Raya Dunayevskaya, 1965
Source: A News & Letters Pamphlet Published by News & Letters, 8751 Grand River, Detroit, Mich. 48204 July, 1965 pp.21-52
Formatted: for the Marxist Internet Archive by D. Maxwell 2008.
The Negro revolution emerged so quietly on the American scene with the Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955-56) that the North hardly gave it note, much less rose up in its support. It wasn’t until 1960, when Negro youth in Greensboro, North Carolina, staged a sit-in at a lunch counter that the first responsive chord was struck in the North. That same year witnessed a mass anti-HUAC demonstration in San Francisco. Thus did the white student youth in the North find its own voice at the same time that it helped the Negro revolution gain momentum not only in the South, but in the North. In the California Bay Area in particular there was, thereafter, no activity – from the Freedom Rides in 1961 to the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project in 1964 – in which the student youth didn’t participate with a spirit characteristic of youth conscious of reshaping a world they had not made.
Thus, suddenly, a generation of new radicals was born to replace “the silent generation” of the 1950s. By winter that year a new form of revolt, with a new underlying philosophy, called itself the Free Speech Movement. To retrieve the moment of new truth, it becomes necessary to view the FSM at that moment – December 2-3 – when the student revolt culminated in a mass sit-in.
On December 2, 800 students in the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley sat in at Sproul Hall to protest against the University’s curtailment of free speech and freedom of action in behalf of civil rights and political principles.
On December 3, Governor Pat Brown dispatched 643 police to eject the 800 sit-inners who, in self defense, as well as for their belief in non-violence, went limp. None too gently, the non-violent demonstrators were dragged down the stairs and thrown into police patrol wagons headed for jail. During the 12 hours of this operation the building was closed to the faculty. But TV coverage of the police force’s invasion of the university grounds and the subsequent fingerprinting and mugging of the students as if they were common criminals, did more to galvanize the majority of the student body to action than all the speeches and actions of the FSM had been able to achieve in the three months since the start of its struggle.
The “moderates” became “leftists,” the apolitical political, and the political students called for a strike. On December 4, 15,000 students stayed away from classes.
This put an end to the myth, perpetrated by the University Administration, the Governor and the press, that “a small hard core of Leftists” (if not outright “Communists”), who were “non-students” to boot – estimated by President Clark Kerr to be no more than “30 to 40,” and by the spokesman for the truly hard-core minority of the faculty, Prof. Lewis S. Feuer, to be “170” – constituted the Free Speech Movement. In truth, not only did a majority of the vast student body now support the FSM, but the overwhelming majority of the faculty likewise now sprang to action. Two departments cancelled classes and many professors honored the picket lines. The chairmen of all departments constituted themselves as a Council of Chairmen, met with President Kerr and tried to work out a compromise. At the same time 200 professors met to plan strategy to present to the Academic Senate to endorse complete political freedom and amnesty. The Academic Freedom Committee and the Chairmen’s Council endorsed the proposals. On December 8, the Academic Senate voted, 824 to 115, to endorse the Resolution of the Academic Freedom Committee.
To find out how it was possible for the allegedly most apolitical student body in the world – the American – to open a new chapter of mass action for freedom, applying tactics never before used, we need to trace the dialectic of revolt from its beginning.
On September 17, a united front of organizations as far apart on the political and civil rights spectrum as SNCC, CORE, SLATE, YSA, SDS, and the Du Bois Clubs, on the one hand, and the Young Democrats, Young Republicans, and even some Students for Goldwater, on the other hand, united to oppose the arbitrary September 14 ruling issued by Dean Katherine Towle which curtailed the content of, and areas for, free speech as well as fund solicitations and recruitment by civil rights and political organizations.
The University of California’s sudden “discovery” that the area heretofore used by these organizations, and for which city permits had been obtained, was university property, came about through the prodding of forces outside the academic community, forces whose only concern with education lay in the attempt to extend McCarthyite tactics against both academic freedom and civil rights. These reactionary forces had, in summer, gathered in convention to capture the presidential nomination of the Republican Party for Goldwater. They stood aghast at the students and other civil rights workers who were demonstrating before the hall.
The old leaders of this new fashioned neo-fascistic fringe of American politics had memories that were as long as they were abysmally deep in the backward look. They recalled that this was the city, and these youth the fighters against the “open” hearings that the House UnAmerican Activities Committee chose to conduct in San Francisco in 1960, the very year in which Negro youth began their revolution down South.
And here they were again, despite the fact that the film made of the 1960 demonstration and police measures against it, plus the fascistic rhetoric extolling the forces of “law and order and anti-Communism,” had succeeded in forging a new brand of college conservatives – Goldwaterites, Birchites, and even Wallace-ite racists. At the height of their power, about to capture a major political party, they were being challenged by still a newer and greater national force, since the Negro revolution had extended itself from South to North and aligned itself with new white youth.
There is no way, of course, of knowing whether plans against the Berkeley students were hatched there and then, or whether these forces felt too cocky with big power politics to do more than store the sight of the youth in the back of their heads for future use.
What we do know beyond the peradventure of any doubt is that one man of the extreme Right had a personal vendetta to settle, since the paper he published had been picketed by these same university youth who protested his unfair hiring practices. This man – erstwhile U. S. Senator, California Chairman of Goldwater for President, and publisher of the Oakland Tribune, William Knowland – was a local resident and could take his time about deciding when to launch his campaign against the students.
No doubt Mr. Knowland felt doubly armed since this time, as against 1960, there were “court convictions” of the students for the spring actions at the Sheraton-Palace and Auto Row, and he knew the right section of Big Business to put pressure on the fund raisers in the UC Administration. Moreover the University would float a bond issue in November and he had a paper at his command. It was he who made sure that the administration “discovered” the property belonged to them. The fall semester had no sooner opened than the students were confronted by the new ruling. It hit the newly returned Mississippi Freedom Summer participants, like Mario Savio, especially hard since they knew just how the southern Freedom Fighters depended on the North for both human allies and financial assistance. That is why the first of the 19 organizations in the united front to man the tables in a challenge of the ruling were SNCC, CORE, SDS, Du Bois Clubs and SLATE, and these were the first organizations warned by the Administration about their violations of the arbitrary ruling. The warnings were followed by the indefinite suspension of eight students.
The first head-on collision which imparted an altogether new quality to the battle between students and university administrators occurred when, once again, an outside force entered the fray.
Fifteen minutes before a scheduled rally of students to protest the suspensions, at 11:45 a.m. on October 1, Dean Van Houten approached the CORE table that was being manned by a “non-student,” Jack Weinberg (who was a recent graduate), and attempted to have him arrested. Spontaneously, the students moved to surround the police car and block it from removing Weinberg. Mario Savio, head of the Friends of SNCC, emerged as leader as he addressed the crowd. Later he said, as he recollected this moment: “I don’t know what made me get up and give that first speech. I only know I had to. What was it Kierkegaard said about free acts? They’re the ones that, looking back, you realize you couldn’t help doing.”
Very obviously several hundred other students “couldn’t help doing” what they did as they sat down and surrounded the car. Some were making speeches. The university administration was not yet ready to do in October, what they were all too willing to do in December – use police force. A group of faculty members intervened and convinced Pres. Kerr to negotiate. By the time an agreement was signed with students – which included submitting rules to a tripartite study committee of administration, faculty and students – the police car had been pinned down for 32 hours. The united front of student organizations felt as one now, and constituted themselves as the Free Speech Movement.
