Flooding in Colorado 2013
I was watching the weather channel coverage of the flooding in Colorado. An old friend of mine lives or lived in Lyons, CO, one of the towns that was evacuated and I was curious as to how he fared. He was the drummer for the Dancing Assholes, one of the bands I was involved with back in the day. I asked a friend, Howard, who still lives in Colorado whether he had any info, and he didn’t. I looked up the Lyons friend, Doug, on one of those pay for data information sites that have replaced the free phone books we used to get. The only free information was his name, city and status which in this case was deceased. I had known this friend had a heard valve condition that had forced him onto disability. Unless the database was mistaken, and my old friend was one who liked to play tricks, Doug is no longer with us. Another one of my rock n’ roll days buddies gone.
I informed Howard of the fact, we got off on a tangent about funerals and I mentioned that I wanted a Lebowski. He didn’t know what that was. I then sent him this clip from the great 90’s movie The Big Lebowski.
Except my preference is to have the ashes scattered over the Ganges in India, not Jeff Bridges face.
That said, and thinking about it, Doug could have been a Lebowsiki, all of us in the alternative, punk, hippie, anarchist scene were at one time or another. I did my best to make a lifestyle out of it, sort of like the dude.
This led me to think of the greatness of the dude, and my own great deeds out of the revolutionary past, when boys and girls and children of all ages, rose up in a great wave of rebellion and took the ideals of democracy to heart.
I was, uh, one of the authors of the Port Huron Statement. The original Port Huron Statement.
Not the compromised second draft. And then I, uh… Ever hear of the Seattle Seven?
- The Dude, The Big Lebowski
Read the full text here: http://mentalfloss.com/article/26831/dude-port-huron-statement-and-seattle-seven#ixzz2feGXNZ4X
–brought to you by mental_floss!
And so this leads to the main point of this posting, the original Port Huron statement. Not the compromised second draft, or in reality the final statement. Since this is really long, I will only publish excerpts here, you can go to the original site for the full draft.
This is the text of original draft of the 1962 Port Huron Statement, as distributed by Alan Haber to the attendees at the SDS Northeast Regional Conference, April 23, 2006.
Introduction: Agenda for a Generation
Every generation inherits from the past a set of problems - personal and social – and a dominant set of insights and perspectives by which the problems are to be understood and, hopefully, managed. The critical feature of this generation’s inheritance is that the problems are so serious as to actually threaten civilization, while the conventional perspectives are of dubious worth. Horrors are regarded as commonplace; we take universal strife in stride; we treat newness with a normalcy that suggests a deliberate flight from reality.
How can the magnitude of modern problems be best expressed? Perhaps by means of paradox:
With nuclear energy whole cities could easily be powered, but instead we seem likely to unleash destruction greater than that incurred in all wars in human history;
With rockets we are emancipating man from terrestrial limitations, but from Mississippi jails still comes the prayer for emancipation of man on earth;
As man’s own technology destroys old and creates new forms of social organization ,man still tolerates meaningless work, idleness instead of creative leisure, and, educational systems that do not prepare him for life amidst change;
While expanding networks of communication, transportation, integrating economic systems, and the birth of intercontinental missiles make national boundaries utterly permeable and antiquated, men still fight and hate in provincial loyalty to nationalism;
While two-thirds of mankind suffers increasing undernourishment, our upper classes are changing from competition for scarce goods to reveling amidst abundance;
With world population expected to double in forty years, men still permit anarchy as the rule of international conduct and uncontrolled exploitation to govern the sapping of the earth’s physical resources;
Mankind desperately needs visionary and revolutionary leadership to respond to its enormous and deeply-entrenched problems, But America rests in national stalemate, her goals ambiguous and tradition-bound when they should be new and far-reaching, her democracy apathetic and manipulated when it should be dynamic and participative.
We are dismayed by the timidity of our elders and the privatism of our peers. The organizations we know, in which we are to be socialized as citizens, are unradical, in that they treat only of symptoms, not roots, or unpolitical, in that they are impelled more by outrage and static protest than measured analysis and assertive program, or simply hesitant, skirting the issues and blurring them with rhetoric, rather than admitting of problems both intellectual and political and nevertheless seeking a broad analysis of social issues.
We write, debate, and assert this manifesto, not as a declaration that we have the Final Cure, but to affirm that problems must be faced with an expression of knowledge and value, and in action.
In this affirmation we deny that problems can be faced by claiming they don’t exist anymore, or that the government through expertise will solve what problems there are.
