[sixties-l] Re: new ground: The Sixties and the Right

From: Ted Morgan (epm2@lehigh.edu)
Date: 10/03/00

  • Next message: David Horowitz: "Re: [sixties-l] Re: break new ground sixties and rightwing"

    I appreciate folks' continuing this constructive thread!  Keep it up, and I hope
    some of those who've bailed out will rejoin.
    John raises interesting points about the Right and the 60s.  I think the
    explanation of the greater Right activity in the early 60s (compared to Left
    activity) is, as Marty's post suggests, a reflection of the hangover from
    McCarthy days and the pervasiveness of anti-communist elements in the American
    mainstream in the 50s. [I remember reading a book as a teen-ager called "You Can
    Always Trust a Communist (to be a Communist)" put out by the John Birch society
    --I think I found it on my own, since I certainly didn't get it from my parents;
    I also remember reading with great interest some Ayn Rand who typically has
    appeal to those in their teen -early 20s years, I find.]
    This was part of the mythological overlay or veil that 60s movements broke
    What I think is more interesting and worth probing into is what happened in the
    late- and post-60s to produce what John labels a "new 'respectable' right,"
    which also, I think has produced the 60s-revisionist thinking that the "Sixties"
    were somehow more about the Right's emergence than the Left's.  J. Johnson's
    comments, I think, are pertinent here.  The Right has often (though not always)
    functioned as the propaganda hammer for the corporatist center (e.g., Red Scare
    tactics serve the function of obscuring the American imperial role in the world,
    a role embraced by the corporate/political elite).  For a number of reasons
    --the nature of media coverage of 60s movements, the behaviors of various
    'movement' actors, the threat to long-term corporate profitability (and system
    viability) posed by the mass mobilizations against the war & for environmental
    regulation, etc.-- Corporate elites (including a fair number of 'liberals')
    began a concerted and well-funded effort to "roll back" the level of popular
    intervention in 'business-as-usual.'  Those sectors of the public who felt
    particularly alienated by the movements they witnessed in the media (e.g., the
    urban insurrections, the gun-toting Panthers, the VC-flag carrying militants, to
    say nothing of hippies who flaunted their alienation from mainstream America,
    etc.) were effectively mobilized against 60s movements as "anti-American,"
    "free-loaders," and "spoiled brats."  The effect was to (a) to move the
    government policy agenda safely back to the center, with considerable pressure
    to move it further right, thanks to (b) the generation of rightist pressure on
    the part of working-class, ethnics ("Reagan Democrats") and the old Know Nothing
    small-business sector effectively mobilized behind the Contract on America.
    This is, I would suggest, what "legitimized" the Right, and, though there's a
    lot more I could say on this, I'd argue THIS is the story of 60s movements and
    what has happened in the U.S. since the 60s.
    Ted Morgan

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