It was clear from the outset that the “student revolution” violently ushered in at Berkeley in the mid-sixties would come to this. The left is evil, and they mean to destroy our way of life, our freedom and us.
Apparently the left have picked up on their Muslim supremacist partners’ calls for beheadings.
“Various pieces of campus property have been vandalized with death threats against BCR. The graffiti, which has been found in spaces like the Unit 1 Housing sign and a pole by Crossroads, includes messages such as “KILL BCR,” “BEHEAD THE B.C.R.’s” and “LYNCH the B.C.R.’s.” Recently, the group has had its contact list stolen and signs destroyed. Members of the BCR contact list have also been sent harassing emails by anonymous senders. (Daily Californian)
Vandal Calls for Beheading of Berkeley College Republicans
New Berkeley motto: where free speech was born and where it’s going to die.
By M. J. Randolph, April 18, 2017:
At the University of California at Berkeley, it’s common to see fliers, stickers, and advertisements for various political events and social gatherings. Over the past few months, however, stickers have started appearing around campus with a less-than-festive purpose: they’re calling for members of the college Republican group to be beheaded or lynched.
And the threat is not limited to mere stickers. Members of the club have been “pepper sprayed, sucker-punched and verbally and physically assaulted for voicing their opinions and beliefs,” according to one spokesperson for the group. Two months ago, when Milo Yiannopoulos spoke at their request, vandals came out and caused over $100,000 worth of damage. The group invited Ann Coulter to speak, so you can expect more fireworks.
It’s been a long time since the 1960s, hasn’t it? While UC Berkeley loves to call itself “the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement,” it’s now an unbearable monolithic community that can’t even tolerate dialogue on controversial topics. The L.A. Times agrees.
The cancellation… of a speech by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos at UC Berkeley was, according to a university spokesman, “not a proud night for this campus, the home of the free speech movement.”
That’s putting it mildly. Even if the cancellation was justified by concerns about public safety after an outbreak of violence and property destruction, the fact that Yiannopoulos was prevented from speaking to a willing audience of campus Republicans should make supporters of free speech shiver.
Ayn Rand wrote this at the time:
Ayn Rand The Objectivist Newsletter, 1965
reprinted in The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution, New York, Signet, 1971
The so-called student rebellion, which was started and keynoted at the University of California at Berkeley, has profound significance, but not of the kind that most commentators have ascribed to it. And the nature of the misrepresentations is part of its significance.
The events at Berkeley began, in the fall of 1964, ostensibly as a student protest against the University administrations order forbidding political activity — specifically, the recruiting, fund-raising and organizing of students for political action off-campus — on a certain strip of ground adjoining the campus, which was owned by the University. Claiming that their rights had been violated, a small group of rebels rallied thousands of students of all political views, including many conservatives, and assumed the title of the Free Speech Movement. The Movement staged sit-in protests in the administration building, and committed other acts of physical force, such as assaults on the police and the seizure of a police car for use as a rostrum.
The spirit, style and tactics of the rebellion are best illustrated by one particular incident. The University administration called a mass meeting, which was attended by eighteen thousand students and faculty members, to hear an address on the situation by the University President, Clark Kerr; it had been expressly announced that no student speakers would be allowed to address the meeting. Kerr attempted to end the rebellion by capitulating; he had promised to grant most of the rebels demands; it looked as if he had won the audience to his side. Whereupon, Mario Savio, the rebel leader, seized the microphone, in an attempt to take over the meeting, ignoring rules and the fact that the meeting had been adjourned. When he was — properly — dragged off the platform, the leaders of the F.S.M. admitted, openly and jubilantly, that they had almost lost their battle, but had saved it by provoking the administration to an act of violence (thus admitting that the victory of their publicly proclaimed goals was not the goal of their battle).
What followed was nationwide publicity, of a peculiar kind. It was a sudden and, seemingly, spontaneous out-pouring of articles, studies, surveys, revealing a strange unanimity of approach in several basic aspects: in ascribing to the F.S.M. the importance of a national movement, unwarranted by the facts — in blurring the facts by means of unintelligible generalities — in granting to the rebels the status of spokesmen for American youth, acclaiming their idealism and commitment to political action, hailing them as a symptom of the awakening of college students from political apathy. If ever a puff-job was done by a major part of the press, this was it.
