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The new left movements during the 1960s and the 1970s

It had no consistent doctrine and embraced various ideologies, from the Maoist interpretation of Marxism to outright anarchism. The Jewish aspect of the movement was twofold: In the United States As mentioned, the New Left counted a disproportionate number of Jews among its leaders and rank-and-file activists. In organizations such as the Students for a Democratic Society sdsthe Congress of Racial Equalitythe Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, as well as in the Free Speech and anti-Vietnam war movements, American Jews pressed for a social reform agenda that valued " participatory democracy " and rejected institutionalized power.

By the late 1960s, Jewish New Leftists clashed with their non-Jewish counterparts.

The rise of the Black Power movement alienated Jewish civil rights workers while the anti-Cold War ethos of the New Left turned against the Jewish State, deemed an "imperialist aggressor" after its decisive 1967 victory in the Six-Day War. While some Jewish New Leftists remained active in secular political causes, others translated the tactics and strategies of direct-action protests to particularist Jewish causes.

Wright Mills first coined the phrase in his 1960 "Letter to the New Left. Members of the Old Left embraced strategies that sought to realign the United States government's relationship to labor.

At the 1962 sds conference, Tom Hayden issued the founding document and constitution of the New Left movement, the Port Huron Statement.

Named for the town that hosted the sds meeting, the Port Huron Statement joined Old Left Marxism with contemporary liberal beliefs and the hopeful optimism of a post-war American middle class. It called for " participatory democracy " and pressed for direct action protests against injustices.

They joined the emerging civil rights movement, engaging in direct-action protests they hoped would focus the world's attention on the injustices of southern racism. They spearheaded the anti-Vietnam war protest movement, rejecting the Cold War assumptions of mainstream liberal America in favor of an anti-imperialist critique that blamed the United States for much of the world's economic inequality.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the New Left fractured beyond repair. Those on the liberal-leaning side of the movement celebrated the successful conclusion of the civil rights movement and the U. From the other extreme, New Left radical groups such as the Weather Underground Organization pressed for more confrontational strategies that included violent resistance, alienating their one-time political allies.

Scholars estimate that Jews constituted between one-third and one-half of the New Left activists on college campuses across the country. At a time when Jews represented just three percent of the American population and ten percent of those attending college, they constituted a majority of the New Left's most active members. Numerous social scientific studies pointed to strong Jewish influences in the nation's leading New Left groups.

At the University of CaliforniaBerkeley, Jewish students lit candles during a sit-in protest that coincided with the holiday of Hanukkah. The Oscar-nominated documentary film Berkeley In The '60s features Jewish student protesters leading Israeli folk dancing during a demonstration inside Sproul Hall, the university's main administration building.

During the civil rights movement, American Jews joined a number of local and national organizations including sncc and core.

  1. From the other extreme, New Left radical groups such as the Weather Underground Organization pressed for more confrontational strategies that included violent resistance, alienating their one-time political allies. What began as a univeralist movement for participatory democracy and inter-racial cooperation ended with an impressive campaign for progressive Zionism, stronger Jewish education, and greater focus on Jewish ethnic and religious continuity.
  2. The Marxist rationalization of these feelings runs along arguments well known to Old Left Communists, that Israel and Zionism in general are only the "lackey of American imperialism," etc. In 1980, the New Jewish Agenda was established with an agenda similar to Breira.
  3. Thus, ironically , many elements of anti-environmental crankery popular with right-wingers today, in particular the idea of environmental classism , got their start among '60s left-wing radicals, who viewed the first Earth Day in 1970 as "the white liberal's cop out" and believed that concerns about overpopulation were motivated by fears of dark-skinned hordes from the Third World overrunning the "civilized" nations. What began as a univeralist movement for participatory democracy and inter-racial cooperation ended with an impressive campaign for progressive Zionism, stronger Jewish education, and greater focus on Jewish ethnic and religious continuity.
  4. It survived until 1992, but also remained a marginal group with no influence in the broader Jewish community.
  5. However, the French students' revolt of May 1968 and similar, though less violent, demonstrations in Germany and throughout Europe, proved that under favorable conditions the New Left could act as an ideological catalyst and set into motion events of considerable consequence.

