Thursday, August 30, 2018

counter revolution

A piece in the NY Times — (8/28/18, "‘The Whole World Is Watching’: The 1968 Democratic Convention, 50 Years Later") — consisting of recollections by participants in the protests at the '68 Democratic National Convention, begins with this:

MARILYN KATZ, then 21, S.D.S. security chief: I was pretty exuberant. We were having a good time. We had Allen Ginsberg and all these adults who were our idols coming to say how wonderful we were. It wasn’t just in Chicago — it was Paris, Mexico City, Prague. We were part of a worldwide youth movement, and we really thought we were the future.

It concludes with this less enthusiastic assessment by Todd Gitlin, (former S.D.S. president, then 25):

I think once you step back, what really happened here was not the beginning of the revolution but the beginning of the counterrevolution.

. . .

Back then, I was in the demographic fully swept up into the exhilaration Katz expresses. We were irresistible and contagious — we were viral avant la lettre: Chicago, Berkeley Columbia, Paris, Mexico City, Prague and beyond.

Or as Kesey put it on his Magic Bus: "Further!"

Gitlin was noting and/or foretelling a different future, one involving the Southern strategy, Nixon, racism, xenophobia, escalation in Vietnam. And to continue beyond that time frame to today, Orban, Erdogan, Putin, and not least of all, Trump.

The question I'd ask Gitlin if I were talking to him now is: given your accurate reading of the future, how have you managed to maintain your activism,  to the high degree which you have done?

No comments:

Post a Comment