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

From: John Johnson (
Date: 09/29/00

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    At 08:09 AM 9/29/2000, you wrote:
    >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.
    No one couldn't.  Hear of the KKK, the White Citizens Council, Posse 
    Comitatus, etc.  All right-wing to Nazi like groups active from the Fifties 
    and before all the way through the Sixties and there after.
    In the early Sixties the right was dominate, not only from the groups like 
    the Birch Society but from the Capitalist class itself.  One early anti-war 
    demo was surrounded by hundreds of Birch Society members.  We had rocks 
    thrown at us.  Remember Nixon's hard hats.  We were vilified by right wing 
    media and still are.
    The country has always had a strong right wing present and agenda.  Nothing 
    new about that.
    What was new was a strong grassroots, democratic progressive and radical 
    movement using militant, creative and daring tactics.
    And the government, business and the right launched massive counter 
    revolution actions against this movement and they still are.
    >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.
    John Johnson
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