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Students for a Democratic Society.docx

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Langara College
Political Science
POLI 1100

Students for a Democratic Society The USA’s Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), in “The Port Huron Statement” (1962), acknowledge that many citizens in liberal democratic societies like the USA and Canada seem to be politically apathetic. Explain how their analysis of the causes of this apathy differs from the view of anti- democratic writers (consider those who defend what Dahl calls “guardianship”) who express scorn for the political competence of “ordinary” citizens. Students for a Democratic Society, SDS (1962) A. SDS idea of a “new left” o Middle years of the cold war o More to life than affluence o Democratic view: development of human nature o Everyone is capable of great things; self-government, if given the right education to explore these ideas B. Values  Operated with idea that human beings are malleable, no one is born fundamentally good or bad etc  Everyone is capable of great things; self-government if given the right education Human nature: “developmental”-democratic view  Similar to Marx because in modern economic and political life, we have a status as a worker, tools, factors of production, rather than being creative self determining people; similar to Marx’s alienation theory  We oppose the depersonalization that reduces human beings to the statue of things  They believe it’s a matter of socialization/education; some people simply do not have the opportunity to cultivate full capacity  Some people are situated in social/economic institutions where they simply obey orders  Men have unrealized potential for self-cultivation  Apathy is a product of the prevailing economic institutions  Institution could be structured so that everyone would be able to realize their full potential  They believe anyone can be capable of great things given the right environment Apathy as institutionally fostered. They oppose the doctrine of human incompetence because they believe people have been “competently 
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