Sunday, July 25, 2021

"The New Left of the 1960s: Deep Dives" according to Ryan Chapman


M14 and M16 from Vietnam war era, Army museum

Ryan Chapman, in April 2021, presented an explanation of “The New Left of the 1960s: Deep Dives” (one hour) 

He presents basic tension between “reform” v. “revolution” as “liberalism” left too many people behind. Cultural Marxism tended to take over revolutionary elements of the left (he starts with Stokely Carmichael) by attaching itself to other identity groups besides economic class, especially race and gender. At the same time, cultural Marxism thought it was separating itself from the Soviet Union and previous Stalinism.

He lists several separate issues (race, gender, LGBT, students) and notes that the Gay Liberation Front was much more “revolutionary” than the Gay Activist Alliance which tended to replace it. Because (especially among gay men) there is so much though to what one’s own values are in another person, LGBT activism for me doesn’t fit well with collective philosophies (and trans and non-binary are quite different from the rest of the community).

Generally, revolutionary groups tried to draw people into collective awareness rather than individual self-concept.  Identifying with a group is attractive if you haven’t competed well as an individual.

He talks about the evolution of SDS, and finally notes that the Weahtermen was one of the most dangerous of the movements, that we dodged a bullet on them.  Misunderstanding the new Left allowed the polarization that has occurred since about 2014 – we are living with the consequences.

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