New Left

I. Overview & Analysis


• The New Left, was a social activist group that referenced activist, educators, and agitators who wanted to implement many reforms referencing to Marxist movements, but also mostly focusing on labor unionization and questions of the social structure. The New Left was significantly represented by the SDS or the students of Democratic society as well. The New Left did not face many problems, for they protested non-violent civil disobedience.

• Organizations involved in The New Left were the SDS, which stood for Students of Democratic Society. This organization contained mostly young college students protesting strongly against the Vietnam War along with freedoms on Cal state Berkeley. They're protest we're generally extremely successful making the group larger, but also led to their ultimate demise.

• The goals of the new left were in some extent rather small and some large goals. Some small goals would be, protesting at universities such as at University of California, where students protested for the lift of non political activities on campus and grant students the right of speech as well as academic freedom. Some larger goals we're protesting against the Vietnam war, this goal was attainable for many reasons. One reason, was that The New Left was a rather large protest group that protested non-violent civil disobedience and in the end they we're a highly respected protesting group.


• The techniques used by The New Left party was peaceful protest, by which they stuck flowers into the soldiers guns for example other than violence. This practice was called non-violent civil disobedience which was practiced and influenced by Herbert Marcuse, founder and starter of the New Left.

• Their methods were generally effective, for it did not provoke the use of force by the government at all. They did in fact accomplish majority of their aims, protesting against the Vietnam war, and asking for simple rights on campuses of schools. With peaceful protest as well the government respected the idea of it and gave them the attention they were seeking.


• The current objectives of the New Left was to gain freedoms upon campus at Berkeley along with that fight for peace at the war of Vietnam. The freedoms upon campus were granted as the size of the SDS grew significantly with more radicals, the fighting for peace in Vietnam however wasn't as successful. Rallies were ultimately very successful protesting against the Vietnam war, but the original goal of the New Left was to change all of the world not just focus on the Vietnam war. So they decided to change objectives, but in the end led to ultimate collapse of the SDS and New Left.

• The movement was successful with changing some goals, but they're own greed to change all of the world was unrealistic. They we're very successful in the protest on campus, and decided to move to the Vietnam war. They too were very successful as well, but they wanted to change the world which was unrealistic as previously said leading to their demise.

Uknown. “1960’s governemnt and polotics.” American Decades, 25 Feb. 2000. Web. 10 Mar. 2012. <>.

Unknown. “The New Left.” N.p., 15 Mar. 2012. Web. 15 Mar. 2012. <>.

John Andrew

II. Voices from the Movement


Students for a Democratic Society (SDS)

-a socialist/ communist group in the 1960s

-many terrorist came out of this movement /many were wanted by the FBI

A clip from "Berkeley in the Sixties"

-Highly Educated students were speaking out and being arrested for doing this political speech was being treated as though it was illegal

Vietnam War - Students for a Democratic Society - "To Change the World"

- The efforts of highly educated students fighting for end off the Vietnam was

-War protest under the youth

By: Collin Andrews

Brenth1029. “Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) .” Web. 14 Mar. 2012. <‌watch?v=I-QKb5E1X9U&feature=related>.

BucsFan2276. “Vietnam War - Students for a Democratic Society - ‘To Change the World’ .” youtube. Web. 14 Mar. 2012. <‌watch?v=EZGCfPw54Ek&feature=related>.

Shweebs11. “A clip from ‘Berkeley in the Sixties’ .” California, Berkeley U. youtube. Web. 14 Mar. 2012. [[‌watch?v=MufwTCgodmM]].


"The Weathermen." N.d. JPEG Image file.


The SDS emerged during the last six months of the 1960’s. They were known to be highly educated people. Some were doctors and stockbrokers, and others were students in high school and collage. The young liberals were anti war. They would protest in some what large numbers to reach their goal. This movement was similar to the hippies, but different in so many ways. Up to half a million protesters should up in our nation’s capital to protest the Vietnam war. The saw no need for the Vietnam war. Even though the New Left was not a minority group, they sought out the need to stop racism in order to improve the quality of life for Americans.
Mattick, Paul, Jr. "Old Left, New Left, Whats Left?" Root &

Branch , n.d. Web. 15 Mar. 2012. <


Rebels With a Cause. N.d. JPEG Image file.


