Harmonizing Tensions of the Left: From SDS to Complementary Holism Open Access

Novitch, Misty Autumn (2011)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/hh63sw21p?locale=en
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Abstract

Abstract
"Harmonizing Tensions of the Left: From SDS to Complementary Holism"
By Misty Novitch
The political left can never seem to come together like the political right. The left expands a wide
range of people, issues, and strategies and therefore tends to embrace differences, or at least
allows an outlet for them. These differences when thrown together tend to cause tensions
between activists, groups, and movements since it is difficult to know how to deal with
difference - it is often seen as a problem and the tensions tend to cause anxiety. These tensions
often result in progressives trying to hierarchically arrange different issues and strategies and
thereby splitting up into smaller and smaller groups or trying to force homogenization, both of
which are antithetical to left values and movement effectiveness. Studying the history of
Students for Democratic Society (SDS), a central New Left organization in the 1960s, some
essential tensions can be derived, tensions still very much at play in the left today. Investigating
the way SDS handled some of these essential tensions can give insights as to how to handle these
same tensions today. Additionally, the theory of complementary holism, which is focused on
balancing solidarity and autonomy in movements, provides a conceptual starting place for
organizing across differences and creating holistic strategies. Combining the historical evolution
from SDS to complementary holism and applying these lessons to strategy today, the left can
help facilitate a non-hierarchical, holistic movement of movements to win a more progressive
world that uplifts all progressive values.

Table of Contents


Table of Contents
I.
Introduction…………………………………………………………...1
II.
SDS...………………………………………………………………….…..4
III.
Numerous Programs…………………………………………….…6
IV.
ERAP vs. Academia…………………………………………….….11
V.
Precarious Structures……………………………………………17
VI.
Theory After Action………………………………………………22
VII.
Complementary Holist Strategy……………………………..28
VIII. Conclusion…………………………………………………………….34

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