The Left of the 60s was a different Left than we see today, although there are signs that today's far Left is becoming anti-establishment -- their reasons are probabaly as delusional as before. The 20th century saw capitalism succeed in ways no one, especially Marx and the early socialists, expected. Social democracy in Europe was much like the modern liberal movement in America -- they both realized that orthodox socialism doesn't achieve what it first claimed as goals. There was the problem of economic calculation when the State owned the means of production, but that was just one of the problems. The ruling proletariat was a delusion. Realizing the failure of orthodox socialism, reformists such as Eduard Bernstein decided that capitalism wasn't so bad after all -- it just had to be managed.
But managed capitalism brought us the Great Depression, contrary to the claims that the Great Depression was caused by a free market. America has never had a free market, nor has any other country. Relatively speaking, before the turn of the 20th century, America had the closest thing to a free market the world has known. After FDR's disastrous experiments, when the economy recovered, capitalism became relatively free once again for a couple of decades, creating enormous wealth. So much wealth was created that the New Left in the sixties believed that abundance would enable most people, especially in America, to play rather than work. The Leftists philosophers talked of productivity gains that allowed one person to do what before took 100 people. The idea that predicted the age of creative leisure wasn't well-formed.
It seemed to those on the Left that capitalism had created a form of repression, as advertising firms led people to a materialist quest which left them one-dimensional, as Herbert Marcuse wrote about during the sixties. Many in sixties saw a new age arising in which humans would be liberated from the rat race, and the New Left despised the liberal and conservative establishment, seeing government and giant corporations colluding to maintain conformity and obedience to the system. The military/industrial complex was seen as a government monster out of control, and Viet Nam was the proof. The New left attempted to form a coalition to change the world in the streets, but Kent State ended the protests with students being shot down by national guards. People today can't imagine this happening, but it did. After the assassinations of JFK, RFK, MLK and Malcolm X, Watergate -- after Woodstock and Kent State, the Left decided that they would have to work within the State to gain power and make the changes they sought.
The seventies proved that perpetual abundance wasn't yet a reality. There was much disillusionment during the seventies. In the eighties the Age of Reagan and Thatcher was proclaimed, and the State was rhetorically beaten back, although interventionist government grew in size and power. Modern liberals and Leftists moved past their divisions and began creating a new coalition. In the 60s, when the New Left called on the Third World and the poor minorities to join them, they were asking poor people to become anti-materialistic. Michael Harrington writes about this in the last book he wrote. Needless to say, those who were struggling to make material gains didn't respond so well to young, priveleged intellectuals asking them to deny materialism and join their humanistic crusade for concepts. Poor people wanted jobs and money, not creative freedom -- they were hungry not repressed by material possessions.
The coalition on the Left that formed through the eighties and nineties and now into the 21st century promised something different. They promised good union jobs, a generous welfare State, redistribution of wealth, power through government interventions, social justice, and some even talked about reparations. The dream of working less, or not at all, subsidized by the State, has surived, but the Left doesn't lead with this dream. With real unemployment at around 20% and the national debt over 16 trillion it would seem insane to promote creative play over work. The Left doesn't talk as much about the repression of material abundance -- they talk about unfairness regarding the 1% with their underserved wealth. The Left doesn't protest the military/industrial complex, unless Republicans control government, because they know that the Stae can maintain power only through overseas interventions that provides us with a sense of security and national pride.
Minorities were terribly fooled this time by the Left. When the Left told minorities straight up what they proposed, minorities didn't respond, but when the power of government intervention was shown as the path to fairness and equality, minorities signed on and became permanent Democrats. This hasn't worked out so well for minorities. Welfare has become a corrupt and corrupting system -- unions are on the decline, except government unions, but they can't last because of our debt problem and they're unreasonable demands for more and more when government has less and less. The Left forgot the part of reality that's dynamic, and minorities haven't kept up with the rapid changes, because the State has not kept up. Government run education is not suitable for poor minorities to gain the knowledge necessary to succeed in the 21st century economy. Welfare has torn families apart, with young black males lacking adult male guidance, leaving them susceptible to the influence of criminal elements who become local heroes because they flash wads of money made off sold drugs which are killing those completely lost in the system.
When those who understand the generative principles of a free market and limited government bring up the failures of our statist system, we're marginalized as extremists, racists and other names to demonize us and remove the threat to State power. Supporting State power has now become an intellectually empty exercise to maintain power for the sake of power, as more and more Americans never gain the skills to thrive in the market. Minorities need good educations and skills to fill the jobs of the 21st century. We can talk about social justice and racist history all day long, but it won't help young men and women get jobs which pay a good wage so that they can live with dignity and pursue happiness with equal gusto. Statism, the Left's route to transform capitalism into a fully-managed wealth-creation source to subsidize their tired movement which long ago lost any grand vision it once had, is killing the economy. Will the New Republicans do any better? Will limited government representatives gain enough power to make major changes and limit the power of government, thus whittling the State down to size? I don't know, but minorities ought to pick a new coalition to escape the statist system and prosper in a free market -- it's the only way out.