In the meantime, what followed at Berkeley was a fierce, three-cornered struggle among the University administration, its Board of Regents and its faculty, a struggle so sketchily reported in the press that its exact nature remains fogbound. One an gather only that the Regents were, apparently, demanding a tough policy toward the rebels, that the majority of the faculty on the rebels side and that the administration was caught in the moderate middle of the road.
The struggle led to the permanent resignation of the Universitys Chancellor (as the rebels had demanded) — the temporary resignation, and later reinstatement, of President Kerr — and, ultimately, an almost complete capitulation to the F.S.M., with the administration granting most of the rebels demands. (These included the right to advocate illegal acts and the right to an unrestricted freedom of speech on campus.)
To the astonishment of the nave, this did not end the rebellion: the more demands were granted, the more were made. As the administration intensified its efforts to appease the F.S.M., the F.S.M. intensified its provocations. The unrestricted freedom of speech took the form of a Filthy Language movement, which consisted of students carrying placards with four-letter words, and broadcasting obscenities over the University loudspeakers (which Movement was dismissed with mild reproof by most of the press, as a mere adolescent prank).
This, apparently, was too much even for those who sympathized with the rebellion. The F.S.M. began to lose its following — and was, eventually, dissolved. Mario Savio quit the University, declaring that he could not keep up with the undemocratic procedures that the administration is following (italics mine) — and departed, reportedly to organize a nationwide revolutionary student movement.
This is a bare summary of the events as they were reported by the press. But some revealing information was provided by volunteers, outside the regular news channels, such as in the letters-to-the-editor columns.
An eloquent account was given in a letter to The New York Times (March 31, 1965) by Alexander Grendon, a biophysicist in the Donner Laboratory, University of California:
The F.S.M. has always applied coercion to insure victory. One-party democracy, as in the Communist countries or the lily-white portions of the South, corrects opponents of the party line by punishment. The punishment of the recalcitrant university administration (and more than 20,000 students who avoided participation in the conflict) was to bring the university to a grinding halt by physical force.
To capitulate to such corruption of democracy is to teach students that these methods are right. President Kerr capitulated repeatedly.
Kerr agreed the university would not control advocacy of illegal acts, an abstraction until illustrated by examples: In a university lecture hall, a self-proclaimed anarchist advises students how to cheat to escape military service; a nationally known Communist uses the university facilities to condemn our Government in vicious terms for its action in Vietnam, while funds to support the Viet-cong are illegally solicited; propaganda for the use of marijuana, with instructions where to buy it, is openly distributed on campus.
Even the abstraction obscenity is better understood when one hears a speaker, using the universitys amplifying equipment, describe in vulgar words his experiences in group sexual intercourse and homosexuality and recommend these practices, while another suggests students should have the same sexual freedom on campus as dogs
Clark Kerrs negotiation — a euphemism for surrender — on each deliberate defiance of orderly university processes contributes not to a liberal university but to a lawless one.
David S. Landes, professor of history, Harvard University, made an interesting observation in a letter to The New York Times (December 29, 1964). Stating that the Berkeley revolt represents potentially one of the most serious assaults on academic freedom in America, he wrote:
In conclusion, I should like to point out the deleterious implications of this dispute for the University of California. I know personally of five or six faculty members who are leaving, not because of lack of sympathy with free speech or political action, but because, as one put it, who wants to teach at the University of Saigon?
The clearest account and most perceptive evaluation were offered in an article in the Columbia University Forum (Spring 1965), entitled Whats Left at Berkeley, by William Petersen, professor of Sociology at the University of California at Berkeley.
The first fact one must know about the Free Speech Movement is that it has little or nothing to do with free speech. If not free speech, what then is the issue? In fact, preposterous as this may seem, the real issue is the seizure of power.
