Search this Site    --   FSM-A Home Page

FSM-A \ Free Speech Movement Archives FSM-A





Revolutionary Socialist [Trotskyist] group leaflet, early December, 1964.

All good political science majors know how this society functions. It is a dynamic balance of various interests and pressure groups ranging from organized labor, to downtown merchants to the John Birch Society. Of course. To speak of class rule is to exhibit naivete and bad taste. Worse yet, it is to "use the rhetoric of the thirties."

Now Governor Brown (the good, gray "vector zero" product of the pluralistic society) has turned the cops loose on Berkeley students and is vowing to put down "anarchy and revolution." Does the governor's charge have any substance? The issue which first brought the students onto the scene was civil rights. In theory, racial equality is fully compatible with the present social order. Indeed, the abstract model of the society works better with racial equality than without it. Civil rights, therefore, is a reformist demand. The actual society, however, is so beset by internal contradictions and external conflicts, and racism so deeply imbedded in it, that the demand for racial equality in practice takes on a revolutionary character. Hence the crackdown on student civil liberties. The campus had to be sealed off from the community because, with the prospect of deepening struggles in the black ghettos, the students were not only a powerful force in their own right but also threatened to provide a link between the ghetto and potential anti-status-quo forces in the white community. The fight for civil rights led to a fight for civil liberties. Civil liberties, too, are theoretically a reformist issue and are even enshrined in the political constitution of the society. But the actual exercise of civil liberties by dissidents (as opposed to their theoretical expostulation by establishment intellectuals) is also a revolutionary threat and is reacted to as such by the authorities.

What have the Berkeley students uncovered? First, in pursuance of civil rights, they have taken on such bastions of private property as the Bank of America and the Oakland Tribune. The response of the UC administration, which, via the Board of Regents, is responsible to these same forces, was to curtail student civil liberties. Finding themselves unable to secure their rights within the rules made and changed at will by their enemies, the FSM resorted to militancy, civil disobedience, and a traditional class weapon, the strike. While the faculty sweated and equivocated, the liberal Democratic governor, who knows what power is, called out the cops.

What the Berkeley students have exposed is not merely a vast and inept bureaucracy, but a coherent ruling-class structure. It runs all the way from the agro-business, banking, mining, railroad, utility, and newspaper capitalists and their direct representatives on the Board of Regents through the Democratic governor and the university administration down to the point of application, the police club. When Brown calls the FSM revolutionary, he speaks the truth, despite the fact that FSM fights only for rights supposedly guaranteed within a democratic capitalist society. In this struggle the students, whatever their intentions may have been, have given a clear and dramatic demonstration of how bourgeois class rule works. They have shown it too moribund and fearful to grant even those rights which are supposed to be its moral justification.

These exposures are invaluable lessons for other actual and potential enemies of this ruling class, such as the automation victims, farm laborers, the ghetto masses, indeed, all sections of the working class. To the extent that they learn these lessons, and come to understand their stake in this Free Speech Movement, they will aid the embattled students with their numerical strength, organization, and economic power. This revelation of class power will mark a significant step in a process of increasing political and class consciousness which must lead to a movement that will have the strength to effect the final solution of the whole gamut of problems which are now the students' concern.

Pat Brown calls it "revolution."


Search this Site    --   FSM-A Home Page