years now, Leonard Liggio and I had been looking for a "left,"
for an antiwar movement, with which we could ally ourselves. Then
suddenly, as if by magic, the New Left emerged in American life,
particularly in two great events: the Berkeley Free Speech Movement
(FSM) of the fall of 1964, which inaugurated the campus movement
of the 1960s; and the March on Washington of April 17, 1965, organized
by the Students for a Democratic Society to protest the dramatic
escalation of our war in Vietnam in February. The SDS march inaugurated
the great anti-Vietnam War movement, which undoubtedly constituted
the deepest and most widespread opposition in the midst of war since
the conflict with Mexico in the 1840s. The opposition during World
War I was strong, but isolated and brutally suppressed by the government;
the isolationist movement of World War II collapsed completely as
soon as we entered the war; and the Korean War never generated a
powerful mass opposition. But here at last was an exciting, massive
opposition to the war proceeding during the war itself! Another
point that cheered Leonard and myself was that here at last was
not a namby-pamby "peace" group like SANE, which always
carefully balanced its criticism of the U.S. and of Russia, and
which also took pains to exclude "undesirables" from antiwar
activity; here was a truly antiwar movement which zeroed in on the
evils of American war-making; and here was a movement that excluded
no one, that baited neither reds nor rightists, that welcomed all
Americans willing to join in struggle against the immoral and aggressive
war that we were waging in Vietnam. Here at last was an antiwar
Left that we could be happy about!
It is true
that SDS, the unquestioned leader of this new antiwar movement,
had been born in unfortunate circumstances; for it was originally
and was then still officially the student arm of the social democratic
League for Industrial Democracy, an old-line socialist and red-baiting
organization that represented the worst of Old Left liberalism.
But SDS was clearly in the process of breaking with its parentage.
Not only was it militant on the war, but it was also no longer doctrinaire
socialist – a pleasant change indeed from the Old Left. On
the contrary, its ideology was vague enough to encompass even "right-wing
libertarians." In fact, there was a good deal of instinctive
libertarian sentiment in that early SDS which was to intensify for
the next several years. There was a new hunger for individual freedom,
for self-development, and a new concern about bureaucracy and technocratic
statism that boded well for SDS's future.
Thus, SDS was
shaping up as instinctively quasi-libertarian even on "domestic"
issues. This libertarianism was reinforced by the campus movement
generated by the Berkeley Free Speech Movement. For hadn't conservatives
and libertarians for decades been bitterly critical of our state-ridden
educational system – its public schools, compulsory attendance
laws, and giant, impersonal bureaucratic training factories replacing
genuine education? Hadn't we long been critical of the influence
of John Dewey, the emphasis on vocational training, the giant tie-ins
of education with government and the military-industrial complex?
And here was the New Left which, while admittedly inchoate and lacking
a constructive theory, was at least arising to zero in on many of
the educational evils that we had been denouncing unheeded for over
a generation. If, for example, we take a New Left hero such as Paul
Goodman and compare him with Albert Jay Nock on education, we see
that from very different philosophical and cultural perspectives
they were making very similar critiques of the mass training public
school-compulsory attendance system. Without making light of the
philosophical differences – particularly individualistic versus
egalitarian underpinnings – both Goodman and Nock clearly attacked
the problem from a libertarian perspective.
It was therefore
not an accident that a newly developing "rightwing libertarian"
group at Berkeley, headed by the young graduate math student Danny
Rosenthal, should have helped lead the Free Speech and allied movements.
Rosenthal and his group, who founded the Alliance of Libertarian
Activists in the Berkeley-San Francisco area and were also ardent
Goldwaterites, fought alongside the New Left on behalf of freedom
of speech and assembly, and in opposition to censorship and to the
swollen bureaucratic establishment at Berkeley. Rosenthal also exerted
considerable influence on the views of Mario Savio, the famous FSM
leader, though Savio was of course also subject to socialistic influences
of the New Left persuaded Leonard and me that the time had come
to act, to break out of our ideological and political isolation.
