- There is perhaps little reason to be optimistic about the above analysis.
True, the Dixiecrat-GOP coalition is the weakest point in the dominating complex
of corporate, military and political power. But the civil rights and peace
and student movements are too poor and socially slighted, and the labor movement
too quiescent, to be counted with enthusiasm. From where else can power and
vision be summoned? We believe that the universities are an overlooked seat
- First, the university is located in a permanent position of social influence.
Its educational function makes it indispensable and automatically makes it
a crucial institution in the formation of social attitudes. Second, in an
unbelievably complicated world, it is the central institution for organizing,
evaluating, and transmitting knowledge. Third, the extent to which academic
resources presently is used to buttress immoral social practice is revealed
first, by the extent to which defense contracts make the universities engineers
of the arms race. Too, the use of modern social science as a manipulative
tool reveals itself in the "human relations" consultants to the
modern corporation, who introduce trivial sops to give laborers feelings of
"participation" or "belonging", while actually deluding
them in order to further exploit their labor. And, of course, the use of motivational
research is already infamous as a manipulative aspect of American politics.
But these social uses of the universities' resources also demonstrate the
unchangeable reliance by men of power on the men and storehouses of knowledge:
this makes the university functionally tied to society in new ways, revealing
new potentialities, new levers for change. Fourth, the university is the only
mainstream institution that is open to participation by individuals of nearly
- These, at least, are facts, no matter how dull the teaching, how paternalistic
the rules, how irrelevant the research that goes on. Social relevance, the
accessibility to knowledge, and internal openness
- these together make the university a potential base and agency in a movement
of social change.
1. Any new left in America must be, in large measure, a left with real intellectual
skills, committed to deliberativeness, honesty, reflection as working tools.
The university permits the political life to be an adjunct to the academic
one, and action to be informed by reason.
- 2. A new left must be distributed in significant social roles throughout
the country. The universities are distributed in such a manner.
- 3. A new left must consist of younger people who matured in the postwar
world, and partially be directed to the recruitment of younger people. The
university is an obvious beginning point.
- 4. A new left must include liberals and socialists, the former for their
relevance, the latter for their sense of thoroughgoing reforms in the system.
The university is a more sensible place than a political party for these two
traditions to begin to discuss their differences and look for political synthesis.
- 5. A new left must start controversy across the land, if national policies
and national apathy are to be reversed. The ideal university is a community
of controversy, within itself and in its effects on communities beyond.
- 6. A new left must transform modern complexity into issues that can be understood
and felt close-up by every human being. It must give form to the feelings
of helplessness and indifference, so that people may see the political, social
and economic sources of their private troubles and organize to change society.
In a time of supposed prosperity, moral complacency and political manipulation,
a new left cannot rely on only aching stomachs to be the engine force of social
reform. The case for change, for alternatives that will involve uncomfortable
personal efforts, must be argued as never before. The university is a relevant
place for all of these activities.
- But we need not indulge in allusions: the university system cannot complete
a movement of ordinary people making demands for a better life. From its schools
and colleges across the nation, a militant left might awaken its allies, and
by beginning the process towards peace, civil rights, and labor struggles,
reinsert theory and idealism where too often reign confusion and political
barter. The power of students and faculty united is not only potential; it
has shown its actuality in the South, and in the reform movements of the North.
- The bridge to political power, though, will be built through genuine cooperation,
locally, nationally, and internationally, between a new left of young people,
and an awakening community of allies. In each community we must look within
the university and act with confidence that we can be powerful, but we must
look outwards to the less exotic but more lasting struggles for justice.
- To turn these possibilities into realities will involve national efforts
at university reform by an alliance of students and faculty. They must wrest
control of the educational process from the administrative bureaucracy. They
must make fraternal and functional contact with allies in labor, civil rights,
and other liberal forces outside the campus. They must import major public
issues into the curriculum -- research and teaching on problems of war and
peace is an outstanding example. They must make debate and controversy, not
dull pedantic cant, the common style for educational life. They must consciously
build a base for their assault upon the loci of power.
- As students, for a democratic society, we are committed to stimulating this
kind of social movement, this kind of vision and program is campus and community
across the country. If we appear to seek the unattainable, it has been said,
then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable.