The Politics of Authenticity: Liberalism, Christianity, and the New Left in America

The Politics of Authenticity: Liberalism, Christianity, and the New Left in America

The Politics of Authenticity: Liberalism, Christianity, and the New Left in America

The Politics of Authenticity: Liberalism, Christianity, and the New Left in America

Synopsis

In the 1960s a left-wing movement emerged in the United States that not only crusaded against social and economic exploitation, but also confronted the problem of personal alienation in everyday life. These new radicals - young, white, raised in relative affluence - struggled for peace, equality and social justice. Their struggle was cultural as well as political, a search for meaning and authenticity that marked a new phase in the long history of American radicalism.

Excerpt

Unlike most previous historians of the 1960s, the origin of my scholarship does not he in a personal involvement with the events and movements about which I write. I am not old enough, by many years, to have been involved in the new left, much less the civil rights movement of the cold war era; I am not a Christian believer, I am not very countercultural (in the usual sense of the term); and I am not a Texan. As an undergraduate in the 1980s, I simply stumbled on the new left as a historical topic, never having heard of this movement before.

Although I did not witness the movements chronicled here (save as an infant and, at that, only on television), this in no way furnishes me with an objective viewpoint. Rather, my own experiences give me a particular perspective on the events I discuss. in the late 1980s, my political outlook underwent significant changes, and learning that there had been a “new left” in the United States during the 1960s, I was eager to see what I might learn from its experience. Early on, I was occupied not only with the expository question of what these people had said and done but also with the question of why their movement had “failed,” that is, why it had lost its bid to transform American politics and why it had collapsed around 1970. the reflection of my own situation is clear. Why did there seem to be so little guidance available to those who were only then coming to a critical outlook on their society? Why were the connections to the past severed so cleanly?

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