When northern college students ventured south during the 1964 Mississippi summer, between one-third and one-half were Jewish. Jews remained throughout this period the most liberal white ethnic group in the United States, lending their time, money, and political influence to combating Jim Crow. With Israel's dramatic victory in the 1967 Six Day War, Jewish progressives faced their greatest challenge.

The New Left, splintering along racial and ideological lines, grew critical of the Jewish State, equating its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip to the evil imperialist impulses of the United States in the Cold War. Many in the New Left rejected Zionism, labeling it a chauvinistic, even racist, manifestation of nationalism.

At the 1967 Conference for a New Politics held in Chicago, for example, African American delegates pressed for passage of a resolution that characterized the June 1967 conflict as an "imperialist Zionist war. The Committee intended to strike a balance between the strident anti-Zionist influences growing with the New Left and the much less critical Zionist voices of Hillel and other Jewish groups. Radical Jewish Zionists, despite their attempts to locate progressive Zionism within the boundaries of the New Left, failed to re-unite Jewish leftists with an ever more radical, and anti-Zionist, movement.

  • JJSO , 11 1969 , 121—32; N;
  • What began as a univeralist movement for participatory democracy and inter-racial cooperation ended with an impressive campaign for progressive Zionism, stronger Jewish education, and greater focus on Jewish ethnic and religious continuity.

The rise of Black Power also alienated Jews from the New Left, which had, by the mid-1960s, come to locate black militancy in its movement's vanguard.

The rise of ethnic nationalism ended the inter-racial civil rights movement of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Jews, once valued as liberal America's most committed social reform advocates, faced a Black Power-inspired critique that labeled them white oppressors.

As one Jewish New Leftist explained, "Even if I were a superaltruistic liberal and campaigned among the Jews to support the Panthers' program, I would justifiably be tarred and feathered for giving aid and comfort to enemies of the Jews. I would rather it were not this way, but it was you who disowned us, not we who betrayed you. Jews, weary of anti-Zionism, occasional antisemitism, and the rise of ethnic and racial consciousness, turned inward, applying many of the New Left's political strategies to Jewish communal concerns.

The Soviet Jewry movement, nascent since its founding in the 1950s, enjoyed rapid growth in the years after 1964 when Jewish civil rights workers turned their attention to the plight of their co-religionists in the Eastern Bloc. In San FranciscoJewish radicals staged a "pray in," emulating the Free Speech Movement's "sit in," to force that city's Jewish Federation Council to increase its support of Jewish education. Other groups such as Jews for Urban Justice and Breira — which counteracted the slogan in Israeli politics ein breira [there is no choice] — emerged as well, focusing attention on progressive political issues within the Jewish community.

In the final analysis, the New Left offered Jewish radicals a powerful legacy of both ethnic and religious identity. What began as a univeralist movement for participatory democracy and inter-racial cooperation ended with an impressive campaign for progressive Zionism, stronger Jewish education, and greater focus on Jewish ethnic and religious continuity. It lacked the reservoir of supporters among both the black masses and sections of the white population opposed to the war in Vietnam and it was opposed by the entrenched Socialist and Communist parties.

The appeal of the European New Left thus tended to be restricted to amorphous groups on the periphery of society.

  • As already noted, then-trendy philosophers ranging from Marcuse to the existentialists had a broad effect influencing both the New Left and the forms it took counterculture, student-led protest, Black Power;
  • The New Left produced no unified body of political theory;
  • The disconnect between popular acceptance and policy-class acceptance of New Left theory is a source of populist backlash against the administrative state and its support structures in media, academia, business, and advocacy groups.

However, the French students' revolt of May 1968 and similar, though less violent, demonstrations in Germany and throughout Europe, proved that under favorable conditions the New Left could act as an ideological catalyst and set into motion events of considerable consequence. Its total rejection of prevailing standards and social structures was echoed in the inarticulate, though widespread, misgivings about the values and workings of the " affluent society " and the "deadness of its culture.

There were, however, particularly in Great Britainother, near-clandestine groupings that concentrated on disruptive industrial action, as, for example, Tariq Ali's Trotskyist International Marxist Group or the Socialist Labor League, which aimed at the subversion of the trade union and have been more disruptive than the 1968 student demonstrations at the London School of Economics and other British universities.

In his attempt to harmonize the new left movements during the 1960s and the 1970s teachings of Freud with those of Marx, Marcuse totally rejected the basic assumptions and ultimate objectives of the prevailing industrial society.

