You are on page 1of 1

The 1960s: Fascism Takes to the Streets�BUILDING A POLITICS OF

MEANING�180�rhePort�Huron Statement, the signature document of the New Left, was

for�all its overwrought verbiage a well-intentioned statement of democratic
optimism�and admirable honesty. The authors#chief among�them Tom Hayden#conceded
that they were in fact bourgeois radicals. "hred in at least�modest comfort."
Driven by a sense of alienation from the American way of life, the�young radicals
craved a�sense of unity and belonging, a rediscovery or personal meaning�through
collective political endeavors. Life seemed out of balance.�1. Their aim was to
create a political system that would restore "human meaning"�(whatever that�is).
"The goal of man and society," they insisted, "should be human�independence: a
concem not with image of popularity but with�finding a meaning in life that is
personally authentic." This urge for�self-assertion should be translated into a
politics that could unleash�the "unrealized potential for self-cultivation, self-
direction, selfunderstanding,�and creativity"31�^""At the time, youth activists
found a willing ear in mainstream�liberalism, which was preaching more and more
about "national service," "sacrifice,"�and "action" John F. Kennedy#the
youngest�E'riNliost famous line, "Ask not�what your country can do for you#ask
what you can do for your�country," resonated with a generation desperate to find
collective re'j"mn+1rm in�oeace the way their parents had in war.�March 1962,
"Three out ofevery four students believe 'that what the�nation needs is a strong
fearless leader in whom we can have faith.'"�The University of�Califomia at
Berkeley#the home of the first campus revolt of the�960s#provided "the single most
important source ofvolunteers for�the Peace Corps in the early 1960s." When the
Student Peace Union,�QT SPU, protested in front of the White House in February
1962,�Kennedy ordered his kitchen to send the picketers coffee while the�SPU
proudly distributed copies of a New York Times article which�claimed that the
president was "listening" to them.32�And then there was the quest for community.
The Red Diaper�Babies of the 1960s inherited from their parents the same drive
to�create a new community organized around political aspirations.�^|hrase for
liberals and leftists alike in the 1960s was "commu"*""" "community
action,"�"community outreach," "communities o^�mutual respect"�As Alan Brinkley
has noted, most of the protests and conflagrations of the 1960s�had their roots in
a desire to preserve or create�communities. The ostensible issue that launched the
takeover of�Columbia University in 1968 was the encroachment of the campus�into
the black community. The administration's appeasement of�Black Nationalists was
done in the name of welcoming blacks to the�Comell community, and the Black
Nationalists took up arms because�they felt that assimilation into the Comell
community, or the white�community generally, amounted to a negation of their own
commuSubstitute the word "fascist" for "radical" in many of Alinsky's�statements
and it's sometimes difficult to tell the difference: "Society�has good reason to
fear the Radical... Vte h^s he hurts, he is dangerous. Conservative interests know
that while Liberals�are most�adept at breaking their own necks with their tonsues,
Radicals are�aaept ai oreaKing their own necks with their tongues, Mauicais
ui^�Radicals are�most adept at breaking the necks of Conservatives." And:
"The�Radical may resort to the sword but when he does he is not filled�""*^ hatred
against those individuals whom he attacks. He hates�these individuals not as
persons but as symbols representing ideas or�interests which he believes to be
inimical to the welfare of the people" In other words, they're not people but
dehumanized symbols.�"Change means movement," Alinsky tells us. "Movement
means�^/'tion. Only in the frictionless vacuum of a nonexistent abstract�world can
movement or change occur without that abrasive friction�worid can movei�) Saul
Alinsky, whose�Rulesfor Radicals served as a bible for the New Left (and who
later�became one of Hillary Clinton's mentors), shared the fascist contempt for
liberals as comipted bourgeois prattlers: "Liberals in their