Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

1968

Let’s move from decade analysis--the Sixties--to year analysis--1968. It was surely a violent year. Remember Memphis, Los Angeles, Chicago, Tet, Mexico City, Paris, and Prague. But that the scope and significance of that violence was nothing, of course, compared to 1776, 1789, 1865, 1914 etc. How important is 1968 in the emerging discipline of year analysis? What does the year stand for in our hearts and minds?

Discussions - 9 Comments

Don't forget the slaughter in Mexico City. It is interesting in my conversations with students who barely remember 1998 tend to relate the events of 1968 as the events that generally define the entire decade. I have found it interesting that as time passes many people tend to associate the events of a particularly significant/violent year not only with a larger decade but even as the defining moment of entire eras.

I think of the New Left and its role in the events at universities like Berkeley and Columbia. This movement played a key role in the continuing defection of the neoconservatives from their former home in the Democratic party. The documentary Arguing the World is particularly good on these events and has interviews with people like Tom Hayden and Nathan Glazer. The transformation of the Democratic party itself also comes to mind. I liked Ron Radosh's book called Divided They Fell--it's very good on the Chicago convention. Radosh also has some interesting reflections on the importance of the writings of Christopher Lasch in his radical phase.

1968 - The red diaper doper babies of the 1960's, i.e. Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Tom Hayden, Bill Ayers, Bernandine Dohrn, Bernandette Boudin, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, etc etc etc are as wrong today as they were then.

George, Thanks for Mexico City. I knew when I could only come up with six I was missing something big.

Columbia's alumni magazine
has articles about their '68 experience. I especially like this one, about academic freedom.

I was only 16 that year, but fell into cowgirl's description, I guess. My parents let me go to demonstrations downtown, or maybe I sneaked out. I forget. I watched the Chicago riots on TV, looking for friends there who might get clobbered by the police. My dad moved us to Oregon to dampen my interest in politics.

George has it in the main. But there was plenty of violence in the decade. We lived up the hill from the Hough Riots of 1966. Didn't it seem like the civilized world had to be coming to an end? But here we are, still worrying that the civilized world is coming to an end.

I was born in 1984, so I missed all the fun. I have been reading .Nixonland by Rick Perlstein. I think it paints an amazingly vivid picture of 1968 and the 60s in general. I highly recommend it

Dear Professor Lawler,

As a matter of pure body count, the American riots of 1968 do not compare to the draft riots of 1863 or the World War I era race riots. But that is not the whole story. The combined effects of Tet, LBJ's throwing in the towel, the assasinations, the race riots (afer Martin Luther King's murder), and the riot at the Democratic National Convention created the impression that the United States was on the verge of disintegrating. I strongly suggest you read the issue of National Review that came out after the Martin Luther King assasination. Despair is not too strong a word for the tone of the magazine's editorial regarding the events of spring 1968. And there was more bad stuff yet to come.


Let's not forget that, despite the closeness of the Nixon-Humphrey race, the combined vote for the right on Election Day was about 56 percent. The left was utterly humiliated, in that sense, by the Silent Majority.

Peter, about that NR piece, --------------- with the despair, ------------ was it written by Derbyshire? He seems to be their apostle of the bad news, the failed policy, the blighted future. Little wonder that he went whole hog and embraced atheism, where the only thing we all supposedly have to look forward to is a charted voyage into an endless black nothingness.

What joy.

The only real question is what took him so long to get around to his bleak, drear atheiesm.

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