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November 14, 1972

Democratic socialist and activist Michael Harrington, author of The Other America: Poverty in the United States (1962) and professor of political science at Queens College, delivered the Barbara Bailey Brown Lecture, “The Future of the Left in America and the World.” Harrington attributed President Nixon’s crushing defeat of Democratic presidential candidate Senator George McGovern to the electorate’s endorsement of the “myth” that the liberal Kennedy and Johnson administrations had squandered a great amount of public money on social programs in the 1960s that had not only failed but also had led to rising welfare rolls, increased crime and—most radically damaging—a crisis of religion. Attempting to refute these charges, Harrington noted that “it is an enormous change in society when people stop believing in Heaven and Hell, in their own mortality…. The Church and the flag are not what they used to be. And it was the tragedy of this election that McGovern appeared as one of the agents of the erosion of these old values.”

To recover, he said “The Left would begin with humility by defining its limits.” Admitting that it couldn’t end the religious crisis in America, he said the democratic Left “could provide the economic and social security to allow people to find their own way out of the spiritual crisis.”

The Miscellany News

Professor Harrington published Socialism in 1972 and Fragments of a Century: A Social Autobiography in 1973.

The Barbara Bailey Brown Fund, was established in 1966 by the Class of 1932 in memory of their classmate Barbara Bailey ’32 in support of programs and lectures fostering international understanding.

The Years