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Tom Hayden, 'One of the Great 20th Century Activist Leaders,' Dies at 76


Tom Hayden, 'One of the Great 20th Century Activist Leaders,' Dies at 76

Lauren McCauley, staff writer

Progressive icon and anti-war activist turned California lawmaker Tom Hayden passed on Sunday at the age of 76.

Hayden dedicated his life to peace, social justice, and activism: from the 1960s, when he helped found the New Left and worked to organize black southern sharecroppers, to building—alongside his former wife, actress Jane Fonda—a California political machine that for decades advanced progressive candidates and measures.


Reprinting what I wrote on the other Tom Hayden memorial thread in case the conversation moves here:

The Port Huron Statement can be found in its entirety at http://coursesa.matrix.msu.edu/~hst306/documents/huron.html1

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.


I was most impressed with Tom Hayden when he told about the intense pressure that had been placed on him to climb on that Israeli tank. That had and has been a image forever connected with him in my mind and it was an important moment when he made that confession. That was many years ago, and probably on Counterpunch.



Tom was completely demonized for being married to what the fascist press called her: " HANOI JANE" and for being what they labeled him: "A CHICKEN HAWK" among other pejoratives for organizing marches against the Vietnam war. A man of principles who will be missed. RIP.


I wonder who Tom would have voted for if he had lived?


Excellent questions, but I am not smart enough to give you any answers! I wish someone like Mahatma Gandhi would come along and show us how to throw out the warmongers, Empire, Fascists and war profiteers non-violently like he did in India when he threw out the British.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi:
" Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man".


We know how Tom would have voted . He wrote an endorsement for Hillary in the Nation. It is one of the reasons I cancelled my 25 yr subscription. Sorry I don't want to leave out Joan Walsh.


He was a Clinton supporter as far as electoral politics goes (but don't mistake that for his support of her political philosophy- especially in foreign affairs). He never felt the alternative parties like the Greens were able to garner enough support from Blacks and other minorities. I believe he was falling prey to stereotypes of the Greens in the last few years since they have clearly been spending much more of their energy in building coalitions with groups like Black Lives Matter and the Falling Rock Sioux.


There is no question who Hayden would vote for on November 8, seeing how he endorsed Clinton over Sanders in the primary and had been a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat for decades.


I wholly embraced T. Hayden's SDS, protested the Vietnam War, and have been a lifelong admirer of this brilliant, courageous man who never veered off his progressive path. He knew the game of politics and played them with intelligence and finesse, which made him all the more successful yet without compromising his core beliefs.

My heartfelt condolences to his wife, family, and friends who will deeply miss his enormous yet unassuming presence!


It was regrettable to see him, like much of the country, lean well to the right on core socioeconomic issues, but he played a very important role in modern US history.


Actually, no, there is nothing progressive about America's war on our poor, and while liberals haven't cared either way, progressives continue to speak out -- just as they did in the 1960s and 1970s. This became a solidly regressive nation, in the process of reversing nearly a century of social progress. Unfortunately, Tom Hayden found a more comfortable place in the "Reaganized" culture than he found in those former progressive movements.


I liked the Tom Hayden of early years, but, just like ALL activists who turn politician, he was consumed by the corporatists and discovered how cushy-easy life can be by surrendering your "naive" beliefs of youth. He endorsed Hillary Clinton in the end and that puts a stain on his legacy as far as I'm concerned.

Like everyone else who used to be a principled person of the people, he caved.

There are no more political heroes left in our country. None at all.


I believe it was Bernays, son in law of Sigmund Freud, and "Father of Public Relations," who organized a campaign to get American women to smoke cigarettes.


I respectfully disagree and would venture to guess that you have not read any of Hayden's writing or watched any number of his interviews.


There is someone waiting in the wings and very active in the world. Check out www.shareinternational.org


Thanks for the link.