FSM: AN INTERPRETIVE ESSAY
By Robert Kaufman and
Published originally with an historical narrative by Bettina Aptheker in FSM: The
Free Speech Movement at Berkeley, by the W.E. B. DuBois Clubs of America, 1965.
The function of the
university is not simply to teach breadwinning, or to furnish teachers for the public
schools or to be a center of polite society; it is, above all, to be the organ of that
fine adjustment between real life and the growing knowledge of life, an adjustment which
forms the secret of civilization.
SOULS OF BLACK FOLK
who passed through universities with
radiant cool eyes hallucinating Arkansas
and Blake-light tragedy among the
scholars of war. .
A narrative of the events on the Berkeley
campus during the autumn of 1964 can capture some of the drama and excitement of the FSM.
lt can explain some of the internal logic and rhythm of the FSM in action, as it grew from
the spontaneous anger of small student political groups, from crisis to crisis, until it
became for a few days the voice and heart and head of the whole Berkeley campus. But the
narrative itself cannot explain the incredible scope of the Movement, the reasons for its
development, the nature of its successes.
How could it be that 800 students were
roused to the point where they would go to jail rather than submit to a university's
regulations, that a student organization (FSM) which advocated and precipitated mass,
non-violent, direct action against University Authority could gain and keep the confidence
of overwhelming student sentiment and then find the faculty come around to support it too?
What happened to make every denunciation, every hostile editorial, and even the armed
force of the State just goads to firmer resolve and more certain defiance?
The University Administration was
bewildered, it had been used to herding sheep, and its blunders were always on the side of
underestimating the force of student conviction. President Kerr had admitted the
bankruptcy of his own administration -- though he didn't use the word. An undemocratic
political structure may be said to reach the point of bankruptcy when the men in authority
become so out of touch with reality, with the needs and potential of their subjects, as to
be unable to rule effectively in their own interests, and that's just what
happened at Berkeley.
But radicals also were surprised by
the development of the FSM. They had been used to a decade and more of political action by
small groups of dedicated individuals. The FSM in full bloom was, for most young radicals
at Berkeley, the first real mass movement they had ever participated in. And some never
did learn what it all meant in terms of the possibilities of winning.
What makes a mass movement? What moves
people? None of the proliferating analyses of the FSM -- every journal, large and small,
has its own "expert" analyst -- seems to us to have gotten to the roots of the
matter or to have explored the branches to their ends. Most are downright hogwash. Even
among the students who openly identify themselves with the FSM there remains uncertainty
about the nature, causes, and meaning of the Movement. We don't presume to have all the
answers. What follows is merely an attempt to enter into the discussion and, perhaps, shed
some light on the events of the Fall Semester from our own perspective.
The burden of the ensuing argument wll be
that the University of California is dominated by the men and the interests, the
procedures and purposes, of American Monopoly Capital, that the real nature and causes of
the agony of American students and teachers (of which the FSM has only one manifestation)
cannot be understood otherwise -- and that no lasting cure for that agony can be achieved
short of the complete democratization of the University and, ultimately, the destruction
of that dominating power.
The most obvious issue at stake in
the Battle of Berkeley has been simple democracy -- the freedom of students on home
territory, their campus, to exercise their rights under the Constitution to speak,
organize, and act on political and social issues. Democratic liberties -- what most people
(except Negroes in the South) think they have, but don't exploit. Editorials in newspapers
at other universities frequently talked like this: "Why, we have all the freedoms
they're fighting for at Berkeley, and nobody uses them." Most likely they have those
"freedoms" because nobody uses them. That was the problem at Berkeley
-- students were acting too much like citizens. A little history:
STUDENT POLITICS AT BERKELEY
It's a fact that Berkeley has long had a
certain political reputation which sustains itself by drawing activist students from all
over the state and nation and by being something which must be lived up to. The Bay Area
and city of Berkeley are uniquely congenial to both activist and political activity -- for
reasons which have more to do with a local history of militant and progressive
trade-unionism and less to do with a mysterious geist than most people realize.
In 1957 SLATE was founded; it was the
left-liberal student political party which articulated the first real rebellion against
the dead hand of McCarthy in the American student community. In following years, Berkeley
students provided the spark and much of the manpower for the local peace movement, the
fight to end capital punishment, the organization of farm laborers in California and -- as
everyone knows -- the demonstrations against HUAC in 1960. Since then students have become
increasingly involved in the civil rights movement, both in support of action in the South
and directly in the Bay Area. Late in 1963 the Ad Hoc Committee to End Discrimination went
to work on the discriminatory hiring practices of a drive-in restaurant chain, and won. In
1964 it took on the Sheraton- Palace Hotel in San Francisco over the same issue, with
fanfare, arrests, and success. At this writing the "Senator from Formosa"
William Knowland's Oakland Tribune continues to be under assault -- again the
issue is job discrimination.
In all these demonstrations Bay Area
students played a leading role.
STUDENTS, CIVIL LIBERTIES, AND
But the student organizations which
initiate or support such action have been and remain quite small (especially when you
consider that UC Berkeley enrolls 27, 000 students). Why in the world did thousands on
thousands come out in active support of demands for liberties which were the immediate
concern of only a few hundred? Because (as no one fully realized) democratic liberties and
the actions of student political organizations do mean something important to a
great many students who themselves neither exercise the one nor belong to the other.
