Students for A Democratic Society

Dana Zakrzewski

         The decade of the 1960s in American History consisted of endless social turmoil due to the civil rights struggle and the conflict in Vietnam.  It also stands out as one of the only times in American History, and perhaps World History, that a generation of youth significantly impacted politics and society.  As students from relatively affluent families attended universities in record numbers, they possessed the means to become socially and politically active.  These students did not need to worry about earning a living since the majority of their parents provided a majority of them with a means of support as they received an education. Being concerned with their own interests alone, many of these students looked outward to society and the problems developing in America.  Starting with civil rights and ending with the war in Vietnam, these activist students were rarely at a loss for a cause to support. Many student groups focused on a single issue or were ideologically based.  For example, Tocsin, a pacifist group, concentrated their protest on the Vietnam War, and the W.E.B. DuBois Club chose and fought their battles according to a communist ideology.1  While these one-issue and ideologically-driven organizations had some successes, one organization accomplished more-and received more media attention and members-than any other student organization during this time: the Students For a Democratic Society (SDS).  In contrast to groups such as Tocsin, the SDS refused to focus on only one issue; their vision was a greater one in which American society could only be reformed by recognizing the interconnectedness of all of America's problems, be they social, economic or political in nature.  Unlike the DuBois Club, SDS originally refused to subscribe to a single ideology, welcoming people of almost any political affiliation including, liberals, socialists, conservatives (although they were difficult to find in SDS), and communists.  These two factors attracted many members since they would not be required to possess any dogmatic political beliefs and could be active in a variety of causes within a single organization.  Independent chapters could easily be formed in universities because of the decentralized nature of SDS, which will be discussed subsequently in greater detail.

      While decentralization of authority and lack of ideology provided the basis upon which the SDS formulated their document of intent, The Port Huron Statement, the organization found these aspects difficult to maintain as it matured.  A unified vision of societal reform accomplished through community organizing and peaceful protest gave way to ineffective, violent resistance and squabbling factions.  What caused the SDS to abandon their original vision and fall into irreparable disarray?  Were these causes external, or were they inherent in the SDS from its formation?  These questions will be answered by examining the organization's strategic development throughout its ten year history.     

  Origins and Initial Intentions

          SDS's origins can be traced back to 1905 when Upton Sinclair found the Intercollegiate Socialist Society (ISS) with the help of Walter Lippman, Jack London and Clarence Darrow.  This organization worked to encourage socialist activity among youth, focusing primarily on the college campus. 2  The ISS stated their purpose as familiarizing students with "the inherent evils of the American economic and social system based on laissez-faire policies, and to promote the establishment of a socialist order." During the first World War, however, ISS activity waned, and the organization eventually regrouped in the 1930s with a new name:  The League for Industrial Democracy (LID).  LID vowed to strengthen the socialist-oriented educational ventures in colleges and among the general public.  LID was a "membership society engaged in education toward a social order based on production for use and not for power."3  During the 1950s, more young adults than ever before entered universities and colleges in massive numbers, and LID viewed this as an opportunity for fresh, young members.  They realized a youth arm was needed to access the growing number of college students, so they created the Student League for Industrial Democracy (SLID).  SLID's function would be to educate students about socialism by handing out literature and organizing lectures given by their elders.  This educational vision did not last, however, as the SLID members took matters into their own hands and changed the name of SLID to the Students for a Democratic Society in 1959.  These students desired their own organization that could not be directly organized and run by the older socialist schools.4

SDS Splits From LID

        LID wanted the SDS to serve a purely educational function within the realm of the American Left, but some members of the SDS, such as University of Michigan graduate student and SDS's first president Al Haber, had different plans.  Haber had been surrounded by leftist politics, especially on the campus level, all his life.  His father, William Haber, was an active LID member at one time, and was involved with SLID when he was a professor at the University of Michigan.  Al Haber, inspired by his father's activism, dropped out of school to create an SDS much different than LID leaders  envisioned, an SDS  that took political action.5  For example, in 1961, Haber planned to send out a civil rights newsletter to thousands of people.  LID did not approve of such actions, fearful that it might endanger their tax-exempt status.  The organization almost expelled Haber for this activity.6  Other members were also clearly upset with the SDS situation under LID.  One board member wrote, supporting Haber's actions, that "the LID has not even made a pretense of activity...I do not think we can afford to prolong the current inactivity unless we resign ourselves to the LID as a functionless sponsor for SDS activities." 7

      Many other factors separated Haber's SDS from LID's SLID.  LID wanted their student arm to function as independent chapters at each campus.  Haber possessed a greater vision of an SDS that brought together existing campus groups, and coordinated them to serve their needs on a national scale.  He thought this could be done by publishing newsletters, distributing literature, and organizing conferences so that a larger movement could take place. Finally, Haber wanted to do away with the ideological problems that burdened leftist groups such as LID.  The SDS, according to Haber, should be a nonsectarian group that would not focus on single issues, but would realize the connections among all of the issues.8  Haber believed that "in its early stage, student activity...does not go beyond a single issue, or see issues as inter-related...It does not, in short, seek root causes."  He describes the "challenge ahead" as the appraisal and evolution of "radical alternatives to the inadequate society of today."9 Because of Haber's differences with LID on these matters, he managed to unofficially break with them, allowing SDS to decide its own ventures, approved or disapproved by LID.  

  SDS Manifesto: The Port Huron Statement

        Although SDS did not formally break away from LID until 1965, they were essentially a separate organization from the beginning.  The rift between LID and SDS became even larger when a manifesto drafted by University of Michigan student and then SDS President Tom Hayden was revised and adopted by the SDS at the 1962 convention in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  Hayden encompassed the beliefs of many radical students at the time.  His views were always leftward leaning, but when President Kennedy promised the nation a "New Frontier", Hayden viewed the gains by blacks in particular as being only token reforms.  At that point, his thinking become more radical and he became more distrustful toward liberals, and he found an outlet for these thoughts in his drafting of the SDS document.10  The Port Huron Statement outlined the organization's belief in participatory democracy, its belief that the university was central to societal reform, and its definition of the "New Left".

SDS viewed itself not as a single organization with specific, set goals, but as a part of a larger "Movement" that looked to transform society through the formation of new

institutions and the reform of existing institutions.11  Humans beings, SDS believed, were  "infinitely precious and possessed of unfulfilled capacities for reason, freedom and love", and should not be manipulated. They are  inherently capable of directing their own affairs.  This anthropological view  led to the organization's  belief that the only society in which mankind could fully live in freedom was a participatory democracy. 12 At the time,  SDS thought that the United States was not living up to its original ideals, and that stagnation and apathy had overtaken the masses, creating a bureaucratic system that was no longer "of, by and for the people".13  Their solution was a participatory democracy that included decision making by direct participation of the people, politics as a means of ending people's isolation, helping them to find meaning in their personal life, and politics serving to "clarify problems in a way instrumental to their solution".14  In other words, a participatory democracy, and politics in general, should build community, enrich people's everyday lives, and develop realistic, workable solutions to social and economic problems as efficiently and judiciously as possible.  American society, according to the SDS, did none of these things.  Politics isolated individuals and groups, alienating people according to class and race, and did not satisfactorily deal with the numerous problems society was facing.  The Port Huron Statement envisioned a society of decentralized politics in which the power of decision-making lay solely with the people. 