Without waiting for the recommendations from either the faculty or the students, however, Chancellor Strong went about appointing 10 of the 12 men who were to serve on the Campus Committee on Political Activity (CCPA). He announced that his appointed Faculty Committee on Student Conduct, and not a Committee of the Academic Senate, would hear the cases of the eight suspended students. The FSM stated that if the Administration continued its refusal “to sit down and discuss issues” on the different interpretations of the October 2 agreement, which Chancellor Strong had violated, the FSM planned to end the moratorium on demonstrations.
At this point 600 unaffiliated students, called “independents,” expressed their support of the FSM. They chose five to serve on the executive committee. President Kerr reversed Chancellor Strong’s interpretation insofar as the committee to whom the cases of the suspended students were to be submitted, and expanded the CCPA to inlcude four from FSM. However, he remained adamant on his interpretation of what constituted “unlawful acts,” while the students contended that the question of legality and illegality was for the courts to decide. A move “to exercise our constitutional rights” was made by the students who resumed manning tables.
Chancellor Strong disbanded the CCPA and the Dean’s Office sent a letter to 70 students, citing violations. A new force then joined FSM: a newly organized teaching assistants’ association. The Dean’s Office moved against the graduate students. The FSM was busy collecting signatures on petitions which urged the Board of Regents to leave the question of “advocacy” to the courts to decide. On November 20, the Regents seemed to side with President Kerr on the question of “illegal” advocacy. When this was followed, during the Thanksgiving holidays, by suddenly resuming disciplinary action against Savio and others, the gathering storm broke loose. It was December 2.
To a mass rally of thousands Mario Savio said:
“There comes a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you cannot take part; you cannot even tacitly take part. And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the wheels, and the gears and all the apparatus, and you have to make it stop. And you have to make it clear to the people who own it, and to the people who run it, that until you are free their machine will be prevented from running at all.”
Eight hundred walked into Sproul Hall for an all-night sit-in. Again the students heard Savio:
“Here is the real contradiction: the bureaucrats hold history as ended. As a result significant parts of the population both on campus and off are dispossessed, and these dispossessed are not about to accept this ahistoric point of view . . .
“The most crucial problems facing the United States today are the problems of automation and the problem of racial injustice. Most people who will be put out of jobs by machines will not accept an end to events, this historical plateau, as the point beyond which no change occurs. Negroes will not accept an end to history here. All of us must refuse to accept as history’s final judgment that in America there is no place in society for people whose skins are dark.
“The futures and careers for which American students now prepare are for the most part intellectual and moral wastelands. This chrome-plated consumers’ paradise would have us grow up to be well-behaved children. But an important minority of men and women coming to the front today have shown that they will die rather than be standardized, replaceable and irrelevant.”
Others spoke in a similar vein. Telegrams of support came from James Farmer, Chairman of CORE, and John Lewis, Chairman of SNCC.
The University administration and the Governor, on the other hand, panicked. Gov. Edmund Brown ordered the state troopers to invade Sproul Hall to make the arrests. The move of the University administration to use police force “to resolve” its dispute with the students, the shameful acts of the state troopers in making the arrests of the student demonstrators brought about, as we saw, the student strike and such massive support from the faculty that it became the turning point for all parties to the dispute. Labor in the Bay Area also gave the students support both in not crossing picket lines and in telegrams of protest to the University Administration and the Governor.
Just as the faculty was propelled into the student dispute with the Administration, so the civil rights movement found that it was by no accident bound up with the issue of academic freedom. The FSM itself had reached a new stage of development, for the dialectic of revolt is inseparable from the dialectic of ideas. All the participants suddenly found that the whole struggle, victory included, was but prologue to the unfolding drama which would first reveal differing attitudes not merely to the role of youth in a university, but to ideas and to reality. The right to free speech became a discussion on alienation in society as a whole. The right to discipline became a question of human relationships. The dialogue on concrete questions became a search for a total philosophy.
Long before the Berkeley battle broke out, UC President Kerr wrote of the university as a “multiversity” with government research, business, the military, and scientific institutes all being part of the “new” academic complex. Both in his Godkin lectures at Harvard in 1963, The Uses of the University, and in his other book, Industrialism and Industrial Man, he wrote of the need to do away with ivory towers in order to become part of society, i.e., the stratified, militarized economy: "When the borders of the campus are the boundaries of our state, the lines dividing what is internal from what is external become quite blurred: taking the campus to the state brings the state to the campus . . . the multiversity has many publics. . . . The University as producer, wholesaler, and retailer of knowledge cannot escape service. . . . Instead of the Captain of Erudition or even David Riesman’s ‘staff sergeant,’ there is the Captain of Bureaucracy. . . . The production, distribution, and consumption of ‘knowledge’ in all its forms is said to account for 29 percent of gross national product . . . and ‘knowledge production’ is growing at about twice the rate of the rest of the economy . . . The multiversity is more a mechanism – a series of processes producing a series of results – a mechanism held together by administrative rules and powered by money.”
Instead of resisting this development, the president of the largest university in the USA proposed, instead, to do away with the intellectuals who are “by nature irresponsible. The intellectuals (including the university students) are a particularly volatile element . . . capable of extreme reactions to objective situations – more extreme than any group in society. They are by nature irresponsible, in the sense that they have no continuing commitment to any single institution or philosophical outlook and they are not fully answerable for consequences. They are, as a result, never fully trusted by anybody, including themselves.”
Now, whether, as Kerr now claims, he was merely describing what is, not advocating what should be, the point is that, once the actual student revolt began in “his” university. President Kerr showed which part of “society” he was for, and who was the “enemy” and thereby not part of his concept of society. It turned out to be the students and the faculty.
The students, on the other hand, considered “society” to be the civil rights movement and those struggling for freedom of thought, especially since the only struggle possible in the nuclear world is the struggle for the minds of men. They hungered to participate in that conflict. They rejected Kerr’s concept of the “multiversity” along with its IBM cataloguing of students as if they were mere numbers.
Professor Lewis S. Feuer rushed into print with a pompous and vituperative article  on the events at Berkeley. He thinks that by coining a new word, “nulliversity” in place of “multiversity,” and speaking of a so-called community of scholars, he has thereby put himself to the left of President Kerr. As it turns out, he is to the right of him. In the notorious style of “patriots” who used to ask: “If you don’t like this country, why don’t you go back where you came from?” Professor Feuer asks: If the students don’t like the large campuses, why don’t they go to smaller colleges? Why do they flock to Berkeley?
Dr. Feuer thought it a big joke for Savio to have introduced the question of alienation in his speeches. He also thought that he had really dug up the root of evil in the “multiversity.” “Extremes do meet,” he wrote. “The astonishing thing is that both Clark Kerr and Mario Savio agree about the nature of the modern university.”
Between Feuer who has elected himself a sort of spokesman for the minority of the faculty, and Kerr who speaks for the majority of the university administrators, it is hard to decide who is more adept in degrading the world of learning. Both have emasculated language of its meaning. “Non-student” has become for both, a sort of substitute for “subversive.” The once hallowed word, alumni, has been dropped altogether, now that some turned out to be part of the FSM. Instead we hear about “a hidden community” who live “off campus” and who, Kerr says, resemble “the Paris left bank.” (He says it like a man announcing that he had found “foreigners” and “guerillas” hidden behind every campus bush.)
Feuer, who is a master of the Stalinist-type of amalgam, here goes the whole hog: “undergraduate Goldwaterites and graduate Maoists,” “forlorn crackpot and rejected revolutionist,” “lumpen beatniks and lumpen agitators.” And while he is within sound of the syllable, “nik,” he creates a new term with which to deride practitioners of non-violence who go limp rather than actively resist the armed police: “Limpnik.”