Hence we founded, in the spring of 1965, the three-times-a-year
journal Left and Right. The purpose of founding L&R
was twofold: to influence libertarians throughout the country
to break with the right wing and to ally themselves with the emerging
New Left and try to push that left further in a libertarian direction;
and second, to "find" the New Left ourselves as a group
to ally with and possibly influence. The first issue of Left
and Right had three lengthy articles which managed to touch
all of the important bases of our new libertarian "line":
my own article, "Left and Right: The Prospects for Liberty,"
which set forth the Liggio analysis of the Left/Right historical
spectrum; Liggio's own "Why the Futile Crusade?" which
brought back and portrayed the isolationist and anti-imperialist
views of Senator Taft and the Taftite wing of the Republican Party;
and Alan Milchman's review of Fleming's Origins of the Cold War
which, for the first time, brought Cold War revisionism to a
In the second
issue, in autumn 1965, I wrote an article hailing the substantial
libertarian elements of the New Left ("Liberty and the New
Left"). I praised the New Left for taking up important libertarian
and Old Right causes: opposition to bureaucracy and centralized
government; enthusiasm for Thoreau and the idea of civil disobedience
to unjust laws; a shift from Old Left compulsory racial integration
to opposition to police brutality and what would soon be termed
"black power" in black communities; opposition to urban
renewal and to restrictive and monopolistic labor unionism; opposition
to the Clark Kerr-type of modern educational bureaucracy; and of
course the total opposition to the American War in Vietnam. In addition
to comparing the educational views of Goodman and Nock, I also pointed
to the hopeful sign of Goodman (in his People or Personnel)1
favorably treating a free-market economy.
of Left and Right was remarkable, considering our paucity
of subscribers and the total absence of funds. For one thing, we
immediately had considerable impact on conservative and libertarian
youth. Danny Rosenthal was converted to an isolationist position
by Liggio's article in the first issue; Wilson A. Clark, Jr., head
of the Conservative Club of the University of North Carolina, abandoned
conservatism for our position; and the entire YAF unit at the University
of Kansas (the "second generation" of libertarians there),
headed by Becky Glaser, left YAF to form an SDS chapter on that
campus. And Ronald Hamowy, by then a professor of history at Stanford,
expounded our new "Left-Right" position in the New
Republic, recalling the free market, civil libertarian, isolationist
and anti-imperialist position of Old Rightists Spencer, Bastiat,
Sumner, and Nock, contrasting them to the New Right and the current
partnership of government and big business, and lauding Paul Goodman
and other aspects of libertarianism on the New Left.2
We were also
interested in the new experiments which some of the New Left were
conducting in alternative and "parallel institutions"
in education, in particular the "Free University" movement
which for a short while held promise as establishing "communities
of scholars" free from the bureaucratic and Establishment trappings
of the American educational system. Through Left and Right and
through Leonard Liggio's teaching courses at the Free University
of New York on imperialism, we had the opportunity of meeting the
bright young William Appleman Williams students in the New York
area, in particular Jim Weinstein, Ronald Radosh, and Marty Sklar.
This also launched Liggio's role for several years as a leading
New Left scholar-activist, as Leonard's expertise in the history
of foreign policy and of Vietnam led him to play a considerable
part in the Vietnam Teach-In movement, in editing Leviathan,
and Viet-Report, in becoming managing editor of the Guardian
(from which he was purged for "taking the capitalist road"
in trying to cut costs), and eventually in becoming head of the
American branch of the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation and aiding
its great work in the War Crimes Tribunal. In those days, too, SDS,
while totally opposed morally to the war in Vietnam, was not yet
anti-imperialist; and Leonard played a major role in advising the
May 2nd Movement, which pioneered on the New Left in advancing an
anti-American-imperialist perspective, one which SDS soon came to
adopt. He also led in opposing what turned out to be the domination
of M-2-M by the Maoist Progressive Labor Movement, a domination
which soon brought about the dissolution of the organization.