The Structure of the SDS

        The SDS attempted to act as a microcosm of the ideal political system.  The organization frowned upon permanent leaders, hierarchical relationships and parliamentary procedures.  Local chapters acted autonomously, and were the organization's primary source of strength.15  They did, however, elect officers every year, but some labeled this system as "overstructured".  In 1967, members abolished the posts of president and vice-president, and replaced them with a triumvirate of secretaries elected by delegates at an annual national convention.16  In order to be a voting delegate at an SDS convention, members had to pay the National Office five dollars a year in dues (a fee that was required to be an official card-carrying SDS member anyway), and be present at the convention.17  Meetings often erupted into chaos, precluding any sort of successful decision-making.  Many of SDS's internal problems arose from the lack of organzational structure.  Local chapters often resented the National Office for making statements, or taking certain initiatives without consulting them.18  The entire organization almost always agreed on the issues, but with no central authority, members were unable to agree on strategic approaches to the issues. This, as will be seen later, brought their idealistic visions crashing to the ground.


Cultural Influences

        Understanding the students' background is a key to understanding their beliefs.  Most SDSers were post-World War II baby boomers whose parents were raised during the Great Depression.  These parents took full advantage of the post-war affluence of the 1950s, seeking security and stability through material acquisition.   They sought this stability in the newly formed suburbs where maintenance of the status quo  provided what appeared to be a fulfilling life. While blacks fought for equal rights in the South and struggled with poverty in the northern ghettoes, middle-class whites lived a life more comfortable than any prior middle class.  The idea of "the American Dream" developed with the growth of the suburbs, but not everything was as satisfactory as it seemed.  The Cold War held subtle terror over everyone's head; school children ducked and covered as their fathers built bomb shelters in the backyard.  Politically and socially, most middle class people at this time were fairly apathetic.  After the harrowing experiences of the Great Depression and World War II, many middle class Americans were content to live in a stable nation, and were not about to rock the boat. Being raised in financial security and privilege caused many of the students to question why others should be denied the privileges that they were enjoying.19 

Former SDS President Todd Gitlin believes that the above reasons all prompted the baby boomers to become more rebellious, but also thinks that popular culture during the late 1950s contributed greatly to their state of mind as well. During this time, MAD magazine became popular, especially among the high school students who would form the original SDS radicals.  MAD, along with television personalities such as Steve Allen and Sid Caesar consisted of "indiscriminate hilarity" that badgered the "American way of life" with a hint of subversion.   Another type of subversive attitude also came to the fore in the form of the teenage rebel. James Dean brought the archetype to the screen in Rebel Without a Cause, and from that point on, rebellion became an expected phase of young adulthood.  Music also greatly influenced the future SDSers.  Rock and Roll music brought black culture in contact with young whites, allowing them to identify and become more familiar with the blacks, thus allowing them to be more empathetic towards them in their struggles.  These factors of popular and the  juxtaposition of apathy and affluence within the new upper-middle class white America struck a chord with the aware, liberal-minded college student of the early 60s.  These dissatisfied students, along with 'red-diaper' babies20 formed the core of the New Left movement.21


The Emergence of a "New Left"

        Because of the apathy these students saw encompassing America, action became their answer to society's problems.  The actions of these radical students lacked the historical, dogmatic nature of their Left-wing predecessors.  SDS did not cite Marxist texts, or look to the working class for reform, since they considered so many workers to have become middle class.22  SDS also believed that the traditional working class constituency of the Left had fallen prey to "pillars of the Establishment" such as unions and the Democratic party.23  By highlighting these differences they had with the "Old Left", SDS had to define what constituted "New Left".  A "New Left" had become necessary because a generation gap had formed within the left due to the threat of McCarthyism.  The Old Left had been devastated by McCarthyism, leaving few twenty to thirty year old radicals during the 1950s that could serve as exemplars for the next generation.24   In their development of a definition of a "New Left", SDSers were probably partly inspired by C. Wright Mills' "Letter to the New Left" in which he called attention to student movements in other countries, and said that in the United States, the New Left should be based on the possibility that the students and not the Marxist workers would be the agency for change in society.25  Thoughts similar to these appear in the Port Huron Statement.  The New Left must have "real intellectual skills" that can be utilized in an environment where the political life and academic life exist adjacently in a complementary relationship.  A New Left must be "distributed in significant social roles throughout the country," and must consist of young people-including socialists and liberals-who must practice effective insurgency throughout the nation.26 


The Role of the Universities

        According to the Port Huron Statement, the university is an ideal place for all of these occurrences, and therefore, a perfect place for the genesis of a New Left movement.  In The Port Huron Statement,  SDS based their tactics on the idea that the university provided the ultimate base for societal upheaval and reform.  Universities were located in a "permanent position of social influence".  If change were to take place on campuses across the country, the nation would be forced to listen, and the students' endeavors would have an effect upon society as a whole.  Since the university was the "central institution for organizing, evaluating, and transmitting knowledge,"   the ideas of the New Left could be easily accessible to the intellectuals and activists, creating an almost effortless means of broadening the Movement.  Most importantly, SDS viewed the university as the only "mainstream institution" open to participation by individuals of any viewpoint.27  This allowed people of varying ideologies to become involved in the SDS,  including communists, which would, as will be examined later,  prove to be extremely detrimental to the SDS' goals.  From the beginning, they viewed the university as the harbinger of reform in an apathetic, materialistic society.


  Initial Actions: Peaceful Protest and Community Organizing


Civil Rights Protest

        While initially concerned with the university as an agent of social change, SDS's first actions were not campus-related.  The 1960s brought about a rash of civil rights demonstrations in the south, many of them organized by the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).   SNCC was first formed in 1960 in Raleigh, North Carolina, and gained extensive media attention as it organized sit-ins at lunch counters, freedom rides, and other forms of peaceful peaceful protest.  Black and white activists worked together for civil rights in SNCC, breaking racial barriers that had rarely been crossed before.  It was this group's actions that first inspired Al Haber and company to desire an activist attitude in the SDS.  Haber, Hayden, and other members traveled south to participate in SNCC activities such as sit-ins and freedom rides. These actions drove a wedge between LID and SDS since older leftists wanted them to remain an educational group.28  LID's disapproval could not stop the SDS, however.  During 1961, on some of their first flyers, SDS described themselves as a "northern arm" for SNCC, attaching themselves more to the civil rights group than to their parent organization.29  Although their admiration of SNCC was strong, SDS knew that an array of goals broader than those defined by the civil rights movement was necessary for the expansion of the New Left.30 


Community Organizing: ERAP and NCUP

        The SDS did not completely abandon the civil rights question, but decidedly changed their focus when the UAW gave them five-thousand dollars in 1962.   The SDS National Office allocated half of this grant to establish the Economic and Research Action Project (ERAP).31  This plan involved activists living in poor neighborhoods and assisting the residents in organizing for community improvements.  SDS wanted ERAP to ultimately achieve an "interracial movement of the poor" in which those who had least stake in society's preservation and the most immediate need for its improvement would be the people who were reshaping it.  One of the most successful actions of ERAP-and of all SDS ventures-was the Newark Community Union Project (NCUP) started by Tom Hayden, who by this time was an SDS National Secretary.  SDS activists lived in a poor, black section of Newark, New Jersey, took surveys of the residents and used the results of the surveys to rally for change.  They achieved this through the organization of rent strikes and  sit-ins, many of the same methods used in the SNCC's struggle for civil rights.   They ran into problems with police and city officials at times, but overall NCUP achieved some satisfying results.  A number of buildings were repaired, houses inspected, and codes enforced.   According to Hayden, NCUP achieved "the development of a group of people with no previous political connections who are able to speak and act without being embarrassed or dependent on higher ups."32

      The initial success of ERAP caused Hayden to push community organizing as SDS's top priority.  Haber, however, thought that the organization of college campuses should always be the primary focus.33  At the June 1964 Convention, the delegates supported Hayden's proposal.34  This decision made little difference as enthusiasm for community organizing quickly waned.  The slow-coming results of the endeavor frustrated the young activists, and their growing refusal to work with the "Establishment" hindered the goods and services they could obtain for the poor.35  Unfortunately, their most successful and practical reform action completely died before it had a chance to achieve any lasting results. ERAP signifies the last of their movements to reform society actively.  After their community organizing stint, they were less concerned with choosing specific, local causes to get practical results, and more concerned about dramatizing what they considered to be wrong with society.  This change in mindset marks their initial stray from Haber and Hayden's original intentions, their rising influence among students and the New Left, and the beginning of their downfall.