First of all, it became quite clear that
the influence of the civil rights movement has spread very deeply among students. Many
have become active as a result of involvement in local civil rights fights or in the
southern movement. (Savio was just back from Mississippi when the semester started. ) But
many more feel a certain, a definite identification with the freedom movement even though
they are not themselves a part of it. That movement speaks for them and, when they learned
to act: for themselves on their campus, they acted in the terms of that: movement. The
tactic of mass, nonviolent, direct action seemed customary and appropriate. The adapted
pop tunes and spirituals of the freedom movement became the songs of the FSM -- though the
FSM created many of its own to boot. No one had any doubt that freedom of political action
on campus was not just an abstract principle. Speech after rally speech hammered at the
fact that the FSM was really fightin.g for the concrete freedom to keep up the civil
rights struggle -- locally with troops and in the South with funds and summer recruits.
But the immediate interest of
students in the FSM was still wider. Less tangible though just as meaningful, was the
commitment of students to political action and intellectual, ideological debate per se
-- to the stimulation of and pride in a community in which both are possible and alive. It
is not the cold, grudging, ACLUish "I'll defend your right to speak"; it is
"I want you to speak to me and fend off dead apathy and sameness." The
experience of the FSM demonstrates also that it is not only the so-called
"self-interest issues," like student store prices or dorm rules,,that can move
great numbers of students into political action. It was primarily the use of arbitrary and
impersonal power that moved the students at UC. But it was especially the use of that
power to suppress students acting on their convictions. It is in the deeply felt self
interest of young intellectuals and aspiring scholars to care deeply about the free
expression of ideas and the consequences of those ideas.
Plain statistics retell the story. Of
those 800 arrested, 39% had been involved in demonstrations before, fully 6l% never had --
this was their first time out.
There was still much else to move the 800
and the 8000 and more who supported the FSM -- deep-seated needs, frustrations, desires,
anxieti.es which drove them not so much toward the specific goals of the FSM as against
the juggernaut institution which not only tried to stifle political action but also
stifled each of them personally In some ways the FSM was an excuse for many to vent their
wrath and pent up hostility at a university which seems at times to be made by, for, and
of electronic computers -- seems, we say. The FSM was an excuse in the best sense
of the word -- an opportunity for creative and meaningful protest against a whole
deadening style of life.
The nature of this deepest motivation is
superficially summed up in the word alienation; the object of hostility and cause of alienation
is summed up in the symbol of the IBM card which was prevalent on tile posters, placards,
and lips of the FSM. From the day the entering freshman begins standing on long lines to
deal with a harassed secretary or an indifferent dean, to the day the senior is handed his
pseudo-vellum passport on which is written, "Go forth and make money," much of
his life is that of a cog in a senseless wheel. Daily he meshes with others -- briskly in
plazas, quietly in huge lecture halls, indifferently in a hurried professor's office --
alone in the midst of thousands. He wonders aboutt the superficiality and irrelevance of
much of his curriculum, and he knows that there is no one to give him encouragement or
credit for a bright idea or fresh initiative. The IBM machine (a wonderful invention in
itself) dramatizes and comes to stand for the sense of administration and education
without people, without contact. friendliness. or concern. Even the distant face of a
lecturing professor is more human than the television box from which, more and more, the
student receives "instruction."
The University Administration comes to
look like an elite "power structure" which is there to serve its own interests
and over which the student has no control, which he cannot even talk to. "Student
government" is an obvious farce, an appendage of the Administration, which discovers
the limits of its power the minute it takes a controversial stand or tries to rule against
the wishes of the Administration. Students are "apathetic" about
"their" "government," not because they are apathetic or
irresponsible, but because it is apathetic and timid, because it has no
responsibility, because it is no government at all. And as for the "students"
newspaper. . . Several years ago an "irresponsible" editorial staff of the Daily
Californian was relieved of its duties by administrative fiat because it supported in
print a "controversial" candidate for ASUC President. The paper has been a joke
With much reason the sense and fact of
alienation became a central subject for the spokesmen of the FSM. The concern for the
"quality of life" at the University was the bridge which joined in one movement
so many thousands of non-political students with the political activists .
Analysts of the FSM who ignore both the
real and urgent common cause of student supporters and FSM leaders and the validity of
their complaints are at a loss to explain the nature and success of the movement and its
leadership. We are told that the whole business was the work of a highly organized cabal
of leftists. The Administration says it knows who told the students to sit down
around the police car on October 1. We don't. People just sat down because it was the
obvious thing to do. The issue was clear. The administration was using police force to
suppress political activity. Resistance was not organized -- it was imperative.
It is true that many of the leaders of the
FSM are radicals -- because the radical position was closest to the mood and experience of
the students. The radical leadship maintained the confidence of the movement only because
its tactics worked, and because its spokesmen articulated most clearly the feelings of
students. The "moderates" (including some socialists) maintained that the
Administration was made up of "reasonable men"; they spoke of behind-the-scenes
deals , and predicted voluntary liberalization of regulations by the Adminlstration at
each step of the game. But each successive confrontation with the administrative power
structure demonstrated that the radicals were correct.
Part and parcel of alienation and radical
rebellion at Berkeley is the question of McCarthy and the Cold War. Students at Berkeley,
like all American students, like all Americans, have been intimidated and lied to for
fifteen years. In the holy name of anti-communism they have seen some of their best
teachers fired and the rest cowed, made to eat humble loyaltyoath pie. Students have had
the editors of their newspapers fired for being "too controversial." They have
been spoon-fed pablum in place of ideas. They have been dragged along in the rear of a
nationwide retreat from relevance. They have been frightened into abandoning or crippling
their own attempts at political and social organization when someone cried Red. They have
seen departments of physical science and social science turned into adjuncts of the
Departments of State and Defense. They know the CIA finances centers of Russian studies.