That a tiny body, a few hundred out of a student body of more than 27,000, was able to disrupt the campus is the consequence of more than vigor and skill in agitation. This miniscule group could not have succeeded in getting so many students into motion without three other, at times unwitting, sources of support: off-campus assistance of various kinds, the University administration and the faculty.
Everyone who has seen the efficient, almost military organization of the agitators program has a reasonable basis for believing that skilled personnel and money are being dispatched into the Berkeley battle. Around the Berkeley community a dozen ad hoc committees to support this or that element of the student revolt sprang up spontaneously, as though out of nowhere.
The course followed by the University administration could hardly have better fostered a rebellious student body if it had been devised to do so. To establish dubious regulations and when they are attacked to defend them by unreasonable argument is bad enough; worse still, the University did not impose on the students any sanctions that did not finally evaporate. Obedience to norms is developed when it is suitably rewarded, and when noncompliance is suitably punished. That professional educators should need to be reminded of this axiom indicates how deep the roots of the Berkley crisis lie.
But the most important reason that the extremists won so many supporters among the students was the attitude of the faculty. Perhaps their most notorious capitulation to the F.S.M. was a resolution passed by the Academic Senate on December 8, by which the faculty notified the campus not only that they supported all of the radicals demands but also that, in effect, they were willing to fight for them against the Board of Regents, should that become necessary. When that resolution passed by an overwhelming majority — 824 to 115 votes — it effectively silenced the anti-F.S.M. student organizations.
The Free Speech Movement is reminiscent of the Communist fronts of the 1930s, but there are several important differences. The key feature, that a radical core uses legitimate issues ambiguously in order to manipulate a large mass, is identical. The core in this case, however, is not the disciplined Communist party, but a heterogenous group of radical sects.
Professor Petersen lists the various socialist, Trotskyist, communist and other groups involved. His conclusion is:
The radical leaders on the Berkeley campus, like those in Latin American or Asian universities, are not the less radical for being, in many cases, outside the discipline of a formal political party. They are defined not by whether they pay dues to a party, but by their actions, their vocabulary, their way of thinking. The best term to describe them, in my opinion, is Castroite.
This term, he explains, applies primarily to their choice of tactics, to the fact that
in critical respects all of them imitate the Castro movement.
At Berkeley, provocative tactics applied not against a dictatorship but against the liberal, divided, and vacillating University administration proved to be enormously effective. Each provocation and subsequent victory led to the next.
Professor Petersen ends his article on a note of warning:
By my diagnosis not only has the patient [the University] not recovered but he is sicker than ever. The fever has gone down temporarily, but the infection is spreading and becoming more virulent.
Now let us consider the ideology of the rebels, from such indications as were given in the press reports. The general tone of the reports was best expressed by a headline in The New York Times (March 15, 1965): The New Student Left: Movement Represents Serious Activists in Drive for Changes.
What kind of changes? No specific answer was given in the almost full-page story. Just changes.
Some of these activists who liken their movement to a revolution, want to be called radicals. Most of them, however, prefer to be called organizers.
Organizers — of what? Of deprived people. For what? No answer. Just organizers.
Most express contempt for any specific labels, and they dont mind being called cynics. The great majority of those questioned said they were as sceptical of Communism as they were of any other form of political control. You might say were a-Communist, said one of them, just as you might say were amoral and a-almost anything else.
There are exceptions, however. A girl from the University of California, one of the leaders of the Berkeley revolt, is quoted as saying:
At present the socialist world, even with all its problems, is moving closer than any other countries toward the kind of society I think should exist. In the Soviet Union, it has almost been achieved.
Another student, from the City College of New York, is quoted as concurring:
The Soviet Union and the whole Socialist bloc are on the right track, he said.
In view of the fact that most of the young activists were active in the civil rights movement, and that the Berkeley rebels had started by hiding behind the issue of civil rights (attempting, unsuccessfully, to smear all opposition as of racist origin), it is interesting to read that:
There is little talk among the activists about racial integration. Some of them consider the subject pass. They declare that integration will be almost as evil as segregation if it results in a complacent, middle-class interracial society.
