Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Not again?!

SDS: Why Now (Again)?
by Paul Buhle

It is fascinating for me to think about SDS. In fact, it's downright compulsory. I am gathering stories and pictures, trying to weave them into a script for an artist to make into a visual (or comic-book) history, mostly "from the bottom up," i.e., the chapter standpoint. Sometimes the national leaders were good, sometimes they were terrible, but what happened at the base is the vital story, from the historic moment when SDS became a real social movement.

Why SDS then? The arguments are familiar and I won't try to rehearse all of them. The Empire had pushed ever onward and -- as I encountered SDS in the flesh for the first time -- had badly overextended itself in Vietnam. The Old Left had come to a standstill. Liberalism had flopped and had become part of the war machine -- or rather had always been part of the war machine. It could be pulled leftward but not far. Certainly not by young people joining the Campus Democrats, hoping to become powerful politicians and speechwriters someday. To do anything good at all, the Democrats needed a fire to be set under them. And a larger vision to be set out independently, something vastly beyond their compromised and bureaucratic grasp.



outlawsrenaissance said...

Did this guy ever leave campus?

Anonymous said...

No. He's now the head of a department at Brown University.

To his credit he did a lot of work on the Radical America journal which was great in the 70s.

P-CRAC said...

P-CRAC generally finds college radicals to be repulsive.

Anonymous said...

I saw another article on this where they were looking to the IWW for advice on reviving the SDS. I suppose the wobblies would be the experts on leftist re-enactment socities.