We do this as a basis for an organization, because as students we feel that only as we find some structured way of working together, sharing ideas, formulating program and engaging in action will the left become visible and responsible in America*
We seek to be public, responsible, and influential — not housed in garrets, lunatic, and Ineffectual; to be visionary yet ever developing concrete programs — not empty or deluded in our goals and sterile in Inaction; to be idealistic and hopeful — not deadened by failures or chained by a myopic view of human possibilities; to be both passionate and reflective — not timid and intellectually paralytic; to vivify American politics with controversy — not to emasculate our principles before the icons of unity and bipartisanship; to stimulate and give honor to the full movement of human imagination — not to induce sectarian rigidity or encourage stereotyped rhetoric.
On this basis we offer this document: as an effort in understanding the new, but an effort rooted in the ancient, still unfulfilled conception of man as a being struggling for determining influence over his circumstances. That man should creatively encounter the forces. new and old, challenging, his reason and menacing his freedom, is the hope underlying this paper; which is our beginning — in argument, in identifying friends and opponents, and most essentially in carrying on our own education — as democrats In a time of upheaval.
In the last few years, thousands of American students demonstrated that they at least felt the urgency of the times. They moved actively and directly against racial injustices, the threat of war, violations of individual rights of conscience and, less frequently, against economic manipulation. They succeeded in restoring a small measure of controversy to the campuses after the stillness of the McCarthy period. They succeeded, too, in gaining some concessions from the people and institutions they opposed, especially in the fight against racial bigotry.
The significance of these scattered “movements” lies not in their success or failure in gaining objectives-at least not yet. Nor does the significance lie in the intellectual “competence” or “maturity” of the students involved - as some pedantic elders allege. The significance is in the fact that the students are breaking the crust of apathy and overcoming the inner alienation that remain the defining characteristics of American college life.
There are no convincing apologies for the contemporary malaise. While the world tumbles toward the final war, while men in other nations are trying desperately to alter events, while the very future qua future is uncertain America is without community impulse, with the inner momentum necessary for an age when societies cannot successfully perpetuate themselves by their military weapons, when democracy must be viable because of its quality of life, not its quantity of rockets.
C. Clark Kissinger (NYTimes)
A Students for a Democratic Society national council meeting in Bloomington, Ind., in 1963. Tom Hayden is at far left.
There are no convincing apologies for the contemporary malaise. While the world tumbles toward the final war, while men in other nations are trying desperately to alter events, while the very future qua future is uncertain -America is without community impulse without inner momentum necessary for an age when societies cannot successfully perpetuate themselves by their military weapons, when democracy must be viable because of its quality of life, not its quantity of rockets.
The apathy here is, first, subjective — the felt powerlessness of ordinary people, the resignation before the enormity of events. But subjective apathy is encouraged by the objective American situation—the actual structural separation of people from power, from relevant knowledge, from pinnacles of decision-making. Just as the university influences the student way of life, so do major social institutions create the circumstances in which the isolated citizen will try helplessly to understand his world and himself.
The very isolation of the individual - from power and community and ability to aspire—means the rise of a democracy without publics. With the great mass of people structurally remote and psychologically hesitant with respect to democratic institutions, those institutions themselves attenuate and become, in the fashion of the vicious circle, progressively less accessible to those few who aspire to serious participation in social affairs. The vital democratic connection between community and leadership, between the mass and the several elites, has been so wrenched and perverted that disastrous policies go unchallenged time and again.
A reformed, more humane capitalism, functioning at three-fourths capacity while one-third of America and two-thirds of the world goes needy, domination of politics and the economy by fantastically rich elites, accommodation to the system by organized labor, hard-core poverty and unemployment, automation bringing the dark ascension of machine over man as well as the dawn of abundance, technological change being introduced into a huge economy on the criteria of profitability—this has been our inheritance. However inadequate, it has brought quiescence—a reflection of the extent to which misery has been overcome. Now, as a better state becomes visible, a new poverty impends: a poverty of vision, and a poverty of political action to make that vision reality.
Chart of Military Industrial Complex
The Military-Industrial Complex
Not only is ours the first generation to live with the possibility of world-wide cataclysm—it is the first to experience the actual social preparation for cataclysm, the general militarization of American society. In 1948, just when many of us were becoming anxious about our manliness, Congress required a social test of it by establishing Universal Military Training, the first peacetime conscription. The military bureaucracy was beginning. Four years earlier, General Electric’s Charles E. Wilson had heralded the creation of what he called the “permanent war economy”, the continuous military spending as a solution to the economic problems unsolved before the post-war Boom, most notably the problem of the seventeen million jobless after eight years of the New Deal.
