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A GENERATION DIVIDED by Rebecca E. Klatch

A GENERATION DIVIDED

The New Left, the New Right, and the 1960s

By Rebecca E. Klatch

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-520-21713-6
Publisher: Univ. of California

paper 0-520-21714-4 A thoughtful study of some forgotten players in the Time of Torment: the young ideologues of the dawning radical right. Radical, sociologist Klatch (Univ. of Calif., San Diego) observes, is the operative word. The young men (and a few women) who made up the conservative Young Americans for Freedom (YAF), a group inspired by Barry Goldwater’s 1964 bid for the presidency, were the children of privilege; in this respect they mirrored their counterparts on the left, the young members of Students for a Democratic Society. But rather than preserve the Republican status quo, they broke from the politics of their elders at many critical junctures. Notable among them, in the later 1960s, was YAF’s growing criticism of the Vietnam War and especially of military conscription, which they believed “violated the most fundamental principle of individual liberty.” When their older conservative peers demanded that they endorse the Republican commitment to military victory in Vietnam, many of the YAF’s members shifted to a libertarian, even anarchist position. In doing so, they found, they had more in common with the extreme elements of the left than they did with the likes of William F. Buckley, Jr. and Richard M. Nixon. Whereas, when the war finally ended, many leftists entered academic or professional careers, continuing the fight for social justice by becoming child psychologists, family-practice physicians, or teachers, the young radical rightists took their fight straight into the political realm. Some of them, Klatch writes, scored great successes by organizing the state-by-state movement that defeated the Equal Rights Amendment. Others went to Washington-area think tanks, where they orchestrated the so-called Republican Revolution of 1994. And a surprising number of them, Klatch notes, went into journalism, putting the lie to the charge that the press is a liberal conspiracy. Solid research and good writing make this a book of interest to veterans of the “60s, as well as to students of social science and history. (38 b&w photos, not seen)