Communism in The United States - History - 1950s and 1960s: Civil Rights, The War On Poverty, and The New Left

1950s and 1960s: Civil Rights, The War On Poverty, and The New Left

In 1958 the Socialist Party welcomed former members of the Independent Socialist League, which before its 1956 dissolution had been led by Max Shachtman. Shachtman had developed a Marxist critique of Soviet communism as "bureaucratic collectivism", a new form of class society that was more oppressive than any form of capitalism. Shachtman's theory was similar to that of many dissidents and refugees from Communism, such as the theory of the "New Class" proposed by Yugoslavian dissident Milovan Đilas (Djilas). Shachtman's ISL had attracted youth like Irving Howe, Michael Harrington, Tom Kahn, and Rachelle Horowitz. The YPSL was dissolved, but the party formed a new youth group under the same name.

Kahn and Horowitz, along with Norman Hill, helped Bayard Rustin with the civil-rights movement. Rustin had helped to spread pacificism and non-violence to leaders of the civil rights movement, like Martin Luther King. Rustin's circle and A. Philip Randolph organized the 1963 March on Washington, where Martin Luther King delivered his I Have A Dream speech.

Michael Harrington soon became the most visible socialist in the United States when his The Other America became a best seller, following a long and laudatory New Yorker review by Dwight Macdonald. Harrington and other socialists were called to Washington, D.C., to assist the Kennedy Administration and then the Johnson Administration's War on Poverty and Great Society.

Shachtman, Michael Harrington, Kahn, and Rustin argued advocated a political strategy called "realignment," that prioritized strengthening labor unions and other progressive organizations that were already active in the Democratic Party. Contributing to the day-to-day struggles of the civil-rights movement and labor unions had gained socialists credibility and influence, and had helped to push politicians in the Democratic Party towards "social-liberal" or social-democratic positions, at least on civil rights and the War on Poverty.

Harrington, Kahn, and Horowitz were officers and staff-persons of the League for Industrial Democracy (LID), which helped to start the New Left Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). The three LID officers clashed with the less experienced activists of SDS, like Tom Hayden, when the latter's Port Huron Statement criticized socialist and liberal opposition to communism and criticized the labor movement while promoting students as agents of social change. LID and SDS split in 1965, when SDS voted to remove from its constitution the "exclusion clause" that prohibited membership by communists: The SDS exclusion clause had barred "advocates of or apologists for" "totalitarianism". The clause's removal effectively invited "disciplined cadre" to attempt to "take over or paralyze" SDS, as had occurred to mass organizations in the thirties. Afterwords, Marxism Leninism, particularly the Progressive Labor Party, helped to write "the death sentence" for SDS, which nonetheless had over 100 thousand members at its peak.

In the 1960s there was a renewed interest in anarchism, and some anarchist and other left-wing groups developed out of the New Left. Anarchists began using direct action, organizing through affinity groups during anti-nuclear campaigns in the 1970s.

Read more about this topic:  Communism In The United States, History

Other articles related to "civil":

History of Marriage By Culture - Europe
... In Ancient Greece, no specific civil ceremony was required for the creation of a marriage – only mutual agreement and the fact that the couple must regard each other as husband and wife accordingly ... In England and Wales, since 1837, civil marriages have been recognized as a legal alternative to church marriages under the Marriage Act 1836 ... In Germany, civil marriages were recognized in 1875 ...

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