The Vietnam War: Confrontation and Resistance


        The first issue the SDS found that could easily be used to display America's problems was dramatic: the conflict in Vietnam.  On March 8, 1965, American forces arrived on the coast of Da Nang in South Vietnam, ready to defend democracy against the supposed menace of Ho Chi Minh's communism.36  Many left-wing groups, along with the SDS, thought the American forces in Vietnam threatened the precious values of participatory democracy so strongly defended in the Port Huron Statement.  SDS officer Carl Oglesby expressed the SDS's concerns in his "Trapped in a System" speech given in October 1965, stating that America's "dead revolutionaries would soon wonder why their country was fighting against what appeared to be a revolution."  He determined that America's Vietnam intervention stems from its imperialistic tendencies to protect its own interests.37  This disregard for man's ability to choose his own government pushed many young Americans to protest actively.  Not long after the conflict began, sit-ins and  anti-draft movements were being organized.   A shift from dissent to resistance among young radicals began as they burned draft cards and obstructed military induction centers.  SDS put themselves at the center of anti-war activity.38  This shifted their focus from fighting the oppression of others to  fighting something that had a direct effect on their lives due to the threat of being drafted.  At a national council meeting shortly after the Da Nang landing, SDS officers proposed an anti-war march on Washington, which was initially voted down.  Many rejected organizing around a single issue and thought the march would have little or no effect.  The proposal eventually passed, however, and the march was set for April 17, 1965.39 

      The March on Washington was the pivotal event in the SDS's growing leadership among the New Left.  With about 25,000 people participating in the march, the sheer numbers demonstrate the significance of the affair.  Not only did the march draw large numbers, but, more significantly, it drew large numbers of communists, including members of the Progressive Labor Party, who would later prove extremely detrimental to the SDS.40  This intermingling of SDSers with communists and the bold activism that threatened LID's tax-exempt status caused LID to disown SDS officially later that year.41  Besides this synthesis of ideological groups, the March also allowed a stage for the dramatization of America's dilemma through the oratory of then-SDS president Paul Potter.  In his speech, "The Incredible War,"  he outlines a position on America that soon became the universal belief of the New Left.  Potter's arguments would later lead the SDS down a more militant path, and cause them to abandon the original Port Huron vision.  Potter does not blame the war on  President Lyndon Johnson, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, or National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy, even though their decisions "have led to the mutilation and death of thousands and thousands of people."  He instead blames "the system", asking, "What kind of system is it that allows good men to make those kind of decisions?", and, "What kind of system is it that justifies the U.S. or any other country seizing the destinies of the Vietnamese people and using them callously for its own purpose?"  He calls on the activists to "name that system, describe it, analyze it, understand it, and change it."42  This could almost be looked upon as a call to revolution, and could have created a method of resistance if the SDS had engaged in an intellectual analysis of the system  and not simply jumped straight into "changing" the system, as will be discussed in subsequent chapters.

      Potter's speech pinpointed the resistant nerve of the New Left that would first manifest itself in the anti-draft movement.  In October of 1965, SDS officers Carl Oglesby and Paul Booth proposed a movement encouraging all draft-age males to file as conscientious objectors.  The proposal proved less than popular among SDS members.  Many were concerned about the possible illegality of the action, whereas some opposed it because they did not think the National Office had a right to establish national policy due to  the autonomy possessed by the local chapters.43  Membership at this time took the structure of SDS seriously, still driven by the desire for participatory democracy, and still hesitant to break the law blatantly in protest to war.  As the war's intensity increased, however, SDSers appeared more readily disposed to illegal activity.  They  justified their actions by saying that when a government participates in acts construed as immoral, it is one's right to protest.  SDS's belief was that the Vietnam War prevented people from practicing "self-determination", and by that reason alone, SDS viewed the U.S. government as immoral.  In addition to the stifling of Vietnamese freedom, the government was killing innocent Americans and Vietnamese in their attempt to stop the spread of communism.  Because of these atrocities, SDSers felt obliged to act in opposition to the Espionage Act of 1917, which forbade activity jeopardizing war effort during a national emergency.44  This defense mechanism allowed many SDS activists to become more daring and radical.


From Resistance to Revolution

        SDS members also rationalized this more frequent civil disobedience and resistance on the ground that the "Establishment" fails to listen when protests are "merely verbal."45  At the 1967 convention, SDSers were extremely hesitant to endorse an anti-war march.  Secretary Carl Davidson gives the reasons for this hesitancy:  "Marches are just not enough. They won't stop this war.  More important, they won't stop the military-industrial complex, the powerful institution that decide the fate of people in this country."46  Davidson labeled himself an advocate of "revolution" as opposed to "sweeping reform" or "radical social change".47  Davidson's thoughts represented the feelings of many SDS members at this time.  An ideology of resistance and revolution began to evolve.  This ideology focused on the inability of individuals to make meaningful decisions for themselves in society because they were deprived of power by a corporate elite that manipulated them politically and economically.  SDS thought these conditions could not be overcome by mere reform, and would have to met with resistance and, eventually, revolution.48 Members also began reading Marxist historians such as William Appleman Williams, who viewed the U.S. as an imperial power with an history rife with imperialistic ventures.49  Because of ideas such as this, the SDS began viewing the war as "not a mistake of an essentially good government, but the logical result of a government which oppresses people in the U.S. and throughout the world."50  Previously, the SDS had pleaded for both sides to negotiate, but as their thoughts turned more toward revolution, and against the U.S. government, support for the National Liberation Front grew stronger within their ranks. 51  In a speech given on October 27, 1967, Davidson stated that the "possibility for peaceful change in America has died."  He thought that what the SDS had to do at that time was "destroy".52  Talk of violence did not meet with much resistance among the SDS's ranks.  Many members wanted to see results that were not being accomplished by their peaceful marches and sit-ins.53  The SDS of 1967 had  forgotten, or chose to ignore the statement made in the Port Huron Statement five years earlier in which the SDS found violence to be "abhorrent" because it transformed a human being or a group of people into a "depersonalized object of hate."54 

      Carl Davidson and other SDSers saw something to emulate in the  tactics of Cuban guerrillas such as Che Guevara55--not because of their armed struggles, but because of their tendency to approach people to gain support without needing a superior "Marxist" ideology.56  In an SDS pamphlet titled "Cuba v. US Imperialism", the SDS lauds the Cuban Revolution for its "freshness and anti-dogmatism, its version and firmness in the fight with imperialism."57  Through their admiration for revolutionaries, and their movement from peaceful protest to resistance, the SDS began their metamorphosis into a more radical and defiant revolutionary organization. 