In literature they have discussed imagery, aesthetic unity, and metaphysical archetypes,
instead of humanity, until they are blue in the face. And they have had all they will
We hear FSM students say that they do not
trust "anyone over thirty," and we have heard Mr. Louis Feuer (Professor of
Sociology) in a vituperative article in that old Cold War follower, The New Leader
(Dec. 21, 1964) abolish political meaning from the FSM by explaining its motivations as
mere "generational conflict." (Mr. Clark Kerr has sought to correct some of Mr.
Feuer's facts -- New Leader [Jan. 18, 1965] -- but he loved Mr. Feuer's insight
,"I congratulate Professor Feuer for his perceptive analysis of the psychodynamics
[of the FSM].")
But no bumptious "adolescents"
would waste so much energy, sacrifice, and dedication simply to exercise hostility towards
another generation. The FSM's conflict has been with a particular generation of
Establishment intellectuals and ex-radicals, the tools and fools of McCarthy and Dulles,
who capitulated to the Cold War and sold their university and their nation down the river.
So much of the alienation which informed
the FSM was a reaction against the moral blindness and intellectual bankruptcy of those
elders, the administrators and their faculty allies. And when those teachers and
bureaucrats called the students dupes of a left-wing cabal and said that 49% of FSM
supporters were Maoists and Castroites, thousands of throats spoke contemptuous, pitying
laughter. Students do not trust liars to tell the truth.
And what about the faculty, those over
thirty? For a while they held their peace, and were seen by the students only in the role
of gutless, obstructive "mediators" between the FSM and the Administration.
Their "advice" that the FSM give in was ignored, and faculty-baiting joined
Regent-baiting and administrator-baiting in the repertory of the rally speaker. As one
zoology student put it (in his professional capacity): "Rabbits are rabbits and men
are men and you can't turn one into the other." But much to the surprise and delight
of the FSM, and to the chagrin of the Administration and its allies (and presumably of the
zoologists), the faculty swung around. Rather, the faculty found itself forced to make its
real but latent sentiments known -- strongly -- and, thus it helped make swift and sweet a
qualified victory which otherwise might have been much more bitterly won by the students
alone, with much more personal sacrifice.
Again, it was unrealized resources of
alienation and personal interest which provided motive, and which drove the faculty into
action. A pall has hung over the University ever since the loyalty-oath fight of 1949-1950
which resulted in some firings, resignations, and a humiliating compromise on principle. A
fresh crop of students were not aware of the faculty's lingering resentments, nor did the
students fully know the faculty's more recent causes for anger at the Administration.
Just previous to and during the rise of
the FSM, a direct confrontation occurred when the Berkeley Campus' Chancellor, Edward
Strong, gave the Academic Senate the royal run-around in the case of Eli Katz. Katz was an
acting Assistant Professor of German who was recommended for a permanent position by his
department. The Chancellor rejected the recommendation on the grounds that Katz refused to
answer to him questions he had refused to answer before HUAC in 1958. Two committees of
the Academic Senate then requested that the Chancellor reverse his decision; the
Chancellor stalled, maneuvered, passed the buck. The full Senate then adopted a motion
holding the Administration in contempt and demanding Katz's reinstatement. At this writing
the issue is still unresolved. What moved the faculty was not so much the principle of
academic freedom as the Chancellor's affront to its traditional and usually respected
prerogative to determine its own composition. This affront in the midst of the chronic
bumbling of the Administration's handling of the FSM, served to widen the breach, and the
patent bankruptcy and abdication of the Administration when police arrived on December 3
broke all bridges across that gulf
Far from obstructing a
"rational" and just solution tothe problem of political freedom on campus, the
militancy of the FSM was the catalyst which allowed, which forced the faculty commitment
to civil liberties to be mobilized for the first time in over a decade. Certainly some
members of the Academic Senate voted against administration control of student politics
out of fear of the FSM or a desire for peace at any price. There was some hanging back,
and the Emergency Academic Executive Committee which the Senate elected to carry out its
resolutions is generously labeled "moderate." But the fact is that the faculty
did come out fully for the FSM demands, instead of closing ranks behind the inadequate
position of the President and his department chairmen. And the faculty does now have a
permanent executive, is permanently organized, and thus has the practical political basis
to fight for a greater role in University affairs.
Whatever the qualifications to our
enthusiasm for the Berkeley faculty, nothing can erase our pleasure at what that faculty
did on December 8, 1964. They voted to support full civil liberties on the campus and, in
effect, they acknowledged that the civil liberties of students engaged in questioning and
fighting the American status-quo are not safe in the hands of the Administration. And they
did this at the height of the controversy, in the full heat of the anger of the press, the
Legislature, and the certain opposition of the powerful reactionaries in the Board of
Regents. This one American university faculty has begun to recover from McCarthyism.
It should be noted also that the faculty
members who were most active in organizing support for the FSM demends are the same men
who have long been most respected by their students for their genuine interest both in the
problems of students and in teaching. Between faculty who do like to teach and students in
the FSM there is a bond of common interest in the matters of contact and communication,
alienation and dehumanization in the University -- as well as in the principled matter of
Students and faculty were, however and
obviously, not the only actors in this drama. Without extreme and seemingly bizarre
provocation from the Administration, their complaints, uneasiness, and dissatisfaction
would have simmered for a long time; they would not have been welded into a coherent and
massive force of bodies and sentiment. That students and faculty should organize and fight
in their own interests seems much less incredible than that the University Administration
should bury itself under such a mass of consecutive blunders which were so obviously not
in its own interest. But there is inexorable logic here too.
The first thing to understand is that the
Administration of the University of California (as elsewhere) is a top-heavy, undemocratic
bureaucracy. Everyone knows that. Clark Kerr boasts about it. Professor Nathan Glazer (no
friend of the FSM) said in a recent article (Commentary, Jan. 1965) that in size
and atmosphere the UC Administration is comparable only to the federal bureaucracy in
Washington. Faculty and Senators, students and Congressmen come and go; the bureaucracies
keep the machines running -- and in many ways the two machines are one.
