On June 12, 1962, sixty young student activists drafted a manifesto for their generation - The Port Huron Statement - that ignited a decade of dissent. Democracy Is in the Streets is the definitive history of the major people and ideas that shaped the New Left in America during that turbulent decade. Because the 1960s generation is now moving into positions of power in politics, education, the media, and business, their early history is crucial to our understanding. James Miller, in his new Preface, puts the 1960s and them into a context for our time, claiming that something of value did happen: "Most of the large questions raised by that moment of chaotic openness - political questions about the limits of freedom, and cultural questions, too, about the authority of the past and the anarchy of the new - are with us still."
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(210mm x 140mm x 22mm)
Harvard University Press
Publisher: Harvard University Press
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US Kirkus Review »
A thoughtful history of 1960's New Left politics by a one-time participant, now a rock 'n' roll writer for Newsweek and author of Rosseau. Miller's focus for looking at the New Left is The Port Huron Statement (reprinted here in full), the 63-page student manifesto composed in 1962 that laid the philosophical base for the decade of protest to follow. Rather than consider the statement primarily in the abstract (although he does devote considerable space to a clear discussion of its roots and implications, emphasizing its debt to the sociology of C. Wright Mills), Miller wisely approaches it biographically by tracing the careers of the more prominent young radicals who ratified it. Covered in depth are Alan Haber, the Michigan student who founded the most successful of New Left organizations, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS); assorted SDS leaders like Carl Oglesby and Paul Booth; and a galaxy of cameo players, including Bob Dylan, described mumbling an incoherent greeting to an SDS national council meeting. But it is Tom Hayden, the chief architect of the statement (and the man who would win further fame as Jane Fonda's husband) who emerges as the linchpin of the New Left. In Hayden's evolution from thinker/writer into community organizer and finally into radical activist confronting the police on the Chicago streets in 1968, Miller finds his paradigm for the entire New Left. And in his forceful empathy for Hayden's radicalization and committed activism, Miller clearly transmits his belief that the principles of the statement are as relevant to the 80's as they were to the 60's. Miller fails to persuade fully that the New Left was much more than a tempest in a teapot, but he does chart that tempest with rigor: a noteworthy contemporary historical study. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - James Miller
James Miller, Professor of Political Science and Director of Liberal Studies at the Graduate Faculty of the New School for Social Research, is the author of The Passion of Michel Foucault and Rousseau: Dreamer of Democracy.