Campus Action

        The intensified resistance students felt toward the war erupted onto the campus scene almost immediately.  Prior to the escalating conflict in Vietnam, the SDS limited most activity to off-campus walks and rallies, and restricted most of their campus activity to "educational programs", holding conferences and distributing literature.  The issues dealt with on campus had always pertained to university reform issues such as dormitory hours and curriculum reform.58  Rarely were the SDS's actions directed against their own colleges or universities because they had seen their role as mainly a detached movement to free the oppressed.  All of this changed with the Berkeley Free Speech Movement.59 

The Berkeley Free Speech Movement occurred in 1964 when Berkeley University students returned to school after a summer of civil rights protests in the South.  Various organizations, including the SDS set up literature tables around the campus to distribute literature about civil rights.60  The University Administration attempted to shut down the information booths, and were met with enthusiastic protest.  The student activists viewed this as a violation of their right to free speech, and over eight-hundred students protested by occupying an administration building.  All of the students were arrested, and more protests ensued. The Free Speech Movement did not immediately incite nationwide campus uprisings, however.  It was not until 1967 that the SDS became interested in such tactics, and employed them on a larger, more radical scale.61

 The Free Speech Movement involved the use of "direct action" to emphasize the wrongs being committed within an institution.62  "Direct Action" can be defined as actions of protest such as picket lines, demonstrations, sit-ins, marches or strikes, and were viewed as the quickest road to publicity, good

or bad.63  The Berkeley Free Speech Movement inspired student activists to identify universities as bureaucratic institutions of political socialization whose main purpose was to train students for corporate America.64  Because of this identification, students began to desire the same structure for their universities as they had for the nation: participatory democracy.  SDS believed that students should control the universities, thereby destroying the schools' links to corporate and military power.  The Port Huron Statement suggests, "the fundamental qualities of life on campus reflect the habits of society at large."  Therefore, the students thought that in order to change society, they must start by changing the university.  According to the Port Huron Statement, the student has learned by his "isolation to accept elite rule within the university which prepares him to accept later forms of minority control."65  They challenged the claim that universities were autonomous and neutral, and wanted to expose the financial and institutional connections with the government.66  They accomplished this goal by taking an issue, such as the draft exam, or the release of class rankings to the military, and ask for a referendum or a vote, as was the case at the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1966.67  By focusing student action on an issue such as the draft, students not only addressed their own issues concerning student control of universities, but also addressed the larger issue of the Vietnam War.  These actions tied together foreign policy problems with domestic conflicts which made it much easier for the SDS to dramatize America's problems.  In all of this campus protest, SDS still depended upon the Port Huron Statement so as not to lose touch with their original intent.  SDSer Michael Spiegal stated the organization's intentions at the time:  "Our goal is not to create a free university within an unfree society.  Our goal is to create a free society."68


Upheaval at Columbia

        Early in 1968, as on-campus protests increased, so did activity in Vietnam.  The January 30 Tet Offensive heightened tension, and students became even more concerned in February when the National Security Council abolished draft deferments of youths enrolled in graduate school.69  As Vietnam activity came to a fever pitch, so did campus activity among radicals.70  On April 23, 1968, the local Columbia University SDS chapter in New York held a rally to protest the University's relation to the Institute for Defense Analyses, the school's 'racist' policies toward neighboring Harlem, and the disciplinary probation in effect against some SDS members pertaining to earlier activity.  The president of the university at this time was Grayson Kirk, who also held the position of Director for the Institute for Defense Analyses. Radical students feared that Kirk's two positions might cause a conflict of interest, believing that the university's funds were being filtered to the war effort.  The university was also planning to build a gymnasium for the school in an area called Morningside Heights that lay adjacent to the black community of Harlem.  SDSers thought that the people of Harlem needed the land the gymnasium was being built on for their own recreational facilities, and considered the university's actions to be racist. The rally soon turned chaotic as students invaded and took control of several buildings.  During the fiasco, SDS managed to ransack the office of the university's president, and control five different buildings.  The confrontation lasted six days, when more than one thousand police officers cleared the buildings, in a what was a violent, confusing encounter.  In the confrontation, 711 students were arrested, 148 were injured, and there were 120 charges of police brutality filed.71  While there were some embarrassing moments of defeat for the student activists, the SDS considered the Columbia take-over to be a success. 72 

Tom Hayden commented in Ramparts magazine that "students are moving toward the use of their power to stop the machine if it cannot be made to serve human ends, to the beginning of what Columbia University students call 'bringing the war home'".73  This phrase 'bringing the war home,' not only indicates the attention the students were bringing to the war, but also references the method of protesting the war in order to dramatize the problems that America has in every sphere, both international and domestic.  Hayden also viewed the Columbia uprising as a harbinger for a new era in the radical movement: "from the overnight occupation of buildings to permanent occupations; from mill-ins to the creation of revolutionary committees; from symbolic civil disobedience to barricaded resistance."74  Columbia opened the doors for the SDS's new tactical era of direct action tinged with violence, and introduced its movement toward a more revolutionary mentality.  The initial revolutionary tone is most apparent in a phrase then-popular among the radical students: "Create two, three, many Columbias," modeled after Che Guevara's phrase: " Create two, three, many Vietnams."75  The Columbia incident showed that SDS had become an organization of "self-consciously revolutionary" students.76  These new revolutionaries had to defend morally some their actions, however.  By holding a dean prisoner at Columbia, and by preventing students from having interviews with military recruiters, the SDS clearly denied the rights of others.   They believed that civil liberties could be abridged if an institution or individual had lost their moral legitimacy, since every man must be responsible for his own actions.77 

      After the Columbia uprising, campus unrest did not end.  The SDS's strategy of resistance involved "desanctification of authority", which consisted of defiant radical confrontations at institutions which would seemingly reveal the impotence of people in relation to institutions, thereby reducing respect for the institutions. One "desanctification of the week" took place at Columbia University when the New York City director of the selective service was struck in the face with a lemon meringue pie as he addressed several hundred students.78  Despite the lighthearted juvenility of this humiliation, the SDS's intentions were serious.  

        Many of the SDS's foes, administrators and professors, did not take the threat of radical students lightly.  Vincent Barnett, Jr., then-president of Colgate University, described universities as the "weakest institutions in the country to deal with force and coercion," saying that universities were "not equipped for it [and] are temperamentally repelled by it."79  In addition to the inherent weakness of the universities, some educators thought that the students were "getting to be 'pros'" at radical insurgency.  One Harvard professor emphasized this by pointing out that the students know how to run meetings and mimeograph machines, and also know when to call in the press.  He adds that it is the professors and administration that are "amateurs".80  Comments such as this one emit an almost admirable feeling towards the students even though they were threatening the well-being of the university and its administrators.  Then-president of Brandeis, Morris Abram admitted having sympathy with "those students who feel we can do a lot better," but opposed their methods for instigating change.81  It was apparent to these administrators that the student movement was gaining momentum from their tactical changes that had marked the university as a puppet of the "Establishment".


