New American Movement
The New American Movement was a national socialist organization that sprang from the U.S. "New Left" of the early 1970s. It merged with the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee in 1982 to form Democratic Socialists of America.
The concept of the New American Movement originated soon after the disintegration of Students for a Democratic Society in Chicago in 1969, when ·John Rossen, a one-time district organizer for the Communist Party USA and then the landlord of the SDS offices, distributed a number of pamphlets calling for a new revolutionary force based on a combination of Marxism and American nationalism, and organized the Johnny Appleseed Movement for Peace and Human Rights.
Rossen's ideas gave birth to two groups. Chicagoan Jeremy Rifkin took over Rossen's pamphlets and and graphics to form the People's Bi-centennial Commission, in which Rossen remained active until at least 1975, while another group developed other aspects.
For more detailed information on the communist/marxist affiliations of both Rossen and Rifkin, see:
"The Meaning of the Bicentennial: Volume One: The Peoples Bicentennial Commission", study, by Max Friedman, ACU Education and Research Institute, 1976, as well as the extensive testimony of Frank Watson and Mary O Walton, in the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee hearings "The Attempt to Steal the Bicentennial: The Peoples Bicentennial Commission", March 17 & 18, 1976.
Rossen's influence with the early New American Movement remained at least through the end of 1971, contributing an article to the first issue of NAM's newspaper New American Movement dated September-October 1971.
In January 1971, Rossen's ideas were adapted by three former SDS activists - Theirrie Evelyn Cook, one of the negotiators of the People's Peace Treaty with the Vietcong; Michael P. Lerner and Charles "Chip" Marshall, then enjoying a brief notoriety as leader of the Seattle Liberation Front, then trial for inciting a riot in response to the contempt citations in the Chicago 8 Conspiracy Trial. The three Seattle organizers circulated papers call1ng for the creation of a new revolutionary party which they then termed. the New American Community Party.
In the late winter of 1970 and into the the spring of 1971, this group worked closely with Rennie Davis in developing plans for the Washington, D.C. Mayday disruptions in support of the Vietnamese communists, with Lerner and Marshall becoming active leaders National Mayday Collective. The Mayday organization provided the New American Community Party with the opportunity to reach a large segment of the radical community and to receive input from New Left theoreticians such as Douglas Dowd and Staughton Lynd.
Among the earliest founders of the New American Movement were James Weinstein of Chicago and West Coast radicals including Michael Lerner, formerly of the Seattle Liberation Front, Theirrie Cook, a supporter of the Peoples Coalition for Peace and Justice and Dan Siegel, former student body president at the University of California, Berkeley.
In June 1971, a pamphlet and other materials calling for a NAM national organizing meeting began to be circulated, sponsored by Cook, Lerner and Marshall, plus Douglas Dowd, Karen Hamilton, Charles Fulwood, Joy Marcus, Roger Hamilton, Dan Siegel, Nina Marina, David Danning, Judy Oringer, Louis Feldhammer and Kathy Johnson - the latter on the staff of the People's Bi-centennial Commission.
In the early days of NAM, contacts for the organization included Lynne Shatzkin and Jerry Coffin, NY, Michael Lerner, then working from the Cambridge Policy Studies Institute, a branch of the Institute for Policy Studies, Andy Starr, Philadelphia, Alice Lynd and Staughton Lynd, Chicago, Frank Blumer, Seattle, and Jim Williams, by 1975 a co-editor of the Communist Party USA trade union publication, Labor Today.
First national conference
The first national meeting of the New American Movement was held in Chicago October 9-11. Up to 75 delegates and observers from 25 cities participated. The meeting laid the basis for a Thanksgiving conference on program in Chicago. The political principles, program, and structure of the organization were discussed;
Debate centered on what sort of organization N AM was to be, including its relation to the women's and non-white movements. It was the consensus of the group that N AM would attempt to become a mass organization as opposed to a cadre or sect group. In addition, it was agreed that NAM should focus on organizing working people, broadly defined.
- We will encourage work in a variety of ways, including community, institutional, and factory work, and will not at this time favor one area. over another. It was also generally agreed that programs, rather than highly developed political lines, would be the distinguishing characteristic of NAM.
It was felt that certain minimum principles were necessary which would include a large number of people while, at the same time distinguishing NAM from liberal reform groups. The body passed a six point motion which attempted to set down these guidelines. In summary, the motion stated that:
- We recognize the existence of a ruling class which runs America for its own benefit.
