Re: [sixties-l] the port huron statement (fwd)

From: drieux (
Date: Mon Dec 10 2001 - 20:16:01 EST

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    > ---------- Forwarded message ----------
    > Date: Thu, 6 Dec 2001 03:57:07 -0600
    > From: clement mwaura <>
    > Subject: the port huron statement
    > please would you assist me in these questions.
    > 1. why the students call for participatory democracy
    > 2. why they argue that the college was a place to create social change
    > 3.why they write that first sentence of the statement. what does it mean?
    > my email is
    > i would really appreciate your assistance. thanks in advance. clement

    for the first two the simplest answer is

            Why NOT?

    These, the 'baby boomers', are in many respects the children of the Great
    Social Engineering of the 'G.I. Bill of Rights' that would open the college
    campus' of american to the great influx of G.I.'s home from the war to
    save the world from Fascism. Raised in the affluence of the only Global
    Power not directly rebuilding itself from the global devastation of that
    war - and retooled over from making military hardware to putting all of
    that 'know how and technology' to work making a better america. That
    pre-Fab technology that allowed Sea-Bee's and Combat Engineers to construct
    military facilities almost over night, allowed almost anyone to suddenly
    own a home in the 'suburbs' - and for most, pay for it with VHA loans,
    because they were vets. The General Principle behind it all was the simple
    cultural maxim, that it was not the Imperial Powers, nor the Glories of
    Soviet Russia, but the much malign 'cultural wasteland' of the Arsenal of
    Democracy, the USA, that would tip the balance against global Fascism
    and Militarism. Not because we were better fighters, but because we had
    a stake in the preservation of our american way of life which rests upon
    the fundamental principle of 'participatory democracy'.

    The american model of the college system remains that it is where we do
    the real 'social change' - and as such is not that radical a notion in
    The older Fifties model had been 'Mrs before MS' - in the sense that Co-Ed'
    went to college to get married, rather than procede onto graduate school.
    as the source of the 'higher levels of learning' - that would clearly be
    place where we would put our wealth of knowledge, that should be the
    and positive basis for creating positive social changes.

    As for the 3rd question about the First Sentance of the Port Huron

    "We are people of this generation,
            bred in at least modest comfort,
            housed now in universities,
            looking uncomfortably to the world we inherit."

    As noted above, the authors were the children raised in modest comfort,
    the wonders of modern "science", actually modern technology, spinning
    out new labor saving devices, and making it all that much easier.

    For most the ongoing crisis of the 'civil rights movement' was still
    the singularly most pressing manifestation of american domestic crisis.

    The generalized abstraction of a 'nuclear war' would not yet have the
    chance to meet 'the missiles of october' as the USA and Soviets played
    chicken on the High Seas about installing 'offensive nuclear weapons'
    in cuba. But the general 'principles' were clearly in place - Sputnik
    had spawned the space race, but more importantly the ever increasing
    threat of ICBM's - which were a new and frightening technology.

    As such the 'looking uncomfortably to the world we inherit' is a bit
    over wraught - but those were blithely naive times when people could
    and did actually Believe in such things that they were 'the best and
    the brightest' - and that simply writing 'position papers' such as
    the Port Huron Statement in itself would be significant.

    Such venerable classics of Cinema 'Fail Safe' and 'Dr. Strangelove'
    would not be out for almost two more years - and we would not see
    the meanderings of the Gulf of Tonkien Resolution from it's "original
    intent" to allow the President to merely strike back against North
    Vietnam - into the full fledged 'vietnam war'.... We had not yet seen
    'love canal' or 'three mile island' - there was no officially sanctioned
    'womyn's movement'.... Castro was a Red in Cuba, not a Reality in SF, as
    this was still well before Stonewall, nor Aids, nor....

    citing from the document again:

    " The conventional moral terms of the age, the politician moralities--
    "free world," "people's democracies"--reflect realities poorly, if at all,
    and seem to function more as ruling myths than as descriptive principles.

    WOW... now doesn't that just put it all back into perspective again.

    Naive, Innocent, yes - but they understood what their dreams were.

    There are some clear 'generational things' that come out in the document,
    since obviously the children of 'modest upbringings' - like their suburban
    counterparts today - may not quite 'get it' about why their parents are
    just pleased as Punch to have a nice quite life in the 'burbs - as it
    beats the substance of 'sea stories' we really only share with other Vets.

    That the Computer Revolution has it's roots in BSD - the Berkley deviation
    of Unix, 'liberated' from AT&T, - makes the presumption that the University
    would be able to keep up with where the Heir's of the Diggers would take
    may say how far things have drifted back to the happier days of 'I like
    than many of us might want to admit.....

    Not the least of which is that the game ain't over yet kids.



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