Violence and Factionalism: The Final Years


        As indicated by the Columbia insurgency, SDS's external activities were in the process of change, but so was its inner workings.  A Marxist workers group called the Progressive Labor Party (PLP) had sufficiently infiltrated the ranks of SDS in an attempt to sway its activities towards PLP goals. The PLP held clear ideological leanings and believed that the working class must be the route to revolution and wanted to get SDS more involved  with the working class.  They believed that Vietnam was "a class war, not a tragic blunder," and that it was up to the working class to drive U.S. rulers out of Asia.   Their views on the imperialistic nature of the America government coordinated with that of the rest of the SDS, but their solution to the problem involved an eventual overthrow of the U.S. government in order to establish a communist one.  During this time, however, the PLP did not actively seek revolution or condone violence because they did not view their movement or the U.S. as being ready for revolution.82


The 1968 National Convention

        At the National SDS convention in June of 1968, the PLP (referred to as the  Worker-Student Alliance [WSA] within the SDS)  and the National Office Faction83 (whose members were called "Regulars") first bumped heads and displayed the inner squabbling that would eventually tear SDS apart.  From the outset of the convention, signs pointed towards a split within the organization's ranks.  The WSA donned more conservative apparel: short hair, suits and ties; Regulars wore what would be considered normal for college-aged students at the time: beards, jeans, sandals and long hair.84 

      At this convention, the SDS elected three new national secretaries: Bernardine Dohrn, Michael Klonsky, and Jeff Gordon.  Both Klonsky and Dohrn represented the National Office, and Gordon, though not campaigning as leader of the WSA, was an active member in the organization.  Out of the three, Dohrn was the most vocal about the changes that she, and other regulars wanted to make within the organization.  Dohrn was a recent graduate from the University of Chicago Law School, and was working in New York as assistant executive secretary of the National Lawyers Guild, an alliance of left-wing lawyers which defended radical organizations.85  At the convention she proposed that the SDS align itself with a variety of constituencies, including the poor, high school students, and the working class.  The WSA, on the hand, wanted to focus primarily on the working class, in conjunction with their Marxist ideology.86  The National Office was not without their ideologies, either.  Dohrn wanted the SDS to make a move towards becoming a centralized, revolutionary party committed to a particular ideology.87  She, and other National Office supporters labeled their ideology as "communism with a small c," and used phrases such as "acting as a collective", "being responsible to a collective,"  and "fighting against institutionalized individualism". She stated their task for the summer as being the development of an "ideology in terms that make sense to Americans."88  Although Dohrn does not clearly define her words, it is clear that the organization was moving towards an ideology, or already possessed one, in the case of the WSA.

Dohrn's proposal for centralization and revolution did not pass because the majority of delegates at the convention belonged to the WSA.  Obvious changes had taken place between the 1968 convention  and the convention six years prior when the Port Huron Statement was written.  SDS leaders were now calling for ideologies, something Hayden and company specifically wanted to avoid in the 1962 document.89  The only glimmer of original intent  that was still displayed in 1968 was the fact that SDS delegates voted down Dohrn's proposals in a correct participatory democratic fashion.   Their reasons for voting them down , however, were also contradictory to the organization's original intentions: ideological factionalism.  Not only had the SDS lost their original activist vision, they were about to lose any and all intent to reform.  The National Office's main concern after the convention was the ousting of the WSA, and the attempted denial of their power.  The WSA faction's main concern rested primarily in gaining more control over the organization and passing their agendas.90  SDS slowly began falling into the factionalized trap that their leftist forefathers had fallen into, and that they were specifically trying to avoid.  In the SDS's magazine, New Left Notes, Staughton Lynd addressed a letter to the New Left in which he comments upon the SDS's newfound struggles: "Present SDS practice appears indistinguishable from that of the Old Left sects.  Whatever factional position gets most votes is the 'correct political perspective for the coming period.'"91  While the 1968 convention was marred by such factionalization, the SDS was far from dead, and its inner struggles were far from over.  This convention marked only a beginning of the dramatic in-fighting of the SDS, and the struggle for control of its helm that many people at the time saw as damaging.  SDS member and one-time national secretary Bob Pardun forebodingly commented after the convention that if his organization did not "get it together within the next two years, we will be wiped out."92

      At the 1968 convention, the PLP faction outnumbered the more revolutionary National Office faction, but the National Office found its apparent salvation in the outspoken leadership of Dohrn, and Mark Rudd, an SDS member who led the Columbia uprising who would be elected a national secretary in 1969.  Under the leadership of these two radicals after the '68 convention, civil disobedience and active resistance-much of it violent-became a  more frequent means of SDS-sponsored activism.  SDS leaders wanted to transform the organization from a student movement into a movement that would appeal to a broader constituency.  During the summer of 1968, SDS developed a program designed to recruit the working class, high school students and young people in the military, but particular groups were either not interested in the SDS, not accessible to them, or were opposed to their actions.93 

Both the WSA and the National Office found a more extensive constituency necessary.  The WSA viewed universities as a source of managers and scientists, making them of marginal concern to a movement which saw the working class as the "bearers of future society." WSA also believed that it was impossible to reform universities without first reforming all of society, thereby making SDS's earlier attempts at university reform a waste of energy. At a Fall 1968 SDS meeting a Columbia, Mark Rudd agreed with the PLP that the SDS must move toward a broader base of constituents, but his reasons differed.  Rudd thought that student actions served as an example to the oppressed, but that they should not organize on behalf of their own interests as they had done earlier that year at campuses such as Columbia.  Therefore, with students organizing for the interests of the oppressed, the university would no longer be a central concern.  Both Rudd and the PLP viewed the students as fundamentally unreliable constituents because they mostly came from middle class backgrounds.94 

Between 1968 and 1969, many smaller factions splintered off from the National Office Faction.  Dohrn and Rudd formed the Revolutionary Youth Movement I (RYM I)-later called the Weathermen. They were convinced that armed resistance was the only solution to America's problems.  RYM I supported the Black Panthers and their form of nationalism, believing that the blacks would spearhead the socialist revolution. Instead of combating specific social ills, which they thought was a waste of time, they believed their time better spent fighting police, teachers, and bureaucrats, whom they referred to as "pigs".  Mike Klonsky and Carl Davidson formed Revolutionary Youth Movement II (RYM II), a much less vocal faction than RYM I.  They held the same basic beliefs as RYM I, but did not agree with the use of gratuitous violence.  A smaller faction called Up Against the Wall Motherf---er95 had infiltrated the SDS at the 1968 convention.  With no specific political views except anarchy, the group practiced violent disruption for its own sake.  This group, along with RYM II were fairly inconsequential factions of SDS.  The two prominent groups, the WSA and RYM I would display their significance at the next national convention.    


The 1969 National Convention

        By 1969, the SDS's reputation for disorder and destruction was so bad that they were turned down by numerous universities, arenas and civic centers across the nation when searching for a venue to hold their annual National Convention.  They were finally able to book the Coliseum, a drab, dingy complex on the South Side of Chicago.   Although they were constantly looking for publicity, the SDS would not allow the "capitalist press" to enter the convention, and only allowed journalists from left-leaning publications to record the events.96  This decision reflects the increasing militancy and paranoia the organization was experiencing as they became more intensely revolutionary, and less democratic.  At this convention, the conflict between the WSA and RYM I became even more inflamed than it had been the year before.  Both factions wanted a centralized organization and considered the "new working class" the instruments of the revolution.97 Their differences, however, greatly overshadowed any similarities between the two groups.  The Progressive Labor Party brought the majority of delegates to the convention, and their highly organized ranks, and superior parliamentary skills allowed them to dominate the proceedings.  Over the course of that year, the RYM I began aligning themselves with the nationalist African-American group, the Black Panthers. The Panthers were a revolutionary group formed in 1966 by Bobby Seale and Huey Newton, who called for the arming of all blacks in order to rise against "white sanctions."98 The RYM I  viewed the revolutionary struggle as an imperialist one in which the black race must rise against the oppression of the white race in order to establish a proper social and political order.  The WSA saw the struggle as a class based one, and considered the blacks to be part of the working class.  The Blacks Panthers' nationalism did not fit into the WSA's revolutionary scheme.  Jeff Gordon, SDS secretary and WSA spokesman, believed that "nationalism as an ideology is reactionary."99  He also claimed that the radical action taken by RYM I and the Black Panthers was "adventurous, diversionary and alienating to the working class."100 

The RYM I countered the WSA majority and their dogmatic views by letting Chaka Walls, leader of the Illinois Black Panther Party, speak at the convention.101  Surrounded by his large, armed, Black Panther guards on all sides, Walls started his speech by labeling the WSA as "counterrevolutionaries," and riddled the remainder of it with highly offensive remarks about women and threats against the WSA members until he was drowned out by the WSA's chants of "Fight male chauvinism!" 

