The Decline of Freedom at Berkeley

by Lewis S. Feuer After nine years of teaching philosophy and social science at the University of California at Berkeley, Professor Feuer will leave to become professor of sociology at the University of Toronto. His angry appraisal of the “free speech “ explosion at Berkeley and its aftermath is both compelling and provocative, and the ATLANTIC is inviting others who are concerned over the implications of the Berkeley experience to comment on Professor Feuer’s analysis. The author of SPINOZA AND THE RISE OF LIBERALISMand THE SCIENTIFIC INTELLECTUAL, Professor Feuer was an Exchange Scholar at the Soviet Institute of Philosophy in Moscow for four and a half months in 1963.

BERKELEY has become a symbol for the world. To many Americans, it stands for a studentry in senseless rebellion; to the Communist government of North Vietnam, it is a faithful ally whose demonstrations against the United States government are the most valued propaganda; and to much of the academic community, it is the admired “best balanced” university (as of 1964) in the country. “Berkeley,” they say on every American campus, “is where the action is.” What sort of action has it been during the past academic year, the Year One in Berkeley after the Great Student Uprising? How has freedom fared in the aftermath of the famous Faculty Resolution of December 8, 1964, “that the content of speech or advocacy should not be restricted by the university”?

There was much to be said for the straightforward simplicity of the Faculty Resolution. It was categorical and plain; it made no exceptions. It enunciated a high-minded standpoint. It proposed to American universities that the only regulations concerning political activities on the campuses should be those of “time, place, and manner” - that is, only what was necessary to prevent interference with the normal functions of the university. Yet the very generality of the Faculty Resolution failed to take account of self-defeating consequences, which were altogether likely, especially in the context of the total commitment of some Berkeley activists. The faculty was promulgating a charter which could be used to safeguard the advocacy and planning of immediate acts of violence, illegal demonstrations, terrorist operations, interferences with troop trains, and obscene speech and action. University facilities became available for the organization of all such actions.

Perhaps in a less crisis-ridden atmosphere the Berkeley faculty could have contributed constructively to defining freedom of speech and thought for the university setting. As it was, they laid down an unqualified principle which in practice proved unworkable. My own understanding of the events which followed in the Year One will naturally reflect the fact that I was one of an unorganized minority which tried on December 8 to persuade our colleagues to affirm to the studentry that freedom of speech on the university campus did not extend to advocating and organizing immediate acts of force and violence.

What has happened in Berkeley during the past academic year has been in large part a consequence of that faculty resolution. For it in effect created a moral vacuum in the heart of the university. It founded an enclave which canceled the limits of any previously defined freedom of speech; on the University Plaza, with the university’s microphones and amplification, students were to be allowed to advocate and plan any sort of political activity, legal or illegal, violent or nonviolent. Though the regents tried to safeguard the situation with provisos about constitutional limits, the moral effect of the overwhelming faculty vote was decisive. The university enclave was unique in the United States, the only one in which for all practical purposes political authority was excluded, for both the university and the civic powers renounced their responsibilities. On the one hand, the administration was morally bound by its faculty to refrain from all restraint over speech; on the other, the civic powers by long custom and usage were reluctant to enter the student terrain: they did not understand it, they feared it, and they felt it to be the university’s business. Thus Berkeley began a most unusual experiment in unrestrained advocacy.

A migration of “non-students” descended on Berkeley. Already thriving in 1964, the nonstudent colony was reinforced as the news traveled of the Discovery of Freedom in California. Tired radicals came to be rejuvenated; lumpen intellectuals set out to found a Free University; Maoists arrived determined to “escalate now" on the campus; varieties of sexual reformers expounded their creeds by the Sproul Steps microphone. The New York Times estimated that there were twentyfive hundred non-students in residence. Some were in flight from stark personal tragedy; others were clinging to rebellion and adolescence, and required periodic transfusions of student vitality to sustain their stance against society. Some were American variants of Raskolnikov, Verkhovensky, and Nechayev. One functionary of the Viet Nam Day Committee (V.D.C.), the newspapers revealed, was a youth who a few years ago had murdered a seven-year-old child in New York; when the federal authorities arrested him for violation of parole, he told how he had come to Berkeley to make himself useful for humanity. Last year the student leaders and their faculty advocates used to become enraged at the mention of the role of the nonstudents; this year they frankly recognized their primary importance, and some were prepared to embattle the university for the right of non-students to be the officers of campus political groups. “Anyone who has been a student activist at Cal knows why active support from non-students is so often crucial,” said the representative activist leaflet “What Do They Think About Student Rights?” in March, 1966. “There are quite a few young people who have dropped out of school to devote full time to such things as the anti-war movement or the civil rights struggle. We want to make use of them, and they are happy to be made use of.”