- NAM is committed to democratic socialism, which was defined as a society characterized by economic, racial, and sexual equality; by collective ownership and democratic control of the means of production; by the right to organize independent political parties and independent trade unions, and by the freedom to strike; by freedom of speech, freedom to demonstrate, and freedom of press.
- We distinguish, a socialist society, defined in this way, from, both welfare capitalism in England and Scandinavia, and from existing societies that call themselves socialist.
- The transition to socialism will require struggle.
- Working people will be central to ,that struggle.
- The liberation of women and non-white groups must be incorporated into every programmatic area.
At the conference, a body was mandated to write a shorter version of the original NAM document in a style, adapted to mass distribution. People elected to this committee were:
- Diana Adams (Cleveland, Ohio),
- Jeremy Rifkin ('Washington, D;C;),
- Jane Slaughter of the national staff,
- Karen Whitman (Baltimore, Md.),
- Michael Lerner (Berkeley, CaliL),
- Alice Lynd (Chicago, ilL),
- Harry Boyte (Chapel Hil, N.C.).
The committee was mandated to have the basic document written by October 23.1971
In 1971, the NAM National Interim Committee was composed of:
- Lynn North, Ann Arbor Mich.
- Harry Boyte, Chapel Hill, No. Carolina
- Martha Williams, Wash. DC
- Harold Henderson, Peoria, Ill.
- Marjorie Fields, New York City
- Staughton Lynd, Chicago, Ill
- Diana Adams, Cleveland, Ohio
- Frank Speltz, Davenport Iowa
Travelers for NAM:
New American Movement National Interim Committee members in 1975 included;
Frank Ackerman, Cambridge, Mass.; Sally Avery, Durham; N.C.; Edward Bolden, Iowa City; Harry Boyte, Chapel Hill, N.C.; Sandra Kricker and Jim Weinstein, San Franciseo: Roberta Lynch and Judy MacLean,Pittsburgh: Torie Osborn, Mlddlebury, Vt.; Jeff Johnson, Fred Ojile and Shirley Wyatt, Minneapolis: Julia Reichert, Yellow Springs Ohio, Peggy Somers, Berkeley; Melissa Upton, Philadelphia.: and Loren Weinberg, Washington, D.C..
Attendees at the Expanded National Interim Committee of NAM January 2-4, 1976 Pittsburgh, PA .
RIC respresentatives -Ellen Sugg (Port City Chapter, Industrial Heartland Region), Mel Tanzman (Brooklyn Chapter, Northeast Region), Joni Rabinowitz (Pittsburgh Chapter, Industrial Heartland Region), Noel Ignatin (Sojourner Truth Chapter, Midwest Region), Rick Kunnes (Ann Arbor Chapter Industrial Heartland Region), Dorothy Healey ( L.A. #4, Southwest Region), John Judis (East Bay Chapter, Northwest Region), Lee Holstein (Haymarket Chapter, Midwest Region), Laura Burns (Radcliffe/Harvard Chapter, Northeast Region), Dan Marschall (East Bay Chapter, Northwest Region), Glenn Scott (Austin Chapter, Southern Region), Alice Allgaier (St. Louis Chapter, Midwest Region), Dave McBride (Austin, Southern Region), Mark Cohen (Southern Region, Hal Adams ( Iowa City, Midwest Region);
National Interim Committee 1981
Bill Barclay (PC), Laura Berg (Portland NAM), Holly Graff (PC), John Haer (Pittsburgh NAM), Rick Kunnes (PC), Halli Lehrer (Chicago Northside NAM), Christine Riddiough (Blazing Star NAM), Glenn Scott (Austin NAM), and Steve Tarzynski (Los Angelos NAM), Robert Shaffer (New York NAM).
Favored working with the Socialists
- We the undersigned Colorado-Wyoming NAM members. and friends, favor closer work between and the Socialist Party USA.
- Jay D. Jurie (Boulder)
- Eric Arnold (Colorado Springs)
- Jeff Livesay (Colorado Springs)
- Christine Conte (Colorado Springs)
- Eric M. Weaver (Colorado Springs)
- Leslie Gulley (Colorado Springs)
- David Anderson (Boulder)
- Howard E. Gavalt (Colorado Springs)
- Larry Vogel (Boulder)
- Mary Sell (Boulder)
- Georgina Martin-Smith (Boulder)
- Gail Slack (Colorado Springs)
- Michael Durgain (Laramie.)