Left and Right continued to present our "left-right"
perspective, concentrating on foreign policy and militarism but
also covering other libertarian areas, and presenting a left-right
spectrum of authors: libertarians (the editors, philosophy professor
"Eric Dalton," Larry Moss, reprints of Lysander Spooner
and Herbert Spencer), Old Rightists and isolationists (Harry Elmer
Barnes, Garet Garrett, William L. Neumann), leftists (Marvin Gettleman,
Ronald Radosh, Janet McCloud, Russell Stetler, and Conrad Lynn),
and free-market conservatives (Yale Brozen, Gordon Tullock). In
particular, I hailed the decisive turn during 1966 of SDS toward
an anti-imperialist and militantly antidraft position, and the final
repudiation of its social Democratic Old Guard. During 1966 and
1967, the libertarian elements of SDS grew in influence; there was
a growth of the "Texas anarchists" in the organization,
and a proliferation of buttons proclaiming "I Hate the State."3
The high point
of SDS and New Left interest in the "left-right" libertarian
position came in the work of former SDS President Carl Oglesby.
In 1967, Oglesby published Containment and Change, a critique
of the Vietnam War and the American Empire. In his concluding pages
on strategy, Oglesby called for an alliance with the Old Right.
He called upon the libertarian, laissez-faire wing of the
Right to abandon the conservative movement which held the libertarians
in thrall by convincing them of the existence of a "foreign
threat." Oglesby cited my article in Continuum, and
quoted from the Old Right view on war and peace of General MacArthur,
Buffett, Garrett, Chodorov, and Dean Russell. In particular, Oglesby
cited Garrett at length, stating that his "analysis of the
totalitarian impulse of imperialism" had been verified repeatedly
over the intervening years.
that libertarian right-wing thought, along with the black power
movement and the anti-imperialist student movement, were all "rootedly
American" and were
of the grain
of American humanist individualism and voluntaristic associational
action; and it is only through them that the libertarian tradition
is activated and kept alive. In a strong sense, the Old Right
and the New Left are morally and politically coordinate.4
prophetically warned that both the libertarian Right and the New
Left could miss out on this alliance and conjunction, for the former
could remain in thrall to the militarism and imperialism of the
right-wing, while the latter could revert to a form of Stalinism.
The peak of
my political activity on the New Left came during the 1968 campaign.
In the spring of 1968, my old enthusiasm for third party politics
was rekindled, albeit in a different direction. The Peace and Freedom
Party (PFP) which had become (and still is) established in California,
decided to go national, and opened up shop in New York. I found
that the preliminary platform and the only requirement for membership
contained only two planks: the first was immediate U.S. withdrawal
from Vietnam, and the second was some plank so vague about being
nice to everyone that almost anyone, left, right, center could have
endorsed it. Great: here was a coalition party dedicated only to
immediate withdrawal from Vietnam and requiring no commitment whatever
to statism! As a result, our entire libertarian group in New York
poured happily into the new party.
The PFP was
structured around clubs, most of them regional – such as the
powerful West Side (of Manhattan) club, the hippie Greenwich Village
Club, etc. One was occupational – a Faculty Club. Since there
were very few actual faculty members in this very youthful party,
the PFP generously widened the definition of "faculty"
to include graduate students. Lo and behold! On that basis, of approximately
24 members in the Faculty Club, almost exactly one-half were our
people: libertarians, including myself, Leonard Liggio, Joe Peden,
Walter Block and his wife, Sherryl, and Larry Moss. The legislative
arm of the PFP was to be the Delegate Assembly, consisting of delegates
from the various clubs. The Faculty Club was entitled to two delegates,
and so we naturally divvied it up: one going to the socialists,
and one to us, who turned out to be me.
At the first
meeting of the Delegate Assembly, then, here I was, only in the
Party for about a week, but suddenly vaulted to top rank in the
power elite. Then, early in the meeting, some people got up and
advocated abolishing the Delegate Assembly as somehow "undemocratic."