The SDS was a student activist movement that emerged during the New Left movement. They were recognized as the main power of the New Left movement. The young liberals took pride in their organization as they claimed they were rebels with a cause. The FBI felt that the SDS was a domestic terrorist group causing chaos. They believed the youth is the answer to holding a better future for the United States. By 1965, the SDS can easily assemble 25,000 protestors; by '68 there are 50,000 SDS members.
"Students for a Democratic Society (SDS)." Oregon Public

Broadcasting , 2005. Web. 15 Mar. 2012. <



"Herbert Marcuse in Newton." N.d. JPEG Image file.
Herbert Marcus is known as the father of the New Left movement. He was a university professor, philosopher, social theorist, and a political activist. He made a huge contribution to the New Left movement, as he was one of the most recognized intellects in the nation during the 1960’s. He felt as if the American society at the time was one dimensional, and in his eyes that needed to change immediately. His philosophy tends to have a correlation to social theory. This is why he engaged so many young liberals.
Kellner, Douglas. "Herbert Marcuse." Illuminations, n.d. Web. 15

Mar. 2012. <>.

By: Ernesto Mejia

Primary Documents

Letters to the New Left

By C. Wright Mills

"WHEN I settle down to write to you, I feel somehow “freer” than usual. The reason, I suppose, is that most of the time I am writing for people whose ambiguities and values I imagine to be rather different from mine; but with you, I feel enough in common with you to allow us “to get on with it” in more positive ways. Reading your book, Out of Apathy, prompts me to write to you about several problems I think we now face. On none of these can I hope to be definitive; I only want to raise a few questions.

It is no exaggeration to say that since the end of World War II in Britain and the United States smug conservatives, tired liberals and disillusioned radicals have carried on a very wearied discourse in which issues are blurred and potential debate muted; the sickness of complacency has prevailed, the bi-partisan banality flourished. There is no need — after your book — to explain again why all this has come about among “people in general” in the NATO countries; but it may be worthwhile to examine one style of cultural work that is in effect an intellectual celebration of apathy.

Many intellectual fashions, of course, do just that; they stand in the way of a release of the imagination — about the cold war, the Soviet bloc, the politics of peace, about any new beginnings at home and abroad. But the fashion I have in mind is the weariness of many NATO intellectuals with what they call “ideology,” and their proclamations of “the end of ideology.” So far as I know, this began in the mid-fifties, mainly in intellectual circles more or less associated with the Congress of Cultural Freedom and the magazine Encounter. Reports on the Milan Conference of 1955 heralded it; since then, many cultural gossips have taken it up as a posture and an unexamined slogan. Does it amount to anything?

Its common disposition is not liberalism as a political philosophy, but the liberal rhetoric become formal and sophisticated and used as an uncriticised weapon with which to attack Marxism. In the approved style, various of the elements of this rhetoric appear simply as snobbish assumptions. Its sophistication is one of tone rather than of ideas; in it, the New Yorker style of reportage has become politically triumphant. The disclosure of fact — set forth in a bright-faced or in a dead-pan manner — is the rule. The facts are duly weighed, carefully balanced, always hedged. Their power to outrage, their power to truly enlighten in a political way; their power to aid decision, even their power to clarify some situation — all that is blunted or destroyed.

So reasoning collapses into reasonableness. By the more naïve and snobbish celebrants of complacency, arguments and facts of a displeasing kind are simply ignored; by the more knowing, they are duly recognised, but they are neither connected with one another not related to any general view. Acknowledged in a scattered way, they are never put together: to do so is to risk being called, curiously enough, “one-sided.”

This refusal to relate isolate facts and fragmentary comment with the changing institutions of society makes it impossible to understand the structural realities which these facts might reveal; the longer-run trends of which they might be tokens. In brief, fact and idea are isolated, so the real questions are not even raised, analysis of the meanings of fact not even begun.

Practitioners of the no-more-ideology school do of course smuggle in general ideas under the guise of reportage, by intellectual gossip, and by their selection of the notions they handle. Ultimately, the-end-of-ideology is based upon a disillusionment with any real commitment to socialism in any recognisable form. That is the only “ideology” that has really ended for these writers. But with its ending, all ideology, they think, has ended. That ideology they talk about; their own ideological assumptions, they do not.

Underneath this style of observation and comment there is the assumption that in the West there are not more real issues or even problems of great seriousness. The mixed economy plus the welfare state plus prosperity — that is the formula. US capitalism will continue to be workable, the welfare state will continue along the road to ever greater justice. In the meantime, things everywhere are very complex, let us not be careless, there are great risks...."