President Kerr will not, however, let himself be put completely in the shade in innuendos against the aims and tactics of the student revolt. His tone in referring to the tactics of non-violence as “civil disobedience” has the sound of a military man who has just informed a defense plant about which grounds must be restricted areas. Evidently President Kerr thinks we are at war and “civil disobedience” is synonymous with treason. Like a magician pulling rabbits out of a top hat, he suddenly pulls out of nowhere the word, “conspiracy.” “The campus cannot be a sanctuary, but the question is whether their punishment should be by the courts or by campus authorities. There is a philosophical problem here: do we want district attorneys and sheriff’s deputies on the campus? And there is a legal problem: when does ‘advocacy’ become conspiracy?”
“Frankly,” adds Kerr – who wasn’t ready for as simple a matter as letting students do what they had been doing all along, in manning tables for causes – “I wouldn’t expect one case of conspiracy in 10 years on the Berkeley campus, but I realize we must still answer the question.”
One thing must be said for Kerr. He at least spares us the display of amateur pseudo-psychology in which Feuer indulges as he pretends to write history. Thus Feuer tells us that student movements from 19th century Russia to Berkeley, USA, 1964, have always acted as a magnet for “non-students” who find “their life’s calling in a prolonged adolescence and repetitive reenactment of rebellion against their father.” As for the FSM specifically, Feuer writes: “The so-called students’ movement . . . suddenly sounded more like children asking for permission to be bad . . .”
Feuer cannot resist speaking in a “for adults only” type of whisper to call attention to the big university’s acting “as a magnet for the morally corrupt: (who) advocate a melange of narcotics, sexual perversion, collegiate Castroism, and campus Maoism.” In contrast to this Feuer prepares to present himself as the perfect father image practicing godlike cleanliness and patriotism: “The acrid smell of the crowded, sweating, unbathed students sharply reminded me of smells I had long since forgotten among soldiers in the Pacific more than 20 years ago.”
After this stab at melodrama, the professor pontificates about the “anti-democratic potential” of the FSM, designates the united front of the student organizations as a “Soviet-style coalition,” and concludes that it all reminds him “unpleasantly of young German students talking in a similar vein in the early 1930’s.” This should make any Communist of Stalin’s infamous “Third Period,” when all opponents were designated as “social fascists,” feel that he has met his match!
The fact that the author of such spurious analysis could be the Chairman of the “Social Science Integrated Course” of the largest university in the country and thus can place himself modestly as part of “the greatest concentration of intellectual power and genius in the sciences and scholarship the world has ever known,” speaks volumes for the bankruptcy of bourgeois thought in America, and speaks just as eloquently of the need for the students to go “off campus” to find a market place of ideas. The very fact that they have succeeded in opening this intellectual abscess is no small achievement.
The differences between Kerr and Feuer soon evaporated and, by no accident whatever, mutual admiration became the order of the day. Far from Feuer’s slanderous contention that there was something akin in President Kerr’s and Student Savio’s concept of the university, the organic kinship is between Kerr and Feuer. “I congratulate Professor Feuer,” writes Kerr, “on his perceptive analysis of the psychodynamics and social context which apparently motivated much of the student action at Berkeley.” Feuer, who was at pains to erase his own past  , and went so far as to call Kerr “almost a ‘neo-Marxist’” before he received Kerr’s congratulations, now replied in as laudatory terms:
“Clark Kerr’s book is, to my mind, the most powerful analysis of the modern university which has been written in the United States. It is more searching (sic!) than Veblen’s classical The Higher Learning in America . . . Kerr has been an outstanding president because in practice he has usually acted not as a mediator as his book would have him, but as a leader . . . Kerr is making a valiant effort to create new environments . . . (he) foresaw the coming of the student revolt against the Multiversity. We have seen the advent of what we might well call ‘the politics of the absurd.’ Will the university community have the wisdom and foresight to prevent their recurrence?” 
Now that the alleged proponent of a “community of scholars,” and the “technomanagerial realist,” find cohabitation so pleasant, we must pray not only for the student body, but also for the state of scholarship in the U.S.
Thus, Professor Hook of New York University, who, during the McCarthy period, found reasons why academic freedom should be restricted within the context of the Cold War, now tells us that academic freedom in any case, was never meant to apply to students who are there only to learn. He failed to explain how the police invasion of the campus contributed to the University of California being a citadel of learning.
It is no accident, of course, that such as he and his colleague, Feuer (who called the strongman Chancellor at UC nothing short of “saintly”) would be as one with Gov. Brown in considering the police invasion of a university a symbol of “law and order.” Before the University administration elaborates this myth into a legend, we must reestablish the facts of the case. As we know from TV coverage and from the one reporter, Mr. Pimsleur, who was in the hall for 12 full hours, the truth has a different ring to it:
“The only way to purge the nightmare of that black Thursday is by getting the ugly images out of my brain and down on paper . . . The question might well be asked, why do you need 600 cops to cope with 700 passively resisting kids? This was no prison riot; yet from the police response, you would have thought they were handling convicts, not students . . . Make no mistake, the cops weren’t just doing their duty . . .
“(The students) were deliberately hauled down the stairs on their backs and tailbones, arms and wrists were twisted, hair and ears were pulled – all to the immense amusement of the Oakland police. And lest anyone think I exaggerate, listen to the cops themselves: . . . ‘Hey, don’t drag ‘em down so fast – they ride on their heels. Take ‘em down a little slower – they bounce more that way. . . .’
“. . . ‘Law and order must be preserved’ contend the authorities (Mulford, Brown, Knowland, McAteer, the newspapers, the administration, etc., etc.) But are law and order really civilization’s ultimate virtues – or are freedom and justice? Indeed, law and order are maintained with brilliant efficiency in totalitarian states . . .”
Mario Savio was absolutely right when he characterized such display of “law and order” as “the organized violence and organized sadism of the power structure.” When American academicians (sic!), exactly as their counterparts, the state philosophers in totalitarian lands, come to the point where they accept the manifestation of the state’s brute force as the proper way of “resolving” disputes in academia, we are made witness to the reality which Marx described when he spoke of “the knell of scientific bourgeois economy . . . in place of disinterested engineers, there were hired prize-fighters. . . .”
Just as the continuous struggle for equality has exposed the hollowness of American democracy, so the student revolts have exposed the hollowness of academic freedom in the United States. The seal of bankruptcy of contemporary civilization is the seal of bankruptcy of its thought.
As is evident from the 824 to 115 vote of the Academic Senate in support of the students’ demands for free speech, there is an “Other Academia” than the university administration. And in a few cases, this is not only a defensive stance. Thus, Professors Sheldon S. Wolin and John H. Schaar, in their serious analysis of the Berkeley revolt, pointed out that the Administration’s “rhetoric of affluence and order revealed fatal ignorance of the yearning and comments of the present generation of students.” They fully appreciated the fact that it was no small feat for a university “numbering 27,000 students, 12,000 faculty and non-academic employees, numerous research laboratories, institutes, old-fashioned classrooms, and boasting an annual budget of $60 million” to have been brought to a halt by a “few thousand students who had no other power than the moral courage to say ‘no’ before the colossus and the tactical skill to say it at the right time and in unison.”
