Student Movement U.S.A. – ’60s to the Present [On the Berkeley Free Speech Movement]

First Published: ANTITHESIS, January-March, 1965
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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In 1959-60 southern Negro students broke through the wall of apathy engendered by the McCarthy-Cold War hysteria. Because of pressures brought about by its struggles the world’s socialist and anti-imperialist forces as well as those from the Negro people, the U. S. ruling class decided to give token legitimization to demands for integration and against U. S. discrimination, while at the same time it continued brutal oppression against the Negro people. This “legitimization” also served the important function a£ serving as an excuse to more openly suppress the Negro people. After all, hadn’t an all beneficent ruling class made a new set of laws giving “Negroes what they wanted”? By their actions of civil disobedience against the system of organized oppression the southern Negro students set off a chain reaction throughout the country. Northern students responded and hurriedly rushed out to join the picket lines at Woolworth’s. The upsurge of CORE (which had almost died out during the 1950s) and the example of the newly founded SNCC seemed to have set the tone for the increase of student activity.

The multi-issue organizations sprung up around this time, dealing superficially with the issues of civil rights, civil liberties and peace. For a couple of years at least, the annual peace march was the thing, and their slogans such as “No Test East or West” and “I want to live” seem to say more about these organizations themselves than the real issues involved. Hence the so-called “peace forces” in this country failed to make any real demands on U.S. imperialism. Their bourgeois, pacifist nature could not allow them to either make a correct analysis of the reasons for war or to take any real measures against the threat of war. In spite of their misleading the people by their pacifist slogans, the role of U. S., imperialism as the main threat to peace was recognized by those many thousands who demonstrated against such acts of aggression as the murder of Lumumba and the attempt to reoccupy Cuba. In these years both the peace and civil rights struggles were hindered by their lack of long-range goals and outlook and by their inability to recognize the role played by U.S. imperialism – a handicap which still exists at the present time. A healthy sign is the recent broadening of student interest which is beginning to encompass many facets of political activity.

Although the vast majority of student political activity is concerned with bourgeois demands, we view this new awakening of students as being a positive feature both because every increase of democracy weakens imperialism and strengthens the power of the people and because as students examine the fundamental issues of our time they are confronted with the contradictions in world imperialism and may ultimately join with students in other areas of the world in an anti-imperialist movement.

With this in mind, we will focus our attention on the recent developments on the University of California campus at Berkeley. This is done with no intention of regionalism on the part of ANTITHESIS, but because we believe that U. C. is an excellent model by which to study student movements. The most obvious reason is that in recent years U. C. Students have been among the most politically active students in the country on such issues as opposition to HUAC, peace and civil rights. But equally important is the fact that as the main school in the largest state university system in the nation, UC is viewed by educational theoreticians as the model of the university system of the future, or multiversity as it has been called. For our purposes then, an analysis of the University of California seems especially warranted in a study of the U. S. student movements since there is reason to believe that many of the problems faced by students at UC will be encountered by students elsewhere in the coming years.

We will examine the recent developments which took place on the UC campus at Berkeley not only in the hope of bringing to light some facts with which many of our readers outside of the Bay Area may not have come in contact, but also to examine some of the basic features of higher education under U. S. monopoly capitalism.

“Hegel remarks somewhere that all great, world-historical facts and personages occur, as it were, twice, he has forgotten to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.” (Karl Marx)

While the Free Speech Movement at the University of California may not rank as a “great” or “world-historical fact” and the Messrs. Kerr and Strong are dubious candidates for similar honors as “personages” it might amuse and edify the reader to know that both events and personages are not new to history.

The lead article of the Daily Californian of October 30, 1934, was headed: “Prominent U. Clan Group Suspended on ’Red Charge’ – Student President, Four Leaders Accused of Using Posts to Further Revolutionary Activities; Out for One Year.”

It went on to relate that the President of the Associated Students, the Chairman of the Campus Forensic Board, the Chairman of the Men’s Board, the Scholarship Chairman and an outstanding woman student had been charged by the Provost at UCLA with using their positions to “further the revolutionary activities of the National Student League, a Communist organization which has bedeviled the University for some time, and were using their offices to destroy the University by handing it over to the Communists.” (The quotation was from the Provost.)

It seems that the above-mentioned students had planned to hold a forum regarding an up-coming state election, the forum had been approved by the Provost, then later disapproved. The students had been suspended upon holding a meeting among themselves after the disapproval.

The Provost, one E. C, Moore, was also quoted as saying: “Everyone of these students can win his way back to the University after one year by good behavior and abandonment of his present commitments.”

Two-thousand students attended a protest rally at UCLA and refused to attend classes. The demonstration spread to UC at Berkeley where the same issue of the Daily Californian tells us that a “campus employee” was discovered taking pictures of the rally there and was surrounded by angry students. The November 1st edition of the Californian tells us that Provost Moore “approved” the formation of “Vigilante Committees” by athletes “to purge radicalism.”

On November 2nd student speakers at a strike rally at the UC at Berkeley were pelted with tomatoes and eggs thrown by “vigilantes. ” Dean Deutsch (U. C. B.) said of the pelting, after “regretting” it, “What happened today should at least make absolutely clear that upon the campus here at Berkeley the students have little sympathy with efforts of this kind to disrupt the work of the University. ”

The President of the Associated Students gave reassurances of support for “the people of the State of California, the State Legislature and the Governor of the State” and affirmed that “these few students are not representative of the student body,... I ask all students to show their loyalty to the finer things of the University by absolutely refusing to pay any attention to these demonstrations as curiosity seekers” (Believe in reincarnation?) (Sorry to have neglected this “personage” in our introduction.)