It is in the nature of a bureaucrat (as
opposed to a democratically appointed or elected administrator) to be a master, not a
servant, to have a vested interest in his own authority and status. A bureaucrat is the
man or woman who seeks an increment in appropriations for his department, not because more
secretaries will do more good work, but because more money and a bigger staff means more
personal power and prestige. An elected public official at least maintains the semblance
of humility; when the people speak loud enough, he listens, for he wishes to be
re-elected. The same kind of public criticism is to the bureaucrat, at first, mere
nuisance to be brushed off callously. It then becomes a terrifying threat to one who has
not underpinned his sense of his own position in the world with the understanding that he
might easily lose his job. He is used to toadying to superiors, but not to respecting the
will of the persons he administrates. The deaf ear and the hard hand, which became so
familiar to the FSM and which seemed so incredibly stupid, are but the two sides of the
bureaucrat's coin when he's betting a pair of jacks against a full house.
But the abstract psycho-sociology of
bureaucracy explains very little. It says something about the Administration's tactics,
about why no "channels of communication" from "below" were open, about
why the mere ordered arguments of "rational men" could get the FSM nowhere. But
it doesn't explain why the UC Administration initiated repressive action, or why it
couldn't meet the FSM demands without tremendous and brutal reluctance .
It is the solemn responsibility and
pleasure of the UC bureaucracy to get and distribute over $400 million per year from
various state, federal, and private agencies. It must be quite satisfying (in times of
peace) to sit atop that pile and watch it spread through the great ganglion University, to
snatch a new foundation grant and plant it here or there, to buy a school of scholars
(preferably from back East) and make a new campus look like old Ivy. It's a manipulator's
game, a bureaucrat's game, a corporation president's game. A corporation -- that's the
nature of California's institution of highest learning. The $400 million-plus is an
investment; its administrators must turn out a Product and return Interest. They advance
themselves only by advancing the interests of those who give them the money. And they
advance those interests most efficiently by running their University just like a corporate
It is hard to grasp articulately the sense
of living and working in a corporate university. Easily one can charge that students are
taught best how to make money, how to be organization men and serve the status quo. But it
is difficult to pin point exactly where the pressures come from, how the mind is molded,
how scholarship is twisted -- when it all seems so often voluntary, natural, inevitable.
Clark Kerr helped to explain the way of
thought and the economics which create and are created by a corporate university when he
boasted in his marvelously ingenuous Uses of the University that the
production, distribution, and consumption of "knowledge" in all its forms
accounts for some 29% of America's Gross National Product. Bitterly the FSM stuck a verse
into its version of the carol, "Joy to the World":
The Knowledge Factory
Turns out more GNP,
Without your subversion
On its property.
In his class analysis of his corporation,
Kerr preferred to describe undergraduates as "lumpen proletarians" rather than
just "raw material"-- that is to say, threatening outcasts rather than passive
clay. And, from the Presidential point of view, he was right.
From his own point of view, the
undergraduate may tend to think that a university should exist to satisfy his own needs
and aspirations; he may resent the discovery that the corporate University does not. A few
statistics show how very little mere education matters at the University of California.
During academic year 1962-1963, of those $400 millions, 62% went for research, 26% for
education, 12% for public services (including both adult education and agricultural
extension services). The faculty-student ratio at Berkeley seems low, something
like 27, 000 to 2000, or roughly 13 to 1. But the demands and attractions of research draw
most faculty members away from full-time teaching. Some don't teach at all.
THE BRAIN POOL
One of the justifications for all the
expense of maintaining the University is that it serves as a brainpower pool. The
Institution keeps on its payroll a bevy of academic "white glove girls" who are
at the beck and call of industry and government. For $100 a day Lockheed can hire a
temporary problem-solver from the Engineering Department. A number of faculty and
administrators spend much time in Washington, "consulting" on foreign policy,
military policy, economic and scientific policy. Edward Teller, H-bomb father and Barry
[Goldwater]-booster, sits on the faculty at Berkeley; for him it's a convenient spot to
work for the Atomic Energy Commission, to do odd jobs for General Dynamics, and from which
to lobby for war. The system is built for men like him; Teller is one among many.
Scholarly endeavor has truly been
incorporated at Berkeley -- as at every major university. Large federal and private grants
make the research team, rather than the individual scholar, the important unity of
inquiry. A "name scholar" -- a safe man, whose objectivity is proven by the fact
that he comes to no disagreeable conclusions -- gathers unto himself lesser faculty and
graduate students, each of whom gets a bit of the pie and does a bit of the work. The
project head puts the bits together, and shapes the style and views of the result -- the
Product. For the "lesser" members of the "team" such research is not
cooperative labor -- it is wage labor.
This mode of production has been
institutionalized. Institutes, whose directors hustle for grants, have sprung up around
the University like suburban towns. The faculty in these institutes "commute"
less and less into the "city" to teach undergraduates.
CORPORATE FORM AND CORPORATE
Still, we are dealing pretty much with the
form of the coporate university; what about the content? They are
integrally related. A bureaucracy is not just undemocratic by nature; it exists because
its ends are undemocratic. The vast university bureaucracy has mushroomed because vast
funds are poured into the University for purposes extrinsic to the real interests of
students and faculty -- in fact, contradictory to those interests -- though often the
pressure of funds does mold interests and create technicians and researchers who fit
nicely into the coporate system. One does not have to do disagreeable, perfunctory,
bought-and-paid-for research -- but then one does not have to do research at all, or eat.
THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
The source of investment is a good
indication of the purposes to which money is to be put. Of the $403 million-odd University
income in l962-l963, 56% was federal money, and the largest chunk of that came from the
Atomic Energy Commission. Surely some useful contributions to scientific understanding are
generated by that money. But Cold-War problem-solving is inextricable from the purposes of
those funds .
Take Mr. Seymour Martin Lipset (Professor
of Sociology and Director of the Institute of International Studies). He is a "name
scholar" who has proved his reliability by attacking the FSM as extremist and
antidemocratic (see his article in The Reporter, Jan. 28, 1965). He knows all
about matters like FSM because he also directs a Study of Student Movements. That's a
special research project financed by an interested party -- the United States Air Force.
It's all very logical
The only department at Berkeley which is
bigger than Education or English is Business Administration. One young radical we know is
taking a Masters in BizAd because he is interested in the labor movement, and there is no
other department in which he can study it.
Then there is the Department of
Agricultural Economics. It is funded by both the state government and the Giannini
Foundation, which was magnanimously endowed by the founder of the Bank of America. The
express purposes of that foundation describe also the purposes of state money:
to study and make better known the
economic facts and conditions upon which the continued solvency and prosperity of
California's agricultural industry must necessarily rest. (UC General Bulletin,
1964-1965, p. 171.)
Indeed, California's unique system of
tremendous corporate farms has been well served by its University. UC scientists have
helped to make California agribusiness the richest, most productive, and most profitable
in the country; UC economists have "proved" time and again before legislative
hearings that unemployment insurance, minimum wage laws, and unionization for farm workers
are not economically possible. In two reported instances the UC authorities have destroyed
or suppressed reports of research which condemned farm labor practices in the state,
When the Department of Biology in the
spring of 1962 protested the Administration's willingness to let Pacific Gas and Electric
build a nuclear reactor on the site of a marine biological laboratory at Bodega Bay, the
Administration struck a blow for academic freedom by suppressing the faculty report on the
matter. That report still sits in the Chancellor's office.
Such administrators are not bureaucrats,
pure and simple; nor are they merely bureaucrats who don't choose to serve the wishes of
students and faculty. They are bureaucrats bought and paid for by, and in the service of,
the interests of State Monopoly Capital -- or, to put it in terms more familiar, the
Military-Industrial Complex. They are Establishment Men -- some of them, like
ex-Chancellor Edward Strong and President Kerr, are leading "Establishment
Liberals," and at times in the past they have even seemed "liberal." In
1964 the American Association of University Professors thought Kerr looked liberal enough
to receive the Alexander Meikeljohn Academic Freedom Award. But, as these men so
conveniently demonstrated during the FSM crises, there is no such thing as an
"Establishment Liberal." The University's liberals were the small core of
faculty who led the fight to win the FSM's demends; the Establishment Men yelled for the
The reactionaries called the FSM a
"commie plot"; the Establishment denounced the FSM for being anti-democratic
because it used direct action to change the rules of an Agency of the People of
California. The "people," indeed! "Moderates" told the FSM that for
the University to accept its demands for freedom of political action would be to threaten
the statutory requirement that the University remain "politically independent."
It is quite unnecessary here to go into
the nature of the State in capitalist society, into the fiction of popular representation,
and the reality of monopoly control. We might note only what everyone has learned, that
when the "proper" administration of its funds and its institutions is
threatened, the State will appear from behind the facade of "impartiality" and
enforce its rule with pare-military action.
All we have to look at here is the
"Agency of the People" itself -- the Board of Regents. To be a member of that
Board is not just an honor; it is a grave and solemn responsibility. Those twenty-four men
and women own the University of California. The California Constitution states
that they "hold in trust" the property of the "people," but the
University is an independent, legally constituted corporation, theirs to dispose of and
manage. The strip of sidewalk where students traditionally set up their tables was the
Regents' to take away; it belongs to them. Little brass plaques are set in the sidewalk
announcing the boundaries of the "property of the Regents of the University of
In order to protect the University from
political pressures, so the argument goes, most of the Regents are appointed by the
Governor for terms of sixteen years, and many times they are reappointed when their terms
expire. But even that solid tenure is not enough. The Regents specialize in family
cynosures and corporate fiefdoms. Old A P. Giannini, benefactor of agribusiness and
President of the Bank of America, sat on the Board. When he went to glory, his son assumed
his seat. Now the moguls of agriculture and the Bank of America are jointly represented by
Jesse W. Tapp, current President of the Bank and Chairman of the State Agricultural Board.
The family of William Randolph Hearst also has its own seat on the Board.
There are eight ex-officio seats on the
Board, filled by State officials -- like the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Speaker of the
Assembly (not-quite-so-Big-any-more Daddy, Jessie Unruh, at the moment), and the
redoubtable Max Rafferty, Superintendent of Public Instruction. (Rafferty is a gruesome
story in himself. He's an oldtime believer in the three R's: Reaction, Repression, and
Of the sixteen Regents appointed to
represent the"people," at present only one, Cornelius J. Haggerty, is not
a big-business executive or corporation attorney. He is the national head of the Building
Trades Council (AF-LCIO) --one of the most conservative sections of the trade union
movement in the country. Among the other appointed we find the following business
interests sitting on the University's Board of Absolute Control:
Pacific Telephone and Telegraph
Cerro de Passo Mining (Peru)
Signal Oil Company
Bank of America
First Western Bank
Wells Fargo Bank
Security National Bank
Chandler Interests (L.A. Times)*
Hearst Newspaper Syndicate (S.F. Examiner and News Call-Bulletin, among
Pacific Intermountain Express
Blue Goose Growers
Deep Canyon Properties
Kern County Land Company
Hollister Land Company
Broadway Hale Retail Stores
[* These newspapers did not like the FSM, strange to say.]
