Re: [sixties-l] Let's break new ground: The Sixties and the Right

From: Marty Jezer (
Date: 09/29/00

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    The discussion of what this list is about raises the question of what the
    sixties were about.
    We all assume it was about radical activism, civil rights, anti-war,
    personal liberation. But
    one could also say it was about the rise of the Right.
    In college, between 57-61, I roomed with one of the first members of Young
    Americans for Freedom. A socially tolerant nice guy who happened to have
    his socks blown away by Ayn Rand. Some of these early right wingers became
    part of the radical movement (Goldwater's speechwriter Karl Hess being the
    most notable). Others remained on the Right, as activists, on the margin,
    but busy building coalitions, trying to find issues and organizing methods
    that worked.
    Ultimately, they did pretty well.  Some say they gained power because of
    the failures of the left, but they were also busy building their
    infrastructure before the left was large enough and vocal enough to
    influence anyone.
    It's kinda like the tortoise and the hare. We were the hare. We looked like
    winners in the sixties. But the right/tortoise got its act together and
    passed us by.
    This greatly simplifies things, I know. There are institutional reasons for
    the left's failure: campaign money, repression, the power of corporate
    media, etc. But we also screwed up. 
    Similarly, the ideological  Right struck gold when Nixon adopted his
    southern strategy and
    recruited all the Democratic racists into the Republican Party (e.g. Trent
    Lott) -- and then exploited the backlash from the women's, gay liberation,
    abortion rights movement and other social gains.
    Still, food for thought. The Right was not dormant during the 1960s -- even
    though it seemed invisible (or, as with the John Birchers, laughable).
    One story. I'm involved in support groups for people who stutter. (a
    movement, like disability rights in general, that came out of the activist
    sixties). In this context, I meet all kinds of people (our only commonality
    is that we stutter).  I once described living on a commune, raising
    animals, farming, etc. . A guy who was a teenager during the sixties came
    up afterwards and said, yeah, he remembered reading about communes and
    hippies in Time Magazine but didn't know about them first hand. That didn't
    interest him, however. What he wanted to talk about was my experience
    raising pigs. During the 1960s he raised pigs as a 4H project. For many
    people in America during the sixties, what we call "the sixties" was a blip
    in their consciousness.
    Marty Jezer
    Don wrote:
    >I thought it was a place where we can discuss issues that concern us.
    C.S. wrote:
    >>Is this list meant to be an exclusive haven for leftists to express
    >>their views free from rebuttal where one can extoll the virtues of the left
    >>uncontested? If that's the case, then there's a credibility problem here
    >>that may prevent us from ever getting it.

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