“Vigilantes” started a riot at San Mateo Junior College on November 6th when students from U.C.B. spoke at a rally there for the students expelled at UCLA. The Daily Cal. quoted a football player at UCB as stating that the administration had strongly “implied” to the football team that mass suspensions would take place and the football schedule disrupted if the strike succeeded.

Various free speech and reinstatement organizations were formed on the Cal. Campus. On November 12th, Robert G. Sproul, President of UCLA reinstated four of the five students, stating that two weeks suspension had been sufficient punishment for their “insubordination” and that he had found “no evidence convincing to me that the suspended students either directly or indirectly gave approval to the work of the assist the National Student League to destroy the University. ”

An editorial in the November 15th issue of the Daily Cal. praised Sproul for reinstating the four students, felt his actions had been just, and saw no reason to protest the continued expulsion of the fifth student.

Upton Sinclair was running for the governorship of California at the time of the expulsions with his program to “End Poverty in California.” He claimed that the expulsions had been carried out to red-bait his campaign. This parallels the real reason for the current attempt to crush student free speech, the attempted destruction of those civil rights struggles that had to a large extent depended on the Cal. students. We feel the reader can draw the other parallels without our assistance.

The Free Speech Movement

What follows is little more than a chronology of the events of the student Free Speech Movement (FSM) at the University of California (Berkeley) last fall. It makes no attempt to explore the dialectics of this new student movement nor to lay bare all the forces at work in those events, students, faculty, administration, the press, the general public, politicians, labor, the Regents, etc. After this brief narrative history of the FSM, we will attempt to show some of its “how’s” and “why’s”, the reasons for its existence, and to explore some of the broader implications of the FSM.

The Administration Makes Its Move

At the beginning of the fall semester – September 14, 1964, to be exact – Katherine Towle, Dean of Students on the Berkeley Campus, announced by letter to off-campus organizations that the Bancroft-Telegraph main entrance to the University could no longer be used by students to set up tables to solicit funds for political action, to recruit members for political organizations, to meet at the University for the purpose of “mounting political and social action” to take place off-campus. All such activities had been traditionally permitted in the area and it was considered to be under city jurisdiction. In response to this letter a “United Front” composed of political organizations from “Left” to “Right” (Students for Goldwater to the Young Socialist Alliance) met with Dean Towle to negotiate the removal of those restrictions. Silly distinctions between “informing” and “advocating” were made by the Dean, but the new rules remained. Political organizations defied the ban by setting up tables at Sather Gate advocating political positions. On September 28th, the Chancellor, while presenting athletic awards, was picketed by 1,000 students (300 students had staged a vigil in front of Sproul Hall, the administration building, on the night of Sept. 23-24). The Chancellor changed the new rules (i. e. restrictions) to allow campaign literature advocating “yes” and “no” positions on voting measures in the up-coming election. (After all it had been pointed out that the University was advocating votes for a proposition in its interest which made its political “neutrality” look absurd.) At the same time four organizations, SNCC, Slate, DuBois Club and Students for a Democratic Society, were warned about their continuing violation of regulations.

The Frame

On September 30th, five individuals were cited for violating University rules while manning tables at Sather Gate. Over 400 students signed a statement of equal complicity for violating University rules. Indeed, they all showed up at the Dean’s office for disciplinary action. At this time it appeared to observers that the administrative bureaucracy and even administration at the Dean level were unable to cope with such student action. The students left Sproul Hall at 3:00 a.m. the next morning when Chancellor Strong announced the indefinite suspension of eight students (a penalty not provided for by University regulations.) A series of such arbitrary actions was to weld the FSM into a movement which had the sympathies of up to 50% of the students at various times. One aspect of the administrative action was the miscalculation that by punishing leaders, the “led” would cease to “defy authority. ” However, the FSM was never in short supply of capable leadership.

The Siege

October 1st: Tables were manned in front of the administration building. A recent Cal. graduate, Jack Weinberg, sitting at the CORE table, was told he would be arrested if he didn’t leave. He refused and was arrested. Students sat down in front of the police car and kept it on campus for 32 hours (with Weinberg in it), using it as a speaking platform. That night several hundred “clean-cut” young Americans, future corporate and community leaders, i.e. fraternity boys, showed up with the intent of provoking violence. They threw eggs at speakers, as well as lighted cigarettes at the demonstrators, and even shouted down their own speaker who got up to give his point of view. These “responsible students” were very dismayed that the demonstrators were defying police authority and damaging property, i.e., the police car. It took the pleas of a Catholic chaplain to persuade the fraternity men not to engage in violence. (Of course, the activities of the fraternities, such as panty raids, initiations that have resulted in physical harm, etc., are not viewed with any great alarm by authorities and many of their activities on campus have the approval of the administration. Good clean fun, you know. ) The cops did nothing to prevent the violence. In fact, they were preparing to engage in some themselves. Hundreds of cops were, at the request of Kerr, waiting outside the campus to forcibly disperse the 1,000 demonstrators. The next day, Saturday, was Parent’s Day at the University – the University has its image. At the last moment an agreement was reached between Kerr and the students consisting of the following points: (1) that the demonstrations would stop; (2) that a committee of students, administration, and faculty, would be set up to study political behavior on campus and make recommendations to the administration; (3) that Weinberg would be booked and released on his own recognizance, but that the University would not press charges; (4) that the duration of student suspensions would be submitted in one week to the Student Conduct Committee of the Academic Senate; (5) that student organisations could continue political activity under existing rules; and (6) that Kerr would deed the Bancroft-Telegraph area to the City or to the student government (ASUC).