Jeez! I was just about to get a taste of juicy political power,
when some SOBs were trying to take it away from me! As I listened
further, I realized that something even more sinister and of broader
concern was taking place. Apparently, the New York party was being
run by a self-perpetuating oligarchical executive committee, who,
in the name of "democracy," were trying to eliminate all
intermediate social institutions, and to operate upon the party
mass unimpeded, all in the name of "democracy." To me
it smacked of rotten Jacobinism, and I got up and delivered an impassioned
speech to that effect. After the session ended, a few people came
up to me and said that some like-minded thinkers, who constituted
the West Side Club, were having a gathering to discuss these matters.
So began our nefarious alliance with the Progressive Labor faction
within Peace and Freedom.
It later turned
out that the PFP and its executive committee were being run, both
in California and in New York, by the Leninist-Trotskyite Draperites,
International Socialists run by Berkeley librarian Hal Draper. The
Draperites were the original Schachtmanites, Trotskyites who had
rebelled against Trotsky as Third Camp opponents of both the U.S.
and the Soviet Union. The New York party was being run by the Draperites,
including as their allies a motley collection of assorted socialists,
pacifists, counter-cultural druggies, and Left Libertarians.
within PFP was indeed being run by the Maoist Progressive Labor
Party (PL), who the Draperites feared were plotting a takeover.
Actually, it soon became clear that PL had no such intention, but
were only keeping their hand in, and were using the West Side Club
to recruit candidate-members into PL. Both PL and the Draperites
were keeping the structure loose while waiting for an expected flood
of Gene McCarthy followers after Humphrey's expected Democratic
nomination victory – a flood that, of course, never materialized.
Hence the loose ideological requirement, and the fact that the platform
was up for grabs. The alliance between PL and us libertarians was
highly useful to both sides, in addition to cooperating in fending
off Draperite dictatorship in the name of democracy. What PL got
out of it was a cover for their recruiting, since no one could of
course call us vehement antisocialists tools of Progressive
Labor. What we got out of it was PL's firm support for an
ideological platform – adopted by our joint caucus – that
was probably the most libertarian of any party since the days of
Cleveland Democracy. The PL people were pleasantly "straight"
and nondruggie, although quite robotic, resembling left-wing Randians.
The great exception
was the delightful Jake Rosen, the absolute head of PL's fraction
in the PFP. Rosen, bright, joyous, witty, and decidedly nonrobotic,
knew the score. One of my fondest memories of life in the PFP was
of Jake Rosen trying to justify our laissez-faire platform
to his Maoist dunderheads. "Hey, Jake, what does this mean:
absolute freedom of trade and opposition to all government restrictions?"
"Er, that's the u2018antimonopoly coalition'." "Oh, yeah."
Jake, with more sincerity, joined us in opposing guaranteed annual
income plans; he considered them bourgeois and "reactionary."
About the only thing Jake balked at was our proposal that our caucus
come out for immediate abolition of rent control. "Hey, fellas,
look, I'd love to do it, but we have commitments to tenant groups."
Graciously, we let him off the hook.
With his personality,
I didn't think Jake would last in PL. In addition he had already
implicitly rebelled against party discipline. An obviously bright
guy, Jake had accepted PL's orders to be "working class"
and became a construction worker; but he stubbornly failed to obey
orders and move from the hip, cosmopolitan West Side of Manhattan
to Queens. ("Jake, no construction worker lives on the West
Side.") Indeed, a year or so after the breakup of the PFP,
Jake left or was expelled from PL, and immediately went upwardly
mobile, moving to Chicago and becoming a successful commodity broker.
As the McCarthy
people failed to come in, conflicts within the party became ever
greater, and the New York PFP began having almost weekly conventions.
In addition to the PL Draperite conflict, the Communist Party set
up its competing front in New York, the "Freedom and Peace
Party" (FPP), the existence of which began to confuse everyone,
including the Left. Trying to put down the schisms, the California
Draperites sent to run the New York party the supposedly legendary
organizer Comrade Carlos, a Chicano whom the Draperite wing found
to be charismatic, and to whom the rest of us took a strong dislike.5
PFP was clearly fizzling, the time finally came in late summer for
nominations. The Draperites had decided on the ex-rapist Eldridge
Cleaver for president, then head of the Black Panther Party. Cleaver
displayed his contempt for the PFP by not showing up, and sending
Black Panther sidekick Bobby Seale to sneer openly at his honkie
admirers, who masochistically welcomed every sign of Panther derision.
