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(en) US, SDS chapters to form national organizaton - with diorect democracy flavor

Date Tue, 17 Jan 2006 09:41:38 +0200


Students for a Democratic Society chapters to form national organization.
Several chapters of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) announced today,
Monday, January 16, 2006, their intent to form a national organization and
hold the first SDS national convention since 1969. "It seemed appropriate to
make this announcement today, on the observed Martin Luther King day", said
SDS regional organizer Thomas Good. "We have an anti-war movement that is
addressing the issue of stopping the bloodletting in Iraq but the civil
rights issue remains unaddressed", he added. The national convention is
scheduled for Summer 2006 and will be preceeded by a series of regional
conferences occurring on the Memorial Day weekend.

The newly formed SDS national organization was the idea of a student
anti-war activist who contacted other student and veteran organizers. Good
joined SDS when Stonington High School (Connecticut) senior Pat Korte
contacted him with the idea of linking nascent SDS chapters into a national
structure.

"Although I have been an active participant in the anti-war and student
activist movement, I have become frustrated with the groups collective
inability to unify enough people under a common goal/vision to address the
overall problems with our society. Historically, SDS was able to address
many of the issues pertinent at the time through Tom Hayden's Port Huron
Statement. This document has stood the test of time, thus several fellow
activists from across the country and myself decided to form a national SDS
movement, only to discover that chapters already exist! Because of this we
decided to hold a national conference", said Korte.

At his request, members of Korte's informal network of student activists
from across the country began contacting Good and very quickly the informal
network was replaced by a national structure that now includes a website,
discussion forum and mailing list, all of which are now based at
studentsforademocraticsociety.org.

Korte, realizing that the original SDS suffered from not having alot of
veteran activists, WHO UNDERSTOOD THE IDEA OF STUDENT POWER, reached out to
some older activists, including several members of the 1960s era student
organization, to help ground the project and provide logistical support.

The first original SDSer to come on board was Alan Haber, president of SDS
1960-62. Haber speaks of "re-membering SDS" rather than eulogizing it. Never
giving up on the Dream, Haber is looking forward to the "the next meeting of
SDS". And the next meeting will be a national event linking any and all SDS
chapters interested in taking part.

Today chapters exist at Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island, at
the New School in New York City, at the University of Michigan and at
Eastern Michigan University. In the western part of the US chapters that
sprang up independently in Santa Ana, California and at Reigs University in
Denver, Colorado have signed on to the national organization. Connecting
these chapters and their organizers proved less difficult than Korte and
Good initially thought. Technology was the key.

"We should reconnect our networks. We should reassert the continuity of the
radical movements in American politics. The new technologies of
communication and independent media make this more possible than ever", said
Alan Haber. Korte and Good took this advice and ran with it.

As the project coalesced, Good, a member of the Industrial Workers of the
World (IWW) contacted labor historian Paul Buhle, co-editor of a graphic
history of the IWW ("Wobblies") and former SDSer from the Madison,
Wisconsin, chapter. The timing was right on. Buhle, who teaches at Brown in
Rhode Island, is working on a new project: a graphic (i.e. comic bok)
history of SDS from the perspective of the individual chapters. Working with
artist Gary Dumm, Buhle looks to avoid the usual history of the SDS national
office by focusing on the street activists and their local branches. Buhle
is asking that members of the original SDS with stories to tell contact him
via e-mail at pbuhle@studentsforademocraticsociety.org.

In addition to the book, Buhle has a personal interest in SDS. Describing
himself for a recent article in Next Left Notes (www.nextleftnotes.net) he
noted: "Founder and publisher of RADICAL AMERICA, Paul Buhle was active in
Champaign-Urbana, Storrs and Madison SDS chapters, 1965-1969. He hasn't been
all that happy since, but he teaches at Brown." In the piece on NLN Buhle
talks about the historical parallels between the 1960s and the present
noting that the US empire is over-extended, liberal Democrats are not the
answer to vexing problems and the Port Huron Statement remains as vital
today as it was in 1962 when Tom Hayden presented it to the third SDS
national convention.

"Today, students of all backgrounds can be shown the need to mobilize, to
help prevent the ongoing devastation of our world, to help empower the lowly
as students learn to empower themselves, and to set out a vision of a really
democratic society. There's the key. The Industrial Workers of the World had
it long before. Decentralized democracy, democratic decision-making at all
levels is the most radical idea ever hatched in North America and the only
one with real lasting appeal", said Buhle who has joined the new SDS.

The new SDS plans to continue the independent radical tradition in America:
political education and demonstrating, advocating and organizing for
democracy and justice, unions, civil liberties, peace and freedom. According
to Korte the meetings this spring and summer will focus on building an
infrastructure that facilitates these goals as the new SDS, like the old, is
an organization of activists. Friends of peace and justice, those students
who want a voice, a say in their own destiny, should visit
www.studentsforademocraticsociety.org where regular updates will be posted
and contact information is now available.

SDS is an education and social action organization dedicated to increasing
democracy in all phases of our common life. It seeks to promote the active
participation of young people in the formation of a movement to build a
society free from poverty, ignorance, war, exploitation, racism and sexism.
Visit www.studentsforademocraticsociety.org for more information.
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