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an essential link between the military power structure and the corporate power structure through defense research” was “a funhousemirror version of Clark Kerr’s picture of a scholarly ‘knowledge industry,'” Rossinow writes. After observing that “identity politics” weakened the left, he adds: “Indeed, identity politics is quite congenial to many who desire no [fundamental social] change, including many of those in the business world, and one should not dismiss that constituency out of hand.” In the author’s conclusions, though, one may find him. “The new left,” he writes, “found more success in untying the knot of inner alienation and democracy than in pursuing large-scale social change. Many new left radicals … made considerable progress in building democratic local communities…. In the end, however, the new radical communities did not give birth to a new political culture.” Again: “Not simply the antithesis of modern America, the new left [like Texas liberalism] was an expression of that society.” The free universities’ reforms may have helped the standard ones strengthen themselves. The cooperative movement unleashed a wave of entrepreneurial energy that served capitalism well, as in the anti-union stand of the Whole Foods supermarket chain. “Furthermore, this reform politics did not undermine the chance at political revolution, for no such opportunity existed” a signal remark which Rossinow nowhere clarifies or explains. Confining their experiments, Rossinow says, to “their own patches of society,” and serving as cultural models mainly for people like themselves, the new leftists achieved, not a revolution, but “a softened social experience for themselves.” Those who were incorporated into academia from the new left experienced, as Barbara Epstein has admitted, “a profound defeat.” What did change, Rossinow avers, was the giving way of the more general ethos of restraint in American culture to “an ethos of free expression.” Although Rossinow does not explicitly say so, the young women’s revolt against new-left and liberal sexism was an important source of the epochal American feminist movement of the 1970s. Beyond their own liberation from gender oppression, the rebelling women did not advance a new prescription for society and could not maintain the leftward thrust in feminism mainly, then, Rossinow ventures plausibly, because women who reached college age in the mid-1970s were not enveloped in “an atmosphere of antiracist, antiwar, and anti-imperialist activism.” The Austin radical women, having no alternative to the Trotskyite Marxism of the few Trotskyists among them, became subject to the telling accusation that they were putting a Marxist agenda ahead of the sisterly interests of women. Crucially, the new left suffered from “the lack of any coherent political alternative,” Rossinow concludes. As evidenced in the early 1970s by renewed cooperation between leftists and insurgent liberals on the war and abortion, the new left in its waning days displayed its “tropism toward liberalism.” Codifying the utopianism reigning among them as libertarian socialism, “in practical terms, few radicals have advanced either a detailed outline for such a society or political strategies for making the great leap forward to it.” When Rossinow brings his analyses forward into the present, he is either indifferent to or simply ignorant of the momentous paradigm shift in the United States since 1995, a shift from obsessive electoral concentration on the Democrats versus the Republi cans to the new populist and progressive targeting of the actual governing adversary of the democratic interests of people the oligarchy of the giant national and transnational corporations which now controls the United States and is establishing one world corporate government. Rossinow closes, on his final page, with his harshest judgment: …new left radicals sought to shift the balance of power in their society by constituting new centers of power in their selves, in individuals and communities. This strategy was clear…, in the vision of participatory democracy as a supplement to the institutions of electoral politics, in the attempts to build community unions in cities…, and in the energy later spent on `counterinstitutions.’ Power would be redistributed through accretion, not expropriation. Although the new left spoke of democratizing the whole society, its synthesis of democracy and authenticity always took shape in particular communities, often locally. In this way, the linked goals of democracy and authenticity were quietly unhitched from demands for broad social change. Over time, the radicals’ focus shifted … toward … creating democratic and authentic experiences in their own lives. The fading of a broad social perspective evidently led to the decline of the ideal of democracy altogether…. The new left was less an outgrowth of a continuous history of radical politics in the United States than the evanescent leftish branch of a search for authenticity in industrial American life. This description of the new left would be fair and accurate only if the rebels in question had commanded all the followers and dominated all the arenas they needed. Anyone immersed in the real fights for the social transformation of the United States learns, and therefore understands and makes allowances for, the difficulties and limitations of such an endeavor. With that last sentence, unfairly seeking to deprive the new leftists of the dignity of the numerous intellectual and insurgent traditions and models that nourished them, Rossinow causes this reader to wonder again, Okay, Doug, where’s your authenticity? If you know so much, why aren’t you telling us what it is? The new left identified indefensible failures in Democratic liberalism; tried, though they failed, to re-invent democracy; were among the bravest nonviolent warriors against racism in the bigoted, dangerous South; perceived earlier than most the corporate hegemony that was displacing self-government in the U.S. and controlling and corrupting U.S. governmental and foreign policy; and young women among them prophetically rebelled against male domination. Some of the new leftists were indifferent about communist totalitarianism and some of them even wanted it, they were riven by factionalism, Nixon was elected while they shunned the 1968 election, some of them broke into rampaging violence, and with a few whimpers it was over. But though they were not all calm or wise they were good and significant young people and brave, they lit their candles against the darkness, and we need their likes again. El Ronnie Dugger, founding editor of the Observer and its publisher until 1994, joined the board of the Texas Democracy Foundation \(which now publishes the this fall. In 1995 he founded, and is now co-chair, of the Alliance for Democracy, a national organization dedicated to the establishment of a new populist movement. He can be reached at [email protected] or care of the Observer. 12 THE TEXAS OBSERVER DECEMBER 25, 1998