4B Wednesday, November 7S 2012 // he Statement
Wednesday, November 7, 2012 // The Statement
The moderator talks into the microphone -
testing, one, two, yep, much better. The audience
wanders from the coffee machines back to their
seats. It's the first full day of the University's Port
Huron Statement conference, this two-part work-
shop, one-part reunion honoring the 50th anniver-
sary of the New Left manifesto.
Under the chandeliers of the Michigan Union
Pendleton Room, seven students in blazers and
button-ups gather to discuss the impact of the doc-
ument. More importantly, they're talking about
the students of the 60s, our can't-stop, won't-stop
predecessors that shook this campus - shook the
ideas of any campus, really - until it was blue in
The whole thing makes them uneasy.
"The 60s were a time of huge social change -
you know, with rallies and protests," one of the
panelists says. "We just don't have that anymore."
Another student chimes in, "It's obvious that*
people are angry today. What's not so obvious is if
anyone willtake their frustrations past Facebook."
The student on the end grabs the microphone.
"In comparison, nothing we do today is good
An exasperated generational sigh hovers over
the panel. Not because the groups these panel.
ists represent aren't important. Not because they
aren't trying. As the discussion of the differences
between them - the take-it-to-the-streets stu-
dents of the 60s and us - come to a close, it's clear.
We're fighting a bigger monster of apathy. And we
have no idea how to kill it.
The audience senses it too. "You know, I really
feel bad for your generation," an old
during questions. "You have no mov
have all these issues, and no movemej
know what's the problem? You have nt
A kid sitting in front of me adjust,
shirt, revealing the familiar motto hi
his hood - Michigan, home to the leadt
When did that promise start to ring:
"Not the compromised second
For a 50-year-old document, the :
Statement looks pretty young.
Of course, the references to the Cc
the suppressed black vote give it som
But on the whole, the Statement's abi
tle up and explode the student cond
frustrated, fed-up, but conscious c+
hasn't withered over the last half-cer
the first sentence on, it's hard to reat
without thinking someone yanked tb
frustration out of your brain and tran
hell out of it.
"We are the people of this gene:
Statement begins, "bred in at least n
fort, housed inuniversities, lookingun
to the world we inherit."
Drop the book. That subtle "uncc
- there's something about it that j
Because maybe when you're in the mi
second procrasti-shower of the day,
in line at 7-11, you remember - ther
beyond that calculus exam. It's a big
side our Ann Arbor bubble, and good;
rtably hard to But the energy was not. The anti-war move
for it - yugen, exploded, the fight for racial equality intens
iggers respons- And the students were there, working unde
>rds. Today we presumption that something's gotta chang
y nonexistent." their minds, they were the ones who could fix
ary and real to Here's where the original audience takes a
from today's reader. By and large, the student
Left's defining at least, the thousands involved in Students
ss the political Democratic Society, thought they could do s
save called it a thing about this cluster-fucked world. Dr
too-ambitious of the democratic Shangri-La may have died
David Horow- participatory democracy - the cornerstonea
>nscious effort Statement - did not.
from its Soviet And as for students today? We still look un
ologies, just for fortably to:the world, but with muchiless optin
ychic power to "Protesting is just a little too inconveni
hat a manifesto says Rory Cahill, an LSA senior who helped c
gripes, but the nize the conference. "You've got to finish your
sis and get a job."
o business-as- "That's where the emphasis is now," Cahill
ference to the "Not on social change, but on staying afloat."
Efirmation to the
if you prefer - "You want ecstatic experiences
"You know, we were in a period that's
tatement and its Hayden says between a sip of coffee. "It rea
t, romanticized. seem like we could do anything. But it was s
dissemination of that it's hard to say much more than that."
ation of John F. We're sitting in the alcove off the An<
the biggie - the room in the Union. A makeshift bookshe
To borrow from put together here, displayingsome of the 20
who drafted the Hayden has written over the last40 years.
.e utopian vision half-hour or so I'm with Hayden, several
See LOST GENERATION, P