What is a non-student? He is indeed defined negatively. He has no job, no calling, no vocation; he is a guerrilla fighter against society, whether he calls it the Establishment, the Power Structure, the System, or the Protestant Ethic.

It was inevitable that the university would have to resolve the anomaly of non-students as the officers and activists of “student” political organizations. The problem was especially brought home when non-students were in the forefront in between semesters in provoking a violation of the new university rules of procedure. A rally of the V.D.C. voted to defy the new “time, place, and manner” regulation which prohibited more than one rally a week on Sproul Steps by the same organization. Non-students did most of the speaking, and also took part in voting to defy the administration. The anomaly was real and evident: non-students, immune to the university’s powers, were voting for acts of disobedience to the university for which students would bear the punishment. There were no occupational hazards for the professional revolutionary on the University Plaza.

INTO this atmosphere of moral absolutes of commitment and nihilism came the new chancellor, Roger Heyns, author of The Psychology of Personal Adjustment. The chancellor’s political ethics was refreshingly free from ideology. It was the ethics of adjustment; a response is “good,” he wrote in his textbook, if it “(1) reduces tension, (2) without unduly interfering with the satisfaction of other motives of the individual, and (3) without interfering materially with the adjustment of other people.” The chancellor approached the maladjusted with the spirit of a humane scientist. In another book, The Anatomy of Conformity, he wrote how “through the use of differential reward ‘conformity can be induced’ without the person being aware that his behavior is being influenced. . . .” As a practitioner of adjustment, Chancellor Heyns tended to avoid initiatives; he waited patiently till the configuration and relative strengths of opposing forces — faculty, students, regents, and public opinion — were clear; by temperament he tended to coincide in his own stand with the resultant.

When he took office, Chancellor Heyns acted to bring adjustment and conformity. He appointed as his Special Assistant on Student Affairs the popular leading younger activist on the faculty, Associate Professor John Searle. In November, 1964, Searle had stood before the students on the Plaza, and said: “The University is out to destroy the civil rights movement.” He was the paradigm of the Faculty Rebel; he had brought back from Oxford the mien of an Angry Young Man, and though he neither sat-down with the students in Sproul Hall nor shared their jail sentences, he encouraged them with spirited words and admiration. From the standpoint of administrative logic, the warrant for the appointment of John Searle was a powerful one; it could scarcely fail, and might help bring peace of a sort to a university which needed it. If Searle succeeded in his job, he would have helped bring the students to their senses; if he failed, then the activists of studentry and faculty would have started quarreling among themselves. Whatever happened, the administration would emerge in a stronger position. Except morally.

The New Left thus began the academic year with a more dominating position in an American university than the Old Left had ever dreamed of. How did the intellectual climate fare?

In the first place the moderate liberal studentry was disoriented by the appointment of Searle as the chancellor’s assistant; it signified in their eyes a capitulation to the student activists. Only about a fifth of the studentry voted in the fall elections which Searle helped arrange. Abetted by this apathy and one of the most cumbersomely devised ballots in the history of voting, the Communist student leader was elected to the rules committee, and acclaimed herself as the first American Communist to be elected to public office in many years.

