ZMag interviews Tom Hayden

Hayden touches on many important points in this wide-ranging interview on the publication of his new book Writings for Democratic Society.

One key quote:

The Sixties are on trial in this national election. Because of the broad brush of the Republicans and media, all of us who went through that time will be defendants this time. We must stop guilt-by-association techniques. We can denounce or oppose certain methods as we are inclined, but we must defend the idea of the Sixties overall, especially the idea that people should not be persecuted for what they may have thought or done forty years ago.

When I met Bill Ayers, incidentally, it was almost fifty years ago. He was operating a small school center in Ann Arbor. The winds of war, I think, blew him into his late-Sixties militancy. By the time Barack Obama ever met him, Bill was back at creating small schools, counseling in and writing about juvenile halls, focused on inner city youth, publishing books as a children’s advocate. He was right back where he was meant to be, and that’s all there is to that.

On the election.

If Barack wins, in a way we will be restarting where we were in 1968 …. Fortunately there is a new generation of young activists who don’t carry the scars and burdens that weigh upon the 60s generation.

I am suggesting the most hopeful scenario, not necessarily the most likely one. But opportunities like this are very rare.

Back in the 60’s I was more of a Yippie and thought Hayden overly serious and not radical enough. I was wrong. In his own steady way, working as an organizer, then as a politician, now an author, he’s shown a decades-long commitment for genuine social change. His writings and interviews are invariably thoughtful and filled with good ideas. Read the whole interview.

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