Back Paul Goodman, “The Young Pacifist”

Paul Goodman (1911–1972)
From War No More: Three Centuries of American Antiwar & Peace Writing

Nearly 2,000 people attended a 1965 teach-in sponsored by Cornell University’s Faculty Committee on Vietnam. (Cornell University)

In 1969 the artist and critic Richard Kostelanetz wrote that the author and activist Paul Goodman essentially believed “that man is creative, loving, and communal; but often the institutions and roles of behavior that he creates serve to alienate him from his natural self. Moreover, once society’s organizations become more important than the individuals who comprise them, then man must suppress his humanity to suit the inhuman system.”

Many people—including Goodman himself—saw these beliefs reflected in the life of his son, Mathew Goodman, who proved to be a rabble-rouser almost immediately upon enrolling in Cornell University in the mid-1960s. Matty did not live to see the full power of the student antiwar movement he had helped create, however; he died while mountain-climbing in the summer of 1967. In “The Young Pacifist,” written and published only weeks after Matty’s death, Goodman mourns his son and recalls a life cut short.

Read “The Young Pacifist” by Paul Goodman

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