Second, to the dismay of those who had foreseen a new “civility” in discussion, a university emerged in which the favorite term of discourse was “paranoiac.” When student activists showed themselves suspicious of the new arrangements he was proposing, Searle said they were “paranoiac.” When one professor attacked another for not endorsing the illegal tactics of the Viet Nam Day Committee, he called him in print “paranoiac.” When student leftists were afraid that they would lose their new privilege of showing movies on the campus to raise money, the chancellor’s legal consultant called them “paranoid.” The Daily Californian, the student newspaper, editorialized on April 21: “We sense that student paranoia has given rise to administrative paranoia, neither of which is improving the atmosphere on campus.”

Third, the alienated student left acquired a curious exemption in the university from any laws of morality. The Establishment Left of the administration therefore soon found itself sorely tried by the amorality of its erstwhile comrades in the Alienated Left.

Students’ representatives stole a file which Searle brought to a meeting and photographed its contents; the students then claimed they had found evidence of a plot against them and disclaimed any feelings of guilt for either their theft or invasion of privacy. A leading young faculty activist, Acting Assistant Professor Reginald Zelnik, wrote in candid indignation: “Searle has been reviled and called a ‘liar,’ his personal files have been rifled, and all this without a word of protest from our ‘student leaders.’ ” He complained that “there has been a serious degeneration within the Berkeley student movement recently, that the standards of last year’s movement are not being upheld, and that some students have vastly exaggerated certain deficiencies which exist in our campus rules governing activity.” He objected to the students’ comparing their situation on campus with that “of oppressed Negroes in Mississippi”; their doing so, he wrote, was “an insult to the intelligence of our student body . . . and a cheap attempt to exploit antiracist sentiment by turning it into a situation where it is totally irrelevant.” Such epithets as “liar” and “paranoiac” were, however, among the milder terms of the language of the New Left. When students of the Peace Rights Organizing Committee invaded the chancellor’s office and were met by the affable vice-chancellor, Earl Cheit, they performed with gusto for the television cameras. They characterized the vice-chancellor to his face in vulgar terms; a gentler student interceded and said that maybe the vice-chancellor was a “son of a bitch,” but they shouldn’t say so.

The faculty activists, distressed by these developments, tried to explain them with a “two-stage” theory of the “movement.” Last year, they said, it was noble and high-minded and was protesting real wrongs; this year, on the other hand, it was ignoble, low-minded, and seeking conflict for its own sake. This “two-stage” theory had little objective evidence to support it. Every student tactic this year had its counterpart last year, and if anything, the student leaders could claim with some force that this year they were “betrayed” by their closest faculty friends and hoodwinked by the administration.

The administration’s policy of ambiguity, for all its advantages, was bound to involve it in a loss of moral stature among student activists. The special assistant spoke to the students in one way; the chancellor said the opposite to professors. Searle unqualifiedly assured students that the chancellor “fully” accepted “December 8 th”; in practice, however, as well as in conversations, Chancellor Heyns professed otherwise. Conflict and misunderstanding were bound to evolve. The issue of the non-students became a locus for recriminations of bad faith. The students state in one of their leaflets (and their account was not challenged): “He [Searle] said he was aware of how important and useful non-students could be to student organizations. He would prefer it if the rules permitted non-students to sit at tables. But Don Mulford [the local Republican state assemblyman] and his sort were paranoiac about ‘outside agitators,’ so non-students would have to be excluded — on paper. Actually, he assured us, the Administration would be happy to wink at any violations. ‘You can trust me,’ he said. Some of the students believed they could, and others were too polite to say they couldn’t. And so the gentlemen’s agreement held — until the end of February when the Chancellor decided that the time had come to show who was boss.”

WHAT made the issue of the non-students momentous was the university’s invitation to United Nations Ambassador Arthur Goldberg to deliver an address on Charter Day, March 25, and receive an honorary degree. Here, in the minds of the student leaders, was their greatest challenge and opportunity, more important than their parades and demonstrations through the streets of Berkeley and Oakland.