Next, Jul Cook, another Panther leader, took the stage and became even more vulgar and degrading towards women.  Whatever strategy the RYM had in mind with Walls and Cook was a complete failure, and soon the entire coliseum erupted in a flood of chants from both sides, including "Power to the People!" from RYM I, "Power to the Workers!" from the WSA, "Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh/NLF is going to win!" from RYM II, and even a chant of "Let's Go Mets" from a group of New Yorkers.  These various chants display the blatant ideologies and sectionalism that had overtaken the once-united organization.  

After the Panthers had finished speaking, they intimidatingly placed themselves in front of the PLP's literature table, where a battalion of PLP members surrounded them, allowing Leader Jeff Gordon to approach the podium and speak: "The Progressive Labor Party will not be intimidated out of the SDS.  We support national liberation all over the world.  We support the Black panther Party.  When we criticize the Panthers it is in a comradely and constructive fashion."  After Gordon finished his speech, Dohrn,  leader of the RYM I grabbed the microphone and declared: " Some of us are going to have to decide whether our principles allow us to stay in the same organization with people who deny the right of self- determination to the oppressed."  She then directed anyone who wanted to discuss the matter with her to follow her into the next room. 

      The PLP stayed in the original meeting hall as all of the RYM members filed out.  The RYM I were not numerous enough to maintain control of the convention, and had simply walked out.  From that point on, the two factions functioned as separate entities, both claiming to be the official organization.  The RYM I maintained control of the national SDS Office in Chicago, while the WSA formed a headquarters in Boston.102  RYM I considered the walk-out a success, which Rudd clearly implies in his faction's newsletter: 


SDS lives, but one important thing has changed.  The PLP faction has been kicked out.  We cannot defeat white supremacy, anti-communism, anti-working-class chauvinism with liberalism, allowing these tendencies to exist alongside of our revolutionary struggle, like a parasite draining our lifeblood away. Power to the People!103 

Although the WSA did not possess control of the National Office as the RYM I did, they were hardly "kicked out" of SDS.  The walk-out by Dohrn, Rudd and their cadre signified the final abandonment of original SDS values.


The Weathermen104

        While the WSA drifted into obscurity, never again making headlines, the RYM I, who were more commonly known as the Weathermen by this time, indulged in violent revolutionary behavior, making and setting off explosives, planning assassinations, and conducting violent demonstrations.  They called  their last big demonstration "Four Days of Rage", and held it in Chicago's Lincoln Park on October 8, 1969 in order to "bring the war home."   The Weathermen obviously expected violence.  They came outfitted with helmets, protective cups, goggles, chains, pipes and clubs. At every other SDS demonstration involving violence, the demonstrators had been peaceful until roused.  This time, however, it was different.  The Weathermen charged onto the affluent Gold Coast, breaking windows, smashing cars, and crashing into police lines. Former Columbia graduate student and Weatherman Shin'ya Ono described the riot: "right in front of my eyes, I saw and felt the transformation of the mob into a battalion of three hundred revolutionary fighters."105 

After the Days of Rage, the Weathermen became the "Weather Underground", changing their names and becoming fugitives from the FBI.  Numerous charges were filed against them for terrorism for bombs found in the bathroom of the National Capitol building, under police cars, and other strategic locations.  The Weathermen were attempting to start a revolutionary movement through tactics of guerrilla warfare similar to ones that had been used in third world countries such as Vietnam and Cuba.  They could not build a revolutionary movement, however, without the support of the people, which they seriously lacked.  Instead of gaining support, their tactics only alienated them from the rest of the nation. The Weathermen's predecessors, from the days of Port Huron,  aimed to combat political alienation through radical activism.106  Through the Weathermen's isolationist tactics, that dream had been completely destroyed, and the SDS would never be revived.


          The SDS, as a political organization, had failed.  It was not a failure because it failed to carry out any of its specific goals, however.  SDS primarily failed because its members did not consistently live up to the original standards and visions outlined in the Port Huron Statement. This failure of the SDS to maintain its intentions also caused it to become less effective as an organization and unable to achieve any significant political or social change.  SDS's inability to live out its vision was mainly due to its lack of formal organization, which allowed the members to become more violent, more inclined towards dogmatic ideology, and more factionalized.  Without a strong central organization, SDS was unable to maintain the Port Huron vision, and was unable to plan and organize effectively.  SDS's lack of centralization and organization also caused it to lose a large part of their constituency in the end, making its survival impossible.

The SDS's movement away from The Port Huron Statement stemmed from a change in strategy.  The organization's  first actions, based on  peaceful protest and community organizing, did not create change fast enough, and their impatience overcame them.  As the Vietnam War intensified, the resistance of SDS strengthened as well, since the students were directly effected by the War and the draft.  The Berkeley Free Speech Movement, the rising militancy of the civil rights movement, and the increasingly violent war all contributed to the SDS's perceived need for increased violence and resistance. 

While these outside factors influenced the SDS as it developed, its inner workings caused it to be inherently disposed to factionalism.  As an organization with no over-arching dogmatism and no restrictions against who could participate, groups such as the PLP could infiltrate, and become influential. The PLP could wield this influence because of the SDS's commitment to participatory democracy; since the PLP possessed the majority of voters, they could get their way.   This infiltration by the PLP resulted in the SDS's factionalism, increasing dogmatism, and ultimate split.  Since the majority of delegates at the later conventions were PLP members, they could not be voted out of the organization.  Their presence was harmful to the SDS because their goals were not the maintenance of SDS's Port Huron vision, but the attempted revival of Marxist doctrine similar to that of the Old Left. 

The PLP take-over-and, hence, the SDS's demise-were partly due to the organization's structure.  Without specified parliamentary procedures, meetings were rarely forums for intelligent debate and decision-making, and were, more often, chaotic shouting matches in which anyone could have the floor at any time.  By electing new officers every year, the SDS had no one in a leadership position after 1965 that had participated in the formation of the SDS or the writing of the Port Huron Statement.107  Without the influence of the organization's founders, the SDS became a chaotic group of sects-a far cry from the unified group of protesters and organizers that existed in the days of Haber and Hayden. 

Can a political organization be sufficiently effective without a strong central organization?  The civil rights movement consisted of groups such as SNCC that were not highly centralized, but were effective.  The success of the civil rights movement occurred, however, because there existed a strong constituency that supported the practical changes demanded by the protesters. The SDS's demands were much broader and revolutionary, and their later tactics more violent.  Because of these factors, the SDS could not gain a larger constituency, let alone keep the student constituency that it already possessed.  If SDS had continued with its initial actions of community organizing and peaceful protest, it might have had a greater chance of survival. 