The central theme and basic ideology of all the activists is: anti-ideology. They are militantly opposed to all labels, definitions and theories; they proclaim the supremacy of the immediate moment and commitment to action — to subjectively, emotionally motivated action. Their anti-intellectual attitude runs like a stressed leitmotif through all the press reports.
The Berkeley mutineers did not seem political in the sense of those student rebels in the Turbulent Thirties, [declares an article in The New York Times Magazine (Feb. 14, 1965),] they are too suspicious of all adult institutions to embrace wholeheartedly even those ideologies with a stake in smashing the system. An anarchist or I.W.W. strain seems as pronounced as any Marxist doctrine. Theirs is a sort of political existentialism, says Paul Jacobs, a research associate at the universitys Center for the Study of Law and Society, who is one of the F.S.M.s applauders. All the old labels are out.
The proudly immoderate zealots of the F.S.M. pursue an activist creed — that only commitment can strip life of its emptiness, its absence of meaning in a great knowledge factory like Berkeley.
An article in The Saturday Evening Post (May 8, 1965), discussing the various youth groups of the left, quotes a leader of Students for a Democratic Society:
We began by rejecting the old sectarian left and its ancient quarrels, and with a contempt for American society, which we saw as depraved. We are interested in direct action and specific issues. We do not spend endless hours debating the nature of Soviet Russia or whether Yugoslavia is a degenerate workers state.
With sit-ins we saw for the first time the chance for direct participation in meaningful social revolution. In their off-picket-line hours, [states the same article,] the P.L. [Progressive Labor] youngsters hang out at the experimental theaters and coffee shops of Manhattans East Village. Their taste in reading runs more to Sartre than to Marx.
With an interesting touch of unanimity, a survey in Newsweek (March 22, 1965) quotes a young man on the other side of the continent:
These students dont read Marx, said one Berkeley Free Student Movement leader, They read Camus. If they are rebels, [the survey continues,] they are rebels without an ideology, and without long-range revolutionary programs. They rally over issues, not philosophies, and seem unable to formulate or sustain a systemized political theory of society, either from the left or right.
Todays student seeks to find himself through what he does, not what he thinks
the survey states explicitly — and quotes some adult authorities in sympathetic confirmation.
What you have now, as in the 30s, says New York Post editor James A. Wechsler, are groups of activists who really want to function in life. But not ideologically. We used to sit around and debate Marxism, but students now are working for civil-rights and peace.
Richard Unsworth, chaplain at Dartmouth, is quoted as saying:
In the world of todays campus the avenue now is doing and then reflecting on your doing, instead of reflecting, then deciding, and then doing, the way it was a few years ago.
Paul Goodman, described as writer, educator and one of the students current heroes, is quoted as hailing the Berkeley movement because:
The leaders of the insurrection, he says, didnt play it cool, they took risks, they were willing to be confused, they didnt know whether it all would be a success or a failure. Now they dont want to be cool any more, they want to take over.
(Italics mine. The same tribute could be paid to any drunken driver.)
The theme of taking over is repeated again and again. The immediate target, apparently, is the takeover of the universities. The New York Times Magazine article quotes one of the F.S.M. leaders:
Our idea is that the university is composed of faculty, students, books and ideas. In a literal sense, the administration is merely there to make sure the sidewalks are kept clean. It should be the servant of the faculty and the students.
The climax of this particular line was a news-story in The New York Times (March 29, 1965) under the heading: Collegians adopt a Bill of Rights.
A group of Eastern college students declared here [in Philadelphia] this weekend that college administrators should be no more than housekeepers in the educational community.
The modern college or university, they said, should be run by the students and the professors; administrators would be maintenance, clerical and safety personnel whose purpose is to enforce the will of faculty and students.
A manifesto to this effect was adopted at a meeting held at the University of Pennsylvania and attended by 200 youths
from 39 colleges in the Philadelphia and New York areas, Harvard, Yale, the University of California at Berkeley, and from schools in the Midwest.