In singling out “the new breed of students” for praise, they have grasped reality: “For some time now, the students, especially the undergraduates, have felt themselves to be an alien presence within the multiversity, an ‘Other Academia’ analagous to the ‘Other America,’ ill-fed, ill-housed and ill-clothed not in the material sense, but in the intellectual and spiritual senses.” All the same, they have placed themselves, in the main, not so much with the “Other America” as with the “Other Academia.” By relegating the questions, including the philosophic one of alienation, to the university sphere, they allow themselves to conclude that once “a climate of respect and concern” for the student body is created, “the future of this University can be a noble one.” The Byrne report tries to do as much. Were this, instead of the scandalous “Meyer Report” (no matter how much amended), to prevail at Berkeley, it would still be necessary to ask: Who will educate the educators? As against those who wish to limit their action to the given power structure, the “Other Academia” that the FSM represented sided with the Other America that is living in real, unadulterated material poverty and untold misery. The middle-class students felt kinship with, and not just sympathy for, this Other America. Nor was their participation in the Negro revolution just a summer experience. Far from it. Listen to the head of the Mississippi Summer Project, Robert Moses, grasp the totally new quality in the concept of education which he calls “a whole new dimension,” and then contrast this to what the Berkeley students, turned teachers in Mississippi, felt upon their return to UC:
“. . . We got freedom schools. You form your own schools. Because when you come right down to it, why integrate their schools? What is it that you will learn in their schools? Many Negroes can learn it, but what can they do with it? What they really need to learn is how to be organized to work on the society to change it. They can’t learn that in schools . . .
“Now nobody sat down and theorized all this. It’s just that you went down there and started to try to do something . . . College kids come down, some of the Negroes who have come down, and are now trying to get back in school, can’t relate to it. That raises for them the whole question of education. What is the degree? What do I need it for? What do I do with it after I get it? . . .
“We asked this one guy why he came; what he was doing. And he said, for his own personal self, he found out what work meant. He found out what it meant to live. What it meant to relate to people. What society meant. That’s what he was getting in SNCC. Because who determines what work is? How many people come up to the SNCC people and say, ‘Well, when are you going back to work?’ And they mean, ‘When are you going to fit into society?’
“Now what the SNCC people have found in a slow process is that they don’t have to accept that definition of work. That they can define their own. And that they understand a little better what it means to work. That is to really put energy into something and to make something that’s meaningful to yourself.
“In the process of that they begin to understand what it means to relate to people, to being at least able to break down all these things that happen in our society.
“This is part of what is happening in SNCC and this is why in a sense it is unique. . . .
“. . . The progress we experience is mostly progress in terms of what happens to the people we are working with. It’s that they, in many communities, have found a new kind of strength.
“In their individual acts just going to the courthouse (to register) is a revolutionary act. Given their lives.
“A community has developed in places because of those acts. Local people have really begun to find a way they can use a meeting as a tool for running their own lives. For having something to say about it. That’s very slow, but it’s happening.
“In a sense, these people have found freedom. They don’t have any participation in society but they’re free now. They can do things that they’ve wanted to do for a long time.
“They’ve been able to confront people who are on their backs. They take whatever is dished out – bombings, shootings, beatings, whatever it is. After people live through that they have a scope that they didn’t have before. There’s a whole new dimension in their lives that wasn’t there before.”
How can such concepts be institutionalized? No, the two worlds of Mississippi Freedom Summer and Berkeley officialdom are fundamentally incompatible. The participants in Mississippi Freedom Summer had found a new type of education, and not just education, but a new way of life. A new way of life and a new way of thought.
It is no accident that the one thing that both foe and friend of FSM agree on is this: “the students’ own favorite word for their condition is ‘alienation.’” The feeling of alienation felt by the student body was the point of affinity to the ideas of the FSM which brought the students into it en masse, including not only those who had not previously expressed any interest in civil rights, but also those who had not even been interested in free speech per se. Their feeling of alienation can be sensed from one of the placards which read: “I’m a UC student. Please don’t bend, fold, spindle or mutilate me.”
Or, as a college student in Philadelphia put it:
“I think it was those who were most alienated from themselves by the totalitarianism of the multiversity who gave their main support to the Free Speech Movement. At the big universities today, the administration thinks of students as commodities, as units of production. The universities turn out graduates to be fit as cogs and round pegs into the corporate apparatus and the scientific machine of the warfare state.
“So the student has been depersonalized, dehumanized, alienated from himself. That’s what the student revolts are about. When students ‘senselessly’ ripped apart a New Hampshire resort town, it was their target that was senseless, not their revolt.”
The insurgency among the students was not only limited to the fight for free speech on the campus, nor even to its participation in the Negro Movement which inspired it, but extended to the crucial subject of war, even as before these events, midwestern students were involved in Appalachia, especially with helping miners in Hazard, Kentucky.
Some CORE chapters involved themselves not only in inter-racial work but in breaking down the division between labor and students. Thus, at Columbia University, in 1952, students were used to break a strike of cafeteria workers. Today, on the other hand, the CORE chapter there is helping the Negro and Puerto Rican cafeteria workers wrest union recognition from the “non-profit” and scab Columbia University administration. They have also, on their own, staged a four-day hunger strike. Michael Flug, who organized the action, wrote News & Letters:
“The strategy of the university has been to divide the workers from their natural allies, the students. Students have been told that the food prices will rise if a union is recognized and that the student jobs will be imperiled. The university knows that if the students turn on the workers as scabs, as they did in 1952, no strike can succeed.
“We are trying here, by the use of the hunger strike, to show that the students are determined not to ride through school on the backs of men who make starvation wages. Only through this sort of an alliance can we end the poverty conditions that university workers all over America suffer in the name of what is ‘good for the students.’”
There is hardly a campus in the country, small or large, where a student revolt of one sort of another has not erupted, and where it has not won to its side some of the faculty, or, vice versa, as in the case of Yale University, where the student’s sit-in was to come to the defense of a popular philosophy professor, Richard Bernstein, who was refused tenure because he hadn’t buckled to the conservatism of the Administration and “his own” philosophy department. This type of conservatism is felt even more in a small liberal arts college like Oberlin which had its origins during the Abolitionist period, and whose
“first business manager was one John Brown, and Oberlin College owned the farm from which he launched his raid on Harper’s Ferry. . . . It also attracted a varied and exciting group of faculty and students, who soon came to exercise nearly complete control over the College’s policies.
“Yet within recent years the once decentralized power structure at Oberlin has fallen into the hands of a few administrators, the faculty having willfully given up its power to use its time in the pursuit of the varied and complex pleasures and problems of academia. The general desire for institutional efficiency has led, at Oberlin as at many other schools, to a large, self-justifying bureaucracy, jealous of its power and convinced of its importance. Oberlin is not yet a ‘multiversity,’ but it has its own Clark Kerrs."
By the time a great many students there felt it necessary to parade with torches to protest the trustees’ refusal to give students a more active role in the running of their college, they felt certain that the description by the great Abolitionist, Wendell Phillips, was more applicable today than when it was first said: “There is a class among us so conservative, that they are afraid the roof will come down if you sweep the cobwebs.”
And, like the Abolitionists, today’s rebels are not about to capitulate to the administrative mentality. The conflict between the student body and the administrators of “higher learning” has everywhere erupted into the open. . As one foreign student wrote us from Kansas University:
“There is a lot of ferment on U.S. campuses today. At K.U. here the students have been in all kinds of protests, from civil rights to the firing of the track coach, from the proposed new Fraser Hall to Vietnam and the military draft. They even formed committees to fight the increase in the price of coffee in local restaurants. By jove, I tell you there is a whole history to write here.”
One week, a University of Michigan student had written News & Letters: “California students must be something special. I heard the delegation from Berkeley when they came to the University of Michigan. You would have thought a lot more would be interested. Longshoremen stick together, but students figure it’s just for a short time in their lives that they’ll be in school.” But the very next week – on March 24 to be exact – Ann Arbor was precisely the place where yet another form of revolt emerged – the teach-in – and no less than 2,500 students and faculty initiated what was to become a national phenomenon – the all-night teach-in. Within a month no less than 50 such teach-ins took place in protest against the war in Viet Nam. As a result, the Students for a Democratic Society that originally called a rally in Washington, D.C., in opposition to the U. S. bombing of North Viet Nam, and hoped 5,000 would show up, found that no less than 20,000 had come to D.C. Simultaneously with this there were local marches, including a sit-down on the road leading to President Johnson’s Texas ranch.