What are the governing policies which supposedly justify all this human sacrifice and waste? With few exceptions they have reflected the quandaries and confusion stagnation and anxiety, of a stalemated nation in a turbulent world. They have shown a slowness, sometimes a sheer inability to react to a sequence of new problems.
The accumulation of nuclear arsenals, the threat of accidental war, the possibility of ‘limited war becoming illimitable holocaust, the impossibility of achieving real arms superiority or final invulnerability, the near nativity of a cluster of infant atomic powers—all of these events have tended to undermine tradition concepts of international relations. War can no longer be considered as an instrument of international politics, a way of strengthening alliances, adjusting the balance of power, maintaining national sovereignty, or defending any values, War guarantees none of these things today. Soviet or American “megatonnage” is sufficient to destroy all existing social structure as well as human values; missiles have thumbed (figuratively) their nosecones at national boundaries, America, however, still operates by means of national defense and deterrence systems. These are effective only so long as they are never fully used: unless we can convince Russia that we will commit the most vicious action in human history, we will have to do it.
Free Speech Movement
“We favor an invulnerable deterrent, too, so that all wars of the future will be fought conventionally. We expect a series of struggles, a protracted conflict with the Reds. A long twilight struggle—that’s what the President calls it all”. If a country is losing a small war—and what does it mean to discuss small or conventional wars today? - will it decide against using atomic weapons and risking escalation to thermonuclear conflict? What will you do about accidents, or about the little countries with the big weapons? Why hasn’t any nation ever achieved satisfactory vulnerability, and why do you expect that we will be the first?
The Colonial Revolution
While weapons have accelerated man’s opportunity for self-destruction, the counter-impulse to life and creation are superbly manifest in the revolutionary feelings of many Asian, African arid Latin American peoples. Against the individual initiative and aspiration, and social sense of organicism characteristic of these upsurges, the American apathy and stalemate stand in embarrassing contrast.
It is difficult today to give human meaning to the welter of facts that surrounds us. That is why it is especially hard to understand the facts of “underdevelopment”: In India, man and beast together produced 65 percent of the nation’s economic energy, and of the remaining 35 percent of inanimately produced power almost three-fourths was obtained by burning dung. But in the United States, human and animal power together account for only one percent of the national economic energy—that is what stands humanly behind the vague term “industrialization”. Even to maintain the misery of Asia today at a constant level will require a rate of growth tripling the national income and the aggregate production by the end of the century. For Asians to have the (unacceptable) 1950 standard of Europeans, less than $2,000 per year for a family, national production must increase 21-fold by the end of the century, and that monstrous feat only to reach a level that Europeans find intolerable.
The world is in transformation, But America is not. It can race to industrialize the world, tolerating occasional authoritarianisms, socialisms, neutralisms along the way -or it can slow the pace of the inevitable and default to the eager Soviets and, much more importantly, to mankind itself. Only mystics would guess we have opted for the first, Consider what our people think of this, the most urgent issue on the human agenda. Fed by a bellicose press, manipulated by economic and political opponents of change, drifting in their own history, they grumble about “the foreign aid waste”, or about “that beatnik down in Cuba”, or how “things will get us by” … thinking confidently, albeit in the usual bewilderment, that Americans can go right on like always, five percent of mankind producing forty percent of its goods.
The celebrated American innocence remains.
Anti War protests.
The Discrimination Problem
Our America still is white.
Consider the plight, statistically, of its greatest nonconformists, the “nonwhite” (a census Bureau word).
Even against this background, some will say progress is being made. The facts belie it, however, i (sic) unless it is assumed that America has another 100 years to solve her “race problem”. Others, more pompous, will blame the situation on “those people’s inability to pick themselves up”, not understanding the automatic way in which the American system is racist. The one-party system in the South, attached to the Dixiecrat-Republican complex nationally, cuts off the Negro’s hope for real political expression and representation. The fact of economic dependence on the white, with little labor union protection, cuts off the Negro’s independent powers as a citizen. Discrimination in employment, along with labor’s accommodation to “lily-white” hiring practices, guarantees the lowest slot in the economy to the “nonwhite”. North or South, those oppressed are conditioned by their inheritance and their surroundings to expect more of the same: in housing, schools, recreation, travel all their potential is circumscribed, thwarted, and often extinguished. Automation grinds up job opportunities, and ineffective or nonexistent retraining programs makes the already-handicapped “nonwhite’ even less equipped to participate in “technological progress”.