A recurring theme in the meeting was that colleges and universities had become servants of the financial, industrial, and military establishment, and that students and faculty were being sold down the river by administrators.
Among the provisions of the manifesto were declarations of freedom to join, organize or hold meetings of any organization abolition of tuition fees; control of law enforcement by the students and faculty; an end to the Reserve Officer Training Corps; abolition of loyalty oaths; student-faculty control over curriculum
The method used to adopt that manifesto is illuminating:
About 200 students attended the meeting, 45 remaining until the end when the Student Bill of Rights was adopted.
So much for democratic procedures and for the activists right to the title of spokesmen for American youth.
What significance is ascribed to the student rebellion by all these reports and by the authorities they choose to quote? Moral courage is not a characteristic of todays culture, but in no other contemporary issue has moral cowardice been revealed to such a naked, ugly extent. Not only do most of the commentators lack an independent evaluation of the events, not only do they take their cue from the rebels, but of all the rebels complaints, it is the most superficial, irrelevant and, therefore, the safest, that they choose to support and to accept as the cause of the rebellion: the complaint that the universities have grown too big.
As if they had mushroomed overnight, the bigness of the universities is suddenly decried by the consensus as a national problem and blamed for the unrest of the students, whose motives are hailed as youthful idealism. In todays culture, it has always been safe to attack bigness. And since the meaningless issue of mere size has long served as a means of evading real issues, on all sides of all political fences, a new catch phrase has been added to the list of Big Business, Big Labor, Big Government, etc.: Big University.
For a more sophisticated audience, the socialist magazine The New Leader (Dec. 21, 1964) offers a Marxist-Freudian appraisal, ascribing the rebellion primarily to alienation (quoting Savio: Somehow people are being separated off from something) and to generational revolt (Spontaneously the natural idiom of the student political protest was that of sexual protest against the forbidding university administrator who ruled in loco parentis).
But the prize for expressing the moral-intellectual essence of todays culture should go to Governor Brown of California. Remember that the University of California is a state institution, and that its Regents are appointed by the Governor and that he, therefore, was the ultimate target of the revolt, including all its manifestations, from physical violence to filthy language.
Have we made our society safe for students with ideas? [said Governor Brown at a campus dinner. ( The New York Times, May 22, 1965)] We have not. Students have changed but the structure of the university and its attitudes towards its students have not kept pace with that change.
Therefore, some students felt they had the right to go outside the law to force the change. But in so doing, they displayed the height of idealistic hypocrisy. [Italics mine.] On the one hand, they held up the Federal Constitution, demanding their rights of political advocacy. But at the same time, they threw away the principle of due process in favor of direct action.
In so doing, they were as wrong as the university. This, then, is the great challenge that faces us, the challenge of change.
Consider the fact that Governor Brown is generally regarded as a powerful chief executive and, by California Republicans, as a formidable opponent. Consider the fact that
according to the California Public Opinion Poll, 74 per cent of the people disapprove of the student protest movement in Berkeley.
( The New Leader, April 12, 1965.) Then observe that Governor Brown did not dare denounce a movement led or manipulated by a group of 45 students — and that he felt obliged to qualify the term hypocrisy by the adjective idealistic, thus creating one of the weirdest combinations in todays vocabulary of evasion.
Now observe that in all that mass of comments, appraisals and interpretations (including the ponderous survey in Newsweek which offered statistics on every imaginable aspect of college life) not one word was said about the content of modern education, about the nature of the ideas that are being inculcated by todays universities. Every possible question was raised and considered, except: What are the students taught to think? This, apparently, was what no one dared discuss.
This is what we shall now proceed to discuss.
If a dramatist had the power to convert philosophical ideas into real, flesh-and-blood people and attempted to create the walking embodiments of modern philosophy — the result would be the Berkeley rebels.
These activists are so fully, literally, loyally, devastatingly the products of modern philosophy that someone should cry to all the university administrations and faculties: Brothers, you asked for it!