Alienation in work and the repression of basic human drives could be overcome, Marcuse maintained, in a truly democratic and participatory society so organized as to serve essential human needs rather than the requirements of the socio-industrial complex. Since the service of the latter has corrupted mankind, the only hope for its future lies in the classes still untouched by the exigencies of the productive processes, which have become an obsession both under capitalism and Communism.

These classes are the students of the industrialized nations and the masses of the developing Third World. From these assumptions it follows that New Left thinking on the Arab-Israel confrontation tends to sympathize with the Arabs as representatives of the oppressed Third Worldwhile regarding the Westernized, technology-oriented Israelis with instinctive hostility.

The Marxist rationalization of these feelings runs along arguments well known to Old Left Communists, that Israel and Zionism in general are only the "lackey of American imperialism," etc. Marcuse, however, disassociated himself from this attitude while on a visit to West Berlin shortly after the Six-Day War 1967. In the Federal Republic of Germany, the New Left's most important protagonist, the sds Sozialistischer Deutscher Studentenbund in 1969 repeatedly disrupted public meetings at which the Israel ambassador was to appear.

Later that year New Left terrorists tried to blow up West Berlin's Jewish community hall during a service commemorating the 1938 Nazi pogroms. The revulsion aroused by these activities was criticized by their perpetrators, who, in leaflets, under the headline "Shalom and Napalm," deplored the guilt feelings of the German Left toward the Jews as "neurotic, backward-looking anti-Fascism" disregarding the "non-justifiability of the state of Israel.

Modern Jewish History: The New Left

Similar tendencies were at work in Italy, where such New Left organizations as Lotta Continua were militantly "anti-Zionist. Although their Jewishness did not induce them to follow an independent line on the Arab-Israel conflict, it sufficed to revive antisemitic resentments on either side of the political spectrum.

  • The Jewish aspect of the movement was twofold;
  • Jews, once valued as liberal America's most committed social reform advocates, faced a Black Power-inspired critique that labeled them white oppressors;
  • Many in the New Left rejected Zionism, labeling it a chauvinistic, even racist, manifestation of nationalism;
  • The Tea Party movement has emerged at the moment when growing numbers of Americans detected a contradiction between the Christian values espoused by the Republican Party and the actual practice of a militarist foreign policy and a laissez-faire capitalism devoid of concern for human well-being — and indeed, a further contradiction between the hate spewed by the Religious Right towards the LGBT community, Muslims , and other minorities and what was actually preached by Jesus;
  • Many outsiders consider them both part of the general anarchism that the New Left fostered, but most of the members of SDS and other groups denounced both the Yippies and Hippies as unserious jokers.

It is absurd to pretend, he maintained, that "Israel is an imperialist state and that the Arabs are socialists, including their feudal states. It never had more than a handful of members and in 1970 these split into three groups. Encounter, 33 196924—35; P. Mc-Conville, French Revolution 1968 1968 ; W. Marcuse, Protest, Demonstration, Revolt 1968; translation of his: Das Ende der Utopie.

Gosse, The Movements of the New Left, 1950—1975: A Brief History with Documents 2004 ; M. Lichter, Roots of Radicalism: Jews, Christians, and the Left 1996 ; M. Staub, The Jewish 1960s: Cite this article Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  1. They spearheaded the anti-Vietnam war protest movement, rejecting the Cold War assumptions of mainstream liberal America in favor of an anti-imperialist critique that blamed the United States for much of the world's economic inequality. Rothbard for his part soon swung hard to the right into tough-on-crime cop fetishism.
  2. However, the French students' revolt of May 1968 and similar, though less violent, demonstrations in Germany and throughout Europe, proved that under favorable conditions the New Left could act as an ideological catalyst and set into motion events of considerable consequence.
  3. The revulsion aroused by these activities was criticized by their perpetrators, who, in leaflets, under the headline "Shalom and Napalm," deplored the guilt feelings of the German Left toward the Jews as "neurotic, backward-looking anti-Fascism" disregarding the "non-justifiability of the state of Israel. Others moved into far-left parties and groups that proliferated in the 1970s.
  4. Similar tendencies were at work in Italy, where such New Left organizations as Lotta Continua were militantly "anti-Zionist. It never had more than a handful of members and in 1970 these split into three groups.