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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Port Huron Statement, Revisited

"We regard men as infinitely precious and possessed of unfulfilled capacities for reason, freedom, and love. In affirming these principles we are aware of 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 -- if anything, the brutalities of the twentieth century teach that means and ends are intimately related, that vague appeals to "posterity" cannot justify the mutilations of the present. We oppose, too, the doctrine of human incompetence because it rests essentially on the modern fact that men have been "competently" manipulated into incompetence -- we see little reason why men cannot meet with increasing skill the complexities and responsibilities of their situation, if society is organized not for minority, but for majority, participation in decision-making. Men have unrealized potential for self-cultivation, self-direction, self-understanding, and creativity. It is this potential that we regard as crucial and to which we appeal, not to the human potentiality for violence, unreason, and submission to authority. The goal of man and society should be human independence: a concern not with image of popularity but with finding a meaning in life that is personally authentic: a quality of mind not compulsively driven by a sense of powerlessness, nor one which unthinkingly adopts status values, nor one which represses all threats to its habits, but one which has full, spontaneous access to present and past experiences, one which easily unites the fragmented parts of personal history, one which openly faces problems which are troubling and unresolved: one with an intuitive awareness of possibilities, an active sense of curiosity, an ability and willingness to learn.
This kind of independence does not mean egoistic individualism -- the object is not to have one's way so much as it is to have a way that is one's own. Nor do we deify man -- we merely have faith in his potential.
"-from the Port Huron Statement,SDS,1962

I started here:
...and wandered around a bit, on Wiki and such....till I ended up here:

I have, in my time, kind of naturally been drawn to the just fit with my personality, my sense of self and the obvious, if intuitive, Truth I felt in the things of the Left.
I didn't get any of this from the Right...there was always something missing...a wall that one would run up against, beyond which one was supposed to suspend critique...much like religion. I instinctively rejected Orthodoxy.
Today, I am astounded that, after a lifetime of study, I have only now discovered this document. ...which, at first glance, articulates the stance I've been flailing at for 30 years.

How has this eluded me? Has it been so well hidden? Or was I a victim, despite my best efforts, of the Right Wing's propaganda campaign against All Things Left?
I remember reading about SDS, a few times, when learning about the 60's...but there was no depth to the information I found. In retrospect, I dismissed them...along with the Weather Underground and Leary's Bunch, as Utopian Radicals, whose ideas were cool, but who lacked appreciation for Reality.
Turns out, this is what the Right has been preaching all along...
Through my wife's job, I can access current History and Social Studies books that our local High School is using, both currently and in the recent past (going back to 1985,or so). SDS is given passing mention, and (sure enough) is implied to be of the same importance and ilk as Manson and the Weathermen. It is implied that one equals the other, with no nuance.
Overall, the Sixties are equated with Drugs, in their Modern Context...and the implication is that the entire 60's Movement was a Failed One...losing out to the Rational, Free market, Radical Traditionalism of the New Right.
This document is nowhere mentioned, let alone quoted.

I believe it should be read and disseminated far and wide...if our institutions are too compromised by the prevailing Right Wing Ideology to do so, then we must.
The Right won the Culture evidenced by the recent Text Book Mullah's activities in Texas, as well as the continued (and rediculous) association of "Liberal" with "Soft Headed," and the looking down the nose, with paternalistic disdain, at anything that would contradict the Conventional Wisdom.

The mere fact that this document has been so well obscured, even to someone like me, is an indicator, perhaps, to it's Power....and the power of the Dominant Right to dictate what is "important", even without appearing to do so.
Witness the history Channel, PBS, etc...every "documentary" I've seen regarding the 60's ends with a lamentation about Manson, Altamont, Heroin and if these were the inevitable result of the behaviour and Ideals of the 60's.
In fact, the Ideals of the 60's are entirely glossed over, in favor of manner of dress, Free Love and, of course, Music.
The History of this era is a commodified shadow, an eviscerated carcass...devoid of consideration, save by escapists and malcontents.
Is it any wonder that the state of the world, for all our technological wizardry , and our perceived affluence, the state of the world hasn't changed...and that this document is as relevant now, as it was then?
The "Enemies" have, somewhat, changed...we now are to fear "Terrorists", instead of the Evil Empire (which collapsed under it's own rusty, ossified weight); "Communists", and"Socialists", are still unthinkingly lumped together...but joined, now, by Queers, Atheists, and Brown People...
Nuance, Grey Areas, are still is Intellectualism, Academia and Thought, in general.
While Environmental concepts are mouthed and, perhaps, embraced in principal...the Economic Orthodoxy prevents any real Alternatives to the current Paradigm....
The role of the Corporation, in which Family I include Think Tanks and Foundations. has grown exponentially...consolidating and expanding it's Power...over not just the physical aspects, but the minds and emotions of it's subjects.
Everything is for Sale!, and subject to crass manipulation...

It is high time for what's left of the Left in this country and world, to revisit foundational documents such as this...and begin to secede, mentally, emotionally, philosophically and physically, from the Dominant Paradigm...which has left a trail of destruction and sadness in it's wake, while enriching so few.
The Left has been parasitized by "Centrists".
A New New Left must open it's eyes, and stand up...for if the Right's Machine is allowed to continue, Darkness can only follow.

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