A Eulogy for Carl Oglesby


In 1965, when Carl Oglesby threw himself into the New Left—“the movement” was the more intimate term, meaning life-force, energy, motion—he was a 30-year-old paterfamilias with a wife and three small children, living in a nice little Ann Arbor house on (he relished the memory) Sunnyside Street, making a solid living as a technical editor-writer for a military-industrial think-tank called Bendix. He golfed, drove a snappy little sports car, wrote plays, and smoked good dope—a damn fine life for the son of an Akron rubber worker and the grandson of a coal miner. He’d been a champion debater in high school and at Kent State University, and for a time an actor. Pretty much an autodidact, he was reading Cold War revisionist scholarship in an effort to figure out why America, the only country on earth he could ever have hailed from, was burning up peasants on the other side of the world. At high velocity, as people did then, he “went through changes.” One minute he was writing against the Vietnam war for a Democratic congressional candidate (who refused to deliver the speech); the next, he was writing it up for the University of Michigan literary magazine; the next, he was turning it into a pamphlet for Students for a Democratic Society, which was organizing a national demonstration against the war but didn’t yet have any antiwar “literature” on offer.

more from Todd Gitlin at TNR here.