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Recent celebrants of the Port Huron Statement include authors Garry Wills and E.J. Dionne, who see in its pages a bright promise of rational reform that was later lost, when they say SDS became too radical. At the other end of the political spectrum, Robert Bork says the "authentic spirit of Sixties radicalism issued" from Port Huron in "a document of ominous mood and aspiration" because it embodied a millennial vision of human possibility. The former radical David Horowitz reads the statement as encoding a "self-conscious effort to rescue the Communist project from its Soviet fate." At different moments, both Democrats and Republicans (under Richard Nixon) have invoked the rhetoric of participatory democracy in campaigns. This perplexing spectrum of reaction reflects, we believe, the statement's attempt at a new departure from the conventional dogmas of left and liberal thought.

Did we succeed, and if so, how? This year's occasion of the Port Huron Statement's fortieth anniversary provides a chance to ask whether its importance today is primarily symbolic and nostalgic, or whether, as we believe, the core of the statement is still relevant for all those trying to create a world where each person has a voice in the decisions affecting his or her life. It remains, as we described it then, "a living document open to change with our times and experiences."
from the nation 2002
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