- Connie Flanagan (Colorado Springs)
- Eric Rehm (Boulder )
- Beth Lorber (Boulder)
- Doug Monroy (Colorado Springs)
- Mary Friedrichs (Colorado Springs)
- Linda Putnam (Laramie )
- Jim Zarichny (Boulder)
- Bill Daub (Boulder)
- Chris Goodwin (Boulder)
National Council meeting
1975: August 7-10: Fourth National Convention of the New American Movement in Oberlin, Ohio; a Marxist-Leninist Organizing Caucus emerges within the organization. (Guardian, August 27 and October 1, 1975 in BTr-4)
In 1981 Liz Weston and Christine Riddiough, Co-Chairs of the Commission led a workshop entitled Socialist-Feminist Commission at the 10th Convention of the New American Movement. The convention was held in a union headquarters in Chicago and ran from July 29 - August 2, 1981.
Weston spoke alongside Susan Mead, Pitt NAM in a workshop entitled Organizing for Reproductive Rights.
Weston also spoke alongside Christine Riddiough, Co-Chair, Socialist Feminist Commission; Kate Ellis, Assoc. NAM, NY DSOC and Cheryl Johnson, Program of African Studies, Northwestern U. in a workshop entitled Feminist Strategies for the '80's.
Gramsci and education
NAM's entry/merger with DSOC was a key mechanismby which Gramscian thought became the mainstream of U.S. Marxism in the 1970s-80s. In essence NAM was the political continuation of the "praxis" wing of the Students for a Democratic Society as opposed to the Weather Underground.
- NAM's interest in education also grew out of its members' engagement with the work of Antonio Gramsci. By the mid-1970s, several key figures had taken to heart his analysis of civil society and bourgeois hegemony. In turn, they not only led seminars for NAM members on his revolutionary strategy, but also incorporated his thinking into the organization's program for how to produce a social transformation in what they considered to be a non-revolutionary moment. This interest in Gramsci reflects NAM's approach to Marxism. The reader for its political education course, Basic Marxism: What It Is & How to Use It, clearly demonstrates the movement's critical engagement with this tradition of revolutionary thought.
Approximately 380 delegates attended the eighth annual convention of the New American Movementin Milwaukee, August 11-12, 1979.
Thanks to an associate membership" program for persons not wishing to be organizationally active within NAM, but who support its program, NAM can claim 875 members in thirty chapters. The most active NAM chapters are in Chicago, Dayton, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Detroit and the San Francisco Bay area.
The central debate were on what role, if any, NAM should play in electoral politics, particularly in the 1980 presidential campaign and on merger proposals from the Democratic Socialist Organizing Commttee (DSOC) headed by Michael Harrington.
Complaints against merger with the 4,000-strong DSOC were many and were led at the convention by the August 7 caucus mainly of ex-members of Trotskyist groups. They charged that DSOC was "social democratic," not "revolutionary socialist" like most of NAM.
DSOC was criticised for not taking the side of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), for being "reformist" and insufficiently feminist. NAM chairman Richard Healey and his mother, Dorothy Healey, reminded NAM that merger possibilities have been discussed in the past with the Mass Party of the People, the Socialist Party USA, the International Socialists (IS), and even briefly with the Socialist Workers Party.
The result was that NAM agreed to "non-merger talks" with DSOC and the possibility of strengthening DSOC's "left caucus." NAM was strongly opposed to becoming involved in DSOC's backing the Kennedy presidential campaign or draft movement.
Merger negotiating committee
After intensive debate, the 1980 New American Movement Convention passed a resolution (by a 2-1. margin) calling for negotiations with Democratic Socialists Organizing Committee, the election of a Negotiating Committee, and the development of a Negotiating Document. Frank Ackerman, Joanne Barkan, David Dollar, Richard Healey, Anne Hill, Katherine Kennedy, Roberta Lynch, and Liz Weston were elected to the Negotiating Committee. Holly Graff was added as the ex officio Political Committee member, and John Beverly became the first alternate. In the fall of 1980 this Committee developed a Negotiating Document which was reviewed by chapters and then amended and approved (by a ninety per cent margin) at the December National Council meeting.
Washington DC Area NAM contacts as at 1981:
- Tim Wilson - Labor Commission
- Howard Croft - Urban Commission
- Bernie Demczuk - Anti-Racism Commission
- Roger Kraus - Health Commission
- Margie Silverton - DC Health Coalition
- Joy Ann Grune - Socialist-Feminist Commission
- Richard Kinane - Energy Commission
- Barry Rigby - International Commission
- Jude Franco - Culture Commission
- Brian Doherty - Political Education Commission
Socialist Feminist Commission
Old NAM communists
Photo by Scott Van Osdol, NAM convention 1981.
