teamsters for a Democratic 
    Union.  They were into practically every realm of society, organizing as 
    they went and many never stopped in 1968, 1972 or any other year..
    SDS was one organized aspect of the movements of the Sixties.  That larger 
    movement forever changed this country in most every aspect.
    But its also true there was a major counter revolution, led by the 
    Government, the right-wing and capitalists.  They killed, jail, disrupted 
    with the funds of the government, while the organizations had barely 
    nothing but their commitment.
    And yes capitalists took some of the superficial aspects of the Sixties and 
    sold them back to the middle class.
    The right wing suburban really middle class Orange County adopted the whole 
    drug and free sex aspect in the Seventies, of course without any of the 
    philosophy of the Sixties.
    Activist of the Sixties continued to organize in the Seventies and were 
    very active in the anti-war in Central American movement in the later 
    Seventies and early Eighties.  This has continued today with this new 
    movement made evident in Seattle.
    Many "ex-SDS" were the organizers behind the actions at the Democratic 
    Party Convention in Los Angeles this August.  And some like myself, proud 
    to proclaim the fact that we still are SDS.
    >Vol. 6, No. 4 - May/June 1996
    >Who Owns The Sixties?
    >The opening of a scholarly generation gap
    >By Rick Perlstein
    >ON AUGUST 13, 1994, some quarter- million pilgrims journeyed to upstate 
    >New York to experience Woodstock II. They were searching for the spirit of 
    >the Sixties. What they found was a messy debate over whether that 
    >staggeringly commercialized event was a proper tribute to the decade, or 
    >its proper burial.
    John Johnson
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