TOM HAYDEN, THE 1960S ARE ALWAYS ON TRIAL

Tom Hayden is mistaken about insiderism (being in and working within the system) and non-spiritual orientation. Only peacefully displacing the worldly system will ever work. The worldly system is an inherently divided house that will always fall no matter how many times or in how many different places the greedy, violent, and depraved try to build it again. Nevertheless, Tom makes some very valid points below.

...the killings of the Kennedy's and King, and by the stolen 2000 election which could have created an environmental presidency. As a result of murders and theft, my generation will never know whether a progressive majority can succeed in winning political power, and what the consequences of that victory might be.
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...we will have to work flexibly on the inside and outside to push for rapid troop withdrawals from Iraq, prevent him [Barack Obama] from sending more combat troops to the Afghan quagmire, and have enough protective public support to initiate the talks with Iran recommended in the Baker-Hamilton Report.

The same pressure will be needed to steer him away from pro-corporate trade mechanisms like NAFTA and the WTO. And to move toward economic recovery from the bottom up, by re-regulating Wall Street, canceling the Bush tax breaks, launching an immediate public works initiative and setting bold goals for energy efficiency and renewables.
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There always is a cultural underground, of course, and an outlaw culture wherever moral injuries are inflicted on the artists. And there undergrounds of another nature, like the early catacombs, that are created by people who have decided that they must resist the state by methods defined as illegal. The Underground Railroad during slavery times would be an example. During the Sixties, all these various undergrounds existed at different times. The beat cultural underground was first. The thousands who defied the passport laws to visit Cuba. Certain Chicano nationalists fighting to reclaim land grants of the southwestern United States. Many Black Panthers. The Catholic draft and war resisters. Some Vietnam veterans. The Weather Underground was formed in the late Sixties when some young radicals perceived that a police state was unfolding, that electoral politics was hopeless, that community organizing lacked urgency, and that too many people were enjoying their racial privileges while villages and ghettos burned. As one can see, this was a spectrum of disobedience, much of it nonviolent or limited to property damage. Most of it is ignored in memory, especially institutional memory, because the underground represents a profound threat to the democratic image on which American power rests. There is little way to evaluate what was effective and what was counter-productive. What seems clear in retrospect is that when the Vietnam War ended and the post-LBJ Democrats came to power, the basis for an underground was undermined and the various undergrounds surfaced back into the mainstream, with a small number arbitrarily caught in the incarceration system for life. Since a first principle of undergrounds is silence, there will be few to tell the stories.
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The Sixties are on trial in this national election. Because of the broad brush of the Republicans and media, all of us who went through that time will be defendants this time. We must stop guilt-by-association techniques. We can denounce or oppose certain methods as we are inclined, but we must defend the idea of the Sixties overall....
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By comparison, during my decades in politics I met many Republicans who conspired to illegally raise funds for the Nicaraguan contras who blew up bombs in Managua. I had many Republican colleagues who couldn't speak out against the bombers of abortion clinics and killers of abortion doctors who were elements of their district constituencies. There were Republicans who ran illegal undergrounds of their own, from secret police units to torture chambers, tiger cages and future Abu Ghraibs. I'm not waiting to hear them exposed on FOX News or any time soon.
— Tom Hayden

Source: Z-Net Interview with Tom Hayden on the publication of Writings for Democratic Society
May 22, 2008

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  • Tom Usher

    About Tom Usher

    Employment: 2008 - present, website developer and writer. 2015 - present, insurance broker. Education: Arizona State University, Bachelor of Science in Political Science. City University of Seattle, graduate studies in Public Administration. Volunteerism: 2007 - present, president of the Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project.
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