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This was published in College and University Business, August 1968, p. 42-44. The article had several sections, none of whose authors were identified. Reproduced here is the section on "The New Left," which is the only one written by Jo.


The New Left is one part of what its adherents call "the Movement" - a melange of people and organizations bound together by a common spirit, style and outrage at American society but with little agreement on what to do about it. Those of the New Left, however, do agree that nothing short of a radical change in the basic institutions and social relationships will suffice.
While the organized core of the New Left (dues-paying members of organizations amount to fewer than 15,000) has been expanding, the unaffiliated supporters who will work or turn out for demonstrations have expanded even more. Students for a Democratic Society, the largest organization of the New Left, went from 25 chapters, 1,000 members, and not too many more supporters in 1964 to almost 300 chapters, 6,500 dues-paying members, and 35,000 nonpaying members in 1968.
S.D.S. is just one of many student and partially student organizations that have appeared on the campus in the last eight years. Others include civil rights groups such as Friends of S.N.C.C., campus C.O.R.E. chapters, and an occasional N.A.A.C.P. affiliate; a plethora of student peace organizations, many of which are linked by an umbrella organization, the Student Mobilization Committee, which is based in New York, and such groups as S.S.O.C. (Southern Students Organizing Committee) and S.C.A.L. (Student Committee on Agricultural Labor).
The central themes of the New Left have remained fairly constant. At the core of these is the feeling that the individual should "share in those social decisions determining the quality and direction of his life." Activists admit that these values are primarily an extension of the humanistic ideals they inherited from their parents but say they feel compelled to reject the social institutions which they feel have substituted empty rhetoric for significant content. As one student put it, "When we went to college, we discovered it was all a sham. We woke up from the American Dream to face the nightmare of reality."
Other themes are:

ANTI-AUTHORITARIANISM: A strong dislike of what appears to be arbitrary decision-making leads New Leftists to want "to do it themselves." Coupled with this is apprehension of leadership of any kind. Leadership means organization. It connotes bureaucracy and impersonality. S.D.S. national officers rarely run for re-election, and at the most recent convention it was difficult to find anyone to run for the major posts.
ROMANTICISM: In part borrowed from the hippies, the quest for self-expression is often articulated as the need to be "liberated." Style is seen as being as important as content, or the way one does a thing as important as what one does. Romanticism is the optimistic side of a very cynical attitude toward the potential of being "free" in today's society, and a rejection of traditional professions, careers and life-styles.
MORAL PURITY: Reacting to the complexity of modern society, everything is seen as either right or wrong, correct or incorrect. The greatest evil is to compromise one's principles or sell out.
COMMUNITY: Society could be "humanized" if relationships could be made personal, direct and simple. Full-time movement organizers generally try to live in communal arrangements which stress intimacy and openness.
ANTI-INTELLECTUALISM: As succeeding generations of students began to regard the multiversity as it tool of the Establishment, they developed a strong strain of anti-intellectualism. Many made a virtue of their refusal or inability to articulate ideas and analyze coherently, preferring to "talk from the, gut," and deliberately adopted a style that was the antithesis of what they heard from their professors.

As the Movement spreads, the hardcore activists remain an elite group concentrated in the nonvocational disciplines of the humanities and social sciences. Studies by sociologist Richard Flacks and others show that activists have higher than average intelligence and academic achievements and that they come from upper-middle class families "which are urban, highly educated, professional and affluent." Yet these students identified their relationship to society as similar to that of the rural, poorly educated, lower-class Negro.
The southern Negro put in effort without achievement and the northern white student had achievement without effort. Both found in direct action, at times merely for its own sake, an existential means of creating a direct relationship between what they did and what happened to them. Action substituted for ideology.
Within the Movement but not considered part of the New Left are a set of student groups which do not share the New Left's distaste for ideology.
The most influential of these groups has been the W.E.B. DuBois Clubs and the Progressive Labor Party. The W.E.B. DuBois Clubs came out of a series of education groups formed in San Francisco in 1961. They are close to but not directly controlled by the Communist Party, and, while they agree with the party line favoring coalition with the progressive forces inside the Democratic Party and other liberal institutions, they are not responsive to its discipline.
P.L.P. split off from the old Communist Party at the time of the Sino-Soviet dispute to support the Chinese position. Initially composed of young people within the Party, by the time it reorganized itself in April 1965, it had attracted many students possessed by the same desire for action that compelled others to join S.N.C.C. and S.D.S. P.L.P. called for "Revolution Now!" and made its appeal to the "millions of working men and women as well as those students, artists and intellectuals who will join with the working class to end the profit system . . . ."
Smaller and less prestigious are the democratic socialist Young People's Socialist League, the Socialist Party's youth organization, and the Young Socialist Alliance, youth arm of the Trotskyist Socialist Worker's Party.
Although S.D.S. contains only a fraction of those who consider themselves New Leftists, it is the New Left's main organizational expression. It was organized in 1960 by the League for Industrial Democracy, a Socialist Party front group, in an attempt to put some life into its moribund student sector. By 1962, when its manifesto, the Port Union Statement, was drafted, it was already having serious disagreements with its anxious parent. These were triggered by its refusal to take a strong anti-Communist position or exclude Communists from membership.
S.D.S.'s feeling that the Communist question is irrelevant has alienated many left and liberal organizations who still feel the scars of the 30s and the McCarthy era. One S.N.C.C. organizer spoke for many of the New Left when, answering accusations of Communist infiltration of the civil rights movement, he declared, "I don't care what be believes, if he's willing to put his body on the line he's welcome. The Communists aren't subverting us, we're subverting them."
However, S.D.S. is having its problems with a highly disciplined P.L.P. faction within the organization which is seeking to push its "line" of an alliance between students and the industrial working class. At the June convention at Michigan State University, a sizeable caucus controlled by P.L.P. kept the organization in turmoil.
Significantly, the main objection to P.L.P's actions and proposals was that they were reactionary. The New Left Majority Caucus, its they called themselves, feels that the overwhelming majority of Americans are members of the working class, not just blue collar workers, and organizing projects must be set up which will appeal to diverse constituencies.
This is illustrative of the increasing radicalization of S.D.S. and the students that has occurred in the last eight years. American society is seen as so grossly defective that nothing short of a violent disruption can restructure it.
Within S.D.S. a kind of despair has manifested itself in a verbal exhibitionism with many members declaring that they are "revolutionary communists" (communist is used with a small "c" in the original sense of being a professional revolutionary who transcends class lines).
Outside of S.D.S.. the newest generation of student activists has yet to feel the full impact of this despair. This generation is comprised of those who have been stirred to political participation by the campaigns of Kennedy and McCarthy and while their faith is currently held by the traditional democratic (or Democratic) processes, they are very volatile.
Throughout the country the young campaigners have expressed privately their feeling that "this is the system's last chance." As one Movement activist put it: "These kids have worked so hard and put so much of themselves into this campaign to show the party hacks that the people want a change that when the Democratic Party tells them to go to hell they're not going to meekly obey. They're going to be so disillusioned they'll make the S.D.S. radicals look like a bunch of practical politicians."
And this is not the end. While who are preparing to return to, the campus next fall with their by-now-professional political skills and possible strong disenchantment with traditional political channels, the generation of activists to follow them is already being trained.
This next group won't enter college as naive freshmen ready to be proselyted by the range of student groups. New Left organizers have reached into the high schools to form S.D.S. chapters, resistance groups, student power alliances, and underground newspapers.

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