This partial list would grow indefinitely
if all the interlocking interests of these corporations were explored.
Negroes and Mexican-Americans are roughly
one quarter of the people of California, but not one of them sits on the Board of Regents.
No trade unionist from an industrial union sits on the Board. Not even a small
businessman, much less a leader of one of the state's liberal organizations. And, weird as
it is, there is not one professional educator among the sixteen appointed Regents.
Rafferty (ex-officio) may be professional, but he is not an educator. Actually, an
educator might not have much to contribute to Board meetings, which largely concern
themselves with the distribution and success of the Board's financial investments .
ONOPOLY DOES AS MONOPOLY IS
The Marxist utters no cant when he speaks
of the domination of the University by monopoly capital. It's just plain fact. Read that
list again. In a court of law, similar evidence would put the burden on the defendant to
prove that his coporate financial self-interest did not sway him from
"impartial" administration of his "public" trust .
The posture of the UC Administration
leading up to and during the FSM demonstrations was perfectly congruent with the right
wing pressure of California's great corporations. Those administrators are not so much
stupid men (though that, too) as they are bought men. Kerr kept saying that he is a
"mediator"; the FSM kept telling him that the only thing between jailer and
jailed is bars.
A little more history. In the spring of
1964 after the demonstrations at the Sheraton-Palace Hotel in San Francisco, with mass
arrests and capitulation by the city's power-structure, certain noteables (pre-eminently,
Don Mulford, Goldwater Republican Assemblyman from Berkeley) put public pressure on the UC
Administration to expel or discipline students who were arrested. Kerr and his
Administration, consistent with their policy of not allowing political activity on
campus, issued a statement to the effect that what students did off campus was
their own business. The local CBS radio station (doubtless with some urging) editorialized
in favor of Kerr's stand and urged public support for that policy. But since the spring,
things got worse. CORE organized state-wide pickets of the holy Bank of America, charging
job discrimination. Berkeley students (again, under CORE auspices) went to work on Lucky
Super Markets, clogging up business with "shop-ins" (leaving at the counter huge
tabulated piles of goods unpaid-for). This, right in Berkeley. During the GOP convention,
Students for Scranton had the temerity to advocate his nomination from tables set up on
the Regents' sidewalk. Through the summer and into the fall, Students for Fair Housing
worked feverishly to defeat Proposition 14 (the pro- segregation amendment to the state
Constitution), again using tables on campus to recruit workers to canvass local
neighborhoods. (Though Proposition 14 won across the state, it was defeated in Berkeley,
2-1 -- the highest margin in the state.)
Finally, the Ad Hoc Committee began
picketing William Knowland's discriminatory Oakland Tribune. He had objected to
those radicals using the campus to plump for Scranton; now he yelled again. And this time
the Berkeley Administration heard him. Every action on the part of the Administration
which followed flowed directly from a desire to exorcise political activity from the
campus, and thus squelch political action in the Bay Area, in the interests of the
corporate victims of democracy.
In spite of his "liberal"
broad-mindedness in the spring, Kerr had previously published a clear statement of his own
Establishment in his guidebook for the think-factory bureaucrat:
A few of the "nonconformists"
seek. . . to turn the university, on the Latin American or Japanese models, into a
fortress from which they can sally forth with impunity to make their attacks on society.
The Berkeley Administration could no
longer "mediate" between student activists and the businessmen they were
attacking by claiming that their fortress took no responsibility for the troops it
garrisoned. The Administration had to decide whether its responsibility was to
"society" or to the US Constitution. What delightful paradoxes the Establishment
mind can twist itself with: society is made up of people; fighting for the rights of
Negroes is attacking society; therefore Negroes aren't people. NO, that doesn't work.
Big-business is society; big-business is not people; therefore society is not made up of
people. Oh, well....
SOME LESSONS LEARNED
What is so very gratifying about the FSM
is the fact that the non-people who manage the knowledge factory at Berkeley didn't get
away with it; and, in the process of not getting away with it, they have weakened the
grasp of California's large corporations on the University. What started out to be a fight
for political privileges granted from on high, turned into a serious challenge and threat
to the business-like powers that be. The threat was not so much in the physical and
administrative challenge of sit-in and strike, as in the knowledge gained through struggle
and in the permanent organization achieved.
The price was high, but the FSM won
significant liberalizations in the campus regulations governing political activity. The
FSM did not win the power to safeguard those gains, to have the People of the
University determine their own regulations, or to free their University of the rule of the
Establishment entirely. But the seeds have been sown, and are sprouted.
The students of Berkeley have found out
who rules their University and how they rule. They have begun to question that rule and
place blame for their angst. The fault no longer seems in themselves, that they are men
and women, nor in their stars, but in the autocrats who hand them automated,
bargain-basement degrees, and who turn out thinkless technicians to keep a profitmaking
economy making profit. And the students have gained not knowledge only; but means and
ORGANIZING THE SHOP
The election of seven SLATE members to the
ASUC threatens to make that kept body dangerously relevant to student needs and demands.
Just in case SLATE cannot shovel enough sand out of that box, the undergraduates have been
organizing an Undergraduate Association, a student government of their own. The graduate
students already have a militant Coordinating Committee in operation. The Teaching
Assistants have organized a local of the American Federation of Teachers (AFL-CIO). And
not only are the workers organizing their plant; but also they are demanding recognition,
a voice in running their own lives, collective bargaining, if not workers. control -- yet.
They know both the incompetence of the Regents and their administrators, and the heady
sense of responsible and satisfying purpose which obtains from managing their own affairs
collectively. In their state, they want power -- and they are closer now at Berkeley to a beginning
of the struggle for that power than any student body has ever been in American history.