The United Front – And a Stall

On October 3-4 the United Front became the Free Speech Movement and eventually was expanded to include religious and other off-campus organizations, Republicans and Democrats, and independent students. (Some conservatives who could not on principle violate laws and regulations eventually disassociated themselves with FSM.) The administration continued on its arbitrary, unrealistic course. Chancellor Strong appointed (Oct, 5) 10 of the 12 members to the Campus Committee on Political Activity (CCPA) without waiting for student and faculty recommendations and went on to set up the Faculty Committee on Student Conduct which he appointed – it was not an Academic Senate committee. The FSM denounced those arbitrary actions and threatened to end the moratorium on demonstrations if the administration., did not adhere to the spirit of the “October 2nd Agreement. ” In the face of this, Kerr agreed to turn the suspended students’ cases over to the Academic Senate Committee (the Heyman Committee) and reconstitute the CCPA with 18 members, 4 from the FSM. The administration block of the CCPA held that the University had the right to discipline students who advocated on-campus action that directly resulted in illegal acts off campus. The students held that in the area of First Amendment rights and civil liberties, university community members were only subject to the civil authorities. It was becoming apparent to students that the CCPA was a stalling committee, that would not provide redress of student grievances. Such committees, it may be noted, are a common phenomena at all levels of government in the U. S.: when people have grievances the powers-that-be set up a committee to “study” them – no doubt in hopes that the immediacy of the issue will die down and things will return to “normal.” In fact, a number of observers have noted a decline of student interest in the FSM during this period.

The Battle Rejoined

On November 9th the students set up tables again and in the following days when graduate students manned the tables the administration at first chose to ignore these violations, but later 70 students were cited for violations. On Nov. 12 the Heyman Committee criticized the University’s handling of the 8 suspended students, and recommended the reinstatement of 6 of the students with their records cleared and the other two (Savio and Goldberg) to receive a 6-week suspension with censure. The Chancellor did not act immediately on the recommendation.

The Regents met on Nov. 20th, 3,000 students holding a silent vigil during this meeting. Student representatives were not allowed to speak at the Regent’s meeting. New regulations were decided upon: solicitation of funds and members was to be allowed, but not the advocacy of “illegal action.” The Regents, ignoring the recommendations of the Heyman Committee, reinstated the 8 suspended students, 6 with censure and 2 on probation. In reaction to this students expressed their anger by sitting-in in Sproul Hall for 3 hours on Nov. 23. The FSM was split at this time on what to do next. In fact, there had been differences on tactics between “moderates” and “militants” throughout the FSM’s existence. The “militants” saw each administration move as an attempt to avoid the issue, free speech, and as proof that it did not want better rules. The “moderates” in contrast, saw administration moves as “mistakes”, trusting the basic integrity of the administration and seeing these mistakes as a result of the complexities of the situation. But as a number of graduate students in political science have pointed out:

“The important thing to keep in mind about the dynamics of decision-making within the FSM is the crucial role played by administrative decisions in reinforcing one or the other camp. Administration responses tended systematically to undercut the position of the “moderates” who presumed negotiations and administration good will in their calculations. The disciplinary buckshot fired at the FSM outraged moderates and militants alike. Therefore, during crises there tended to be consensus on tactics.” (The Berkeley Free Speech Controversy (Preliminary Report), Dec. 13, 1964.)

Again, the next and decisive administration action was to prove the “militants” were right. Over the Thanksgiving vacation letters from Chancellor Strong informing Art Goldberg and Mario Savio that disciplinary action was being instituted against them for actions allegedly committed Oct. 1 and 2 (leading a demonstration around the police car) were received. On December 1 the FSM demanded the University drop its charges, refrain from disciplining students and organizations, and revise political conduct rules so as not to interfere with the content of speech. If it did not do so, the FSM would take direct action in 24 hours.

The Gears Clog in Sproul Hall

On Wednesday, December 2, after consistent refusal by the Administration to meet the student leaders, Mario Savio, speaking to a huge rally in front of Sproul Hall, 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 on 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.”

800-1,000 students followed him into Sproul Hall occupying all 4 floors. At 3:00 a.m. they were informed by Chancellor Strong that unless they dispersed they would be arrested.

Governor Brown to the Rescue – Or Liberalism in Action

The story of the removal of the demonstrators by 635 police from Berkeley, Oakland and Alameda County, and the California Highway Patrol, in storm-trooper array, steel helmets, nightsticks, leather jackets (minus badges to prevent identification), boots, etc., requires special attention. Professors were denied entrance to the building, the windows on the stairwells were covered with newspapers so that reporters couldn’t see the manner in which students were being dragged down the stairs to the basement. Reporters heard the sounds of the students’ bodies and heads bouncing against the marble stairs. At one point, in an attempt to get a microphone away from students, highway patrolmen formed a flying wedge and charged into demonstrators, freely using nightsticks. The cops formed a gauntlet and threw students down the stairs from the second to the first floor. Constitutional rights of counsel, telephone calls, etc, were violated (150 of those arrested are suing authorities for $4.5 million for these acts). As Gene Marine wrote in The Nation (Dec. 21, 1964):

“On Thursday afternoon I watched the end of The Day of the Cops. There was no civilian authority anywhere on the campus... The University of California was completely in the hands of the police....”

One form of State authority had failed to contain the students; so thus, its ultimate weapon was brought in to do the job. Gov. Brown, who ordered in the cops to stop the state of “anarchy” said the University now was in “good lands” and the “rule of law” was restored.

At this time the faculty raised $1,000 to bail students out of jail and organized car pools to pick them up as they were released.

Meanwhile the FSM called a general strike which was supported by graduate students, teaching assistants, and undergraduates. Contrary to press reports that the strike was a flop, it has been estimated that it was 50% effective. Anyone on the campus those days could see that. All entrances to the University and major academic buildings were picketed.