This was no skirmish with local policemen; this was a chance, as the most extreme activists saw it, to insult the spokesman for American foreign policy publicly. Berkeley, they hoped, would lead the way for the student movement to stand publicly with the Viet Cong. “To let Chancellor Heyns cripple student political activity at this moment would be more than a counter-revolution in campus politics; it could easily be an event with international consequences,” wrote these student leaders. The Berkeley student movement had brought the university to a “grinding halt” last year; could it now pioneer in a counterpart technique which might bring the government of the United States into discredit and defeat?: “The ferment on this campus is unsettling not only for the Regents and the Governor, but for the President of the United States as well.”

Several faculty activists spoke to the students on the Plaza at a meeting two days before the ambassador’s address. Challenged by the student militants to lead a walkout from the Charter Day ceremony, the faculty activists talked about their disenchantment with the student movement, its lying leaflets and dishonesty. The students replied that to be parliamentary when the United States was engaged in “genocide” was immoral.

There was no Mario Savio present this time to stir the studentry to bring the machine to a grinding halt, nor was there a Joan Baez to sing the volunteers on to starry-eyed disobedience. So the student assemblage voted for a simple walkout, preceded by a display of protest signs, rather than for the physical disruption of the entire ceremony. Waves of multicolored protest signs, held high above the audience, greeted the ambassador as he rose to speak; they conferred their own dishonorary degree, “Doctor of War.” Later several hundred students halted the proceedings for a few minutes as they filed to the aisles in secession. Afterward, a “confrontation” was arranged at the gymnasium between the ambassador and the director of the Center for Chinese Studies. Extremist student and non-student leaders later bitterly regretted that they had lost their opportunity to place their veto on the granting of the degree to Arthur Goldberg.

Moral ambiguity thus had had its costs as well as achievements. Major “confrontations” were avoided, and many persons were thankful that Chancellor Heyns had shown himself capable of outmaneuvering the student activists. Yet the plain fact was that freedom of speech in a meaningful sense had virtually vanished from the university, and the administration, despite all its brave phrases, continued to be cowed by several hundred student activists. Above all, no university administration can afford in the long run to acquire a reputation as Machiavellian. This, however, was precisely what was happening in Berkeley.

THE concept of the university as a bastion for non-student “guerrilla warfare” against society was bound to provoke a defensive response on the community’s part. In January, 1966, Chancellor Roger Heyns became probably the first university head in America to be taken to task by a county grand jury for condoning “the deliberate violation of criminal laws” on the campus. The Alameda jury charged that the Berkeley campus had become the “primary base” for violations of the law, and “a staging area for unlawful off-campus activities such as the attempts to interfere with the passage of troop trains through Berkeley and Emeryville in August, 1965.” It cited thirty-four specific instances of such use of the university’s facilities. The chancellor replied with a statement which captious newspapermen decried for its characteristic ambiguity: “The laws of the state and our rules cover the use of university facilities. . . . I know of no illegal use of our facilities, and President Kerr and I have requested law enforcement agencies to act if such illegal use occurs.”

An incident in May toward the year’s end indicated the extent to which suspicion and mistrust had become the norm in the Berkeley community. John Leggett, acting assistant professor of sociology, burst in one evening on his office in Barrows Hall and found the veteran janitor holding some papers in his hand. At once there were charges and innuendos: was the janitor a spy or agent for the chancellor? The aggrieved professor, a militant New Leftist, summoned the police to arrest the proletarian. The next day he enlisted the aid of his distinguished colleague, Professor Franz Schurmann, the director of the Center for Chinese Studies, and both proceeded to the district attorney’s office. The following dialogue was reported verbatim in the non-student press:

Director of Chinese Center: “What is the legal status of an office used by a faculty member? Can it be assumed that my office is my private domain?”

Assistant District Attorney: “From a legal standpoint, you, as an employee of the university, have no property rights to a room that the university has been good enough to assign for your use. . . .”

Assistant Professor: “What about illegal trespass? Obviously the janitor was not conducting janitorial service. He was reading my files.”

Assistant District Attorney: “I don’t feel he was guilty of illegal trespass. A janitor is a kind of inspector who has the privilege of travelling about through the building as he sees fit.”

Director of Chinese Center: “When a state is totalitarian, the state uses janitors to spy upon professors.”

