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Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), Melbourne, November/December 1968

First issue of SDS internal discussion bulletin, circa November/December 1968. Material of interest includes Report of SDS Meeting November 23, 1968 (and mention of report by David Hollinsworth of Sydney SDS); a diatribe versus followers of Che Guevara; and Van Moorst's "Framework for our Generation".

The impetus for the formation of the new activist current at the University of Melbourne in 1968 was the degree of frustration with the lack of action (particularly against conscription and the Vietnam War) on the part of the leaders of the University"s Labour Club. Like its counterparts on other campuses, the Labour Club traditionally stressed theoretical discussion around revolutionary socialist (Marxist) themes and was not geared to radical action in the first instance. The formation of SDS therefore represented a split within the leadership of the Labour Club. At least two prominent Labour Club personalities – Michael Hamel-Green and Garrie Hutchinson – were instrumental in SDS.

SDS, like the infant SDS in the U.S, emphasised individualist humanism and participatory democracy rather than democratic or revolutionary socialism. This so-called "non-dogmatic" orientation also set it apart from the leading activist organization at Monash University, the by now strongly-Marxist Monash Labor Club. The Monash Labor Club, and its late-1968 off-campus offshoot – the Revolutionary Socialists – were far more influenced by theoretical considerations and flourished the rhetoric of Marxism and Leninism. Whereas the Monash Labor Club, increasingly under Maoist (specifically Albert Langer and Ted Hill) influence, rejected the label "New Left", SDS embraced the term enthusiastically. - [Ken Mansell]