Next Left Notes Is A News Magazine Devoted To Direct Action
Several chapters of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS)
announced today, Monday, January 16, 2006, their intent to form a national
organization and hold the first SDS national convention since 1969. "It
seemed appropriate to make this announcement today, on the observed
Martin Luther King day", said SDS regional organizer Thomas Good. "We
have an anti-war movement that is addressing the issue of stopping the
bloodletting in Iraq but the civil rights issue remains unaddressed",
he added. The national convention is scheduled for Summer 2006 and
will be preceeded by a series of regional conferences occurring on
the Memorial Day weekend.
The newly formed SDS national organization was the idea of a student
anti-war activist who contacted other student and veteran organizers.
Good joined SDS when Stonington High School (Connecticut) senior Pat Korte
contacted him with the idea of linking nascent SDS chapters into a
Pat Korte, speaking at a World Can't Wait conference
"Although I have been an active participant in the anti-war and student
activist movement, I have become frustrated with the groups collective
inability to unify enough people under a common goal/vision to address
the overall problems with our society. Historically, SDS was able to
address many of the issues pertinent at the time through Tom Hayden's
Port Huron Statement. This document has stood the test of time, thus
several fellow activists from across the country and myself decided to
form a national SDS movement, only to discover that chapters already
exist! Because of this we decided to hold a national conference", said
Thomas Good (left), at an anti-war protest in 2005
At his request, members of Korte's informal network of student activists
from across the country began contacting Good and very quickly the informal
network was replaced by a national structure that now includes a website,
discussion forum and mailing list, all of which are now based at
Korte, realizing that the original SDS suffered from not having alot of
veteran activists, WHO UNDERSTOOD THE IDEA OF STUDENT POWER, reached out to
some older activists, including several members of the 1960s era student
organization, to help ground the project and provide logistical support.
Alan Haber, driving force behind the orignal SDS
The first original SDSer to come on board was Alan Haber, president of
SDS 1960-62. Haber speaks of "re-membering SDS" rather than eulogizing it.
Never giving up on the Dream, Haber is looking forward to the "the next
meeting of SDS". And the next meeting will be a national event linking
any and all SDS chapters interested in taking part.
Today chapters exist at Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island,
at the New School in New York City, at the University of Michigan and
at Eastern Michigan University. In the western part of the US chapters
that sprang up independently in Santa Ana, California and at Reigs
University in Denver, Colorado have signed on to the national organization.
Connecting these chapters and their organizers proved less difficult than
Korte and Good initially thought. Technology was the key.
"We should reconnect our networks. We should reassert the continuity of
the radical movements in American politics. The new technologies of
communication and independent media make this more possible than ever",
said Alan Haber. Korte and Good took this advice and ran with it.
Paul Buhle, author of numerous books on the Left
As the project coalesced, Good, a member of the Industrial Workers of the
World (IWW) contacted labor historian Paul Buhle, co-editor of a graphic
history of the IWW ("Wobblies") and former SDSer from the Madison, Wisconsin,
chapter. The timing was right on. Buhle, who teaches at Brown in Rhode
Island, is working on a new project: a graphic (i.e. comic bok) history of SDS
from the perspective of the individual chapters. Working with artist Gary Dumm,
Buhle looks to avoid the usual history of the SDS national office by focusing on
the street activists and their local branches. Buhle is asking that members
of the original SDS with stories to tell contact him via e-mail at
In addition to the book, Buhle has a personal interest in SDS. Describing
himself for a recent article in Next Left Notes (www.nextleftnotes.net) he
noted: "Founder and publisher of RADICAL AMERICA, Paul Buhle was active in
Champaign-Urbana, Storrs and Madison SDS chapters, 1965-1969. He hasn't
been all that happy since, but he teaches at Brown." In the piece on NLN
Buhle talks about the historical parallels between the 1960s and the
present noting that the US empire is over-extended, liberal Democrats are
not the answer to vexing problems and the Port Huron Statement remains as
vital today as it was in 1962 when Tom Hayden presented it to the third
SDS national convention.
"Today, students of all backgrounds can be shown the need to mobilize, to
help prevent the ongoing devastation of our world, to help empower the lowly
as students learn to empower themselves, and to set out a vision of a really
democratic society. There's the key. The Industrial Workers of the World had
it long before. Decentralized democracy, democratic decision-making at all
levels is the most radical idea ever hatched in North America and the only
one with real lasting appeal", said Buhle who has joined the new SDS.
The new SDS plans to continue the independent radical tradition in America:
political education and demonstrating, advocating and organizing for democracy
and justice, unions, civil liberties, peace and freedom. According to Korte
the meetings this spring and summer will focus on building an infrastructure
that facilitates these goals as the new SDS, like the old, is an organization
of activists. Friends of peace and justice, those students who want a voice,
a say in their own destiny, should visit www.studentsforademocraticsociety.org
where regular updates will be posted and contact information is now available.
SDS is an education and social action organization dedicated to increasing
democracy in all phases of our common life. It seeks to promote the active
participation of young people in the formation of a movement to build a society
free from poverty, ignorance, war, exploitation, racism and sexism.
Visit www.studentsforademocraticsociety.org for more information.
Next Left Notes
(c) 2004,2006 Thomas Good
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