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Herbert Marcuse Denounces the Vietnam War (May 22, 1966)

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In all of these groups the opposition makes up only a minority; that needs to be kept in mind.

The opposition among intellectuals and the younger generation, especially at the universities, is probably the most vocal, visible, and effective opposition in this category. As I have already mentioned, even the radical opposition among college students and young people is not a socialist or a communist opposition. Mistrust of ideologies of all kinds (and these young men and women regard communism, socialism, and Marxism as ideologies) is a critical factor in this movement. The slogan “We don’t trust anyone over thirty” is characteristic of the situation. One can often hear: “These older generations have dragged us into the muck we are now in. What they have to say to us can no longer mean anything to us.”

It is remarkable what a spontaneous unity has formed from political, intellectual, and instinctive sexual rebellion – a rebellion in behavior, in language, in sexual mores, in dress. It is of course nonsense when the press constantly reports that the student demonstrations are dominated by “bearded advocates of sexual freedom.” That is an example of the press’s typically discriminatory use of language. But after all, one can sense something that goes beyond political opposition, representing a new unity: a unity of politics and eros. [ . . . ]

I might be totally romantic in this regard, I have to admit, but I see this unity as a sign that the political opposition is becoming more intense and profound.

The second group, the so-called underprivileged, the civil rights movement and the struggle against poverty. Is that a true counterforce? These groups, especially among the Negroes, have a leadership that tries to create a link between the civil rights movement in the United States and the war in Vietnam – with minimal success. We cannot forget that a large portion of the underprivileged in the United States live in such conditions that being drafted to go to Vietnam seems like an improvement. Also, there is a widespread expectation that these lower classes could themselves move up within the system and that the existing society can make these options materialize.

Briefly on the third and fourth groups:

The radical religious protest movement has its martyrs: The number is small and its effects are not visible. The category “women” might seem strange in this political context. I have mentioned it only to do justice to the fact that the people going door to door collecting signatures for petitions against the war have found the greatest degree of support among housewives. Have women remained relatively spared from the aggressiveness of male society?

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