Naturally, it isn’t the FSM which “produced” these. The U.S. bombing of North Viet Nam did. The cancerous condition of this exploitative society, poised for war – “little wars” and big ones – is responsible for the bombings in Viet Nam. It is responsible for the situation in South USA where, 100 years after Appomattox, Negro citizens are still deprived of their elementary rights; it is responsible for the fact that in affluent USA there are Appalachias where 35 million Americans live in abject poverty.
The fact that “the East,” like “the West,” is engaged in a fatal flirtation with nuclear war does not diminish but increases the possibility of nuclear war. It is this which is the underlying cause of all the revolts – and not only in the USA, but throughout the world.
The spirit of alienation characterizes the whole fabric of world capitalism in this stage of automation and racism, bureaucratization and wars and H-bombs and ICBMs. The Negro, in fighting for elementary rights, felt that between South USA and South Viet Nam stood President Johnson who had evolved a new manner of politicking. No sooner is a new atrocity perpetrated against Negroes in South USA than he appears on TV in the unsullied vestments of a veritable Biblical prophet. After the March 7th gassing and clubbing of Negroes in Selma he even used the battle-cry of the civil rights movement, “We Shall Overcome.” When the march of no less than 30,000, white and Negro, ended in Montgomery, he at once withdrew the troops. The KKK was once again free to gun down Mrs. Viola Gregg Liuzzo as she was transporting a few marchers back to Selma. Only then did President Johnson, as the daily press so melodramatically put it, “declare war on the KKK.”
In each case he dragged in (no doubt out of his conference with the warhawks) something that didn’t at all flow from the Negro struggle for freedom here. Thus, after shouting, “We will not be intimidated by the terrorists of the Ku Klux Klan,” the President continued in most self-righteous tones: “any more than we will be intimidated by the terrorists in North Vietnam.” Were we to allow ourselves, for the moment, to forget the truth, that it is U.S. imperialism that is raining terror on North Vietnam, not vice versa, we can see the real source of his worries and new manner of politicking. It is that his posture of being “with” the American Negro, “the real hero of the struggle,” is only for the purpose of mobilizing America for the most unwanted war in its history. Herein is the most serious danger for the civil rights movement. It calls for a new evaluation of its forces, and its aims; the momentum it has gained as well as its underlying philosophy of freedom.
When the barbarism that passes for civilization in South USA reached the stage of savagery known as bloody Sunday, thousands of new forces joined the civil rights movement. There was no way to stop the massing of the new arrivals from the North, and the march of hundreds, which was stopped by Sheriff Clark’s storm troopers, became a march of 3,000, stopped by nothing but the compromise Rev. King arrived at with President Johnson’s representative, Roy Collins.
This only led to unled forms of struggle, such as the spontaneous sit-in in the White House itself, vigils in Federal Buildings, such as in Los Angeles, and in general a restlessness with the civil rights leadership among the ranks. Moreover, the counter-revolution did not abide by any compromise, and the foul-mouthed Gov. Wallace inspired the clubbing to death of the Rev. Reeb on a street in Selma. Hence, a new set of legalisms came from the White House – a proposed new voting rights bill. But this too couldn’t stop the momentum, and the Federal Government proceeded to protect the massive march – this time going the whole length from Selma to Montgomery. This did not stop the wanton murder of Mrs. Liuzzo. By now even the notorious House Un-American Activities Committee felt compelled to vote “to investigate” the KKK. The Negro fears this will turn into a witchhunt for “Communists” in the civil rights movement.
There have been too many martyrs, too many memorials; there has been too much achieved in daring self-activity for the momentum to be halted by such “investigations.” Past history (the FBI’s prosecution of one corrupt “Grand Wizard” in the 1920’s) shows that even if such an investigation would lead to action against the KKK (which is doubtful), nothing basic would be changed in the exploitative class structure of the North, much less the racism of the South which survived a Civil War, two World Wars, and is getting a new injection of “patriotism” from the U.S. unholy war in Vietnam.
The truth of the matter is that it is on just such imperialist adventures that racism has always thrived ever since its reappearance in history when Populism was defeated and the U.S. embarked on the Spanish-American War at the turn of the century.
President Johnson, in his present neo-colonialist invasion of the Dominican Republic, is re-enacting the imperlialist “manifest destiny” doctrine first enunciated by Theodore Roosevelt as, with “big stick” and “speaking softly” he forced the building of the Panama Canal.
Or, to take an entirely different example of how the Negro revolution has been diverted in the past: during World War II the American Communists, once Russia was invaded, told the Negro not to fight for his freedom. Now, President Johnson is readying an excuse why the Negro must give up his struggle as the war in Viet Nam is going from bad to worse, and as the invasion of the Dominican Republic is compelling the Negroes here to take a second look at their own country.
The revulsion against the latest outrages has forced even the moderate Roy Wilkins to state that there is a limit to patience and non-violence, that if the Administration can’t establish order, the Negro will have to, for it is “American to protect oneself when attacked.” But – now that the President has spoken out “strongly” and presented us with still one more bill on voting (nearly a century after the 14th and 15th amendments, following a civil war, had already established that elementary right) – the question is: Will the established leadership attempt to divert the movement? Hence new forms of revolt appear. One such case is the vigil before the Federal Building in Los Angeles. One young sit-inner I spoke to pointed happily to the fact that the new form of revolt brought new people:
“I found all Mexican-Americans present at one of the vigils. This is the first time that happened. We were all quiet, and we brought sleeping bags and stayed all night.
“Once we had a discussion on the 98 arrests of those who first began the sit-in. Someone said they had actually stepped out of the way when the mail truck arrived, but the Federal Marshals were yelling at them all the same that they were “obstructing the mail.” This made them so mad. They felt that they would be charged with this offense anyway, so they might as well continue to sit down right in front of the truck. It was a defiance.
“On Sunday, CORE and SNCC were having a meeting about the vigil. One of the sit-inners was there for a while and he came back to us and said he was disgusted because they had all been shouting at each other about leadership of the vigil.
“We didn’t want any leadership. We said each of us was a leader and we felt no need for a ‘spokesman.’ As far as I know nothing was accomplished. CORE and SNCC did decide to support us, but we felt that as soon as they did, they would say it was their leadership that did it, and that got us mad. We did it on our own and continued the vigil because we just felt we didn’t want to be pushed around by the Federal Government either. Each of us was picketing in his own way. Each was acting on his own. None wanted to be a leader.
“Two weeks after, the vigil stopped. It stopped because CORE sent a bus to Selma for the big march and many of those on the vigil went to Selma on this bus.”
The anti-leader attitude characterizes not only the rank-and-file, but also some of the young leaders, as witness Bob Moses changing his name and leaving Mississippi where he headed the Freedom Summer Project for work in another Southern state. One liberal writer, Andrew Kopkind, caught some of the spirit of the new radicalism when he wrote: “SNCC is part of the ‘new radicalism,’ or the ‘student left,’ and is closer to Mario Savio than to Marx. It is anarchic rather than monolithic, social more than economic, downward-pointing rather than pyramidal in organization. . . . There are, no doubt, those in SNCC who have read Marx, and some socialist theory may inform their political ideas, as it does almost everybody these days. It is a far cry from interpreting that vague longing for social and economic equality and the rather pervasive anti-establishment behavior, as evidence of a Communist plot, or imminent Soviet or Maoist takeover.”
