Published online by Cambridge University Press: 24 October 2013
By embodying the hopes of a set of qualitative liberals who believed that postwar economic abundance opened up opportunities for self-development, David Riesman's bestselling The Lonely Crowd influenced the New Left. Yet Riesman's assessment of radical youth protest shifted over the course of the 1960s. As an antinuclear activist he worked closely with New Left leaders during the early 1960s. By the end of the decade, he became a sharp critic of radical protest. However, other leading members of Riesman's circle, such as Kenneth Keniston, author of the influential Young Radicals (1968), applied Riesman's ideas to create more sympathetic understandings of the New Left. Examining reactions to the New Left by Riesman and his associates allows historians to go beyond the common understanding of the key ideological divisions of the 1960s as existing between liberalism and radicalism or between liberalism and conservatism to better appreciate the significance of splits among liberals themselves.
I thank Nathan Glazer, Roger Hagan, Robert Jay Lifton, and Michael Maccoby for discussing their memories of Riesman with me. I gratefully acknowledge those scholars whose suggestions aided my revisions of this article: Charles Capper, Howard Brick, and two anonymous MIH readers; Jamie Cohen-Cole, Anna Creadick, Larry Friedman, Jennifer Frost, Andrew Hartman, Dan Horowitz, Richard King, Julie Rubin, and Steve Whitfield. This article is dedicated in loving memory to Joie.
1 David Riesman, “The Lonely Crowd: Twenty Years After,” Box 40, HUGFP 99.16, David Riesman Papers, Harvard University Archives (henceforth referred to as “Riesman Papers”), 3, 5. I quote here from unpublished excerpts of a draft preface to the 1969 edition of The Lonely Crowd.
2 David Riesman to Nathan Glazer, 8 July 1968, Box 13, HUGFP 99.12, Riesman Papers.
3 “The Young Are Captives of Each Other: A Conversation with David Riesman and T. George Harris,” Psychology Today 3 (Oct. 1969), 28–31, 63–6, 28.
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15 Neil McLaughlin, “Critical Theory Meets America: Riesman, Fromm, and the The Lonely Crowd,” American Sociologist (Spring 2001), 5–22.
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32 The Doubleday paperback edition of 1953–60 sold 543,111 copies. In 1961, however, Yale University Press took back the paperback rights to the book. That edition had sold 411,000 copies by 1970. See “Memorandum to Authors of The Lonely Crowd,” 10 Dec. 1970, Box 39, HUGFP 99.16, Riesman Papers.
33 Riesman to Kerr, 8 Oct. 1963, Box 39, HUGFP 99.16, Riesman Papers.
34 Riesman to Toni Maura, 4 March 1961, Box 40, HUGFP 99.16, Riesman Papers.
35 David Riesman, “The College Student in an Age of Organization,” Chicago Review 12 (Aug. 1958), 50–68, 68.
36 Larrabee, “David Riesman and His Readers,” 416.
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54 The Port Huron Statement, reprinted in Miller, James, “Democracy Is in the Streets”: From Port Huron to the Siege of Chicago (New York, 1987), 329–74, 329Google Scholar, 332.
56 Preface to The Lonely Crowd (French edn, Feb. 1964), Box 40, HUGFP 99.16, Riesman Papers, 1–2.
57 David Riesman to Seymour Martin Lipset, 22 July 1968, Box 29, HUGFP 99.12, Riesman Papers.
58 Rossinow, Doug, Visions of Progress: The Left-Liberal Tradition in America (Philadelphia, 2008), 240–53Google Scholar
59 As Michael Kazin points out, this phrase, initially uttered by Free Speech Movement activist Jack Weinberg, was taken out of context; see Kazin, American Dreamers: How the Left Changed a Nation (New York, 2011), 212.
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69 Lipset and Riesman, Education and Politics at Harvard, 370. It was not only Jews, however, who drew parallels between the New Left and fascism. Writing to Robert McNamara following SDS's disruption of his visit to Harvard, Harvard president Nathan Pusey apologized for the students’ adoption of the “tactics of Brown Shirts.” See Keller and Keller, Making Harvard Modern, 308.
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75 Riesman, David, “Some Reservations about Black Power,” Transaction 5 (Nov. 1967), 20–22, 20Google Scholar, 22.
