A leading ideologue of the 1960s student, anti-war and social justice movements and later a California state senator, Tom Hayden, will make an appearance along with influential novelist, essayist, screenwriter and political analyst Gore Vidal at an evening of live music, lectures and book signings, scheduled for 6 to 10 p.m. Monday, June 5th, at epOxybOx Gallery, 602 Venice Blvd., Venice.
Steven Hill, author of Ten Steps to Repair American Democracy and director of the Fair Vote/Center for Voting and Democracy will also speak and sign his new book. Live music will be performed by The Backboners, a group inspired by the Mamas and the Papas, and singer/songwriter/guitarist Leon Rubenhold.
Tickets are $10, with proceeds benefiting anti-war candidate Marcy Winograd’s congressional campaign.
Hayden was one of the founders of Students for a Democratic Society, the activist group that historians have recognized as having had a large hand in the protests and activist mobilization efforts in the 1960s. He wrote the Port Huron Statement in 1962, which became a kind of philosophical manifesto for the New Left.
He was later a defendant in the Chicago Seven trial along side Yippee leaders Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin after the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. He was married to Jane Fonda and later served a combined 18 years in the California State Assembly and State Senate.
His activism since leaving the State Senate in 2000 has centered mostly on researching, writing and lecturing on social movements, working against sweatshops, protesting the war in Iraq and working for change in United States policy towards Latin America. The latest anti-war actions he has engaged in is attempts to unseat Democratic Party candidates in the primary election Tuesday, June 6th, who support the war in Iraq and have them replaced with anti-war candidates who support withdrawal of troops from Iraq.
His latest targets include Senator Joe Lieberman and locally, 36th District Congresswoman Jane Harman.
Commenting on the current state of student activism, Hayden says, “The reason that students reacted in large numbers in the 1960s was that the Vietnam War was an immediate issue of life or death. This is how most social movements have started, around issues that immediately affect people’s lives.”
But the current strategy of the warhawks, a lesson learned from Vietnam, according to Hayden is to minimize and downplay the effects of the Iraq War on the lives of average Americans.
“We hear rhetoric geared towards building up the Iraqi army, the ‘air war’ or reducing American casualties without actually withdrawing troops.”
Hayden says these attempts to neutralize public concerns about the war are failing, as is seen by dwindling public support for the war in recent months.
Hayden’s view on government, whether democratic, authoritarian or oligarchical, is that government is run by Machiavellians.
“The Machiavellians are the elites and power technicians within the institutional order whose purpose is the maintenance of incumbent power over culture, the economy, the state and orderly processes of change,” writes Hayden. “The Machiavellians operate in the spheres of business, education, the state, the military and the media, coalescing when necessary to preserve the larger institutional order.”
Hayden believes the Machiavellian viewpoint penetrates all political parties and organizations, be they Republican, Democrat or otherwise.
“When a politician moves to a higher up level within their party, one of the main purposes of their actions becomes the maintenance of power. And if a politician has the choice of being aligned with a principled minority party or an unprincipled majority party, it’s obvious which one has more of an appeal to them. “Their function is to preserve their own power and the status quo.”
As an activist who was able to gain a seat at the table of mainstream politics as a California legislator, Hayden has the unique perspective of having been both an insider and an outsider in the governing structure.
“It’s dangerous for activists to move too close to the center, because they can lose their heritage to people who never fought in the first place,” he says.
“But if the activists never engage in mainstream politics, then it is the mainstream Machiavellians that write the history for them.”
Information, (310) 305-1953.