That is what is so terrifying to monopoly capital in California.
When the Berkeley faculty went to the
December Regents' meeting it was reviled in the press (Chandler and Hearst are both
represented on the Board) not for its substantive demands for student political freedom,
but over its insolent, upstart request to take upon itself, away from the Administration,
the safeguarding of that freedom and the execution of regulations pertaining to the
exercise of that freedom. The faculty received a firm and "unnegotiable" NO!
The demand to democratize the Regents --
that is, to make the Board representative of, and responsive to, the People of California,
and the People of the University -- that demand has support outside also. Organized labor
has seen the UC Adminisl:ration buy non-union products whenever it can and jimmy its
curricula to ignore the working man. It is encouraging and meaningful that one of the
moments of emotional high pitch after the arrests came when a statement from a major
California labor leader was read at an FSM rally. George Hardy, Secretary of the State
Council of Building Service Employees wrote, in part:
An institution claiming to be one of the
great universities of the world has committed a shameful act. Supposedly dedicated to the
search for truth and the development of ideas, it has blundered along a path which has now
lead to a brutal stifling of free speech.
The California State Council of Building
Service Employees, representing 57, 000 trade unionists in this state, expresses its deep
shock and resentment over this latest episode [the arrest of the 800]. We express our full
support for the courageous young people who are standing up and fighting for the cause in
which they believe.
. . They are not "kooks" or
"beats," as they have been labeled by some so-called respectable elements of the
community who are frightened when anyone does not conform to their own upper-class notions
of proper dress and behavior. These are our brightest kids.
And what about the University of
California? We in the labor movement know something about its policies. The University was
just recently picketed by the Carpenters Union for buying non-union products. For years it
has acted like the worst employers of the nation in defeating legitimate efforts of its
own employees to form unions and bargain collectively. The Board of Regents is completely
out of touch with reality. . . . When they speak, they speak with the voice of big
business. President Clark Kerr, who should know better, has acted like any corporation
executive determined to stifle the aspirations of his personnel.
Hardy concluded with demands that the
arrested students be exonerated, that their goals be supported, that the Board of Regents
be shaken up and liberals appointed, that there be "a thorough housecleaning" at
UC. The response to Hardy's statement was such that the reader could hardly get through it
for all of the cheering. These were not born radicals, brought up to believe in the labor
movement; these were thousands of middle-class young men and women who were mostly quite
ignorant of labor history. Their cheers were the cheers which greet, not just allied
sentiment, but real and welcomed allies.
The labor movement in California seems
ready now to question the proprietorship of the University by big business. The San
Francisco Labor Council, too, has demanded democratization of the Board. And the bond
which was the sense of those cheers is an absolutely essential one to be developed, for
the enemies of labor are the enemies of the students, and they cannot be defeated on one
The Negro people have a stake and a voice
in this fight. The relevance of the civil rights movement to the FSM has been touched upon
already, but the grudges go deeper. UC is a de facto segregated school. Only 2%
of the Berkeley student body is Negro --in a city which is 22% Negro, ln a state which is
roughly 10%. You can count the Negro faculty members at Berkeley on one hand. State
Assemblyman William Stanton (Democrat; San Jose) has demanded that a civil rights leader
be appointed to the Board of Regents. Mexican-Americans, too, need representation.
RADICALS AND ROOTS
All of this -- encouraging though it may
be -- is just the beginning. When we deal with a $400 million-a- year institution we deal
with the roots of power in the state and nation. Few yet realize (or have come to grips
with) the depths to which those roots dig into dirt of monopoly capitalism, and how
impossible it will be to separate roots from nourishing soil. The leadership of the FSM is
radical, yes; but it is mostly non-Marxist. And if it were Marxist in its
perception of the radical evil of the University, it would be foolish to urge revolution
when it has no troops. Again, people will only follow where they want to go, when they can
see the clear road ahead. And most students at Berkeley, for all they have learned, do not
yet understand all of the resources and tenacity of their masters and
"guardians." And if they did it would be small use without similar understanding
in the working community at large.
The FSM has hammered rightly at the idea
that the University and society are integral. The one cannot be changed meaningfully
without the other. The men and women who work and struggle throughout the state and
country will not come to the special aid of the students, any more than those thousands of
students who struck for their own rights would go on strike in support of farm workers.
Some few of each will honorably aid each other, above and beyond the expectations of all,
but like the students and faculty at Berkeley, special and poignant sources of personal,
class, race, or craft interest must be tapped before all of the People are moved to join
in a common struggle against the masters of all. There is no sense being impatient or
condescending about it; neither is there any sense in ceasing the present work to build
what struggle and force does exist.
UTOPIA AND REALITY
The problem is how to direct that struggle
and force, how to judge what realistically can be done, how to exploit (in the frank and
honest sense of that word) the resources of consciousness and dedication which do exist
within the University (can we call it?) community. It seems to us, not just as socialists
but as persons simply concerned to see our energies spent productively, that several
presently considered approaches to future action are less than helpful.
One approach has been to concentrate on
attacking the forms of university education. grades, credits, course requirements, and the
like. The mechanical pace of the University is rightly characterized and condemned as
"speed-up," aimed at turning out the greatest number of brain-workers at the
lowest cost. The "quarter system" to be inaugurated at UC in 1966 is supposed to
give students more time for deeper study. In fact, it will mean even greater speed-up,
more exams, more students turned out faster, more administrative paperwork (as harassed
teachers have already discovered.)
But to concentrate solely on sweeping
reforms in this area is to leave by the wayside the majority of students for whom
grade-point averages, class-standing, an achieved formula of course requirements -- the
external trappings of education -- are so much bread and butter, upon which depend
employment or admission to graduate school. Reform is necessary in the whole manner in
which University education is integrated into the society. The Universities themselves
must be forced to fight for this reform to change the standards for employment -- both
formal and substantial.
