“We did not see a return to the flapper or the flapper movement,” said Tishman Speyer, an economist at the University of Chicago. “The flapper movement was associated with social unrest. We did not see a return to the New Left or the political revolution.”
What did New Left mean?
Speyer said the New Left of the 1960s and 1970s became known for their critiques of consumer culture.
What did ‘movement’ mean?
“New Left meant a specific set of ideas, or movements,” said Stephen Moore, a political science professor at Yale University and author of the upcoming book “Re-Democratizing Capitalism” (Oxford University Press).
Moore said in the early 1960s, activists were looking for an alternative to the war in Vietnam, a new vision of the economy and government. He says in the late 1960s, political radicals also began calling for an end to racial discrimination, welfare and socialized medicine in an effort to re-focus American politics.
But the current Occupy movement represents a different movement altogether.
“Occupy Wall Street is the new New Left, but it also represents a new way of seeing the nation, a broader social imagination, and a more open-ended social agenda,” he said. “When people start out with ideas, it takes some time to develop these ideas and move them to a movement.”
In the 1960s, Moore says, social movements, including civil rights movements, were seen through moralistic lenses.
“One person’s rebellion could be another person’s revolution; just because two people rebel doesn’t mean that one is right and the other is wrong,” he said. “People in the 1960s thought there was a line. This time around, people are looking for a different way to look at things.”
That doesn’t mean the anti-corporate Occupy movement means the end of corporate capitalism, Moore insists. In fact, he said, most of the anti-corporate slogans are part of a general anti-capitalist critique.
“One of the problems Occupy created was creating a new kind of liberal consensus within U.S. social movements,” he said. “It gave us a new political rhetoric, and that rhetoric is still popular in social movements today in the U.S. to a greater or lesser degree.”
It all began with a book.
In a town near my home, a teacher called a student into her office
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