Over the weekend of Dec. 5-6, department chairmen formed a committee to fill the vacuum of campus authority. Their proposals gained the assent of President Kerr and some of the Regents and were presented to 15,000 students at an “extraordinary convocation” at the Hearst Greek Theater. (It was tragedy for some; a comedy for others.) The aim of these proposals was to stop the strike, restore “orderly and lawful procedures in the settlement of issues” and to restore the educational function of the University. The Department Chairmen considered the civil disobedience “unwarranted” as obstructing “rational and fair consideration of the grievances brought forth by the students.” Restrictions on advocacy were not lifted. The only concession made was that the University would not discipline the students who participated in the December 2-3 sit-in. Mario Savio’s request to speak at the meeting was denied. The ultimate irony was yet to come: after all this talk about settling differences by rational discussion, when Savio attempted to announce an FSM rally after Kerr had spoken, he was dragged by the throat from the microphone by several policemen. The anger of the tense crowd forced the police to release Savio to avoid almost certain violence. It was at this moment that the true nature of the University was revealed to those who were not already aware of it.

The strike was called off Monday afternoon in anticipation of the meeting of the Academic Senate, the faculty. Up until the takeover of the campus by the police on Dec. 3-4, the faculty had played the role of “mediator”, for those who supported the FSM in principle were critical of FSM’s tactics and statements. At any rate, the support of those faculty members sympathetic to FSM remained latent, consisting of behind-the-scenes activity. The ghost of McCarthy still haunted the campus. However, several weeks previous to the arrest 200 liberal faculty members had been working on proposals to present to the Academic Senate on Wednesday, Dec. 8th. They consisted of the following points: (1) That the University discipline no member or organization of the University community for activities prior to December 8, (2) That the “time, place and manner of conducting political activity on the campus shall be subject to reasonable regulation to prevent interference with the normal function of the university” and present regulations were to remain in effect pending a future report of the Academic Freedom Committee concerning “minimal regulations necessary.” (3) “That the content of speech or advocacy shall not be restricted by the university. Off-campus student political activities shall not be subject to University regulations.” (For on-campus activities only number 2 is applicable) (4) “That future disciplinary measures in the area of political activity shall be determined by a committee appointed by and responsible to Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate. ” (5) “That the Division pledge unremitting effort to secure the adoption of the following policies...”

This motion passed without amendment 824-115. The FSM saw this vote as a victory for the whole University. It was substantially what the FSM demands had been for most of the semester. Now all that was necessary was the approval of the Regents – quite a bit. When the Regents met, they refused to accept the proposals; they stated that the faculty had no jurisdiction over matters concerning student political behavior, that the authority of the Regents in disciplinary matters was “not subject to negotiation”, that the regulations holding student advocates responsible for actions held off-campus were still in effect, and that another committee would be set up. The FSM denounced the Regents’ action as “horrendous.”

That brings events up to the end of the year. Space doesn’t permit a detailed narrative of what has happened on the Berkeley campus in the past 3 months. The following is a brief description of these events.

The 800 students who were arrested December 3-4 are now in court. All indications are that in many respects this trial will look like a repeat performance of those following the civil rights sit-ins of last year. The trial and its outcome are the means that the powers-that-be have of discouraging students from further demonstrations. But the students will also learn the reality behind the “important” judicial process. Mario Savio was cited for contempt when he referred to the “shameless hypocrisy” of the court when entering his plea.

Meanwhile, the December 8th resolutions have been in effect although incidents in the last several weeks make it questionable for how long this will be the case. Students have been exercising their rights; one can see that one of the most important effects of the FSM is the increased interest on the part of students in political and educational issues. This increasing political awareness and sophistication has occurred among many students who were not previously directly involved in the civil rights movements or other political action and extends beyond more than one issue.

Other important by-products of the FSM were the election of representatives of Slate, an off-campus left-liberal student political party, to the student government (ASUC) and the readmission to the ASUC by popular election of the graduate students who had been disenfranchised several years ago by administrative fiat. The Regents have invalidated the results of this election.

The recent “obscenity” issue has made clear the tenuous nature of the student victory last semester and threatens to bring on another crisis. Several weeks ago a non-student was arrested on the campus for displaying a sign with the four-letter word for copulation. Some students held rallies to protest the arrest and used “the word” during the course of these rallies, contending that the question of free speech was involved. Some were arrested. The FSM, in the beginning, disassociated itself from the “filthy speech movement”, contending that students had more important issues to work on, e.g., Vietnam, the civil rights movement in Oakland, etc. President Kerr and Acting Chancellor Myerson theoretically resigned allegedly because students had turned freedom into “license”, obscene words were unbecoming to a “community of scholars”. The real reasons behind Kerr’s resignation were probably the following: (1) Some Regents wanted to take off the velvet glove in dealing with students and Kerr saw that this couldn’t be done without student resistance (he had a liberal image to maintain although it got pretty tarnished last semester) and/or (2) Kerr was making a power play for there were differences on how to discipline students between Kerr and some Regents. The faculty, political figures, and some students called on Kerr (and Myerson) to withdraw their resignations, which they did. Kerr no doubt feels his position is stronger now than it has been for some time. What is apparently happening now is that the “obscenity” issue is being used to put the students in their place. The Chancellor recently banned the sale of a political magazine called Spider because it contained the objectionable word. Spider is now being sold in defiance of the ban which concerns the appropriate “time, place and manner” of its sale. Thus in theory the administration is claiming not to regulate the “content” of Spider but in practice this is precisely what it is doing.

The question is, therefore, what will be the future of free speech and political activity at Berkeley? Several alternatives suggest themselves; (1) There have been continuing threats from the State legislature that if the Berkeley administration cannot maintain “law and order” on campus that the legislature will take over the campus and get rid of the “beatniks” and “extremists”. (Mass civil disobedience by students, against administration restrictions on political activity might result in such a take-over.) (2) The Regents are preparing to decide on rules for student political conduct, including such proposals as one which would dismiss any student “disrupting” University operations by staging a sit-in. However, more likely than a blanket set of new rules is the possibility of the Regents choosing to deal with violations of existing rules on a one-by-one basis thus regain control by attrition.