Epilogue: Life After SDS


        Thirty years after the SDS fell apart, some of its most prominent members have remained politically active, although they have become much less radical in their middle age.  Port Huron Statement drafter, Tom Hayden retired to conventional politics, and represents Los Angeles in the California State Senate, as a Democrat. After a stint underground, Weathermen leaders Mark Rudd and Bernardine Dohrn were both put on trial as alleged conspirators in bombings.  They were allowed to plead guilty to lesser counts, and received probation.108  Today, Dohrn is a lawyer and Director of the Children and Family Justice Center at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.  She is also involved, quite ironically, in government programs concerning children's rights.  No remarks could be found revealing her present thoughts on her past actions, but her political views remain leftist, though much less revolutionary than then they once were.109  Mark Rudd, unlike Dohrn and Hayden, remains more obscure.  He currently teaches math at Albuquerque Technical and Vocational Institute, and keeps a relatively low profile.  In 1988, he spoke at the twenty-year reunion of the radical students involved in the Columbia uprising, and remembered his days as a Weatherman:  "This was the lowest point of our lives.  We were completely out of touch with reality.  I now believe the Vietnam War drove us crazy."110  These people, now leading ordinary lives in their middle age, accomplished extraordinary things and made history during their young adulthood.  They attempted to build a movement of students to combat social injustice, and to essentially change the world. This task turned out to be too overwhelming, and now that they are older, and perhaps wiser, they are discovering smaller, more conventional methods of reforming society.   




  1 Todd Gitlin, The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage (New York: Bantam, 1987), 67.  

       2 New Left Notes, June 10, 1968, 16; quoted in House Committee on Internal Security, Anatomy of a Revolutionary Movement: "Students For a Democratic Society", report prepared by Richard H. Ichord, 91st Cong., 2d sess., 1970, 9.


       3  John Dewey, et al., Thirty-Five Years of Educational Pioneering (New York:  League For Industrial Democracy, 1941), 10; quoted in Anatomy of a Revolutionary Movement, 5.

       4 New Left Notes, June 10, 1968, 16; in Anatomy of a Revolutionary Movement, 9. 


 5 Kirkpatrick Sale, SDS  (New York: Random House, 1973), 24.


 6 Gitlin, 110.


       7 Andre Schiffren, Memo to Frank Trager, SDS Papers, Series 1, no. 7, 28 September 1960; quoted in Gitlin, 110.


 8  Sales, SDS, 25. 


 8  "In Its Early," Venture, September 1960; quoted in Sales, SDS, 25.


 10   "Campus Rebels: Who, Why, What,"  Newsweek, 30 September 1968, 67.


       11 Carl Oglesby, "Trapped in a System,"  1965; in "Takin' It to the Streets": A Sixties Reader, Alexander Bloom and Wini Breines, eds., (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), 221.


       12 SDS, The Port Huron Statement,  1962; in "Takin' It to the Streets": A Sixties Reader, 65.


       13 Ibid., 62.


       14 Ibid., 67.


       15 Edward Joseph Shoben, Jr. and Philip R. Wendall, "SDS and SNCC: Profiles of Two Student Organizations,"  School and Society, 26 October 1968, 366.


 16 Thomas R. Brooks, "Voice of the New Campus 'Underclass',"  New York Times Magazine, 7 November 1965, 136.


       17 Many SDS members didn't pay dues, making it difficult for the National Office to estimate accurate membership numbers.  Sale, 452.


       18 Barnard L. Collier, "SDS Scores Big Gains But Faces Many Problems,"  New York Times, 5 May 1969, 30.



 19 Gitlin, 23-24.


       20  The term "Red diaper babies" refers to children of communists. Ibid., 67.


       21 Ibid., 35.


       22 Brooks, 134.


       23 Ibid., 139.


 24 Gitlin, 27.


       25 C. Wright Mills, "Letter to the New Left,"  New Left Review, September-October 1960; in Irwin and Debi Unger, eds., The Times Were a Changin': The Sixties Reader, 62-64.


       26 The Port Huron Statement, 73. 


       27 Ibid.


       28 Michael Kazin, "Some Notes on SDS,"  The American Scholar, August 1969, 645.


       29 Congress, House of Representatives, Committee on Internal Security, Investigation of Students For a Democratic Society, pt. 1-A (Georgetown University), 91st Cong., 2d sess., 3 June 1970, 14.


       30 Brooks, 366.


       31 New Left Notes, 10 June 1968; Anatomy of a Revolutionary Movement, 16.


 32 Andrew Kopkind, "Of, By, and For the Poor: The New Generation of Student Organizers,"  New Republic, 19 June 1965, 15-17.


       33 C. Clark Kissinger, New Left Notes, 24 June 1968, 2; in Anatomy of a Revolutionary Movement, 17.


       34 SDS Bulletin, January 1965; in Anatomy of a Revolutionary Movement, 18.


       35 Staughton Lynd, "The New Radicals and Participatory Democracy"; quoted in Anatomy of a Revolutionary Movement, 35.



       36 NAM: The Vietnam Experience 1965-75  (New York: Barnes and Noble, Inc., 1995), 6.


       37 Oglesby, 222.


       38 Shoben, 368.



       39 C. Clark Kissinger, New Left Notes, 8 July 1968, 6; in Anatomy of a Revolutionary Movement, 22.


       40 Takin' It to the Streets, 214.


       41 National Guardian, 4 December 1965, 4; in Anatomy of a Revolutionary Movement, 31.



       42 Paul Potter, "The Incredible War,"  17 April 1965; in Takin it to the Streets, 214-219.


       43 Newsletter, SDS Chapter, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, 17 November 1965; in Anatomy of a Revolutionary Movement: "Students For a Democratic Society", 32. 


       44 Natalie Jaffe, "Student Group Proposes Major Protest Against Vietnam Policy,"  New York Times, 14 June 1965, 16.


       45 Shoben, 368.


       46 Richard Blumenthal, "SDS: Protest is Not Enough," The Nation, 22 May 1967, 656.


       47 Carl Davidson, "Praxis Makes Perfect,"  Our Fight is Here: Essays on Draft Resistance, SDS Pamphlet, 2-4; in Anatomy of a Revolutionary Movement, 45.   


       48 Blumenthal, 657.


       49 Kazin, 648.


       50 New Left Notes, 10 July 1967, 4-5; in Anatomy of a Revolutionary Movement, 52.  


 51 The National Liberation Front (NLF) was a South Vietnamese group that encouraged insurgency against American-supported dictator Ngo Dinh Diem,  called for the unification of Vietnam, and called for the establishment of democracy. Kazin, 648.  


       52 Carl Davidson in National Guardian, 11 November 1967, 9; in Anatomy of a Revolutionary Movement, 59.


       53 Anatomy of a Revolutionary Movement: "Students For a Democratic Society", 60.


       54 The Port Huron Statement, 68.


 55 Guevara was a Cuban revolutionary guerrilla leader, who, at this time, was attempting to overthrow the regime of the dictator Batista who was supported by the US government. Jon Lee Anderson, Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life (New York: Grove Press, 1997).


       56 Davidson, 60.  


       57 Cuba vs. US Imperialism, SDS pamphlet, 1; in Congress, House of Representatives, Committee on Internal Security, Investigation of SDS, Part 5, 91st Cong., 1st sess., 6-7 August 1969, 1834.


       58 New Left Notes, 10 June 1968, 16; in Anatomy of a Revolutionary Movement, 9.


       59 Larry David Nachman, "Obituary For SDS," The Nation, 24 November 1969, 559.


60 Although the Berkeley SDS was involved in the Free Speech Movement, it is not counted among their significant actions because of the relatively small number of members involved with the Berkeley SDS.


 61 David Burner, "Berkeley Free Speech Movement, 1963-64: A Narrative Summary," excerpted from Making Peace With the Sixties (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996); available from; Internet; accessed 21 September 2000.


