Most of the speakers were the big radical academic brains of the Western World at the time.
Among them was Paul Goodman – then fifty-eight years old and Herbert Marcuse almost seventy – a German socialist and political theorist who had emigrated to the U.S. and was the ideological idol of radicals around the world – including American rebels Abbie Hoffman and Angela Davis.
(In Revolution For The Hell Of It Hoffman writes that Marcuse smoked hash at the conference but it is possible this was wishful thinking).
The organizers of the Congress were old-school intellectual radicals.
Goodman had developed a disdainful attitude toward much of the youth culture.
He lamented the hippies’ apparent lack of respect for expertise and criticized what he perceived as an obsession with ‘inner’ experiences.
‘I knew that I could not get through to them.
I had imagined that the worldwide student protest had to do with changing political and moral institutions to which I was sympathetic but I now saw that we had to deal with a religious crisis of the magnitude of the Reformation in the fifteen hundreds’.