Other bourgeois writers, however, have suddenly discovered that the new generation of radicals consists mainly of the sons and daughters of the old generation of Communists and reflects the split in the Sino-Soviet orbit. Without being as crass as the columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak who shout McCarthyite slanders against SNCC being “substantially infiltrated,” these writers have nevertheless laid the foundation for creating such amalgams. Long before the latest off-campus “exposes of Communism,” one of the FSM leaders, Stephen Weissman, rightly warned: “Dialogue will not be stifled by the anticipated red-baiting, nor by the probable resurgence of the manipulated consensus with which President Kerr for so long directed the university. The students know they are only at the beginning of the long road to total freedom. To develop a serious dialogue, on the campus and off it, it is necessary, first of all, to clear one’s head of the brainwashing that passes for thought. They have had their experience of tangling with Prof. Feuer who has villified them for being “graduate Maoists” and laughed at their concern with the notion of alienation. Mr. Feuer’s slanders against the FSM is on a par with his ignorance of the philosophy of Maoism. So fearful is Mao of the deeply-rooted individualism, the Humanism of Marxism, resting on the theory of alienation, that he outdoes the Russian Communists in his attacks on Marx’s Humanism. As one Chinese theoretician – Chou Yang, in “Fighting Task of Workers in Philosophy and Social Science” – phrases it: “In advocating the return of Man to himself they are actually advocating absolute individual freedom and asking the people who live under Socialism to return to the human nature of bourgeois individualism and to restore the capitalism by which it is fostered.” The “they” is supposed to refer to “revisionists,” but there is no doubt whatsoever that, on the part of both the Russians and the Chinese, what is under attack is the young Marx’s Early Humanist Essays.
Interestingly enough, Feuer is not the only one who thinks the question of alienation is misplaced. The Du Bois Clubs’ “man of ideas” (it is their description; not mine), Robert Kaufman, likewise considers such an approach “less than helpful”: “The nature of this deepest motivation (for joining FSM – rd) is superficially summed up in the word alienation. . . .” And again: “Because alienation is manifested as a state of mind, there is a tendency to deal with it psychologically, in terms of the individual, to retreat from politics. . . .”
No, far from the theory of alienation being either a joke on Mario’s lips, or on a par with Maoism, “graduate” or otherwise, Savio was nearer the mark: “I think it would distort the facts not to make it quite clear that the tone from the very beginning and the possibility of success was founded in a new non-ideological radicalism which is expressed most clearly in SNCC. Those people who have been most effective have been those who have made their decisions from a very pragmatic point of view. An activist pragmatic radical view to be sure, but not an ideological point of view. . . .” And again, “Large numbers of students from Berkeley have gone South, so there’s constant intellectual ferment. On the other hand, the political issue is a pretext for this rebellion. The real cause is the alienation that students feel from what is a knowledge factory. Kerr is quite right. You’re processed. You become a number on a set of file cards that go through an IBM machine. The terrible dehumanization. The things which are worst about America are most cruelly exemplified here.”
Raising the theory of alienation was one of the unique achievements of the FSM. And since content of thought goes hand in hand with freedom of speech, it thereby posed questions that go far beyond either the multiversity or old politics. It questioned American society as a whole. Here is how Savio phrased it in his interview with Life:
“America may be the most poverty-stricken country in the world. Not materially. But intellectually it is bankrupt. And morally it’s poverty-stricken. But in such a way that it’s not clear to you that you’re poor. It’s very hard to know you’re poor if you’re eating well. . . .
“Students are excited about political ideas. They’re not yet inured to the apolitical society they’re going to enter. But being interested in ideas means you have no use in American society . . . unless they are ideas which are useful to the military-industrial complex. . . .
“Factories are run in authoritarian fashion – non-union factories anyway – and that’s the nearest parallel to the university. . . .”
In contrast to this, the point Savio kept driving home about the feelings of his fellow-students was that “they are people who have not learned to compromise.”
The trouble with the elders, even when they are for the student revolt, is that they do not listen to the new voices. It was ever so. The Humanism of Karl Marx was the only vision that held as one, thought and action, mental and manual labor. It was the only one that saw the negative feeling of estrangement as the path to freedom; the only one that saw the positive in the negative not only as a philosophic abstraction but as a human force for the reconstruction of society.
Deriving the concept of alienation from Hegel, Marx did more than place it upright on materialistic foundations. He opposed the communists who vulgarized materialism and rejected “bourgeois idealism.” Marx’s main opposition to Hegel was not his idealism; it was his dehumanization of the idea as if it were not part of man’s body, as if ideas could, indeed, float outside of the human being. Or, as Marx himself put it, and put in strictly Hegelian terms, Hegel “separated thinking from the subject,” even as capitalism has put “in place of all the physical and spiritual senses . . . the sense of possession, which is the simple alienation of all these senses. To such absolute poverty has human essence had to be reduced in order to give birth to its inner wealth!”
In a word, Marx saw alienation as an essential dimension of history, characteristic of all class societies – based as they are on the division between mental and manual labor – and gaining its most monstrous form under capitalism: it is under “machinofacture” where the laborer becomes but a cog in the machine, so that not only his product is alienated from him, but his very activity. Once this is achieved, it is not only labor that suffers; all of society is demeaned and degraded, including its thought. The only way out is to reconstruct society on totally new beginnings: “To be radical is to grasp something at its roots. But for man the root is man himself.”
It still is. And it is this precisely which the students have got hold of and are fighting for, and this is also the underlying, though not always acknowledged, philosophy of the Negro revolution.
If we follow the development of Rev. King whose terms, far from being Marxist-Humanist, are religious, even as the doctrine of non-violence is related by him to Gandhiism rather than to the deeper native roots of Abolitionism, we see the turning point, philosophically, he reached after Bull Connors’ hounds, hoses and murders in Birmingham led him to reject the attempt of white “fellow clergymen” to have him confine the movement to legalisms. “We can never forget,” he wrote in the famous letter from a Birmingham jail, “that everything Hitler did in Germany was ‘legal’ and everything the Hungarian Freedom Fighters did in Hungary was ‘illegal’ . . . this calls for a confrontation with the power structure. . . . To use the words of Martin Buber, the great Jewish philosopher, segregation substitutes an ‘I-it’ relationship for the ‘I-thou’ relationship and ends up by relegating persons to the status of things.” But King himself made an impersonal ethic rather than the living mass movement the point of creative orgin, and therefore left the door ajar for Johnson’s “Great Society.”
Feuer, in his latest diatribe, tries to impute to Savio an “apparent newfound attachment to violence.” Had Feuer been truthful he should have said that Savio refuses to compromise with the status quo. This is precisely the point stressed by another FSM leader, Jack Weinberg:
“One of the greatest social ills of this nation is the absolute refusal by almost all of its members to examine seriously the presuppositions of the establishment. . . . It is their marginal social status which has allowed students to become active in the civil rights movement and which has allowed them to create the Free Speech Movement. . . . They become activists and a new generation, a generation of radicals, emerges.
What needs to be stressed now is that a new generation of radicals is born not only through such activities as the sit-in, the picket line, the strike, but also through the activity of thinking. It should be unnecessary to add that the mental alertness and social aspiration, more than the marginal social status, impelled the students into the FSM and such new bold forms of revolt as “civil disobedience.” Of course, they “took it” from the civil rights movement, but placing it on a university campus, means that the whole so-called academic community, and not only at Berkeley, will never be the same. It is precisely the philosophic aspect which gave a new dimension to the very movement which gave the FSM its impetus: the civil rights movement. It is this which must not be reconfined, not even in activism.
Our age of state-capitalism with the administrative mentality so inherent in it, shows us, over and over again, that, despite the appearance of opposites, reconfinement and activism can and do meet to form the evasion so characteristic of modern intellectuals, including those who do see the ills of the world and do oppose the status quo.