- Santa Cruz New American Movement
- Lucy Parsons New American Movement
- East Bay New American Movement
- New York Mets NAM
New American Movement Public Facebook Group
Membership, as of July 6, 2017;
- Ulrich Kvetcher
- Elsie Pattison, Owner at Self-Employed
- Randal Robertson, Partisan Fighter at World Socialist Conspiracy
- Tom Parsons, Lexington, Kentucky
- Gabe Gabrielsky, Works at Retired
- Joseph Schwartz, Professor of Political Science at Temple University
- Ryne Tipton, Knoxville, Tennessee
- JerryAline Flieger, UC Berkeley
- Tris Roberts, Cleveland, Ohio
- Jared Abbott, Graduate Student in Government at Harvard University
- Christopher Casey, St. Peter's Boys High School
- Fran Shor, Royal Oak, Michigan
- Alan Mass, Attorney at Law
- Hy Thurman, Chairman at Young Patriot Organization
- Herb Shore, UC Berkeley
- Rick Page, Kutztown University
- Paul O'Hanlon, University of Pittsburgh School of Law
- Brendan Davison
- Natasha Beck, Lewis and Clark College
- Steve Askin, Research Coordinator, Low Wage Worker Organizing at SEIU
- Dayton Clark
- Bruce Newell Haskin, University of Pennsylvania
- John Welch, Works at Retired, I thiink
- Amber Rose, Founder,Educator,Life Coach,Motivational Speaker at Bee A Pioneer Today
- Virginia Franco, San Diego State University
- Claudia Leight, Works at Morgan State University
- James Zarichny, Columbia University
- Bob Baugh, University of Oregon
- Steve Soifer, Professor at University of Memphis
- Lisa Chapman, Smethport, Pennsylvania
- Jay Schaffner, Works at Consultant - Political and Labor Campaigns, Music Projects
- Michael Pugliese, UC Santa Cruz
- David Anderson, Freelance Writing at Self
- Paul Garver, Mount St. Mary's University
- Anne Hill, Works at Retired!!!
- Marilyn Laughlin, Southern Colorado State College
- Glenn Scott, Texas State University
- Anne Ness, St. Catherine University
- Larry M. Miller, UMass Dartmouth
- Doug Monroy, Colorado College
- Hugh Grady, The University of Texas at Austin
- Stephen Retherford, Indiana State University
- Daniel Millstone, Works at Totally Retired
- Angela Delacroix, Works at Brooklyn Mindful Tutoring-owner /instructor
- Michael J. Daly, Columbus, Ohio
- Elliot Linzer, New York, New York
- Howard Schwartz, Works at Guitar and Vocals
- Daniel T. Kirsch, Davis, California
- Susan Wells, Temple University
- Susan Walton Banks, University of Tennessee at Knoxville
- Karen Barber, Bay Village, Ohio
- Bob Lucore, Web and IT Technologist at School of Information, San José State University (contractor)
- Travis Donoho
- Skipper Hammond, Cornell University
- David T. Isserman, Ride Operator at Luna Park NYC
- Deborah Van Kleef, Folk singer at Second Story Music, LLC
- Randy Cunningham, Cleveland, Ohio
- Larry Sauselen, The Ohio State University
- Will Takamatsu Thompson
- Robert Greene, University of Colorado
- Elayne Rapping
- Michael Padwee
- Paul Kumar, Political Director at Save The Bay (San Francisco)
- James H. Williams, Head Loafer at Retired
- Jim Maynard, Florida State University
- Christine Riddiough, Principal Technical Training Consultant at SAS Institute
- Bob Van Meter, The University of Chicago
- Ethan Young, Brooklyn, New York
- Karl Klapper
- Neal Meyer, Outreach Coordinator at Jacobin Magazine
- Bob Simpson, Social justice blogger and photographer at Retired
- Lisa Bernstein, Oakland, California
- Peter Hogness, New York, New York
- Adam Goldman, Organizer at Philadelphia Unemployment Project
- Rick Rice, Seattle Central Community College
- Beth Cagan, Cleveland State
- Bill Xcix Phillips, Brooklyn, New York
- Marilyn Katz, Works at Pri
- Peter C. Landon
- Haderslev Katedralskole
- Bill Barclay, Michigan State University
- Alec Hudson, Intern, Participatory Budgeting at 35th Ward Alderman
- Hannah Frisch
- Steve Tarzynski, Works at Kaiser Permanente Southern California
