Activist professor stimulates activist students
Boston — The United States is threatened by "the drift toward corporate fascism," according to Steven Worth, a Northeastern University political science professor.
as an academic and a citizen, Professor Worth has tried to deal with that drift -- or at least point out the dangers to both his students and the public. So in 17 years of teaching at Northeastern, this committed teacher has piled up an impressive list of public-service activities.
Probably his greatest national notoriety came from drafting the 1970 "Vietnam war bill," which gave Massachusetts servicemen the right to refuse to serve in combat areas. Working closely with his students and with state legislators, he has also played a major part in launching state legislation dealing with prison reform, antipollution measures, drug laws, children's rights, the elderly, and the disabled.
but his success both in giving students an active interest in practical politics and in having his legislation passed still leaves him convinced that there is "dominance of the profit motive over democratic social values in the making of public decisions."
Social reform, he believes, begins with education. And he says his first objective in dealing with his students is to "teach realism," because "the average kid has a very difficult time seeing that there are any social problems." So he introduces them to the problems and involves them directly by having them help draft actual legislation.
After a recent student-police clash at Northeastern, police brutality has become one of his current concerns. But his major project for 1980 is to launch a third party.
"The Democratic Party is no longer a liberal party in Massachusetts," he explains. "It's basically dominated by very conservative views on civil liberties and the rights of the disadvantaged."
This former journalist turned political scientist sharply criticizes the Western news media. He believes that the media generally serve corporate interests and so are helping to ensure the collapse of democracy.
Accordingly, Professor Worth opened his "Introduction to Politics" lecture by going through the day's New York Times. His 150 freshman students listened attentively as he related the latest statements from nuclear power industry spokesmen to that day's reading assignments in Plato and Aristotle. Even in this large a group, the professor asked questions -- and students replied, in one case giving figures for the greater number of jobs provided by solar rather than nuclear power.
The professor pointed to articles on Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Chile, and the chemical industry -- and concluded that "we are increasingly governed by private groups."