I was out of the USA for the bulk of the Bush administration, and I missed some things – among them, the “re-membering” or reformation or remaking of that 1960s stalwart, the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), which reemerged at the end of 2005 and was officially relaunched in early 2006.
The Nation has a long piece on this new SDS, its relation to the old and relationships with old SDS members, (as well as some backgroundon the disintegration of the old SDS for those not familiar with the story). I stumbled across the article by chance, one of those serendipitious occurences that my haphazard approach to Google searches throws up now and then.
Among other things, I was inspired by both the diversity of voices that seem to be happily coexisting in the new SDS, and the large proportion of anarchist-oriented voices amongst that diversity. The article quotes one SDS member explaining that ‘many people in SDS are “anarcho-something-or-other, but they feel like anarchist organizations are so unorganized that they haven’t been effective in creating systemic change.”‘
Some tensions around ideological differences seem to have emerged during a demonstration in DC, with some SDSers wanting to link up with the anarchist black bloc anti-globalization protesters and others wanting to avoid that association. You can see why too – actions like grafitting slogans on the steps of Capital Hill don’t even qualify as “propaganda by the deed,” as one person described them.
The article inspired me, as I hope it will you, to look into the new SDS, as well as what the article describes as the “new SDS’s adult counterpart, Movement for a Democratic Society (MDS),” and even to go back and refresh my memory about the old SDS and the Weathermen/Weather Underground. Since The Nation piece doesn’t provide any links, here are some for your convenience:
- Students for a Democratic Society [the 2006 version]
- Wikipedia entry for the 1960s SDS
- Website devoted to the old SDS, with an extensive collection of documents and other material
- Full text of the old SDS’s founding document, the Port Huron Statement , is available in various forms and various places including a short version here and a longer draft version here
- Movement for a Democratic Society