Tuesday, April 5

Disremembering Those Fabulous 60s

Kevin Mattson "Goodbye to All That" American Prospect Online

If you read just one DLC paean to conservative intellectuals this month, you're lucky. I was gonna give this a good going over, but I couldn't even finish reading it. Let me know how it comes out.

Of course, the postwar left has been in opposition before...

Yeah, since, roughly, the war.

The world that existed before the ’60s is one that no one wants to go back to.

Excepting, Kevin, all those conservative intellectuals you've come to praise. Sure, they pay lip service to civil rights now, because they have to.

To romanticize protest and the decade of the 1960s cuts us off from rethinking -- with a cold, analytical eye -- the decade’s lessons. The spirit of the ’60s has something to teach us, for sure, but it’s a mixed message, one that lives on in the activist wing of today’s left in troubling ways. We need to search out styles, dispositions, and ideas that can inform our present sense of being an opposition party -- and we need to widen what we choose from.

Sheesh, did the maitre d' seat somebody wearin' too much patchouli at the next table or something? Those awful protesters are making it difficult to find common ground with George W. Bush and Tom DeLay?

Look, nobody enjoys deconstructing the Port Huron Statement more than I. We do it every weekend here, weather permitting. But jeez louise, it gets tiring listening to people spout off about the Sixties just because they don't like bell bottoms. Yes, the Right was able to cash in politically and economically, on anti-sixties backlash. Not with new ideas; with old money. Had the Democrats adopted this brilliant political maneuver as well, where would you be now? On the barricades, marching for women's rights and minority rights, or on the pages of TAP telling everyone to behave themselves?

It's easy, apparently, to ignore what was accomplished, just as the Right can now ignore opposition to desegregation. Because the dirty work has already been done for you. The reason we aren't drafting the poorest of the poor to go die in Iran or Syria or France is those lefties in the sixties. The reason women still control their own reproductive rights, the reason we're able to fight for gay and lesbian rights, the reason the entire national park system hasn't been deeded over to the multinationals, is what happened in 1968, not 1948.

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