MARIA FLORES with the key coastal centers of activism. It is not an organizational history; Anderson sees the movement as a loose coalition, and his “broader, more fluid definition of the movement” intends to “challenge the previous interpretations emphasizing leaders, organizations, and ideology.” He says people rebelled because they felt there were inconsistencies between the existing nation and the America ideal, and, like prior reformers of the progressive era and the 1930s, they wanted to “challenge the establishment and tried to change the Republic:’ At the risk of seeming overly obtuse, for me what jumps out of these pages is how different the period is from our own. Not simply in the obvious wayssuch as the airwaves, streets, and homes of the sixties filled with a liberal/left discourse about politics and culture, instead of a conservative/right-wing one. I was struck, as I have been at other times, both by how conservative things were during the early sixties, and by subsequently how public life became during that time. On the conservative side of the ledger, a few reminders from the period around 1965. At Michigan State there were dress codes for evening meals in the dorms: “dresses for coeds, and for men, dress shirt and slacks, and no denims, Levis, Bermudas, fatigues, knickers, or beach combers….Corduroy pants may be worn only with a matching coat.” LBJ bellowing, “If we don’t stop the Reds in South Vietnam, tomorrow they will be in Hawaii, and next week they will be in San Francisco.” At Kent State, thirty activists protested the bombing of North Vietnam, and “an angry crowd five times larger pelted them with rocks.” Cold war political culture: bourgeois, anticommunist, and antidemocratic. Equally significant, the sixties were a public era, as contrasted to our now increasingly private world. People in “the movement’who, Anderson suggests, were self-identifiedtook politics seriously, talked and acted on it, understood the importance of power and inequality in society, and had a sense for the importance of collective change and being part of a collective effort. Nowadays, the world has become more private in a three-fold mancollective to the individual and family, both as the source of problems and soluvate spaces \(protected homes, malls, prithe private sector as opposed to public sector as the primary force in society on public issues, initiatives, and legitimacy. It’s also true that the sixties were certainly the beginning of some of these trends. The counterculture movement reflected some of the individualistic and anti-public sentiments that caused people to turn away, in the mid-1970s, from the public world of political activism into the individualism and cultural concerns of the “me decade.” Nevertheless, compared to our increasingly private world, increasingly divorced from public interactions and public legitimacy, the sixties movement was a highly public phenomenon: understanding the collective nature of social problems and solutions , the virtues of collective action, and the importance of the public sector, both in the harm it could do and in its role as a critical arena for struggle. The sixties may have been the last great era of public life, before the proliferation of cars, televisions, neoconservative politics, and the Net took over, making face-to-face human interaction of more than four unrelated people uncommon outside of work or school. I do not agree with Anderson on everything. He likes the so-called “nonideological,” anti-organizational, anti-leadership politics of the era. He likes his movements spontaneous, rather than organized. So do some other social scientists, such as Frances Fox Piven and Richard Cloward, as discussed in their Poor People’s Movements. This was a key debate during the sixties as well. I would contend that while social movements are different from social movement organizations, and while all social movements tend to be synergistic \(larger it is the leadership that comes out of organizations and organizing efforts that influences the direction of a movement. It is the analysis of the social worldthe ideology of leaders and organizations as well as participants, which comes in varied levels of understanding and claritywhich shapes a movement. Moreover, since the early 1970s, the belief in non-hierarchial democratic organizations, without leadership and ideology, as the vanguard of social change, has continued to undermine progressive efforts. Of course, the larger political economy and the distribution of power has a greater impact, and always will, on social movements, than the decisions made by organizers and activists. Nevertheless, Anderson and I, while both sympathetic to the movement and the politics of the decade and while agreeing on much about them, would disagree on some critical “lessons” to be learned from the movement and the sixties. Far out, manleft political discourse about progressive strategies and tactics coming from state employees at Texas A&M and the University of Houston. Anderson’s work counters current historical amnesia about the importance of the sixties and the move ment. The book should help to build collective memory of an era of prior resistance. Historical analysis contextualizes life, connecting it to the structures that undergird our world and moving consciousness beyond the simply personal and private. It offers immediate connection with millions of other people, not to mention providing the shoulders of past activists and movements to stand on, for those currently interested in social change. Terry Anderson not only writes well about the past, his work speaks to the present. He should be proud that it was attacked in the Wall Street Journal and The Washington Times. The struggle continues. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 17
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