Theodore Roszack 1933 – 2011

IssueSeptember 2011
Comment by Michael Randle, Milan Rai , Emily Johns

Theodore Roszack, historian, novelist, social critic and anti-war activist, was born in Chicago and had an academic career at universities across America.

Of 1964, Roszack wrote: “For those who were part of it, the American peace scene for the years 1963-64, during that paralytic lull following the partial test-ban treaty and preceding the recent, turbulent rise of the ‘New Left’, was rapidly suffocating in pessimism and dismal introspection”. In the summer of ’64 he became editor of Peace News and in that capacity made an important contribution to the process already under way of extending the range of the paper's coverage, to include feminism, the arts, and the emerging “counter culture”.

He was also a founder member of a group set up to combat the extensive racial discrimination in Britain at that time. The group was the precursor of the broader-based Campaign Against Racial Discrimination (CARD), launched officially on the occasion of the visit to London of Martin Luther King when he was on his way to Oslo to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. CARD campaigned for legislation to outlaw racial discrimination and played a central role in pressing the then Labour government to pass the Race Relations Act of 1965 which outlawed discrimination on grounds of colour, race or ethnic or national origin in public places.

Roszack’s most famous work was The Making of a Counter Culture (1969). He also wrote on deep ecology and humanistic psychology: “The needs of the planet are the needs of the person. The rights of the person are the rights of the planet.”

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