Even an intellectual of the stature of Jean-Paul Sartre found it much easier to declare the Communist Party to be “the only revolutionary party” – and that, though he was witness to, and opposed, the outright counter-revolutionary suppression of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956! – than to undertake the challenge to thought once it was designated as “political.” This, moreover, is not only due to the fact that it is easier to shift responsibility for leadership “to the party.” It is, above all, due to the fact that it doesn’t soil the intellectual’s hands who would otherwise have to go below, to the source of ideas, to the masses.
As I pointed out in the special introduction to the Japanese edition of Marxism and Freedom, the revolutionary petty bourgois intellectual shows that he bears the mark of our state-capitalist age. In and out of power, he would rather lean on some State power and State Plan than subject himself to the creativity of the proletariat and the compulsion to a unity of thought and practice.
The task that confronts our age is this: how can the movement from theory meet the challenge of the movement from practice which strives to reconstruct society on totally new, truly human beginnings. The challenge is not to machines, but to men. The compulsion for a unity of theory and practice arises both from the impulses toward a new society and a total philosophy.
This search for a total philosophy has disclosed a new, a third world in the post-war revolutions in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America. It is this new, third Afro-Asian-Latin American world, which is at the root both of the struggle for world domination between Russia and the United States as well as within the Sino-Soviet orbit and within Western colonialism and neocolonialism. And it is this world which opens the greatest challenge to the intellectuals as well as the proletariat of the most industrialized land of this third world – Japan. In a word, the problem is global.
Revolutions do not arise in the fullness of time for the purpose of establishing a party machine; partinost (party-monolithism) is there to throttle the revolution, not to release the creativity as well as the energies of the millions. Marxism is either a theory of liberation or it is nothing. In thought and in life, it lays the basis for achieving a new human dimension, without which no new society has viability.
Now that the students have experienced the urgency of freedom’s call, and have given the struggles their own stamp, a new path to Marx’s Humanism has been opened up; today’s young Abolitionists are acting out the truth of Wendell Phillips’ admonition: “Never again be ours the fastidious scholarship that shrinks from rude contact with the masses.”
It is, of course, true that it was contact with the Negro people that inspired the Berkeley revolt. It is, however, also true that the Berkeley revolt, followed by the teach-ins, in turn, changed the climate for free speech on the pivotal question of war and peace for the whole country.
Other forms of revolt are sure to break out in opposition to any rerun of the turn-of-the-century film of “manifest destinty” by the very power structure that has now brought civilization to the edge of the abyss. It is no accident that the civil rights movement, especially its youth section, felt impelled to participate in the anti-war demonstrations. Our state-capitalist age is full of “little wars” that – despite operation brainwash to make people accept this as a veritable way of life, “the price of avoiding” nuclear war – might very well trigger off a nuclear holocaust that would put an end to civilization as we have known it.
The only war that can be won in a nuclear age is the battle for the minds of men. Hence, the need for a new relationship of theory to practice. Hence the new role of the intellectuals, or, more precisely put, the role of the new intellectuals, those who have recognized that “the ‘futures’ and ‘careers’ for which American students now prepare are, for the most part, intellectual and moral wastelands,” and who have refused to compromise. Hence, the search for new ways to break down the division between philosophy and reality. Apparent is the necessity for a philosophy of freedom that can meet the challenge from below, from the actual struggles for freedom, be they for civil rights in the South, or free speech in the North; be they the fight of labor with automation or the struggles of the submerged fifth of the nation that is engulfed in unemployment and in poverty in a country bulging with unprecedented profits and brazen profiteers, situated in a world of Big Powers, each fighting for domination over the whole.
Neither the Sino-Soviet orbit – together or separately – nor NATO – together or separately – can offer a way out. And those who are so much against one power bloc that they are willing to associate with the “other one” only endanger the freedom movement and risk begetting a modern Napoleon, a new “Captain of the Bureaucracy,” a new exploitative class. As the revolutions that have soured have proved, it is impossible to create a new society where the mode of labor rests on the same division between mental and manual labor that underpins all class societies.
When the very fate of mankind, not just rhetorically, but actually, is within orbit of an ICBM, the job cannot be left in the hands of the intellectual elite, not even the Other Academia. The whole of Other America is involved and must move to the front center of the historic stage. The Negro revolution and the FSM  have opened new roads to freedom. But the task to make freedom a reality remains. It is the task of the whole. All energies, theoretical as well as practical, emotional as well as spiritual, are needed for the arduous labor of reconstructing society on new foundations. It is the human project. It cannot brook any new division between the activity of thinking and the activity of revolution. The urgency of our lives and times demands that all “philosophic absolutes” come down to earth.
The today-ness of the theory of liberation that is the Humanism of Marxism is this: it has never isolated itself in any ivory towers, nor flown to other planets to avoid facing reality. This freedom philosophy is in the events of the day. When concretized for our day, Marxist-Humanism puts into words what every activist knows is true as he battles the power structure which stands in the way of freedom. It becomes imperative therefore to work out a new unity of thought and action which can release the vast untapped energies of mankind, their innate talents so that the new human dimension, inherent in the old society, can finally emerge and make freedom a reality.
(1) The most objective and comprehensive report, “Berkeley Free Speech Controversy,” is the Preliminary Report issued on December
13, 1964 by a Fact-Finding Committee of Graduate Political Scientists (Bardach, Citrin, Eisenbach, Elkins, Ferguson, Jervis,
Levine and Sniderman). Most of the factual material in our analysis is taken from this report and from the official FSM Newsletter.
Other reports of participants consulted appeared in The Campus CORE-lator. “What the Students Want” by Stephan Weissman appeared in The New Leader, Jan. 4, 1965, which also carried an article by a faculty member, Paul Jacobs, “Dr. Feuer’s Distortions.” See also: “Civil Rights and FSM” by Michael Rossman (Occident, Fall 1964-65); FSM, a Du Bois Clubs of America pamphlet by Bettina Aptheker, Robert Kaufman and Michael Folson; Student in Revolt, Solidarity Pamphlet, No. 18, London, England; and Eric Levine’s The Free Speech Controversy, published by Students for a Democratic Society.
(2) Jack Weinberg’s views were published in the January 1965 issue of The Campus CORE-later; Marvin and Barbara Garson’s comments appeared in Students in Revolt. Marvin Garson is also the author of the pamphlet, The Regents. (Also see Footnote 5, above.)
(3) In addition to the support from the regional UAW (see footnote 1, above) labor support came from George Hardy, Secretary of the State Council of Building Service Employees, the Central Labor Council of Alameda, San Francisco and Contra Costa Counties, and the Longshoremen’s Union. The Teamsters’ Union refused to cross the picket lines during the strike.
(4) It is, of course, necessary to consult these books by Clark Kerr to get a full view of his ideas. But his actions during the crisis speak loudly enough. Also, his interview with William Trombley of the Los Angeles Times (Jan. 6, 1965) is quite revealing. Where the citations, above, are not from Kerr’s books, they are from this interview, while the exchange with Feuer are from The New Leader, Jan. 18, 1965. A timely analysis of Kerr’s books by Hal Draper was published October, 1964 by the Independent Socialist Club titled The Mind of Clark Kerr.
(5) “Rebellion at Berkeley: The New Multiversity: Ideology and Reality.” The New Leader, Dec. 21, 1964. Most of the quotations, above, are from this scurrilous account. The reader, however, should also consult Prof. Feuer’s continuing diatribes in the issues of Jan. 4, 12 and 18, 1965.
(6) About the only truthful statement to appear in Feuer’s mouthings is this indirect one: “The students here tell that their senior professors were in their youth not infrequently Marxists, Trotskyists, Yipsels, Left-wingers. Now in middle age they seem to be resting on reputations gained by their advocacy of conservatism with a Marxist vocabulary. . . .”
(7) These pleasantries are exchanged in The New Leader, Jan. 18, 1965.
