Reading the Open Letter to the New New Left from the Old New Left in The Nation magazine, it all seemed familiar to me.
We had these same disagreements 50 years ago about working with the Democratic Establishment.
I was a local leader of SDS in Los Angeles. I was not old enough to be a founder, but I am now counted as one of SDS’ veterans.
Their letter seems to have been prompted by a tweet from one small section of the Left, the Democratic Socialists of America, who have refused to endorse Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic Party candidate.
The first thing I found missing in this letter is any mention of what the Biden campaign and the Democratic Party must say and – more importantly- do to build an electoral majority that can beat Donald Trump.
I think the DSA position is mistaken. So is this letter to The Nation.
The authors of the letter direct all their criticisms at the Left and demand nothing from the Democratic Establishment and Biden.
Like the DSA they criticize, the authors of this letter also have turned their backs on struggle with the Democratic Party leadership and the Biden campaign.
Even Biden is suggesting compromises. All this letter demands is “all hands on deck.” They ask for nothing in exchange for their support.
Their letter suggests that building an electoral majority falls entirely upon the Left.
The whole process of coming together should be uncomfortable for everyone involved — that’s how you know it’s working. And if Biden is only doing things he’s comfortable with, then it’s not enough.
I am 71 year-old and still an activist.
I don’t see this as the generational divide that this letter describes.
Some of us who were activists against the war and racism in the 60s came away from that time with different lessons learned.
For example, I can recall we supported the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and the heroic Fannie Lou Hamer when they demanded that the national Party seat them instead of the segregationist regulars.
Support for the Democrats came with demands and struggle.
There are no references to the Civil Rights Movement or the fight against racism in the letter to the “new new left.” There are no demands. No struggle.
So, as a veteran SDSer, I’m not with this letter or this approach. It’s not the way to beat Donald Trump.