 62 C. Clark Kissinger, New Left Notes, 8 July 1968, 6; in Anatomy of a Revolutionary Movement, 22.


 63 C. Clark Kissinger, Students For a Democratic Society: Organizer's Handbook (New York: SDS, 1964), 1; in Anatomy of a Revolutionary Movement, 24.


 64 Blumenthal, 656.


 65 The Port Huron Statement, 70.


 66 Nachman, 559.


  67  Anatomy of a Revolutionary Movement, 49.


68 "Who Are the SDS?," Newsweek, 20 May 1968, 62.


69 Anatomy of a Revolutionary Movement, 32.


70 During this time, estimated SDS membership peaked at about 100,000 (although no official membership counts were ever conducted).  Sale 657.


 71 Ibid., 34.


 72 At one point, insurgent students spent hours barricading the doors of an administration building to keep the police and officials outside.  They failed to realize that the doors opened outward, easily allowing entrance into the building and the destruction of their barricade. "Campus Rebels: Who, Why, What,"  65.


 73 Tom Hayden, Ramparts, 15 June 1968; quoted in Anatomy of a Revolutionary Movement, 76.


 74 Ibid.


 75 Anatomy of a Revolutionary Movement, 76.


 76 Kazin, 657.


 77 "Who Are the SDS?," 62.


 78 Anatomy of a Revolutionary Movement,  75.


 79 "Campus Rebels: Who, Why, What,"  67.


 80 "Flare Up In Campus Revolts-A Crucial Test at Harvard,"  US News and World Report, 28 April 1969, 42.


 81 "Campus Rebels: Who, Why, What,"  67.


 82 "Drive the US Out of Asia!"; available from; Internet; accessed 12 November 2000.


 83 This title of "National Office" or "Regular" at that time referred to any SDS member that was not also a member of the PLP.  Sale, 461.


 84 "Splintered SDS," Time, 27 June 1969, 45.


 85 Sale, 460.


 86 "SDS Convention: The Many Voices of the New Left," New Republic, 28 June 1968, 13.


 87 "SDS Convention: The Many Voices of the New Left," 14-15.


 88 New Left Notes, 24 June 1968, 3; quoted in Anatomy of a Revolutionary Movement, 81.


 89 The Port Huron Statement, 62.


 90 Roger Kahn, "The Collapse of the SDS," Esquire, October 1969, 55.


 91 Thomas R. Brooks, "Metamorphosis in SDS: The New Left is Showing Its Age," New York Times Magazine, 15 June 1969, 14.


 92  "Sniffing the Devil's Presence," Time, 21 June 1968, 42. 


 93 "Hot Town: Summer in the City or I Ain't Gonna Work on Maggie's Farm No More," New Left Notes, 4 April 1969, 8; in Investigation of SDS, Part 5, 1828.  


 94 Nachman, 560.


 95 Their name was taken from a line in a poem by beat-turned-black poet, LeRoi Jones. Gitlin, 238.


 96  John Kifner, "SDS Bars 'Capitalist Press,'" New York Times, 19 June 1969, 30.


 97 This "new middle class" essentially consisted of lower class workers and the unemployed, and was not to be confused with the blue collar middle class. "Metamorphosis in SDS," 14.


 98 Sale, 367.


 99 John Kifner, "SDS Leaders Oust Members of PL Faction,"  New York Times, 22 June 1969, 1.


 100 Ibid., 50.


 101 Since they did not allow the mainstream press into the convention, the following account was obtained through interviews Esquire writer Roger Kahn conducted with SDS delegates present at the convention and from the notes these delegates took during the proceedings.   


 102 Kahn, 55-61.


 103 Ibid., 61.


 104 The name "Weathermen" was taken from a line in the Bob Dylan song Subterranean Homesick Blues-"You don't need a weatherman/To know which way the wind blows."  "Hard Times For SDS,"  Time, 28 November 1969, 81.  


 105 Gitlin, 393-394.


 106 The Port Huron Statement, 67.


 107 Sales, 115.


 108 Ellen Frankfort, Kathy Boudin and the Dance of Death (New York: Stein and Day, 1983), 84.


 109 "BIOGRAPHY: Bernardine Dohrn"; available from; Internet; accessed 11 November 2000.


 110 Sara Rimer, "Columbia's Rebels Retake Campus for a 20th Reunion," New York Times, 25 April 1988, B1. 


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       Internet; accessed 12 November 2000.


"Flare Up in Campus Revolt-A Crucial Test at Harvard," US News

       and World Report (28 April 1969), 41.


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       Stein and Day, 1983.


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Hayden, Tom.  Ramparts. (15 June 1968); Quoted in Anatomy of a

       Revolutionary Movement: "Students For a Democratic

       Society," 76.


"Hot Town: Summer in the City or I Ain't Gonna Work on Maggie's

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      Sale, SDS, 25. New York: Random House, 1973.


Jaffe, Natalie.  "Student Group Proposes Major Protest Against

       Vietnam Policy," New York Times (14 June 1965), 16.


Kahn, Roger.  "The Collapse of SDS," Esquire (October 1969),



Kazin, Michael. "Some Notes on SDS," The American Scholar (August

       1969), 644-655.


Kifner, John.  "SDS Bars 'Capitalist Press'," New York Times

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Kifner, John.  "SDS Leaders Oust Members of PL Faction," New York

       Times (22 June 1969), 1.


Kissinger, C. Clark. New Left Notes (8 July 1968), 6; Quoted in

      Anatomy of a Revolutionary Movement: "Students For a

      Democratic Society," 22.


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       Anatomy of a Revolutionary Movement: "Students For a

       Democratic Society," 17.


Kissinger, C. Clark. Students For a Democratic Society:

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       a Revolutionary Movement: "Students For a Democratic



Kopkind, Andrew.  "Of, By, and For the Poor: The New Generation

       of Student Organizers," New Republic (19 June 1965), 15-19.


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       2; Quoted in Anatomy of Revolutionary Movement: "Students

       For a Democratic Society," 35.


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       Unger, eds. The Times Were a Changin': The Sixties Reader, 

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       November 1969), 558-560.


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       Streets": A Sixites Reader, 220-225.


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       A Sixties Reader, 61-74.


Potter, Paul. "The Incredible War," 17 April 1965; In "Takin' It

       to the Streets": A Sixties Reader, 214-219.


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       Reunion," New York Times (25 April 1988), B1-B2.


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       (28 June 1968), 12-14.


"SDS Faces Life," Newsweek (13 January 1969), 62.


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       Two Student Organizations," School and Society (26 October

       1968), 365-369.


Shiffren, Andre. Memo to Frank Trager, SDS Papers, series 1,

        no. 7  (28 September 1960); Quoted in The Sixities: Years

        of Hope, Days of Rage, 110.


"Sniffing the Devil's Presence," Time (21 June 1968), 42.


"Splintered SDS," Time (27 June 1969), 45.


Unger, Debi and Irwin, eds.  The Times Were a Changin': The

       Sixties Reader. New York: Three Rivers Press, 1998.


U.S. Congress. House of Representatives. Committee on Internal

       Security. Anatomy of a Revolutionary Movement: "Students

       For a Democratic Society". 91st Cong., 2nd sess., 6 October



U.S. Congress. House of Representatives. Committee on Internal

       Security. Investigation of Students For a Democratic

       Society, Part 5. 91st Cong., 1st sess., 6-7 August 1969.


"Who Are the SDS?," Newsweek (20 May 1968), 62-63.


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