(8) Reference must be made to his scholarship as analyzed by learned sources long before he wrote of issues in which he was
a participant. Thus, Professor David Joravsky, the one historian who has written the best documented and truly scholarly work
on Soviet Marxism and Natural Science, 1917-1932, had to show that Communist authors did not go unaided, “in accordance with their shibboleths,” to create confusion:
“Non-Communist authors have contributed to the confusion by an excess of boldness, by the proclivity that many have shown
towards magisterial judgments on the basis of insufficient evidence. One author, for example, writing in a scholarly journal,
based a history of the theory of relativity in Soviet physics and philosophy on three ‘sources’ two of which were merely ambiguous
passing references to Einstein’s theory in Soviet articles on other subjects.” The author referred to is none other than Lewis
Since that was written, Feuer was nevertheless sent as part of the cultural exchange with Russia and since his few months’ stay there he has written endlessly (and so have they against him: See Voprosy Filosofii, Nov. 1963) and just as ignorantly so that, once again, he has aroused the ire of specialists in the Russian field. Thus, Professor Joseph Roucek has had to write to the Slavic Review (Dec. 1964), complaining that Feuer “is either unacquainted with such studies, or unwilling to acknowledge that they exist” and, after citing about a dozen that deal with the same subject as Feuer, Roucek concludes: “Shall I go on? I can produce other studies. There is nothing particularly wrong if his article is to be only his personal impressions. But since his footnote refers to a few ‘other’ works in that field, I am wondering whether this is exactly fair to the whole idea of scholarship.”
And this is the representative of “the West” who is supposed to win the struggle for the minds of men from Communism!
(9) “Freedom to Learn But Not to Riot” by Sidney Hook, The New York Times Magazine, January 3, 1965. Evidently the outcry against such prejudiced writing impelled The New York Times to send out its staff member, A. H. Raskin, who produced a more factual and sympathetic report, “The Berkeley Affair: Mr. Savio & Co.” The New York Times Magazine, February 14, 1965. Mr. Raskin writes: “Among the young everywhere is a sense of alienation that turns every affluence and security into worthless prizes. This may prove to be the nation’s critical challenge.”
(10) See Appendix I.
11 See American Civilization on Trial: “Because slavery stained American civilization as it wrenched freedom from Great Britain, the Negro gave the lie to its democracy. . . . The Negro became the touchstone of this class-ridden, color-conscious civilization which had an ever-expanding frontier, but no unifying philosophy. . . . Today, as in the days of the Abolitionists, we see a new beginning . . . the Freedom movements have given ample proof of the Humanist surge of masses in action seeking to reconstruct society.”
12 “Berkeley and the Fate of the Multiversity” by Sheldon S. Wolin and John H. Schaar, The New York Review of Books, A Special Supplement, March 11, 1965.
13 The full text of the Byrne Report appeared in The Los Angeles Times, May 12, 1965. This independent study, commissioned by the Forbes Committee of the Board of Regents of the University of California, holds that the FSM was a natural outburst, not controlled by Communists, and is critical of the UC administration as well as the Board of Regents itself.
14 The Meyer Report of the Regents’ “Special Committee to Review University Policies,” tries to move the whole situation at Berkeley back to the period of McCarthyism by vesting all authority, including punishment for off-campus activities by students, in the hands of the Chancellor, thus annulling all the free speech rights won by the FSM.
15 From SNCC’s Western Conference, Fall 1964, which has been printed in Pacific Scene, Feb. 1965, Fresno, California.
16 Typical is the case of Stephen Ashton, an Oberlin student who went to Hazard, Ky., to help the jobless miners. He was arrested before he could distribute his 8-page report, “Notes on a Mountain Strike” (see News & Letters, Jan. 1965).
17 See “Bureaucracy and Protest at Oberlin” by Dennis Hale and Peter Miller (News & Letters, May 1965).
18 For a report of sit-in at Kansas University, see The Kansas Free Press, March 22, 1965, Lawrence, Kans. For a report of the Free Speech Front’s Struggle at Ohio State University, see Students In Revolt, Strike Pamphlet No. 13, Cleveland, Ohio.
19 For background to the present actions in Santo Domingo, see the sections, “Plunge into Imperialism” and “Racism” in American Civilization on Trial: “The ‘psychology of Jim Crowism’ is itself the result, not the cause, of monopoly capital extending its tentacles into the
Caribbean and the Pacific as it became transformed into imperialism, with the Spanish-American War. . . . The capitalistic
mentality and the slavemaster mentality are not very far apart when the domination of the exploiters is challenged by the
working people. Indeed, monopoly capital needed Southern racism for its plunge into empire. North and South, the thirst for
empire was brilliantly white.” (p. 16)
“Theodore Roosevelt’s ‘manifest destiny’ does not fundamentally differ from Britain’s jingoistic ‘white man’s burden’ or from the French ‘mission civilisatrice’ or the German ‘kultur.’ All white civilization showed its barbarism in the conquest of the whole Afro-Asian, Latin American and Middle Eastern worlds. . . . Even when with the New Deal, the Good Neighbor policy was established and direct rule given up, we at no time, even to this day, did anything to free the countries from being one-crop or one-mineral economies subordinated to America,” American Civilization on Trial, p. 17.
20 “New Radicals in Dixie” by Andrew Kopkind (The New Republic, April 10, 1965).
21 See especially “To the East of the Communist Party” by Thomas R. Brooks, The New York Times Magazine, April 25, 1965, and “The Explosive Revival of the Far Left” by Richard Armstrong, The Saturday Evening Post, May 8, 1965.
22 See Stephen Weissman’s answer to Feuer, “What The Students Want” (The New Leader, Jan. 4, 1965).
23 A beginning in this direction was made by Joseph Paff, Bill Cavala and Jerry Berman in their piece, “The Berkeley Riots: Dissent in the Multiversity” which appeared in The Activist, January, 1965. Consult that issue also for “SNCC: The Beginning of Ideology† by Staughton Lynd.
24 Peking Review, Jan. 3, 1964. The Russian Communists were, however, first to attack the Humanist Essays of Marx. See Voprosy Filosofii (Questions of Philosophy) No. 3/1955: also my analysis in 1964 edition of Marxism and Freedom, pp. 62-66. For Mao’s philosophy. pp. 304-310, also p. 329: “Mao’s failure to grasp dialectic logic has nothing whatever to do with ‘understanding philosophy.’ Dialectic logic is the logic of freedom and can be grasped only by those engaged in the actual struggle for freedom. Therein lies the key to the fulfillment of human potentialities and therein lies that new relationship between theory and practice which could lessen the birthpangs of industrialization. Anything else is the type of subjectivism which hides Mao’s compelling need to transform the struggle for the minds of men into a drive to brainwash them.”
25 The Du Bois Clubs of America as publisher of FSM describes its authors as follows: Bettina Aptheker “A Woman of Deeds”; Robert Kaufman “A Man of Ideas,” and Michael Folsom “A Man of Words.”
26 Interview in Free Student, No. 1, 1965, New York.
27 Life, February 26, 1965.
28 I’m using my own translation of the Humanist Essays which first appeared as Appendices to the 1958 edition of Marxism and Freedom, but these essays can now be gotten in paperback edition of Erich Fromm’s Marx’s Concept of Man.
29 “Pornopolitics and the University,” New Leader, April 12, 1965.
30 “The Free Speech Movement and Civil Rights,” by Jack Weinberg, The Campus CORE-lator, Jan. 1965.
31 For a detailed development of Sartre’s philosophic works, see my “Sartre’s Search for Method to Undermine Marxism,” News & Letters, Detroit, Mich.
32 I have limited myself to the Free Speech Movement. The new Free Student Union has yet to write its own chapter.