An Interview With Todd Gitlin

Todd Gitlin, an American writer, sociologist, communications scholar, novelist, poet, and intellectual — and pioneer of the ’60s New Left movement — is the author of 15 books, including “Occupy Nation: The Roots, the Spirit, and the Promise of Occupy Wall Street.” He is a professor of journalism and sociology and chair of the Ph. D. program in Communications at Columbia University. He holds degrees from Harvard University (mathematics), the University of Michigan (political science), and the University of California, Berkeley (sociology). He lectures frequently on culture and politics in the United States and abroad

Gitlin is on the editorial board of Dissent and is a contributing writer to Mother Jones. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, and many more. His other books, several of which have won major awards, include “The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage,” “The Whole World Is Watching,” “Media Unlimited: How the Torrent of Images and Sounds Overwhelms Our Lives,” and “The Twilight of Common Dreams: Why America Is Wracked by Culture Wars.”

Todd Gitlin was the third president of Students for a Democratic Society, in 1963-64, and coordinator of the SDS Peace Research and Education Project in 1964-65, during which time he helped organize the first national demonstration against the Vietnam War and the first American demonstrations against corporate aid to the apartheid regime in South Africa. During 1968-69, he was an editor and writer for the San Francisco Express Times, and through 1970 wrote widely for the underground press. In 2003-06, he was a member of the Board of Directors of Greenpeace USA.

On the show we discuss the lasting legacy of SDS and the Port Huron Statement; Gitlin’s critiques of the ’60s movement and the Left involving issues like violence — especially in the case of the Weather Underground — and identity politics; the role of the mass media in shaping our understanding of events, including social movements; and some reflections on the Occupy Wall Street movement.