No one opposed Cleaver for the nomination; and since the PL bloc
abstained, and since my libertarian colleagues did not make the
early morning hour, it turned out that mine was the only vote cast
against Eldridge Cleaver for president – not a bad legacy of
my time on the New Left. For the U.S. Senate nomination, the veteran
socialist-pacifist David McReynolds was the Draperite candidate,
and I was persuaded to run against him to represent the PL-libertarian
opposition. I agreed to run only because I knew darn well that there
was no chance at all to defeat McReynolds.
I did not envy
McReynolds's day in the sun. The Freedom and Peace Party was running
a black candidate for Senate, and the Black Panthers did not wish
to oppose a fellow Afro-American with the white McReynolds. The
Black Panthers apparently pulled a gun on McReynolds, ordering him
to withdraw his candidacy. What happened after that is hazy; I don't
believe that McReynolds withdrew, but on the other hand I don't
believe that either of these people made it to the ballot –
and the 1968 election turned out to be the end of the PFP (except
in California) and the FPP. And, oh yes, I heard later that Comrade
Carlos had turned out to be a police agent.
A coda: years
later, I happened to run into McReynolds, at a meeting trying vainly
to bring some people into libertarianism. He kept telling me mournfully:
"You gave us a lot of trouble in '68. A lot of trouble."
I was trying to be polite at this little gathering, so I didn't
tell him how delighted I was at his tribute.
By the end
of the 1960s, the New Left had unfortunately vindicated Carl Oglesby's
warning, and had abandoned its high libertarian promise of the mid-'60s.
Unstable and lacking a coherent ideology, SDS, in response to the
Leninism and Stalinism of its Progressive Labor faction, itself
reverted to these Old Left creeds, albeit in a still more radical
and hopped-up form. Increasingly lured by the "counter-culture"
and by anti-intellectualism generally, the New Left increasingly
ignored scholarship in favor of unthinking "action," and
the Free Universities faded away into scattered centers of avant-garde
eurythmics and instruction in radio repair.6 And
educational reform increasingly turned into an attempt to destroy
all intellectual and educational standards, and to replace content
in courses by rap sessions about the students' "feelings."
Finally, shorn of scholarship, of intellectuality, and of strategic
perspective, the remnants of the New Left were to burn themselves
out in and disappear after the breakup of SDS in 1969 into an orgy
of senseless and indiscriminate violence. Despairing of the entire
American population as hopelessly bourgeois, the SDS remnants had
disastrously concluded that all America – working class, middle
class, or whatever – was The Enemy and had to be destroyed.
By 1970 the New Left was effectively dead, and put out of its misery
by Mr. Nixon's masterstroke of repealing the draft that year. Deprived
of worry about being drafted, the student idealists effectively
ended their protest – though the war in Vietnam was to continue
for several years.
over the experiment of alliance with the New Left, it also became
clear that the result had in many cases been disastrous for libertarians;
for, isolated and scattered as these young libertarians were, the
Clarks and the Milchmans and some of the Glaser-Kansas group were
soon to become leftists in fact, and in particular to abandon
the very devotion to individualism, private property rights, and
the free-market economy that had brought them to libertarianism,
and then to the New Left alliance, in the first place. We came to
realize that, as Marxian groups had discovered in the past, a cadre
with no organization and with no continuing program of "internal
education" and reinforcement is bound to defect and melt away
in the course of working with far stronger allies. The libertarian
groupings would have to be rebuilt as a self-conscious movement,
and its major emphasis would have to be on nourishing, maintaining,
and extending the libertarian cadre itself. Only operating from
such a cadre could we make strong and fruitful alliances with
no danger to the libertarian movement itself.
