Living the movement: Liberation News Service, Montague Farm, and the New Left, 1967-1981 Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Slonecker, Blake
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of History
  • This dissertation uses the Liberation News Service (LNS)--the Associated Press of New Left underground media--and Montague Farm--a commune created by former LNS staffers--as a lens through which to trace the evolution of the American New Left after 1968. The establishments of underground newspapers--often organized as work collectives--and communes were two of the most ubiquitous and emblematic gestures of the late 1960s and early 1970s. For this reason, LNS and Montague Farm serve as ideal subjects to reveal how institutions founded on the ideals of late-1960s activism adapted their politics to survive in the adverse political culture of the 1970s. By tracking these two groups, this dissertation grounds the events of the 1970s in the legacies of the 1960s. Along the way it explores the divergent aspirations of the communal counterculture, the evolution and demise of the New Left, and the quotidian challenges of living the Movement. Both groups drew from their political worldviews in order to shape their daily lives, creating new divisions of labor, new social arrangements, and new personal politics. With these trends in mind, this dissertation extends the chronological breadth of the Sixties, rethinks the relationship between political and cultural radicalism, and explores the relationship between diverse social movements. Ultimately, this dissertation argues that living the movement--through emphases on personal liberation and egalitarianism--became a central institutional survival strategy amid the demise of the New Left and the emergence of an adversarial national political culture. LNS accomplished this goal by continually revising its collective work structure; Montague Farm did so through communal living, antinuclear activism, and alternative energy organizing. This entwined institutional history suggests that the New Left's endgame was significantly more drawn out and complicated than defeatist New Leftists and triumphalist conservatives would have us believe. Indeed, both LNS and Montague Farm maintained a broad vision of Movement activism through the dusk of the 1970s.
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  • Filene, Peter G.
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  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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