Mankind could not expect to remain unscathed after decades of exposure to the radiation of intellectual fission-debris, such as: Reason is impotent to know things as they are — reality is unknowable — certainty is impossible — knowledge is a mere probability — truth is that which works — mind is a superstition — logic is a social convention — ethics is a matter of subjective commitment to an arbitrary postulate — and the consequent mutations are those contorted young creatures who scream, in chronic terror, that they know nothing and want to rule everything.
If that dramatist were writing a movie, he could justifiably entitle it Mario Savio, Son of Immanuel Kant.
With rare and academically neglected exceptions, the philosophical mainstream that seeps into every classroom, subject and brain in todays universities, is: epistemological agnosticism, avowed irrationalism, ethical subjectivism. Our age is witnessing the ultimate climax, the cashing-in on a long process of destruction, at the end of the road laid out by Kant.
Ever since Kant divorced reason from reality, his intellectual descendants have been diligently widening the breach. In the name of reason, Pragmatism established a range-of-the-moment view as an enlightened perspective on life, context-dropping as a rule of epistemology, expediency as a principle of morality, and collective subjectivism as a substitute for metaphysics. Logical Positivism carried it further and, in the name of reason, elevated the immemorial psycho-epistemology of shyster lawyers to the status of a scientific epistemological system — by proclaiming that knowledge consists of linguistic manipulations. Taking this seriously, Linguistic Analysis declared that the task of philosophy is, not to identify universal principles, but to tell people what they mean when they speak, which they are otherwise unable to know (which last, by that time, was true — in philosophical circles). This was the final stroke of philosophy breaking its moorings and floating off, like a lighter-than-air balloon, losing any semblance of connection to reality, any relevance to the problems of mans existence.
No matter how cautiously the proponents of such theories skirted any reference to the relationship between theory and practice, no matter how coyly they struggled to treat philosophy as a parlor or classroom game — the fact remained that young people went to college for the purpose of acquiring theoretical knowledge to guide them in practical action. Philosophy teachers evaded questions about the application of their ideas to reality, by such means as declaring that reality is a meaningless term, or by asserting that philosophy has no meeting other than the amusement of manufacturing arbitrary constructs, or by urging students to temper every theory with common sense — the common sense they had spent countless hours trying to invalidate.
As a result, a student came out of a modern university with the following sediment left in his brain by his four to eight years of study: existence is an uncharted, unknowable jungle, fear and uncertainty are mans permanent state, scepticism is the mark of maturity, cynicism is the mark of realism and, above all, the hallmark of an intellectual is the denial of the intellect.
When and if academic commentators gave any thought to the practical results of their theories, they were predominantly united in claiming that uncertainty and skepticism are socially valuable traits which would lead to tolerance of difference, flexibility, social adjustment and willingness to compromise. Some went so far as to maintain explicitly that intellectual certainty is the mark of a dictatorial mentality, and that chronic doubt — the absence of firm convictions, the lack of absolutes — is the guarantee of a peaceful, democratic society.
It has been said that Kants dichotomy led to two lines of Kantian philosophers, both accepting his basic premises, but choosing opposite sides: those who chose reason, abandoning reality — and those who chose reality, abandoning reason. The first delivered the world to the second.
The collector of the Kantian rationalizers efforts — the receiver of the bankrupt shambles of sophistry, casuistry, sterility and abysmal triviality to which they had reduced philosophy — was Existentialism.
Existentialism, in essence, consists of pointing to modern philosophy and declaring: Since this is reason, to hell with it!
In spite of the fact that the pragmatists-positivists-analysts had obliterated reason, the existentialists accepted them as reasons advocates, held them up to the world as examples of rationality and proceeded to reject reason altogether, proclaiming its impotence, rebelling against its failure, calling for a return to reality, to the problems of human existence, to values, to action — to subjective values and mindless action. In the name of reality, they proclaimed the moral supremacy of instincts, urges, feelings — and the cognitive powers of stomachs, muscles, kidneys, hearts, blood. It was a rebellion of headless bodies.
The battle is not over. The philosophy departments of todays universities are the battleground of a struggle which, in fact, is only a family quarrel between the analysts and the existentialists. Their progeny are the activists of the student rebellion.