Such was the bizarre comedy played concerning the inquisitive old janitor, Mr. Riley. Almost all of us have had the experience of finding the clean-up men occasionally curious about the papers they pick up on desks. They take it for granted that if the document is secret, the professor will put it in his locked file. Poor Mr. Riley never tried to hide the fact that he had chanced to pick up a paper. Suddenly he was transplanted by the militant acting assistant professor and the director of the Chinese Center into a world of international intrigue. Alternately he was the chancellor’s spy, an agent for the Central Intelligence Agency, a bondsman of James Bond, and finally a “fall guy” for unnamed sinister powers. Nobody stopped to think that he was Floyd Riley, janitor in Barrows Hall, the center of social sciences in the United States, where professorial backbiting is now elevated into higher domains of ideological skullduggery, and where a sane janitor wonders what sort of institution it is whose floors he is sweeping.

WHAT meanwhile has happened to the whole concept of freedom of speech on the Berkeley campus? Freedom of discussion presupposes that the chief sides in any national debate will be represented. In Berkeley, the supporters of President Johnson’s foreign policy are, in effect, denied a forum on the Berkeley campus. The New Left has made it nearly impossible for the national Administration’s standpoint to be presented to Berkeley students. This was the effect of the last genuine debate which took place in Berkeley in May, 1965, at which Professor Robert Scalapino and William Bundy defended the Administration policy in Vietnam against two critics. Although the critics were listened to courteously by Administration supporters, Scalapino and Bundy were almost shouted down. Some activist leaders have defended the one-sidedness of the “free discussion.” The time, they say, for equal discussion of all sides is over; now is the time for action, and discussion should be confined at Berkeley to alternative ways of stopping the war machine.

The University Plaza itself became dominated by the non-students. They came on behalf of a variety of causes and movements. Their finest persons were the representatives of the striking farm workers from Delano, telling of their efforts to build a union. At the other extreme were the proponents of “undiluted orgyism,” the new “ideological sexuality” which is preached and practiced in Berkeley by the lunatic fringe of the second power. The nonstudents’ principal publication, Berkeley Barb, described this development: “Berkeley is fast becoming the great experimental ‘freedom lab’ for the whole country and the world! In Berkeley, amidst all the other forms of rebellion afoot, there is very much a sexual rebellion in the making also. The rebellion here spoken of is not mere ‘shacking’. . . . What is here being referred to as betokening a greater rebellion in Berkeley is the incidental rise of sheer, undiluted orgy-ism.” The chief of the “orgiastic rebellion” spoke at a Sproul Hall noonday rally to secure recruits for their next session. One could scarcely believe that the faculty majority on December 8 had intended what was taking place in its name.

The administration and faculty representatives on the rules committee have begun to try to move the noonday rallies from the Sproul Steps to the less central Lower Plaza. The student activists, however, are prepared to defend their hold on Sproul Steps. To them it has an immense symbolic significance. It signifies a standing threat to reoccupy Sproul Hall. “These are the Mario Savio Steps,” they say, “the steps for which we laid outbodies on the line.” At one public meeting of the rules committee several hundred of them hooted and hissed a professor of political science, Herbert McClosky, who last year had vigorously supported them. Now he found their rallies ridiculous and regretted that he had lost several weeks of his research time on this “silly business.” At these words, the hooting and hissing became a grandiloquent reproach. Where were the tribunes of December 8? asked the student activists.

Thus the “freedom of speech” which emerged in Berkeley during this past year was unilateral, a freedom for the New Left which the latter was prepared to deny to others. The chief ideologist on the campus, Stephen Weissman, told John Searle bluntly at a public meeting that they even reserved the right to advocate sending “storm troopers” into the classrooms to disrupt them, that their first loyalty was to the “Movement,” and that the university in their eyes was not a community but a field for conflict. So enfeebled had the meaning of liberal democratic values become among student activists that the audience passively acquiesced to a kinship with Nazi storm troopers. Indeed, the first day of the spring semester began precisely with an organized attempt to disrupt the large social science course by forcing the professor in charge, Nathan Glazer, into a “confrontation” on Vietnam: when he refused, the principal disrupters, an outside graduate student and a teaching assistant, called excitedly for a walkout. Political dialogue on the Berkeley campus tended to become one between factions of the New Left.

