A Hard Rain Fell: SDS and Why it Failed

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Univ. Press of Mississippi, Feb 17, 2010 - History - 299 pages
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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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Contents

Why the New Left Failed
3
The New Left and the Black Movement 19651968
16
The New Left and the American Empire 19621968
52
The New Left and Feminism 19651969
95
The New Left Starts to Disintegrate
145
Reasserting the Centrality of White Radicals
188
The Price of the Liberation
226
Notes
235
Bibliography
259
Index
271
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About the author (2010)

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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