Whether a confrontation between students and the administrations will occur over the “obscenity” issue or whether a more subtle attempt will be made to revoke student freedoms won in the struggle last semester remains to be seen. If students are alert to these dangers and are willing to fight for their rights – recognising their strengths and their weaknesses – there is hope that student political activity will continue to be a reality at Berkeley.

The Politics Behind the FSM Movement

The reason for the restrictions placed upon the Bancroft-Telegraph area was, as Dean Towle admitted, complaints about the use of the University to recruit students for civil rights activity, e.g., the massive sit-ins at the Sheraton Place Hotel protesting discriminatory hiring practices). Much of the pressure seemed to be coming from ex-Senator William Knowland, whose Oakland Tribune was being picketed for its hiring practices. Many Cal. students participated in this picketing. The FSM attributed the pressures from Knowland as the major cause for this restriction of student political activity. We should not dismiss the pressure from the leadership of the “liberal Democrats” who have just as much interest in suppressing civil rights movements, advocating Civil Rights in the South and tokenism in the North.

U.S. imperialism is engaged all over the globe in an attempt to stop the movements of national liberation. This counter-revolutionary foreign policy is being applied in Latin America, the Congo and Vietnam, where the U. S„ government is waging a war against the people of that country. Student demonstrations and student involvement in the peace movement, taking an anti-imperialist stand, would run right up against LBJ’s “politics of consensus”, i.e. the policy of U.S. imperialism.

The Regents

Who are the 24 men who “devote their time” to the running of a vast educational institution, the University of California? The following are some of the Regents and their corporate connections.

Edward Carter, Chairman of the Board of Regents: President of Broadway-Hale, “the largest department store chain in the West”; a director of Emporium, Capwell, Northrop Corp. (military aircraft); Pacific Mutual Life Insurance Corp,; Western Bancorporation; United California Bank; Pacific Telephone and Telegraph. Southern California Edison Co.; and a trustee of the Irvine Foundation which owns 51% of the Irvine Ranch which owns 20% of Orange County (Calif.).

Dorothy Chandler, Vice-President and Director of the Time-Mirror Co. which not only publishes the Los Angeles Times but own a majority or complete interest in the following companies: Publishers Papers; New American Library of World Literature (publishes “Signet” and “Mentor” paperbacks); H. M. Gousha (road maps); Cardoza Bookbinding (largest in the West); the Sun Co. (publishes San Bernadino Sun-Telegram); World Publishing Co.; Atherton Real Estate; Tejon Ranch Co.; and a husband, Norman Chandler, whose corporate connections are every bit as impressive as hers.

Donald. McLaughlin, has corporate connections with Homestake Mining Co,, the nation’s largest gold producers; United Nuclear Corp.; international Nickel Co. (Canada): 3 other mining companies; Western Airlines; and Wells Fargo Bank.

Catherine Hearst: Guess.

Samuel Mosher: Chairman of Signal Oil and Gas, owning 53% of its voting stock; has partial ownership of American Independent Oil, American President Lines, and totally owns Garrett Corp, (aerospace); he is also the Chairman of Flying Tigers (cargo).

Phillip Boyd: Director of the Security First National Bank, Director of a Riverside bank and President of a real estate concern, Deep Canyon Properties.

William Roth: Director of Matson Navigation; Crown Zellerbach, largest paper producer in the U.S.; P.I.E., trucking; and a financing company.

Norton Simon: President of Hunt Foods, one of the companies that dominates the food-processing industry of California; a director of the following corporations: McCall (publishing), Northern Pacific Railway, and Wheeling Steel.

This is only a partial list of the “business regents.” In the words of the authors of the excellent pamphlet from which most of this information was obtained, we are not dealing with “mere businessmen but with Business.” (The Regents, Copyright 1965 by Marvin Garson.) The rest of the Regents consist of politicians, such as Gov. Brown; Jesse Unruh, Speaker of the Assembly; Max Rafferty, State Superintendent of Education and an ultra-right spokesman, etc.; President Kerr; several lawyers whose firm’s serve business; and one trade unionist, Cornelius Haggerty, President of the conservative Building and Trade Department, AFL-CIO. In the words of the authors of The Regents:

“Taken as a group, the Regents are representative of only one thing – corporate wealth. As major employers and as Regents of the University, they control more than money, they make money through the control of other men. They direct the productive energies of hundreds of thousands of human beings and set the limits to their opportunities for creative and satisfying achievements through work and study.”

The reader might wonder at the Regents’ qualifications to run one of the nation’s leading universities. A graduate student at the University put it very well:

“The members of the Board (of Regents) are appointed by the Governor of the State for 15-year terms. They need not have any educational background or interest. They need not know how to spell, although having accumulated vast-sums of money, it is reasonable to suppose they can count.” (Daily Californian)

Once the composition of the Board of Regents is recognized it becomes evident why the maids at the dormitories have poor working conditions and are intimidated for union activities; why the University has been involved in disputes with trade unions for contracting work involving non-union labor; why the administration has suppressed reports critical of the bracero program on two occasions; why a report of University biologists critical of a PG&E plan to put in a nuclear reactor at Bodega Head was not made public; why a professor who was recommended for tenure was denied it by Chancellor Strong because he refused to answer the Chancellor’s questions, the same as those he had refused to answer before HUAC; why the University is so involved in research for the military-industrial complex; etc., etc., etc. Thus, the reader can see by and for whom the University is run.

The Nature of the Modern University

Traditionally, education has always been reserved for the ruling classes. Hence we tend to associate education during certain periods of history with social classes, such as the cultured aristocracy in France during the 18th century or the educated landed gentry and entrepreneur capitalists in Russia and Germany during the 19th century. In these stages of history, education was not only a luxury, but served the function of maintaining the influence and political power of these groups.

In the 20th century, however, we find the same basis for education taking new forms. The rise and development of industrialism has been associated with the increasing growth of technology which in turn has created a whole new section of the work force. This has called into existence great numbers of technologists, engineers, managerial personnel as well as vast armies of trained specialists and bureaucrats. Almost all of these categories demand training, and due to the fierce competition in this area of the work force a college education is needed for even the most trivial positions. Since education in a capitalist society goes to those who are most financially and culturally able to acquire it, the majority of these people have come from the ranks of the bourgeoisie – again at the expense of the working class. But the main feature of this increase in higher education is that while it may no longer always be education of, for, and by the ruling class, it still definitely remains education for and by the ruling class.

Thus we find the ever-increasing influence of industry, government, and its watchdog, the military, in the operation of the leading colleges and universities. This is done by outright appropriations for “research” given to universities and colleges by government and industry which result in such projects as the Lawrence Radiation Lab and the Giannini Foundation at the University of California to name but a few. These more overt intrusions into the University community rarely attempt to justify their existence in terms of the education of students. More subtle are the research grants going to individual department and professors which dominate their time and interest and are in many cases used to the further disadvantage of the public.

Where do the students fit in if the majority of the expenditures of the larger colleges and universities go not to education but for the interests of government and industry? The answer is simple: if the universities are the factories and proving grounds of government and industry the students are only one part of the operation – they are the raw materials into which are shaped the automatons of monopoly capitalism. Hence there can be no illusions concerning education under monopoly capitalism; it Is definitely a “class” education in the sense of being solely for the purpose of the ruling class and it also attempts to imbue the students with the ruling class or capitalist ideology though which they will become the servants of this class. This is also manifested in the content of education. While it is claimed that education is objective, it is “objective” only in a certain sense, i.e. certain narrow limits. For example, it is quite common to find Marx discussed in many courses, but what is not so likely is to find a Marxist professor. Obviously it is not to the advantage of the powers-that-be to hire radical professors – it is easier to use blacklists and loyalty oaths. Those who teach or desire to teach know what is “safe” and what is not. But to ask for radical professors is undoubtedly asking too much in the chief monopoly capitalist society; what is more important is that this same pattern exists in criticism of the existing social order. It is one thing to talk of social problems and discuss measures such as “the war on poverty”, “Medicare” or “increased civil rights for the Negro people”, but to question the system which brings these problems into existence and which thrives on them is out of the question, for that would be to transgress the boundaries as to what is “safe” and what is not. As a result, criticism becomes institutionalized criticism, and while the prevailing myth is ”that education is for the betterment of society (which is stated ad nauseam at commencement exercises, in political speeches, etc.) it actually works to maintain the status-quo. What should be noted is that the “society” to which these pronouncements refer is not the society that most people imagine when they think about society, i.e., the people residing within certain political boundaries, but society in the sense of business, private property, industry, etc. Hence, the backbone of education, the teaching “profession”, becomes the servant of the military-industrial complex, just as much as the managerial personnel in a large field of industry.

The Question of Alienation

Much of the recent comment concerning growing student unrest has tended to account for it in terms of student frustration and alienation due to the bureaucratic aspect of modern education. While we believe that alienation plays a role in student unrest, to say that it is the cause without attempting to explain it is to obscure the real issues and to overlook the underlying factors which produce this alienation.

Early in the UC dispute spokesmen for the FSM voiced their disapproval of the arbitrary and autocratic manner in which the University was run and spoke of the similarities between university and factory. This simile was first projected by Clark Kerr (President of the University of California campuses and chief theoretician for the modern university system). He states:

“The university and segments of industry are becoming more and more alike. As the university becomes tied into the world of work, the professor – at least in the natural sciences and some of the social sciences – takes on the characteristics of an entrepreneur... The two worlds are merging physically and psychologically.”

This of course is stating nothing new; it is obvious to all who examine the nature of education in a capitalist system that its function is to serve capital, and it is only to be expected that as capitalism increases its control over society, it will correspondingly increase its control over education. In this sense the modern university becomes a microcosm of the industrial order which it serves: its chief product, knowledge, is as alienated from the student in most cases as is the commodity produced by the worker in a capitalist society. For just as the worker has no control over that which he creates, so too in the case of the student, whose commodity (i.e. knowledge) is not meant to enrich his life but is created for the purpose of serving an industrial order which does not operate in the interest of its servants. Similarly, just as the worker becomes increasingly alienated from the means of production as the industrial order becomes more complex and renders the worker a mere cog in the wheels of industry, the student, due to the increasing degree of specialization in all fields of education, loses track of the wider aspects of intellectual endeavor and receives an education totally lacking any degree of social significance. Finally, just as the alienated labor of the worker under capitalism separates him from his fellow man, the alienated effort of the student in the hectic world of the “knowledge factory” separates the student from his counterparts and largely rules out any opportunity for meaningful behavior. Thus the alienation experienced by the student cannot be separated from the alienation produced by capitalist society of which it is a part.

With all its fine slogans concerning the individual, monopoly capitalism is intent on creating what might be termed the “fractional man” or one who will think and act within certain well-defined limits – limits dictated by the system. Education plays a large role in this process as has been mentioned above, for as the contradictions in monopoly capitalism become more obvious it is essential to its rulers that internal opposition be minimized. If carried to its logical conclusion by the education process, the end result would be the creation of an “educated odiot.” In this respect students present a potential danger to this process, for while the system demands their education in order to replenish its supply of defenders and servants, there is always the danger that students might not accept their fractional role and use their knowledge to the detriment of the system. This fact is readily acknowledged by President Kerr in his book The Uses of the University. He states:

“The intellectuals (including the university students) are a particularly volatile element... capable of extreme reactions to objective situations... Consequently, it is important who best attracts or captures the intellectuals and who uses them most effectively, for they may be a tool as well as a source of danger.”