The aftermath of the Charter Day walkout left the university authorities exhausted. Its advisers said among themselves they would hesitate long before they proposed inviting another national Administration spokesman to the Berkeley campus. To be sure, the ever-effervescent John Searle stated to the press, “We clobbered them,” an ill-considered remark, since, after all, he owed his administrative appointment to the activists’ alleged confidence in him, as the chancellor said. The “clobbered” V.D.C. that evening was symbolically and actually befouling the university gymnasium in its own victory celebration. The lesson of Year One was all too clear. When teachers abandon their responsibilities, they become false teachers and sow confusion in their students’ lives. Freedom of speech, freedom of debate have never been at a lower estate in any major American university in the last generation.

The studentry itself, however, has finally begun to take an initiative which may strengthen the administration’s will. It rejected by a decisive vote the new constitution which an activist-dominated constitutional convention had proposed, and rescued the administration from the anxieties of another “confrontation” with a New Left student government. But the moderate liberal studentry, generally busy with their studies, was without leadership and lacked an auxiliary corps of fulltime, non-student activists.

WHAT did the Berkeley uprising contribute to the improvement of education at the university? The so-called Educational Reform failed to impress the alienated student activists, who looked for inspiration principally to the writer Paul Goodman. They interpreted the much heralded Muscatine Report as a “power-play” on the part of one faction of the professors. Many moderate students were pleased and guardedly hopeful. But the overwhelming majority of the Berkeley faculty seemed unmoved by the committee’s report and regarded with indifference its proposals for more concern with teaching, for one course a quarter on a “pass or fail” basis, and its gesture for smaller sections. Attendance at faculty meetings to discuss Educational Reform dwindled to record lows; at the meeting of the Academic Senate on May 5 which voted down one proposal, 89 persons were present to vote out of a faculty of more than 1500. At a similar meeting on May 10 of the College of Letters and Science, 37 members of a faculty of 900 were present.

Yet one of the proposals of the Educational Reform was, on the face of it, a striking one. Since the Reform committee could not agree on any common philosophy of education, it borrowed a leaf from the multiversity: it proposed to set up a Board of Educational Development which was charged to keep proposing and underwriting daring new experiments in higher education. It was as if a Great Bureaucratic State boldly authorized a Ministry of Revolution and Subversion. The multiversity’s way of dealing with Reform is to institutionalize it, and the committee, lacking any basic plan for dealing with the multiversity, characteristically relapsed into its ways of thinking.

The one educational experiment which was begun under the immediate impact of the student uprising was after one short year close to foundering. Its director, Professor Joseph Tussman, chairman of the department of philosophy, was remembered as the professor who at a hectic Plaza meeting in December, 1964, told the massed students that they now had all the power. He was made director of a two-year “experimental college” which was modeled on the venture of Alexander Meiklejohn at Wisconsin more than thirty years ago. Perhaps because it lacked the teaching genius of a Meiklejohn to give it meaning, this latest quest for an educational utopia, to which so many students had attached a touching faith and hope, was by spring in a sorry pass. The director complained that his teaching assistants were “grooving with the students,” and not acting as “islands of tranquillity and non-hysteria.” He added: “In a very real sense the problem is one of authority. I find myself pushed more and more into a role that is generally described as authoritarian — and that’s okay. I accept that.” This was indeed a time of transition for many Berkeley professors; from libertarianism to authoritarianism in one short year.

Was the student uprising the harbinger, as so many persons hoped, of a higher student ethic? The facts provide a melancholy refutation. The aftermath of the student uprising brought to the city of Berkeley a period of unprecedented crime. According to the annual police report, almost half the persons arrested in Berkeley during 1965 were students. Close to 3000 students of all sorts and schools were arrested in the year which followed the Student Uprising of 1964. In a five-year period, burglaries had increased from 147 to 1164, and thefts from 305 to 664. While the city as a whole during the past year sustained an 11 percent increase in crime, the increase in the campus area was 39 percent. The chief of police reported that the most dramatic upsurge in crime took place at the end of 1964 — that is, at the height of the student uprising.