Antioch College, which has a formally
unorthodox program much in line with many of the demands being voiced at Berkeley, finds
that it must back up its unorthodoxy with a-concerted public relations program. Antioch,
for instance, eschews such trappings as Phi Beta Kappa and cum laude degrees. The
college has to educate employers and grad schools to know that an Antioch student who
lacks a magna cum Kappa key has not necessarily failed to deserve it.
And, by itself, the crusade to change the
forms of education is futile. The servitors of the Military-Industrial Complex will still
determine the content of education. An ungraded, individual reading course in labor
history, for example, might still run awry if a student can find only a business
administration man to direct the course and somehow assess his work. The student who wants
to take off into the study of contemporary Soviet civilization on his own initiative might
still look in vain for anyone on the faculty, who is not a Cold Warrior, to
"guide" his studies.
The awareness of and concern for
alienation opens up another approach to future activity. Because alienation is manifested
as a state of mind, there is a tendency to deal with it psychologically, in terms of the
individual, to retreat from politics and try to create means by which the sense end fact
of loneliness, purposelessness, and stifled creativity may themselves, immediately, be
conquered; rather than to concentrate on the (recognized and admitted) source of
alienation in the knowledge factory and its corporate domination. It is a proposal, in
effect, to opt out.
Surprised and delighted by the sense of
community generated out of the FSM and by the expressed eagerness of many students to find
opportunities to teach and learn what is dear and relevant to themselves, some students
and Berkeley residents advocate the creation of a "Free University of
California," which would hold classes and seminars apart from the regular University
-- a kind of education in exile -- but close enough to show the University "what a
real education is like."
Such a project could be a useful adjunct
to the FSM, and a real service to Berkeley's intellectual and political community. It
might be at once a training ground for radicals in thought and action, a needed supplement
to an educational establishment which ignores radical solutions to radical problems, and a
source of constant criticism of the failures of that Establishment institution.
But enthusiasm will be misspent
overestimating what such a venture can accomplish. In no sense can an exile
"university" supplant the University. At best it would be of tangential value to
the majority of students who must account (without necessarily wishing it) for their
expensive years of study by fulfilling the formal requirements of education for employment
in this society. It is impossible to ask thousands to join the few who are able to live
and enjoy life on the fringes of capitalist society. And it is no service to hold in
contempt the majority of students who want to lead "normal" lives, or, by
putting too much effort into the creation of an artificial island of intellectual
community, to opt out of the larger struggle to make the "normal" life of the
mind and of society normal. (Normal -- that is to say, a life oriented toward the
satisfaction of human needs not toward the amassing of profits, of profitable bombs, of
profitable human misery, of profitably inane and degenerate culture.
COMMUNITY IN CHANGE
The "Free University" idea does
not offer a solution to the real problem of alienation; it can be a limited means
of conducting struggle, political and educational. There is, or can be ensured by
intelligent leadership, no inherent contradiction between the conduct of a hard-bitten and
long-range battle to make the University of California free, and the satisfaction of the
pressing needs of students for a sense of community and purpose in their own lives now. It
was that larger, political struggle, perpetrated by the FSM in the autumn of 1964, which
made so evident to us all, the power of those needs and the possibility of satisfying them
creatively. It will be in the perpetuation of that struggle (against, we are arguing, in
reality, the corporate domination of the University and the country) that those needs will
be satisfied most fully and most fruitfully.
The events leading up to and on December
3-8, 1964, did more to end the estrangement of student from student, of student from
teacher, of man from himself in Berkeley than any therapy or any optional utopia ever
could. That victory of man over himself resulted neither from a reorientation of students
to a fixed environment, nor from an escape to another environment, but from the students'
participation in the collective process of changing the existing environment, of making a
new world and seeing themselves, their image, recast in the objective forms of that new
Life and change are synonymous. The
participation of students in the multi-form movement for social justice, intellectual
freedom, for bread and human progress is as inevitable as springtime. Equally inevitable
is the hard reaction of our masters to forced change. Twice in one autumn the price we
paid for the burgeoning of our movement was the para-military occupation of the Berkeley
campus. But we have only begun to pay, and our masters have only begun to sweat. For, so
long as the University is the dominion of the same corporate, political, and military
interests that stand in the way of progressive change in our society, just so long will
not only those forces continue to stultify education, but also will clashes between those
forces and our movement occur on the campus itself .
Bertolt Brecht wrote to us of our time,
The time of change
And the time of the great taking over
Of all nature to master it,
Not forgetting human nature. . . .
Have you not heard it spread abroad
That the net is knotted
And is cast
In the cities of a hundred floors,
Over the seas on which the ships are manned,
To the furthest hamlet --
Everywhere now the report is: man' s fate is man.
A WOMAN OF DEEDS: Bettina Aptheker [author
of the historical narrative paired with this work originally]
is an undergraduate at Berkeley, majoring in History; she is a member of the FSM Steering
A MAN OF IDEAS: Robert Kaufman is a
graduate student in History at Berkeley; he is a member of the Executive Committee of the
Graduate Coordinating Committee.
A MAN OF WORDS: Michael Folsom is a
graduate student in English at Berkeley; he also sat, on occasion.
N. B., J. Edgar [Hoover]: All three are
members in good standing of the Berkeley W. E. B. DuBois Club.
Photos by Howard Harawitz.
Copyright © 1998 by Free Speech Movement
Archives for Michael Folsom and Robert Kaufman's heirs. This work may not be reproduced in
any medium which is sold, subject to access fee, or supported by advertising or
institutional subsidy, without explicit prior consent by the author.