New American Movement

New American Movement

The New American Movement (NAM) was founded in 1971 by a group of leaders of opposition to the Vietnam War to serve as a forum for discussing where and how to redirect their activities. The call to convene was issued by Michael Lerner. Lerner became distant from the organization shortly after it was founded and went on to start the magazine Tikkun.

In its early years, NAM shared much of the political framework of the New Communist Movement, but rejected the strategy of building a "vanguard party", a position prominent NAM members defended in a debate in the pages of the National Guardian. The organization was built around local groups called "chapters," which emphasized Marxist study, discussion of contemporary issues, support of local labor actions, and work in the community to raise awareness.

By the early 1980s, after a great change in the American political climate and the departure of some of its more radical members, NAM had moved away from its original neo-Leninist orientation and adopted a more traditionally social democratic outlook, culminating in a merger with the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee (DSOC) in 1982 to form the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). [1] At the time of the merger, NAM claimed 2,500 members.[2]

Richard Healey, son of Los Angeles Communist Party leader Dorothy Healey, was a leader of NAM from its founding in 1971. After his mother resigned from the CPUSA in 1973[3] Richard worked on recruiting her to NAM, which she joined in 1974. In 1975 Dorothy Healey joined Richard on NAM's National Interim Committee, and later became a Vice Chair of DSA in 1982.[4]

The official organ of NAM was a magazine called Movin' On. The independent journals Radical America and Socialist Revolution (later Socialist Review) were also vaguely associated with NAM, as was the weekly socialist newspaper In These Times, which had its share of supporters within NAM, DSOC, and ultimately the DSA.


  1. ^ Elbaum, Max (2002). Revolution in the Air: Sixties Radicals turn to Marx, Mao, and Che. London and New York: Verso. ISBN 1-85984-617-3.  pp. 118-20
  2. ^ Davis, Mike (1986). Prisoners of the American dream : politics and economy in the history of the U.S. working class. London: Verso. ISBN 0-86091-131-4. 
  3. ^ Progressive Los Angeles Network
  4. ^ Dorothy Healey and Maurice Isserman, Dorothy Healey Remembers: A Life in the American Communist Party (Oxford University Press, 1990), pp. 245-249.

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