Tom Hayden was a leader of 1960s peace, justice and environmental movements. In 1962 he drafted the “Port Huron Statement,” expressing the idealism of the New Left, and cofounded Students for a Democratic Society. He participated in civil rights work in the South and in Newark, N.J. and in efforts to end the Vietnam War. Elected to the Calif. State Legislature in 1982, he served for 10 years in the Assembly and eight years in the state Senate, authoring more than 175 progressive measures. He is also author of 20 books, including The Lost Gospel of the Earth; Ending the War in Iraq; The Long Sixties; Inspiring Participatory Democracy: Student Movements from Port Huron to Today, and Writings for a Democratic Society: The Tom Hayden Reader. Hayden founded and directs the Peace and Justice Resource Center in Culver City, Calif.
“It’s quite often that the radicals, including the socialists, do the organizing work and do the consciousness-raising to get the project to the table, to the mainstream, and then are ambivalent or disappointed about the results of their own work, as if they could have done more. . . . When you go from the margins to the mainstream, you get caught in the muck of the middle. And you fight the fight as far as you can go, until you achieve all you can achieve. You leave nobody on the battlefield, but you use up all the energy at your disposal, knowing that the final phase will be memory, looking back to see what was achieved and what can be built upon.
“I think that’s the challenge and the opportunity for democratic socialists whose tradition has been a long one, an up-and-down one, in which many achievements have been eliminated from our memory. Your work is to revive a tradition, but also restore it to our memory, because if you imagine a society, the political spectrum from right to left that doesn’t even include mention of socialism, you’ve already tilted the spectrum to the right. You’ve already eliminated something which may not be a majority agenda, but something which has a long tradition of impacting society for the better, on issue after issue.”