May 1966, Chamberlain
JOHN CHAMBERLAIN.. . New Left Is Being Steered By Old Left About a year ago the American people became suddenly aware of something called the New Left. In scores of uncritical articles it was assumed that the New Left was an indigenous rebellion of the young that had no identification with the needs and proddings of any foreign power. The New Leftists were portrayed as enemies of hypocrisy and bureaucracy wherever these blights might crop up. The picture was one of an idealistic generation which had decided to move into action to turn the original American Declaration of Independence into a belated reality. But now we have definitive evidence that the New Left, despite its hopeful beginnings, has been penetrated and taken over by the watchful fathers of the Old Left, A young man named Phillip Abbott Luce, who is destined to be known as the Whittaker Chambers of his generation, tells the whole disastrous story of the Communist, Maoist and Castroite ctptore of a movement in a just-published book called ''The New Left." If someone in the FBI had authored this tale, it might be written off as prejudiced dreaming. But Mr. Luce was no outsider looking in upon the plottings of campus rebels at Berkeley, Calif., and Madison, Wis. He was, quite literally, "there" as one of the inner circle of the Most Progressilve Labor party. He quit this group a year ago because, as he explains it, he was expected to commit his young friends in the movement to deeds of violence without explaining to them the consequences that might be in- volved. This evidence of "bourgeois honesty" on Ms part was sufficient to get himself ranked by the ''Communist cabal" as ''somewhere near President Lyndon B. Johnson and J. Edgar Hoover as their most- maligned enemy." The quotation marks are Mr. Luce's own, and the ambiguity about who is doing the "maligning" is not, after all, very important. From both the context of the book and the gossip around New York, it is obvious that it is the Old Left Communists who are spreading the slander about the Luce character. Mr. Luce has told the truth and it is hurting his old buddies. The early New Left grew out of student interest in the desegregation struggles of the American Negro. Another inspiration was the success of the Cuban Castroites in overthrowing the Batista dictatorship in Havana. -Hie "freedom marches" in Mississippi and the appearance of Fidel's "barbudos/* or "bearded ones," in the jun- les ef the Chban Sierra Maestra, seemed to Indicate that the "Left" could develop a program of "freedom" in America without selling out to the old hacks of official communism. Seemingly, it was as the Columbia University sociologist C. Wright Mills had prophesied: There could be a native American socialist upsurge that "would not confuse the problems of the intellectuals of West Europe and North America with those of ihe Soviet bloc, or with those of the underdeveloped worlds." Mr. Luce, as t collage student in Ohio, was taken by somt of the C. Wright Mills phrases about "the power elite" He thought he could remain "his own man" even after he had joined the Progressive La b o r party in New York, but h» soon found out that the seniors of the Old Left organizations had never really lost their mus c 1« even during the time when tough interpretations of the Smiih and McCarran Acts had driven many of them underground. The May Second Movement, a New Left grouping of ihe young that was a supposedly spontaneous re a c t i o n against our involvement in Viet Nam, was deftly taken over by the Progressive Labor party. This means that the May Second Movement is a creature of Maoist communism. The Dubois Clubs, on Mr. Luce's evidence, are a puppet show run by Gus Hall and the other greybeards of the Old Left Communist party. Other New Left groupings dance on the strings pulled by Old Left Troiskyites. And the Students for a Democratic Society, which started out as th? campus affiliate of the old and honestly Democra tic League for Industrial Democracy, has become hopelessly compromised by making a "popular front" with the May Second Movement and the Dubois Clubs in opposing the Viet Nam war. Mr. Luce tells ihe story by giving names, addresses, and dates that must have their counterparts in the FBI files. He could be sued for libel by at least 40 different people. It will be interesting and instructive to see if anyone sues.