A Hard Rain Fell: SDS and Why it Failed [NOOK Book]

Overview


By the spring of 1969, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) had reached its zenith as the largest, most radical movement of white youth in American history-a genuine New Left. Yet less than a year later, SDS splintered into warring factions and ceased to exist.

SDS's development and its dissolution grew directly out of the organization's relations with the black freedom movement, the movement against the Vietnam War, and the newly emerging struggle for women's liberation. ...

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A Hard Rain Fell: SDS and Why it Failed

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Overview


By the spring of 1969, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) had reached its zenith as the largest, most radical movement of white youth in American history-a genuine New Left. Yet less than a year later, SDS splintered into warring factions and ceased to exist.

SDS's development and its dissolution grew directly out of the organization's relations with the black freedom movement, the movement against the Vietnam War, and the newly emerging struggle for women's liberation. For a moment, young white people could comprehend their world in new and revolutionary ways. But New Leftists did not respond as a tabula rasa. On the contrary, these young people's consciousnesses, their culture, their identities had arisen out of a history which, for hundreds of years, had privileged white over black, men over women, and America over the rest of the world. Such a history could not help but distort the vision and practice of these activists, good intentions notwithstanding.

A Hard Rain Fell: SDS and Why It Failed traces these activists in their relation to other movements and demonstrates that the New Left's dissolution flowed directly from SDS's failure to break with traditional American notions of race, sex, and empire.


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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"The main theme of the author's criticism here is that the young, white, male activists in SDS did not see that they were continuing the errors of traditional American culture by assuming that, because of their white skin, they were necessarily the leaders of a progressive student movement. He argues that the New Left failed not because it radically separated itself from America's mainstream, the claim of a number of important historians of the period. Rather, it failed because it came to mirror that mainstream, and in mirroring American racial attitudes, it ceased to represent a Left. In the end, SDS came to be dominated by the Weatherman and Weatherwoman factions that wanted to 'out-macho' the white working class by brawling with the police and blowing up buildings. As a result, when huge numbers of Americans took to the streets to protest the war in 1969 and 1970, SDS was nowhere to be found. They had abdicated leadership in the most important anti-war effort of that decade. In the end, leaders in SDS were guilty of refusing to work at community organizing, building alliances, and resisting imperialism."

--The American Historical Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781604733051
  • Publisher: University Press of Mississippi
  • Publication date: 2/17/2010
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author


David Barber is assistant professor of history at the University of Tennessee at Martin. His work has appeared in Journal of Social History, Left History, and Race Traitor.


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