Anarchists, Marxists, and the New Left: Culture and Conflict in Students for a Democratic Society, 1960-1969

  • Adam Tomasi


Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), the preeminent organization of the American New Left, is understood by scholars to have led resistance to the Vietnam War up until the split between the Maoist Progressive Labor (PL) and Revolutionary Youth Movement (RYM) at the 1969 convention. Countercultural anarchist participation in non-student chapters of SDS during the late 1960s, and the organization’s civil rights coalition that included anarchists during the early 1960s, remain under-studied. The New Left’s major project, globally, was the search for new answers to ongoing revolutionary questions by returning to – and reinventing – radical traditions from the past, such as anarchism. This essay argues that countercultural anarchism had a formative influence on SDS’s early history, radical evolution, and coalitions outside the campus, and consequently helped define the New Left as a whole.