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TOM HAYDEN AND OTHERS, THE PORT HURON STATEMENT

TOM HAYDEN AND OTHERS, THE PORT HURON STATEMENT

Introduction

The Port Huron Statement refers to a manifesto of the student activist movement from North America in 1962   with the movement calling themselves Students for a Democratic Society. It was mainly written by Tom Hayden, who was the movements’ Field secretary, with the help of 58 other SDS members. The statement made up of 25, 700 words articulates the fundamental issues facing the American society and come up with a radical vision to have a better future. Its issued the participatory democracy with a nonideolical call to act as a solution based on civil disobedience that was not violent and the notion that individual citizens could assist make the social decisions that determine the direction and quality of their lives. The statement acted as an agenda for a generation as it brought to term what was participatory democracy to become common parlance

  1. How do the young conservatives who wrote the Sharon Statement understand freedom?

The young Americans behind the Sharon Statement had a conservative point of view in relation to freedom. This point of view affirmed that the youth had an affirmation of the will of God, affirming their strong beliefs in individual liberty and free will, the complex bond existing between economic freedom, the government purpose to protect freedom through internal order preservation, justice administration and national defense, the Constitutional genius and the market economy to be a single system that is compatible with freedom (Andrew 78)

According to the young conservatives, communism is considered as the greatest threat facing democracy. Despite the libertarians being forced out of the youth, the Sharon statement highlights how the libertarians’ core influences the Statement.  The Statement served as an appeal to the different Conservative factions through staying within narrow boundaries. The youth were in support of the Vietnam War, looking at it as away of fighting communism. The young conservatives were also against any kind of negotiations with any communists’ nation.

The youths believed that the international communism forces are currently the greatest threat facing the liberties that America as a nation should put more focus on victory and not coexist with this menace. It is evident from the statement that the young conservatives are most likely to be against the Civil Rights Movement following their argument that it is likely to be an issue that is left to each state now that the federal government is not supposed to interfere with the business of each state.

The Sharon Statement was an emergence of the young conservatives for freedom as a conservatism force in American politics. In the time of political and moral crisis, the youth conservatives’ responsibility was to affirm some eternal truths. From the statement, they believe that the foremost in the transcendent values is the personal use of his free will given by God, which derives the right for freedom from the arbitrary force restrictions.

The youth also believed that liberty was indivisible and political freedom has to coexist with economic freedom.  The government purposes according to the youth are to protect those freedoms by international order preservation. When the government ventures are beyond justice administration, internal order preservation and national defense provision, it accumulates power that tends to diminish liberty and order (Thorburn 71)

  1. What do the authors of the Port Huron Statement appear to mean by participatory democracy?

Participatory democracy was an economic program statement that was the New Deals’ extension and called for deeper participatory of democratic reform. The statement was also on economic democracy as distinctive from the more bureaucratic approach of the New Deal. According to the statement, the means of production and major resources have to be open to democratic participation as well as make subject to democratic regulation. The  statement articulated a political realignment strategy where the aim of the strategy was to mark an end to the organized stalemate that was being witnessed in Washington as well as open a more progressive party possibility.

The authors described the system or the powerful paradigm as the movement that defied but could still not be defeated. By paradigm, the authors meant a power understanding to be cultural dominance and hegemony, a thought system which seems to lack alternatives. The experience of witnessing trillions spent on purchasing weapons instead of having the money directed towards economic development, education and healthcare.

In addition, the authors talked about how the power elite ruled behind or beyond elected officials (Schneider 142). The Occupy Wall Street is considered as a rebirth of the participatory of the democracy movement. The authors claim that this movement started without funding, pundit predictions, without organizations and with only people determined in tents. While the movement was not able to agree on coming up with detailed demands, it agreed on transparent and direct participatory democracy.

The authors reached to the conclusion that the year marked the initial presidential campaign in the lifetime of the Americans when the Wall Street gluttony, the big money evils in politics, the capitalism failures and the fundamental reform discussion were cater and front of elections debates. There is no doubt that this crisis resulted to the Occupy Movement which could not be fixed even by an election. Elections on the other hand give rise to popular mandates and mandates result in popular activism. According to the authors, it is high time that a progressive majority is organized and the strategy and vision of Port Huron seen as worth being considered as a guide (Rusher 164).

  1. What are the main differences, and are there any similarities, between the outlooks of the young conservatives and the young radicals

The emphasis of the young conservatives in the Port Huron Statement and after on the young radical potential is unclear with the analytical flaw that underlines the undeniable a generation excitement on the move. The New Left heralded on itself as a young Left remain critical to its own growth as well as to its own ultimate demise. Everywhere, radical movements relied on the zealous people’s energies who required little sleep and do not have to be concerned about the clothing,  sleep and feeding of children.

Bolshevik leaders’ average age who assumed power in Petrograd was twenty-six in 1917. Never before in the past has an American Left had youth itself a rebellion badge or prided itself with regards to breaking away from its predecessors who are older. The radicals insist that they don’t trust anyone who is over the age of 30 years and this is meant as a refutation to the charge which rebellious adults seemed to be pulling the strings (Nash 123)

The revolution notion was made exclusively by the young and came out as being both absurd and brilliant. It expressed the activists’ self confidence on one hand from a generation that was viewed as both better and larger educated than any in the history of the United States. In the 1960s, the college enrolled tripled to nearly ten million and few students had faced the Great Depression privations (Klatch 91). For most of the Americans who had faith that one can always remake his or her life, the plain-spoken young radicals brashness was often appealing, even when they disagreed with their protests points.

However, age has no intrinsic merit when it comes to politics, and the impatience of almost all young radicals as well as the arrogance of some of them also drove them astray. Liberals contemptuous, they were out to spurn the inter-class idea, interracial reform coalitions which remained a live option for the Port Huron Statement authors (Crawford 125)

Conclusion

The Port Huron Statement has acted like a seminal moment in the New Left development and a classic statement of its own principles. The statement revealed the tension between individualism and communitarianism witnessed in the 1960s. It viewed race and the induced alienation of cold war as the two main issues facing the modern society.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

Andrew, John A., III. The Other Side of the Sixties: Young Americans for Freedom and the Rise of Conservative Politics. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2007. Print

Crawford, Alan. Thunder on the Right: The “New Right” and the Politics of Resentment. New York: Pantheon Books, 2000. Print

Klatch, Rebecca. A Generation Divided” Berkeley. California: University of California Press, 2009. Print

Nash, George H. The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945. Wilmington, Delaware: Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2006. Print

Rusher, William A. The Rise of the Right. New York: National Review Books, 2003. Print

Schneider, Gregory L. Cadres for Conservatism: Young Americans for Freedom and the Rise of the Contemporary Right. New York: New York University Press, 2009. Print

Thorburn, Wayne. A Generation Awakes: Young Americans for Freedom and the Creation of the Conservative Movement. Ottawa, IL: Jameson Books, 2010. Print

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