Guilt over discrimination
Horatio Alger Americans typically believe that the “nonwhite=” are gradually being “accepted” and “rising”. They see more Negroes on television and so assume that Negroes are “better off”. They hear the President talking about Negroes and so assume they are politically represented. They are aware of black peoples in the United Nations and so assume that men are much more tolerant these days. They don’t drive through the South, or through the slum areas of th (?) so they assume that squalor is disappearing. They express generalities about “time and gradualism” to hide the fact that they don’t know what is happening.
Not knowing the “nonwhite”, however, the white knows something less than himself. Not comfortable around “different people”, he reclines in whiteness instead of preparing for diversity. Refusing to yield objective social freedom to the “nonwhite”, the white loses his personal, subjective freedom by turning away from “all these damn causes”.
But the right to refuse service to anyone is no longer reserved to the Americans. The minority groups, internationally, are changing place.
Poster supporting Vietnamese against US Imperialism
At the End of an Era
When we were kids the United States was the strongest country in the world: the only one with the atom bomb, the least scarred, the only major country untouched by modern war, the wealthiest and boomingnest country, and once entering a United Nations which would distribute American and British influence throughout the world. As we grew and perceived more, our country’s virtue was denuded: the ugliness began to show, sometimes glaringly, sometimes imperceptibly. Most concretely, it was there in the alliance with the old colonialists as the new revolutionaries were emerging in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The denuding, however, was the result of our hard efforts to see, not of America’s desire to show herself. The ugliness was observed; America did not introspect, although it became fashionable to examine national purposes. Almost as if the truths about America were too much to bear, many turned to concentration on image, on posture, on outer relations rather than on inner realities.
It is the faith that alternatives exist, and can be discerned, that must move men. The grasp of human values, of the nature of man, of the makeup of modern society, is the urgent task before reformers. What do we ourselves believe; what should we urge others to believe, and how shall we organize to make our values operate in human affairs?
The Case for Values
Unlike youth in other countries we are accustomed to moral leadership being exercised and moral dimensions being clarified by our elders. But today the preachments of the past seem inadequate to the forms of the present.
Consider the old liberal and socialist slogans: Capitalism Cannot Reform Itself, United Against Fascism, General Strike, All Out on May Day, Or, more recently, NO Cooperation with Commies and Fellow Travelers, Ideologies Are Exhausted, Bipartisanship, No Utopias. These are incomplete, and there are few new prophets.
Weather Underground emerges when SDS splinters end of 1960s
We regard Man as infinitely precious and infinitely perfectible. In affirming these principles we are countering perhaps the dominant conceptions of man in the twentieth century: that he is a thing to be manipulated, and that he is inherently incapable of directing his own affairs. We oppose the depersonalization that reduces human beings to the status of things, and we regard it as a preface to irresponsibility; if anything, the brutalities of the twentieth century teach that means and ends are intimately related, that vague appeals to “posterity” cannot justify the mutilation of the present. We oppose, too, the notion of human incompetence because it rests essentially on the modern fact that men have been manipulated into incompetence.
We see little reason why men cannot meet with increasing skill the complexities and responsibilities of their situation, society is organized not for minority, but for majority, participation in decision-making.
Violence is an abhorrent form of social interchange. We seek, through participative community, to prevent elite control of the means of violence, but more importantly, to develop the institutions—local, national, international—that encourage and guarantee nonviolence as a condition of conflict.
As with the political and economic spheres, all parts of a participatory democracy should have as a goal the fullest development of independence and social responsibility in the individual.
The Industrialization of the World
Many Americans are prone to think of industrialization of the newly-developing nations as a modern form of American noblesse, undertaken sacrificially for the benefit of others. On the contrary, the task of world industrialization, of eliminating the disparity between have and have-not nation, is as important as any issue facing America. The colonial revolution signals the end of an era for the old Western powers, and a time of new beginnings for most of the people of the earth. In the course of these upheavals, many problems will emerge: American policies will be revised or accelerated in several ways.
View in 19th Century France
As students for a democratic society we are committed to stimulating this kind of social movement, this kind of vision and program in campus and community across the country.
If we appear to seek the unattainable, it has been said, then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable.
Transcribed by Jim Kalafus, May 2006