The Campaign Against The Underground Press*

Kaleidoscope, April 26-May 9, 1969

“In the 1960s, investigative journalists, poets, novelists, political activists, community organizers, and artists formed an unprecedented alliance for change in the vigorous underground press movement that flourished in the United States. This network of counterculture, campus, and other alternative media brought larger political issues into communities, awakening citizens to their own power to influence national policy. Surprisingly, the rapid growth in the number of underground newspapers and readership was mirrored by a sudden, equally rapid, decline in the early 1970s. The fate of the underground press followed that of the Movement, in general. The end of that great incubator of dissent, the Vietnam War, and the dismantling of the draft reduced the sense of immediacy felt by many people. Disagreements over strategy and goals fragmented the nascent New Left. While alternative journals belonging to the older traditions of muckraking, Left political commentary and party papers survived into the 1980s, the self-supporting, community-based underground press began to lose the vast number of readers it had once attracted. Many papers simply couldn’t make it financially in the increasingly apathetic 1970s. Others were gradually taken over by commercial interests, which, having discovered a new market for records, drug paraphernalia, and fashions, thrived on advertising revenues and diluted political content. The dramatic decline of the underground press has been attributed to many things. The end of the war and a changing economy were critical factors; and the inexperience, bad management, self-indulgence, and political naivete that plagued many alternative journals cannot be overlooked. But most of these analyses omit one ominous fact: the withering of the underground press was not entirely a natural decline. Alternative presses, whether serious journals of adversary politics or counterculture avant-garde papers, were targets of surveillance, harassment, and unlawful search and seizure by U.S. government agencies. Operating with pragmatic immorality, these agencies were mobilized to crush the constitutional rights of a large sector of the American populace which had found it necessary to dissent. …”
History Is A Weapon

EAST VILLAGE OTHER, featuring cover by R. Crumb , Vol 3, No. 43, Oct 4, 1968

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
This entry was posted in Allen Ginsberg, Black Power, Burroughs, Chicano, CIA, LSD, Lyn. Johnson, Marijuana, Newspaper, Nixon, Poetry, SDS, Vietnam War, Weather Underground and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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