  • In this letter Mills argues for a new leftist ideology, where intellectuals are the leaders and political figures. Mills also argues that we should move away from old left ideas and into the counter-culture ideoolgy of acceptance of one's self. This movement was given the name "The New Left" because of this letter that Mills wrote.

President Kennedy's Address to the United Nations, September 25, 1961

President Kennedy's Address to the United Nations, September 25, 1961, Public Papers of the Presidents, Kennedy, 1961, p. 624:
* * *
"Finally, as President of the United States, I consider it my duty to report to this Assembly on two threats to the peace which are not on your crowded agenda, but which causes us, and most of you, the deepest concern.
"The first threat on which I wish to report is widely misunderstood: the smoldering coals of war in Southeast Asia. South Vietnam is already under attack--sometimes by a single assassin, sometimes by a band of guerrillas, recently by full battalions. The peaceful borders of Burma, Cambodia and India have been repeatedly violated. And the peaceful people of Laos are in danger of losing the independence they gained not so long ago.
"No one can call these 'wars of liberation.' For these are free countries living under governments. Nor are these aggressions any less real because men are knifed in their homes and not shot in the fields of battle.
"The very simple question confronting the world community is whether measures can be devised to protect the small and weak from such tactics. For if they are successful in Laos and South Vietnam, the gates will be opened wide.
"The United States seeks for itself no base, no territory, no special position in this area of any kind. We support a truly neutral and independent Laos, its people free from outside interference, living at peace with themselves and with their neighbors, assured that their territory will not be used for attacks on others, and under a government comparable (as Mr. Khrushchev and I agreed at Vienna) to Cambodia and Burma.
"But now the negotiations over Laos are reaching a crucial stage. The cease-fire is at best precarious. The rainy season is coming to an end. Laotian territory is being used to infiltrate South Vietnam. The world community must recognize--all those who are involved--that this potent threat to Laotian peace and freedom is indivisible from all other threats to their own."

  • In this letter the United Nation Kennedy addresses the causes of the Vietnam War and the reasons for the US's involvement. This public address was important to the new left movement, because the new left movement was a protest againts the US's involvement in the Vietnam War. This document shows what the protest was about; there was no reason to enter this war and the only outcome is lss of US soliders.

By: Zach Semonian

Kennedy, Robert. “Address to the United Nations.” Letter. Documents Relating to American Foreign Policy Vietnam. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Mar. 2012. <‌acad/‌intrel/‌pentagon2/‌ps12.htm>.

Mills, C. Wright. “Letters to the New Left.” Letter. Marxist Humanism. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Mar. 2012. [[‌subject/‌humanism/‌mills-c-wright/‌letter-new-left.htm]].


I Ain’t Marching Anymore – Phil Ochs

  • “This song stirred the blood when Phil Ochs performed it at anti-Vietnam War and Civil Rights rallies. His song is from the point of view of a soldier as he is called on to fight through America’s history, culminating in the atomic bomb attack on Japan. It became a signature song for Ochs and was at its most powerful at the infamous Chicago Democratic National Convention in 1968 when members of the crowd burnt their draft cards during his performance” (Iredale). This is an influential song for the New Left movement because it put into song and rhyme what Americans were thinking of the draft for the war. They didn’t want to be drafted and this song was something they could play to show they opposed the Vietnam War. “It's always the old to lead us to the war. It's always the young to fall. Now look at all we've won with the saber and the gun. Tell me is it worth it all” (Cowboy Lyrics).

Give Peace a Chance – John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band

  • This song was released in 1969 and made a big impact. “The rousing chorus was echoed around the world and it became the most popular chant of the anti-Vietnam War movement. The chorus is simple, but meaningful, making it very hard to oppose it” (Iredale). This song was also beneficial to the Hippie and New Left movements since it conveyed their whole point of view on the matter. They wanted peace and this song showed it, featuring a catchy peace chorus that easily caught on all around the world. “All we are saying is give peace a chance” (Absolute Lyrics).

Absolute Lyrics. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Mar. 2012.

Cowboy Lyrics. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Mar. 2012.

Iredale, Anne. Top Tenz. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Mar. 2012.

By: Dillon Hedges

III. Conclusion

• The New left currently does not exist anymore for it was demolished in the late 60's through to many goals and to many people making it to unorganized of a group to maintain therefore it collapsed.

• There have not been further advancements or accomplishments past the Vietnam war or campus freedoms.

• There are current forms of the movement today, like for example in New York. This is called Occupy Wall street, which is a large group of people fighting for income redistribution amongst everyone along with equality among everyone.