Americans Have Always Been Hesitant Essay
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Kerr's management strategy on campus only emboldened the New Left.
In addition to the Free Speech movement, the New Left included other student organizations including Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Congress on Racial Equality (CORE), and the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). The former focused on the antiwar efforts to end the Vietnam conflict, placing the students in direct conflict with many of America's most powerful institutions and organizations. Sit-ins, and other non-violent protest tactics were used to gain media coverage as well as to effect real change. The increasing awareness of how the War in Vietnam was proceeding caused the New Left to grow dramatically, providing a credible opposition to the Department of Defense. As Zinn points out, an increasingly large proportion of Americans ceased affiliating with either the Democratic or Republican parties, expressing opposition to the core institutions of government that led to injustices like those being witnessed in Vietnam. Faith in government was eroding fast during the 1960s, paving the way well for the upheaval and turmoil that characterized the 1970s. The New Left was successful in raising awareness of core political issues, gaining traction for Civil Rights, and poking holes in New Right logic. However, the New Left lacked political cohesion and more importantly, sponsorship from big business or big religion. This meant that the New Left became a series of scattered political activist organizations including environmentalist groups and civil liberties organizations, whereas the New Right infiltrated the upper echelons of politics. The failure of the New Left to coalesce led to a kind of political impotence. The New Right proved eminently successful in infiltrating every level of American political culture and society.
Toward the end of the century, yet another division between left and right started to emerge on the heels of
the New Left and New Right. The neoconservative and neoliberal movements were qualitatively different than what had come before. The neoconservative movement was an amalgamation of libertarianism and militarization, culminating in the presidency of George W. Bush. The neoliberals and the New Democrats found their voice in President Clinton. There were far more similarities between the neoconservatives and neoliberals than there were between the New Left and the New Right. As Kinzer (2006) points out, American intervention in foreign countries was something that both Democrats and Republicans started to engage in, due to the fact that the genuinely Left elements of society had become politically marginalized. If Jimmy Carter represented some of what the New Left had to offer, Clinton encapsulated neoliberalism. Neoliberals were pro-business, and lacked the grassroots and socialist themes that characterized the New Left. Neoconservatives likewise diverged from the New Right, particularly in the willingness to distance the conservative movement from the Moral Majority and other Christian fundamentalist organizations. This did not mean that Christian fundamentalism did not fuel neoconservatives; just that the Right was taking a different strategy toward accomplishing its goals. Likewise, the neoliberals represent political centrism, thus marginalizing those farther left of center.
Foner, E, 2011. Give Me Liberty! Norton.
"The free-speech fight that shaped the New Left." Workers' Liberty. Retrieved online: http://www.workersliberty.org/story/2008/02/09/free-speech-fight-shaped-new-left
Heilbrun, J., 1997. "The New Democrats. New Republic. Retrieved online: http://www.newrepublic.com/article/93596/democratic-leadership-council-al-from#
Kinzer, S. Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change. New York: Henry Holt.
Lyons, Paul, 1996, New Left, New Right, and the Legacy of the Sixties. Temple University Press.
Ruhaak, Marty, 2003. New Left beginnings: The Free Speech Movement at Berkeley in 1964. Retrieved online: http://castle.eiu.edu/historia/archives/2003/Ruhaak.htm
U.S. History, 2013. 58e. The New Right. Retrieved online: http://www.ushistory.org/us/58e.asp
Zinn, H., 2003. The Twentieth Century. New York: Harper Collins.
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