Todd Gitlin Columbia University
The multiple uprisings of 1968 challenged authorities, heralding new freedoms, equalities, and solidarities, even a reconciliation between human beings and nature. As a result, many institutions were reformed, many liberations celebrated, many lives saved and changed. The wars in Southeast Asia lost momentum (though it still took many bloody years to get the U. S. to leave Vietnam). For more than a decade, other wars were averted. But many leading insurgents, grabbing hand-me-down costumes from historical closets, mistook joyously angry revolts for revolutionary situations. A panicked capitalism stabilized and regrouped around consumerist individualism. There were many confusions about what would constitute legitimate grounds of authority. A new order was powerless to be born. We live with the residues and unintended consequences—the unnerving coexistence of freer lives and nativist backlash.