In the meanwhile,
the Buckleyite right wing was progressively abandoning even its
rhetorical devotion to libertarian ideals. For National Review
and its associates had learned what they believed to be the
lesson of the Goldwater rout; from that point on, the conservative
movement would shed itself of any and all "extremist"
elements, whether in domestic or foreign affairs, and move in a
"responsible" and "respectable" manner toward
the seats of Power for which it had yearned for so many years. As
the Pope, as well as the insult-comic of the movement, Bill Buckley
presided over the excommunicating and purging from Conservatism
of any and all elements that might prove embarrassing in its quest
for respectability and Power: libertarians, Birchers, atheists,
ultra-Catholics, Randians, anyone who might disturb Conservatism
in its cozy sharing of political rule. Hence by 1968, with the exception
of Frank Meyer who still adhered to Ronald Reagan, all conservative
doubts about the greatness and wisdom of Richard Milhous Nixon had
been effectively stilled; and Bill Buckley was suitably rewarded
by the Nixon administration with a post as member of the Advisory
Commission of the U.S. Information Agency (USIA), our Ministry of
Propaganda overseas. Buckley induced Frank Shakespeare, the conservative
head of USIA, to hire National Review editor James Burnham
to compile a list of deserving books to be placed in USIA libraries
in foreign countries. Prominent on Burnham's list were – surprise!
surprise! – the works of both Burnham and Buckley who, wrote
Burnham, is "one of the best-known writers of his generation."
In a perceptive
review of one of Buckley's later books, left-liberal Margot Hentoff
noted and lamented the drift of Conservatism into joining the Establishment,
the very Establishment which even National Review, in its
early years, used to attack. As Mrs. Hentoff stated:
to Mr. Buckley, along with the rest of us, was the breaking down
of traditional ideological compartments, the blurring of traditional
alliances and enmities. Not only did the old New Deal and New
Frontier politics lose credence with the left, but the left then
walked off with the conservative banners of nonintervention, freedom
from governmental coercion, rugged individualism, decentralization,
and, in some cases, racial separatism. . . .
that Mr. Buckley is beginning to take on the weight of middle-aged
responsibility, sounding more often like a resilient prince of
the Church than like a purifying spirit.
concluded that Buckley had been moving "toward a rather awful
kind of moderation. . . . He is now more aware of consequence, as
he moves away from the absence of power, that condition which was
his abiding charm."7
from its abiding thirst for war, the existing (1971) right wing
is scarcely distinguishable from old-style, conservative Liberalism.
(And even on war the difference is really one of degree.) Apart
from style, there is very little to distinguish, say, Bill Buckley
from Sidney Hook, or Senator Tower from former Senator Dodd, despite
the latter's more New Dealish voting record. On hawkish foreign
policy, on aggrandizing militarism and the military-industrial complex,
on crushing civil liberties and granting unchecked powers to the
police, on aggrandizing Executive power and privilege – in
short, on the major problems of our time, the Conservatives and
Liberals are in broad agreement. And even their seeming disagreement
on free-market versus liberal economics has virtually disappeared
in the implicit acceptance by both conservatives and liberals of
the New Deal-Great Society Corporate State neo-Mercantilist Consensus.
With his adoption of the Milton Friedman-Robert Theobald guaranteed
income proposal, with his fight to bail out the SST (supersonic
transport) program and Lock-heed, with his nationalization of the
passenger-car industry to the hosannas of conservatives, liberals
and the industry itself, Richard Nixon has completed the process
of integrating the right wing into the post-New Deal consensus.