76 Riesman to Hofstadter, 28 March 1969, Box 19, HUGFP 99.12, Riesman Papers.
77 Riesman to David Marcell, 4 Dec. 1968, Box 40, HUGFP 99.16, Riesman Papers.
79 Riesman to Glazer, 8 July 1968, Box 13, HUGFP 99.12, Riesman Papers.
80 Riesman to Jencks, 1 Nov. 1967, Box 23, HUGFP 99.12, Riesman Papers.
81 Riesman, The Lonely Crowd, xxii.
83 Riesman to Michael Maccoby, 13 Feb. 1968, Box 29. HUGFP 99.12, Riesman Papers.
84 Riesman, The Lonely Crowd, xxxi.
85 Riesman to Gordon Zahn, 30 Oct. 1970, Box 16, HUGFP 99.16, Riesman Papers.
87 Herman, Ellen, “Being and Doing: Humanistic Psychology and the Spirit of the 1960s,” in Tischler, Barbara L., ed., Sights on the Sixties (New Brunswick, NJ, 1992), 92Google Scholar; Hoffman, Edward, The Right to Be Human: A Biography of Abraham Maslow (New York, 1988), 292Google Scholar. See also Theodore Wisniewski's excellent “Experimenting with Power: Liberal Psychologists and the Dilemma of Social Reform,” PhD diss., City University of New York, 2008.
88 Keniston to Riesman, 1 Jan. 1969, Box 24, HUGFP 99.12, Riesman Papers.
89 Riesman to George Mahl, 20 Jan. 1966, Box 24, HUGFP 99.12, Riesman Papers.
90 Keniston to Riesman, 1 Jan. 1969, Box 24, HUGFP 99.12, Riesman Papers.
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112 Lecture Notes, 22 April 1970, Box 1, HUGFP 99.62, Riesman Papers.
113 “Further Notes on Keniston's The Sources of Student Dissent, for Lecture Monday, April 29,” Box 1, HUGFP 99.62, Riesman Papers.
114 Riesman to Keniston, 5 July 1967, Box 24, HUGFP 99.12 Riesman Papers.
115 Riesman to Lifton, 8 Oct. 1968, Box 28, HUGFP 99.12, Riesman Papers.
116 Lifton to Riesman, 29 Oct. 1968, Box 28, HUGFP 99.12, Riesman Papers.
117 Lifton, Witness, 214. Lifton did not learn of this comment until after Riesman's death.
118 Lifton, Robert Jay, Thought Reform and the Psychology of “Totalism”: A Study of “Brain Washing” in China (New York: Norton, 1961)Google Scholar. In a letter to Riesman, Lifton had written, “I share your horror of Maoism. Lifton to Riesman, 29 Oct. 1968.
119 Riesman to Lifton, 8 Oct. 1968.
120 Lifton to Riesman, 29 Oct. 1969.
121 Bellah to Riesman, 3 Feb. 1971, Box 1, HUGFP 99.12, Riesman Papers.
122 As quoted in Friedman, Identity's Architect, 321, 355.
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126 Riesman to Bellah, 5 April 1971, Box 1, HUGFP 99.12, Riesman Papers.
127 See Riesman, “A Personal Memoir.” For example, in 1976, Riesman served as part of a committee of social scientists advising Jimmy Carter, but criticized Carter when he later adopted an aggressive stance toward the Soviet Union.
128 The work that best captures neoconservatism as a variant of postwar liberalism is Steinfels, Peter, The Neoconservatives: The Men Who Are Changing America's Politics (New York, 1979)Google Scholar. For an account emphasizing the different phases of neoconservatism see Vaisse, Justin, Neoconservatism: The Biography of a Movement (Cambridge, MA, 2010)Google Scholar.
129 On recent scholarship on American conservatism see, “Conservatism: A Roundtable,” in the December 2011 issue of Journal of American History. In her contribution, Kim Phillips-Fein (“A Response,” 771–7, 773) notes the paucity of recent historical interpretations of liberalism and observes, “the next historians of American politics in the late twentieth century may need to focus as much on the history and evolution of liberalism as they do on analyzing the Right.” See also Kim Phillips-Fein, “Conservatism: The State of the Field,” 723–43.