Todd Gitlin – USA

Linked with Echoes of 1968.

Todd Gitlin (born 1943) is an American sociologist, political writer, novelist, and cultural commentator. He has written widely on the mass media, politics, intellectual life and the arts, for both popular and scholarly publications. In the 1960s, Gitlin was a political activist. In 1963 and 1964, Gitlin was president of Students for a Democratic Society; he was elected, he writes, because “none of the other four candidates, each of whom was experienced, was willing to serve,” since “we mistrusted power, including our own! Recruiting leaders was hard.” Letters to a Young Radical, p. 117. Indeed, he writes, the SDS abolished its presidency and vice-presidencies in the mid-sixties. He helped organize the first[citation needed] national demonstration against the Vietnam War, held in Washington, D. C., on April 26, 1965, with 25,000 participants, as well as the first[citation needed] civil disobedience directed against American corporate support for the apartheid regime in South Africa – a sit-in at the Manhattan headquarters of Chase Manhattan Bank in 1965 … (full text).

His Homepage.

He says: “My generation of the New Left — a generation that grew as the [Vietnam] war went on — relinquished any title to patriotism without much sense of loss. All that was left to the Left was to unearth righteous traditions and cultivate them in universities. The much-mocked political correctness of the next academic generations was a consolation prize. We lost — we squandered the politics — but won the textbooks”. (wikipedia/quote).

Todd Gitlin Reviews Obama’s Speech, March 18, 2008.


Todd Gitlin – USA

Video: The Mark Bauerlein – Todd Gitlin in Dialogue, 72 minutes. More on this page: Links mentionned in this dialogue:

The Kagan Subtext, April 9, 2008.

Gitlin regrets that state of affairs. He suggests that in the United States, “the pot is still melting. There are clumps that don’t melt, that refuse to melt.” He was thrilled by Obama’s speech, but as a race warrior who’s been around a lot longer than the senator from Illinois, he’s enthusiastically skeptical: “I don’t know,” says Gitlin. “I suspend disbelief. That speech was flying on two wings and a lot of prayers. It is a very American hope on his part that you can face it and transcend it” … (full text, March 20, 2008).

He says also: ” … those who still cling to gauzy dreams about untainted militancy need to remember all the murders committed in the name of various radical ideologies that accomplished exactly nothing for the victims of racism”. (wikipedia/quote).

Todd Gitlin alerts us to a new Robert Kagan book excerpt in The New Republic. Kagan’s idea, it seems, is that since neoconservatism has proven such a complete and utter failure as an approach to the challenge of transnational terrorism and WMD proliferation, we ought to use use it as a guide for dealing with Russia and China instead. If you’re a sociopath like Kagan, a renewal of Cold War-style conflict with other great powers is good news because, as Todd says, it serves the goal of “conjuring a proper target for unilateralist belligerence” … (full text, April 10, 2008).

Too Much to Ask, March 23, 2008.

He writes (Regaining the kinetics of 1968): … It’s remarkable, but not really surprising, that American politics should be haunted by spooky afterimages, since the earthquake of 1968 emerged from deep, wrenching faults that still emit tremors. Clashes of race, sex, and culture, revolts against mindless authority, the hubris of America’s plutocrats and reckless legions – all this still reverberates in present time. At the same time, the popular products of American culture are nervelessly tied up themselves, fearing to plunge too far into the cauldron of unresolved history. Strikingly, if one surveys film, television, and fiction in the United States, thoughtful dissection of the bygone decade is at a premium – except when swallowed up in the picturesque exploits of the Weather Underground, the gaudiest and most self-caricaturing of the offshoots of late-‘60s militancy. Faced with the decadal commemorations, almost everyone under 50 turns into Mr Jones, who knows that something was happening then but hasn’t much idea what it was … (full text, April 11, 2008).

Let People Draw Their Own Conclusions, March 19, 2008.

… In the act of rushing to Obama’s defense, some prominent liberal bloggers reinforced the stereotype of elite liberal snobbery. On Friday, regular DailyKos diarist RKA argued, “This quote and the resulting feeding frenzy are a huge opportunity for Obama to get the attention of low-information small-town voters who are skeptical of him and convince some of them to vote their pocketbooks instead of their culture.” On TPM Cafe, Todd Gitlin wrote that “Obama spoke artlessly, forgetting that the first law of American politics is: Flatter the rubes.” Now there’s a campaign slogan. Hey, rubes – I mean low-information voters – Vote Your Pocketbook, Not Your Culture! Should anyone doubt that dissing rather than flattering the “rubes” is an aberration, examples of liberal snobbery are not hard to find in progressive publications. Sometimes it’s genteel, sometimes it’s raw. In an essay titled “The Urban Archipelago” a few years ago, the editors of Seattle’s alt-weekly the Stranger wrote: “It’s time to state something that we’ve felt for a long time but have been too polite to say out loud: Liberals, progressives, and Democrats do not live in a country that stretches from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from Canada to Mexico. We live on a chain of islands … (full long text, April 15, 2008).

C. Wright Mills, Free Radical, not dated.

Earlier in his ejaculatory piece, Gitlin writes: It will still be possible to parse his words for insufficiencies of denunciation, but Obama’s gamble was that he could turn Wright’s damnable sins into a pivot for a sermon about how the past can be overcome, about how American it would be to accomplish that hard and necessary objective … (full long text, March 18, 2008).

His book: The Whole World is Watching: Mass Media in the Making & Unmaking of the New Left, by Todd Gitlin.

When a speech like the one Barack Obama gave Tuesday is hailed as “epochal” and “historic,” something more than a dispassionate analysis of its content is at work. I found Todd Gitlin’s close reading to be stimulating, David Kusnet’s search for influences to be revealing, and Bill Galston’s skepticism to be refreshing. (For even more thorough skepticism, see Mickey Kaus at Slate.) But instead of offering another parsing, let me speculate about why it’s getting the raves it is … (full text).

Iraq with an N? Anatomy of a Rumor That Has to be Taken Seriously.

Find him and his publications on wikipedia/books; on Dissent; on Google Video-search; on inauthor Google-books; on Google Book-search; on Google Scholar-search; on Google Group-search; on Google Blog-search.

The Left Learns from Goldwater, September 2004.


The Heist;

Reporter’s Notebook: Highlights from the 2008 OAH Convention, Day 2, (composed with many videos) March 29, 2008;

Columbia’s Rebel Reunion, April 10, 2008;

At Columbia, history is being written by the radicals, April 10, 2008;

The Ten Year Anniversary, March 21, 2008;

Sorry, You Can’t Pick Your Classmates, April 2, 2008;

1968 on Columbia Spectator online;

Film targets JFK conspiracy theories, March 21, 2008.

Comments are closed.