In recent decades the impersonal, bureaucratic university has been able to turn out in vast numbers its fractional products, ready to be absorbed by the impersonal, bureaucratic industry for which they are groomed. But as has been shown, this very process has contributed to the growing degree of student political involvement and it is hoped that in the future, as students become more politically advanced, they will join forces with the working class and become a truly positive force in our society.

Lessons Learned by the Students from the FSM

One of the main features of the University of California demonstrations is that they pointed out to all who chose to look, the true nature of the State. Such fine concepts as freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, etc. can be stated ad nauseum in the classroom, but they lose much of their validity when students undergo police brutality and arrest for simply exercizing these “freedoms” on campus. Let us consider the primary demands of the FSM; they were as follows:

1. Freedom to advocate political action on campus.
2. Freedom to solicit funds for political action on campus.
3. Freedom to recruit members for political organizations.

While these would certainly be regarded as radical demands in U. S.-supported Spain or Vietnam, they are guaranteed to Americans under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, What is significant about these demands is that with the present desperate state of U. S. capitalism, both at home and abroad, even these demands have radical implications. The masters of U. S. capitalism are too committed to their domestic patterns of racism and their fascist policies in areas such as Vietnam and the Congo to allow criticism on the campus to disturb the status quo.

Students learned from first-hand experience that what are stated as Constitutional rights in the U. S. are quickly cast aside when their practice threatens to impinge upon the license of vested interests whether they control national, state or local politics.

Another feature of the demonstrations is that students have learned that they can wield a great deal of power on campus if they stick together. As this is being written the economic and political pressures of the state are almost unanimously against the students and for clamping the lid on political activity on the Berkeley campus. But at the same time, those close to the situation realize that to do so would only produce renewed protest by the students.

Another positive feature brought about by the FSM is the intensification of political activity among students. To anyone familiar with the Berkeley campus, the change which has taken place in the past few months is obvious. At this moment it would seem that the lessons learned by the Berkeley students have been a stimulus to students in other areas, at least to some extent, if the recent events on Eastern and Midwestern campuses are any indication. But for all their effort and struggle, the battle is far from being won; the students have learned much and have come a long way, but the road is long and the traveling is far from easy.

The Student as a Revolutionary – Potential and Liabilities

We have demonstrated that students have a great revolutionary potential. At the same time they have some very basic limitations. We shall examine both the potential and limitations.

Students are probably more easy to organize politically than any other group. This is true whether that organization is to confront a single issue temporarily or several or all issues permanently. Both the intellectual curiosity and idealism of students are the basis for their revolutionary potential.

Intellectual Curiosity

One of the reasons for this relative ease of political organization is that the student is located in an environment that is supposed to stimulate ideas and a search for objective truth. Where is the college that has not pictured itself as providing limitless encouragement and resources for objective scholastic investigation? The student’s intellectual curiosity, however, must not seek beyond the limits set by capitalist ideology. And since that ideology is decadent and retrogressive, its limits are severe indeed. The findings of such scholarship are usually either meaningless or such that might be used to patch up the system; the resources for it come from either monopoly capital or its government.

And yet the honest student cannot fail to see at least some of the contradictions in the society and in the world that give the lie to what he is taught.

It must be remembered that the rationale for capitalist society as is given the student is based on bourgeois democratic ideals. The blatant aggressions of U.S. imperialism against the Negro people, Vietnamese, Congolese, etc., etc., contradict the democratic bourgeois ideals that came about in another era when capitalism was progressive. The reasons for these contradictions cannot, of course, be found in the ideology of capitalism. Most students in the U.S. have not yet found how or where to look for answers to those contradictions, and, in fact, most are not even looking. But a significant number is aware of the contradictions in and the rottenness of the system. And this gives them revolutionary potential.

Awareness by the student that objective truth cannot be attained within the limits of the bourgeois ideology is not enough to attain it. It is only through the ideology of the working class – Marxism-Leninism – that the myths and superstitions of an exploiting society can be removed so that the truth may be known. This is because the working class is the first in history which has as its task not only its own emancipation, but the emancipation of all mankind from exploitation, oppression and war; and falsehood and illusion can only hinder it in its task. It has no illusions about its condition. It needs no mythology and superstition to justify things as they are. Some readers will say that the workers in our country – and elsewhere – have accepted the mythology of the capitalist system. But it is historical necessity, the inexorable destiny of the working class to overcome this mythology by liberating society from the class forces that have created it.


The student’s idealism is usually based on the belief that he or she can serve the people with the knowledge and training received in the schools. It is also based on the recognition of the necessity of change in the society if the needs of the people are to be met.

The purpose of the system of higher education in a capitalist society is to give the student that training which will enable him or her to become a participant in a system which exploits the great majority of the people. That purpose is antithetical to any real idealism. One of the important functions of the system of higher education is to confuse idealism with serving a system of exploitation, thus providing the rationale for such service. Now the fact that the overwhelming majority of those attending universities and colleges do not come from those families that are most exploited; that they are, in fact, the beneficiaries of class privilege, makes that particular function a relatively successful one. We shall discuss the class origins of the college student to a greater extent later on. It is sufficient to say at this point that it is not difficult to accept a rationalization for one’s class. Thus the doctor with the usual multi-thousand dollar practice among the rich may well believe he is “serving humanity”; as may the social worker, whose main function, is to investigate the poor; as may the Peace Corp volunteer (for imperialism); as may the thousands upon thousands of bright young graduates who administer U. S. imperialism abroad. Such examples are endless. Nevertheless, the system has not succeeded in destroying the genuine idealism of many students.