Apart from all statistics and their possible inaccuracies and misreadings, what was most disquieting was that some segments of the New Left proclaimed their readiness to prey on the System. A cult of thievery was flourishing. The Maoist group was most vociferous of all in boasting about its achievements in shoplifting, but others shared its dishonor. This cult of dishonesty has been developing gradually in Berkeley. Three years ago the head of the New Left student party, Slate, was found guilty of stealing from a bookstore; his defense was to blame it on the System. The non-student founder of the obscenitarian movement was also arrested for shoplifting. Guerrilla warfare was waged against small storekeepers, aged landladies, the university’s grading system, and selective service.

The faculty and the students in Berkeley have within one year shown changes in their ranks which, if they persist, must affect in the long run the university’s character. A process of political selection has gotten under way. Several of the leading moderates and liberals have resigned from the University at Berkeley—most notably, Seymour Lipset, director of the Institute for International Studies, Dwight Waldo, director of the Institute for Governmental Studies, and Paul Seabury, a former national officer of Americans for Democratic Action. According to a study in progress, the number of tenured professors leaving Berkeley has trebled during this time of troubles, with more than thirty resigning this year.

The applications for undergraduate admission for the fall of 1966 had dropped by more than 20 percent, it was announced in February. Whereas 5048 had applied by January 7 of the previous year, only 3672 had applied during the present year. Second and third choices would later raise the number, but the initial decrease was striking. Reports from various departments indicated too that the better graduate students were declining to come to the university. Berkeley has entered upon a process of ideological and moral self-differentiation. It may become a university whose tone will be set by students and teachers of the New Left.

Indeed, much of the Berkeley faculty itself is imbued with an ethos of generational revolt. More than any other in the United States it lacked the stabilizing force of tradition, probably because it was largely the product of an academic gold rush. As the university in the last decade burgeoned in size, with new departments, new centers, and new institutes, there came forward a whole new academic generation, shaped in the post-World War II period, with values which reflected that age of mobility and achievable wealth. The new university was virtually ahistorical, with few roots in the past; in the social sciences especially there was no sense of a continuity with the work of predecessors. Departments were riven by severe conflicts of generations, of personalities and politics — certainly nothing new in academic life. But perhaps only on a campus which had lost sight of scholarly dignity, honor, and courtesy could these episodes of ugly competitiveness and naked hostility have resounded so shockingly.

Berkeley, indeed, is the first “political university” in the United States. This is a development of the highest significance. For the first time the intellectual class of the United States is undertaking to enter politics directly, and to offer to the electorate, through the agency of faculty-student activists, something akin to an Intellectuals’ Party. During the spring of 1966 in Berkeley, almost all facultystudent activism converged around the candidacy in the Democratic congressional primary of Robert Scheer, who, running on a platform of militant opposition to the Vietnam war, nearly defeated the liberal incumbent; he carried Berkeley by 14,625 votes to 12,165, but lost in the district as a whole, receiving 28,751 votes against the victor’s 35,270. Robert Scheer is a typical product of the Berkeley student movement. In 1961, while a graduate student in economics, he was an editor and founder of a magazine of the New Left, Root and Branch. “The college left,” he wrote at that time in a vocabulary which had ugly connotations, “consists of a few thousand cultural freaks. Its membership is weighted heavily to New York Jews, children of older generation radicals, and Bohemians. For reasons of culture, personality, or choice, they are generally impervious to the normal rewards and concerns of American society.” Because the intellectuals were alienated from society, he wrote, they clung to the university — “the University is ‘home’; this is the world we understand, and the other one frightens the hell out of us.”

