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 Tom Hayden and the Unfinished Business of Democracy


 Tom Hayden and the Unfinished Business of Democracy

The Nation Editors

The writer, politician, and anti-war activist Tom Hayden died yesterday at the age of 76, a year and a half after suffering a stroke. Now, as they say, he rests in peace—a man who devoted his life to making the world a place where the living can do the same. From helping to found the New Left in the 1960s right up to this turbulent election season, Hayden was a pillar of Democratic politics, a brilliant strategist and political thinker, and a leading advocate for a more just and equal society.


The Port Huron Statement can be found in its entirety at http://coursesa.matrix.msu.edu/~hst306/documents/huron.html

The parts about political and economic democracy are terrific. Here's a long quote:

"As a social system we seek the establishment of a democracy of individual participation, governed by two central aims: that the individual share in those social decisions determining the quality and direction of his life; that society be organized to encourage independence in men and provide the media for their common participation.

In a participatory democracy, the political life would be based in several root principles:

that decision-making of basic social consequence be carried on by public groupings;
that politics be seen positively, as the art of collectively creating an acceptable pattern of social relations;
that politics has the function of bringing people out of isolation and into community, thus being a necessary, though not sufficient, means of finding meaning in personal life;
that the political order should serve to clarify problems in a way instrumental to their solution; it should provide outlets for the expression of personal grievance and aspiration; opposing views should be organized so as to illuminate choices and facilities the attainment of goals; channels should be commonly available to related men to knowledge and to power so that private problems -- from bad recreation facilities to personal alienation -- are formulated as general issues.
The economic sphere would have as its basis the principles:

that work should involve incentives worthier than money or survival. It should be educative, not stultifying; creative, not mechanical; selfdirect, not manipulated, encouraging independence; a respect for others, a sense of dignity and a willingness to accept social responsibility, since it is this experience that has crucial influence on habits, perceptions and individual ethics;
that the economic experience is so personally decisive that the individual must share in its full determination;
that the economy itself is of such social importance that its major resources and means of production should be open to democratic participation and subject to democratic social regulation.
Like the political and economic ones, major social institutions -- cultural, education, rehabilitative, and others -- should be generally organized with the well-being and dignity of man as the essential measure of success."

Rest in Peace Tom. Your writing was inspirational will live long after you.


Disconnects exemplified by "Its time to organize a progressive majority" concurrent with endorsing Clinton over Sanders confirms why a clown like Trump has even a remote chance of becoming POTUS.


We'll miss you Tom.

I remember, when I was in high school in the 1960's the class president showed me a letter he had received from the FBI that cautioned against the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and how they were a threat to our country. Back then I believed that what the FBI said must be true. I do learn though.


Sanders' primary run DID present the first opportunity to "organize a progressive majority", but only if he was given a level playing field to compete with Clinton on. Clinton endorsements during the primary by Hayden and other celebrities was no different than the media pretending Sanders didn't exist when it came to making Sanders competitive in the primary.


Tom was one of the somewhat-older folks who provided hugely important leadership to those of us who were foot soldiers in the antiwar movement and new left. The Port Huron statement was an eloquent articulation of the very contagious idea of participatory democracy that I've embraced all my life. Tom's eloquence was significant on so many levels, particularly in his writing, and most recently for me, the moving way he spoke at the 2015 gathering of the antiwar movement in Washington, D.C. While I haven't always been comfortable with some of his accommodations with the political process, I recognize that he came to see the world from the perspective of a reformer. We will miss him.