Physical Accessibility

While idealism and intellectual curiosity are the basis for the student’s revolutionary potential much of the relative ease with which he may be organized politically comes from what may be called physical accessibility. The student is most likely going to be attending the same institution for at least four years. Even within the course of a semester, the student establishes a pattern of classes and breaks and the resultant contact with other students. A student can, if he wants, come in contact with many more people in the course of a day than can the average factory worker at his job; similarly, he has more opportunity to listen and discuss than do most workers.

Rallies and announcements are probably more easily arranged and more often successful on a campus than anywhere else. There is usually a potentially large audience within a relatively closed or limited area that is free to stop, listen and/or participate, and that has the curiosity and interest to do so.

The student’s “outside life” is often a continuation of that “on campus”. Thus it is relatively easy to attract the student to off-campus political activity once he has been contacted on the campus.

Relatively Little to Lose

Another factor that gives the student revolutionary potential is his relative lack of property, jobs and reputation. This makes it more difficult for the ruling class to retaliate against the student’s actions by attacking any of the above-mentioned “assets”. At the same time, precisely because he has less to lose, the student is not so reluctant to undertake actions that challenge the ruling class than he otherwise might be. Of course this factor usually endures only as long as the student is a student. Of course students are constantly reminded that their future employers may very well check on or be told of past activities; that certain activities might endanger future career and reputation. Also, it is not unknown for the FBI to visit the parents of politically active students and threaten their reputation.

Technical Assets

The college student has an opportunity to:

(1) Organize his or her thinking in a disciplined and. orderly way;
(2) Gain technical knowledge that would be difficult, if not impossible, to learn by oneself;
(3) Learn to express himself or herself well, orally and in writing;
(4) Gain access to sources of information.

There can be no question that such technical assets provided by the college education can be of utmost importance to the revolutionary. They do not, of course, make a revolutionary.


It is as important for the reader to be aware of the limitations on student revolutionary potential as it is to be aware of the potentials themselves. Some of those limitations are:

1. The class origins of most students. As we have already pointed out, most students come from the bourgeoisie; most have the attitudes of that class, and will serve it upon graduation,
2. The ideological content of the college education which reinforces the student’s class attitudes, and expose him to every concept which defends the status quo, which justifies capitalism and its effects, and which perpetuates its mythology while obscuring truth,
3. The privileged status of the student. The student knows that the purpose of his or her education is the preparation for an advantageous position in the society, (That includes advantageous marriages, social contacts and “friends”). Often the student’s “rights” are privileges to which he believes he is entitled as part of an elite: “The draft deferment is a privilege granted an elite; the student knows it – as does the worker draftee.
4. Intellectual and class arrogance. The student is usually imbued with the contempt which capitalist ideology holds for those who work for a living. The intellectual arrogance of even those students who are aware of the need for revolutionary change is one of the most serious obstacles that separates the student from the makers of change – the working class.
5. The promise (now more and more unfulfilled) of the privileged position after graduation.

Why change a system that offers a privileged position? But more important, once that position is attained, the student usually becomes part of and a defender of the system. The desire to change the society, which he or she may have had, disappears.

The “Student Class”

Students do not belong to any one class. The class they do belong to is determined by their social relationships. There is a recent concept that students form a radical grouping – a “class” – within themselves. This serves as one of many convenient ways to dismiss class struggle and the revolutionary role of the working class and its organizational and ideological methods. Actually, the concept of the “student class” is a continuation of the doctrine that proclaims intellectuals an elite, above all classes, playing an independent and decisive role in history. Strangely enough, its proponents all seem to have been bourgeois intellectuals or students aspiring to same. We intend to discuss in our next issue the oft-repeated question – “But hasn’t it been the intellectuals that have made and lead revolutionary movements?” It is sufficient to state now: (1) The question should be stated “Under what historical circumstances do intellectuals become drawn into such movements, under what conditions are they capable of affecting the course of events, and what forces determine the part they play?” (2) There is no group above class and (3) Intellectuals and/or students have never made a revolution.

In China the struggle for independence from European, U.S. and Japanese imperialism and their puppets after 1927 was always under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party. Similarly, the struggles of the Chinese students were always under the guidance of that Party.

While the Cuban Revolution originally had the goal of an independent Cuba, but not necessarily for and by the working and peasant classes. Its leadership saw that for Cuba to gain real independence it must come under the dictatorship of those classes. Cuban students, for the most part, followed the leadership of the Revolution in its development to Marxism-Leninism.

As both the Chinese and Cuban Revolutions develop – and both are far from over – students are playing a great part in supplying the necessary skills and enthusiasm. The great preponderance of students in those countries now come, of course, from the working and peasant classes.

In the U. S. during the thirties there was a Marxist-Leninist Party that influenced and led many of the struggles of that period, including those of students. And although anti-Communism certainly existed, it was not the well-developed mythology that the ruling class was to push onto the American people after the Second World War. The end of that war saw a decline of Communist influence on many struggles, including those of the intellectuals and students whose political consciousness declined through a combination of fear and opportunism.

The Free Speech Movement is symptomatic of the resurgence of student idealism and activity. But it is also symptomatic of the lack of a meaningful revolutionary goal among those realizing the need for change, a goal that will be realized only with the advent of an American Marxist-Leninist Party.

Until there is a Marxist-Leninist Party in the U. S. that can give a meaningful revolutionary goal to those engaged in struggling against various aspects of the capitalist system and provide them with the ideological and organizational means to attain that goal, all engaged in such struggles will be extremely limited, as will those struggles themselves. The lack of a Marxist-Leninist Party is by far the most serious limitation to the development of student revolutionaries; in fact, only with its advent can there be truly revolutionary students. We are confident there will be such a party – and fairly soon.