As the Marxist historian Eugene D. Genovese has perceptively put
it: "President Nixon's right-wing liberalism is the counterpart
of the Communist Party's left-wing liberalism – that is, each
advances solutions within the established consensus of liberal social
And so we now
face an America ruled alternately by scarcely differentiated conservative
and liberal wings of the same state-corporatist system. Within the
ranks of liberalism there is a growing number of disaffected people
who are increasingly facing the fact that their own credo, liberalism,
has been in power for forty years, and what has it wrought? Executive
dictation, unending war in Vietnam, imperialism abroad and militarism
and conscription at home, intimate partnership between Big Business
and Leviathan Government. An increasing number of liberals are facing
this critical failure and are recognizing that liberalism itself
is to blame. They are beginning to see that Lyndon Johnson was absolutely
correct in habitually referring to Franklin Roosevelt as his "Big
Daddy." The paternity is clear, and the whole crew stands or
can disaffected liberals turn? Not to the current Right, which offers
them only more of the same, spiced with a more jingoistic and theocratic
flavor. Not to the New Left, which destroyed itself in despair and
random violence. Libertarianism, to many liberals, offers itself
as the place to turn.
And so libertarianism
itself grows apace, fueled by split-offs from conservatism and liberalism
alike. Just as conservatives and liberals have effectively blended
into a consensus to uphold the Establishment, so what America needs
now – and can have – is a counter-coalition in
opposition to the Welfare-Warfare State. A coalition that would
favor the short-term libertarian goals of militant opposition to
the Vietnam War and the Cold War generally, and to conscription,
the military-industrial complex, and the high taxes and accelerated
inflation that the state has needed to finance these statist measures.
It would be a coalition to advance the cause of both civil liberty
and economic freedom from government dictation. It would be, in
many ways, a renaissance of a coalition between the best of the
Old Right and the old New Left, a return to the glorious days when
elements of Left
and Right stood shoulder to shoulder to oppose the conquest
of the Philippines and America's entry into World Wars I and II.
Here would be a coalition that could appeal to all groups throughout
America, to the middle class, workers, students, liberals, and conservatives
alike. But Middle America, for the sake of gaining freedom from
high taxes, inflation, and monopoly, would have to accept the idea
of personal liberty and a loss of national face abroad. And liberals
and leftists, for the sake of dismantling the war machine and the
American Empire, would have to give up the cherished Old Left-liberal
dream of high taxes and Federal expenditures for every goody on
the face of the earth. The difficulties are great, but the signs
are excellent that such an anti-Establishment and antistatist coalition
can and might come into being. Big government and corporate liberalism
are showing themselves to be increasingly incapable of coping with
the problems that they have brought into being. And so objective
reality is on our side.
But more than
that: the passion for justice and moral principle that is infusing
more and more people can only move them in the same direction; morality
and practical utility are fusing ever more clearly to greater numbers
of people in one great call: for the liberty of people, of individuals
and voluntary groups, to work out their own destiny, to take control
over their own lives. We have it in our power to reclaim the American
- See Paul
Goodman, People or Personnel (New York: Random House, 1965).
- Ronald Hamowy,
"Left and Right Meet," The New Republic 154,
no. 11 (March 12, 1966), reprinted in Thoughts of the Young
Radicals (New York: New Republic, 1966), pp. 81–88.
- See "u2018SDS':
The New Turn," Left and Right (Winter, 1967).
- Carl Oglesby
and Richard Shaull, Containment and Change (New York: Macmillan,
1967), pp. 166–67.
- One memorable
moment at one of the PFP conventions was the usually phlegmatic
Leonard Liggio leaping on a chair, and beginning the provocative
chant: "Carlos Out! Carlos Out!"
complete bust was the New Left ideal of "participatory democracy."
It sounded good: in an attractive contrast to the "coercive"
system of majority rule, participatory democracy could agree on
decisions only by means of persuasion and unanimous consensus.
Voting was believed to violate minority rights. I still remember
vividly the "board meetings" of the Free University
of New York, where equal votes were cast by staff, unpaid faculty,
and students alike. Since every decision, no matter how trivial,
had to be attained by unanimous consent, the result was that the
board meeting stretched on, indecisively and interminably, to
become life itself. Those of us who left the meeting in
the evening to go home were accused of "betraying the meeting."
It is not surprising that the Free University collapsed after
a few years.
- Margot Hentoff,
"Unbuckled," New York Review of Books, December
3, 1970, p. 19.
- Eugene D.
Genovese, "The Fortunes of the Left," National Review
22, no. 47 (December 1, 1970): 1269.