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From the Pen of David Horowitz: October 24, 2009

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Posted on October 24 2009 12:49 am
David Swindle is the Managing Editor of NewsReal Blog and the Associate Editor of FrontPage Magazine. Follow him on Twitter here
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The year 1998 – marking the 30th anniversary of the “revolutionary” moment in the decade of the Sixties — was an occasion for nostalgia artists of the left to remember their glory days and the magic of a time that many of them have never left. It was a time in their imaginations of lost innocence, when assassination and repression brutally cut off their possible dreams. It was a failure of progressive hopes that has stranded them on the shores of a conservative landscape ever since.

A summary expression of these utopian regrets can be found in Steven Talbot’s PBS documentary, “1968: The Year That Shaped A Generation.” The film’s narrative is shaped exclusively by Sixties radicals like Todd Gitlin and Tom Hayden, who are interviewed on camera. The choice of Gitlin and Hayden as authorities on the era is predictable. Talbot, himself is a veteran of this movement that promoted itself as an avatar of “participatory democracy,” but closes off debate over its own history in a way worthy of the Communist regimes it once admired. As the auteur of “The Year That Shaped A Generation,” he protects this cinematic paean to his revolutionary youth from any adverse scrutiny by dissenters who were also there.

I myself am such a veteran who does not share Talbot’s enthusiasm for 1968, or his view of it as a fable of Innocents At Home. One explanation may be that as someone ten years older than Talbot, I know firsthand the state of our “innocence” then. Yet Gitlin and Hayden are also pre-boomers, so that an age gap cannot really explain our different views of what took place. Naturally, I would prefer to recall the glory days of my youth in a golden light, just like Gitlin and Hayden. For me, however, the era has been irreparably tarnished by actions and attitudes that I vividly remember, but they in contrast prefer to forget.

Left Illusions

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