- Jennifer Charnofsky, Los Angeles, California
- Leo Casey, Executive Director at Albert Shanker Institute
- Carl Goldman
- Linda Bergman, University of Oregon
- Chuck Ogg, Milton, Wisconsin
- Tom Greensfelder, El Jefe at Greensfelder Design
- Dan Kenney, Executive Director at DeKalb County Community Gardens
- Debra Leigh Scott
- John G. Mason, WPUNJ
- Jon Klancher, Carnegie Mellon
- Steve Suffet, Columbia University
- Stanley Aronowitz, Distinguished professor of sociology and urban education 1983-present at Graduate Center, CUNY
- Scott Enk, Hales Corners, Wisconsin
- Marc Knezevich, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- John Oliver Mason, Freelance Writer at Freelance Writer
- Ed Meek, Colorado
- John Colm, Lakewood, Ohio
- Holly Graff, Oakton
- Michael Paul Goldenberg, Works at Bernie Sanders for President
- Mike Rotkin, University of California, Santa Cruz
- Lisa Brock, Academic director. at Kalamazoo College Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership
- Nancy Matthews
- Andrea Gundersen, Chicago, Illinois
- Lorna Rasmussen
- Hayyim Feldman, Brandeis
- Kathi Thomas Rosen, The Wellness Institute
- Bob Broedel, Florida State University
- Charles D'Adamo, Baltimore, Maryland
- Jay D. Jurie, UCF
- Jeff Mudrick
- Daniel Adkins, American University
- Stephen Kraisler, Testing Coordinator at Total Retirment December 2010 to present
- Liz Weston
- Steve Cagan, Indiana University (Bloomington)
- Richard Healey, Reed College
- Judy Johnson, Harold Washington College
- Tom Edminster, SFSU; USF
- Dolores Wilber, Works at DePaul University
- Barry Hart, UMass Boston
- Julia Reichert, Works at Wright State Univeristy
- Marshall Mayer, Note taker at Take-note.com
- Tony Heriza, Producer, CARE at Mind's Eye Productions
- Lee Gloster, Paraprofessional in Special Education and Teacher in the Homebound Program at South Bend Community School Corporation
- Kristin Lems
- Michael Lowrey, President (title) at Local 91
- Brandon Payton-Carrillo, Musician at Self-Employed
- Judith Wittner, Professor of Sociology at Loyola University Chicago
- Marc Stern, Bentley
- Mary Friedrichs, Boulder, Colorado
- Karyn Hollis, Villanova
- Deborah Buffalin, Johns Hopkins
- Claire Kaplan, UVA
- Will Emmons, Associate at Emmons & Puckett PLLC
- THE NEW AMERICAN MOVEMENT, HON. LARRY McDONALD OF GEORGIA. IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, Thursday. September. 4 1975, page 97
- New American movement's attempt to revive the New left, off to a slow start, Mark Ugolini July 14, 1972
- THE NEW AMERICAN MOVEMENT, HON. LARRY McDONALD OF GEORGIA. EXTENSION OF REMARKS, THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, Thursday. September. 4 1975, page 97, i.e. Pages 27777-27779
- THE NEW AMERICAN MOVEMENT, HON. LARRY McDONALD OF GEORGIA. EXTENSION OF REMARKS, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, Thursday. September. 4 1975, page 97, i.e. Pages 27777-27779
- From New American Movement, Nov,-Dec, 1971
- From New American Movement, Nov,-Dec, 1971
- New American Movement newspaper Vol. 1/No. 2 1971
- THE NEW AMERICAN MOVEMENT, HON. LARRY McDONALD OF GEORGIA. IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, Thursday. September. 4 1975, page 97
- Minutes of the Meeting of the Expanded National Interim Committee, January 2-4, 1976 Pittsburgh, PA
- NAM Discussion Bulletin No 5, Spring 81, page 1o
- Resolutions packet for the 1980 NAM convention, page 10
- NAM National Council meeting notice Dec 12 1980
- Chronology of Political Events
- NAM 10th Convention Agenda, July 29, 1981
- Information Digest August 24, 1979 p261
- NAM Discussion Bulletin No 5, Spring 81, page 1
- 10th Anniversary Booklet for the New American Movement, 1981
- New American Movement (NAM), 1973-1982, Kathleen Sheldon and Stephen Tarzynski Papers, 1973-1999
- Working Papers 1979
- Circle of the Witch information