Scheer was pro-Castro, anti-John Kennedy, and mildly pornopolitical. His studies came to grief. He grew a shaggy, Castro-like beard, and went to work as a salesman for the famed literary center, City Lights Bookshop, in San Francisco. Subsequently, the System, through the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, published a paper by him on Vietnam. He spoke at teach-ins, and according to V.D.C. spokesmen, during the mass demonstration in the Berkeley streets on the night of October 15 supported the breaching of the Oakland police formation. He had been using for some time the rhetoric of a seizure of power by the Oakland poor. Then he became a candidate for Congress. He trimmed his beard so that he looked like a New England whaling captain, and began to wear a bourgeois jacket, as befitted a well-groomed congressional candidate. Student and faculty activists gave time and money to the Scheer campaign. They availed themselves of all techniques, from exhaustive precinct work to demagogy and sexagogy. One day they brought a leading San Francisco go-go dancer to the Lower Plaza to lure the students into politics. She danced for the multitude, but embarrassed her sponsors by telling a reporter that she didn’t know who Robert Scheer was.

The New Intellectual class in Berkeley is feeling its way toward a technique for exerting political power through a variety of devices — stopping troop trains, massive demonstrations open-ended toward illegality, and the more staid political primaries. And, of course, the university is in the strange position of being the “staging area” for all these actions. Two demonstrations, of October 15 and November 20, though in large part composed of non-students, assembled and marched from the university grounds. Public criticism indeed moved the chancellor to an agreement with the Berkeley authorities that he would henceforth deny the university grounds to illegal parades. This constituted a welcome departure from the unrestricted Faculty Resolution of December 8. The faculty counterposed no objection. The administration, however, never undertook a straightforward discussion with the students of the inadequacies of December 8. Rather, it rendered a continuing obeisance to the resolution, thereby always providing a basis for students’ charges of “bad faith.”

A great institution like Berkeley has, however, tremendous resources for recovery of integrity. It is likely that the moderate studentry will eventually assert itself and terminate the hegemony of the non-students on Sproul Plaza. The nonstudents themselves are an unpredictable segment; Berkeley might cease to be the fashion, and the guerrilla warriors would go elsewhere. Yet meanwhile the possibility remains of troubled days. The virus of violence is strong in Berkeley; in the spring the headquarters of the V.D.C. near the university was bombed and shattered beyond repair. To be sure, the V.D.C. itself included many who advocated or justified the rise of terrorism. But it was remarkable how little concern was shown by the Berkeley community.

In the last reckoning the problem of Berkeley is the problem of the American intellectual class itself, its sudden power, affluence, influence, and immaturity. Here was the largest aggregation of intellectual force in the United States, yet its dealings with basic political issues were often deflected by a congeries of slogans, fantasies, rancors. A whole group of vaguely conformist leftists were now enjoying a vicarious ideological fling in the form of the New Student Left. A cult of youth swept over faculty activists; somehow youth’s idealism must have history on its side, even if it went wrong in particular instances. One could not help remembering that German professors in the nineteen thirties had apologized for their Nazi students in precisely this way, with precisely this faith in the redeeming sincerity of youth. One also remembered the American fellow-traveling professors of the thirties who had underwritten the idealistic Communist commitment of their students; the Berkeley Faculty Activists were their living replicas, using the same words, expressions, and arguments. Many professors were particularly affected by accusations of hypocritical inactivism, especially when such charges came from their students. The intellectual is as susceptible to fashions as any other part of the community, and intellectual fashions are insidious in a way others are not. To fall behind the vanguard is a kind of spiritual death for the intellectual. Thus the old men and the middle-aged men in Berkeley were curiously adrift, and failed to supply that balancing principle, that measure of experience, which was the duty of their years.

In this sense, the problem of Berkeley is the problem of the American intellectual class. As it grows in power and numbers, wooed alike by the government, foundations, the publishing world, industry, and the universities, it demands for itself the privileges and prerogatives of a third chamber of government. It demands that governmental officials be especially accountable to it as the guardians of intellect and knowledge. Yet it has scarcely shown itself to possess the character which its pretensions would require.

The twentieth century has shown how the intellectual class can become a primary force for an assault on democratic institutions, and we may yet witness this phenomenon in America disguised under such slogans as “participatory democracy.” Bernard Shaw remarks that the most tragic thing in the world is a man of genius who is not also a man of character. This in a sense has been the collective tragedy of Berkeley.