The Return of the Primitives
In 1964 a group of students calling themselves the Free Speech Movement “demanded” much more than free speech after the University of California at Berkeley had forbidden them to use school property to organize off-campus political activities. They stormed the administration building and took over university offices. FSM made a list of demands; more professors, academic departments, and more weird course studies (does any of this sound familiar?) to which the university president, named Kerr, promptly accepted in front of a throng of cheering students…only his terms of capitulation stipulated that none of the student leaders would be able to climb the podium and speak to the crowd as well. So when the student leader, Mario Savio, did just that, taking the mic away from President Kerr to deliver his version of the standard “workers of the world unite” harangue, campus police pulled Savio off the stage….thus…you guessed it…interfering with his free speech.
So, naturally, the occupation continued. And grew, which as one activist recalled, was their purpose all along.
(For background, Savio was a trained organizer, having spent the summer of ’64, called Freedom Summer, in Mississippi, training how to work a leftist agenda into the civil rights movement, using young blacks.)
The politics of the ’64 Berkeley campus revolt you can recognize today for it illuminated the classic confrontation of world views. Ayn Rand in her celebrated series of essays, The Return of the Primitive, described this confrontation this way; no matter how petty and petulant, no matter how childish, no matter how infantile the students beliefs were, the administration believed in nothing at all, other than protecting their own status. Thus it was a cake-walk. When some thing of even the slightest substance, no matter how puerile, runs head long into nothingness, nothing disintegrates.
Note that at no time did these students represent more than 2% of the campus population, but also representing, the upper 2% of affluence in the state of California; spoiled rich kids.
After fifty years, and nearly a decade of these campus confrontations, where in each case (except one, see SI Hayakawa) the administration folded, then, instead of going away the students simply increased their demands, you’d think university administrators would learn.
Nope. Fast forward to the University of Mizzou, 2015. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, so with only slight modification, we are seeing the same template being choreographed today, and with a much stronger hand than the one Miss Rand described in 1972.
For unlike 1964, new college administrations are fully on board with the dead air found between the ears of its more affluent and spoiled student body. They clearly are not in college to study the art of gainful employment…at least as those in the private sector understands the meaning of the term. What has ballooned since 1964, Barack Obama a perfect example, has been the number of jobs, competitively sought, in the public sector, that, when viewed through a microscope, seem to have no purpose at all. Like a prostitute, no visible means of support. Today, you can bundle them all up under the rubric “political activism” or “community organizing” and find tens of thousands of jobs in and around the academy, in government, and even in the streets (Occupy) organizing, usually with government funding. Only now we no longer find 2% of the campus population, as in 1964, but a swollen economic sub-culture of spoiled brats ranging closer to 15% of the general population.
Modern college administrators’ principal job is to herd these cats, and apparently protect them from anything that offends their sensibilities, while making sure no professor over in the hard sciences steps out of bounds by saying climate science or Darwin are just theories. Their high pay (Ford’s in the ’60s, Lexus’ in the 2000’s) is directly related to their ability to tend to the needs of student and faculty beneath them. And as for their bosses, until 2014 the majority of regents who hired those college presidents and chancellors were themselves liberal hacks, appointed by a liberal governor…the same people who gave Ferguson Black Lives Matter and the canonization of a thug named Michael Brown.
So then, modern school administrators, post 1990, unlike the chancellors and presidents from the 1960s, have been fully immersed into leftwing ideology and modern public sector administration. President Wolfe and Chancellor Bowen at Mizzou knew exactly what they were staring into when confronted by the empty threat of a hunger strike, and even emptier threat of sports team boycott. They were not the empty vessels Ayn Rand described from 1964, but rather invested brigade commanders who knew they had to take one for the sovereign and then dutifully fell on their swords…knowing healthy remuneration would come later, as every ranking state bureaucrat is now guaranteed….see the Veteran’s Administration, where even negligent homicide or perjury won’t keep a faithful public servant from getting his/her bonus and full retirement package.
And the students were squeakily Caucasian in the 60s’. But today, black radicalism no longer rises from the ghetto but from the suburbs. The gated-community black suburbs.. They only go to the ghetto to recruit. Now they are in their second generation of wielding immense political power, especially in blue cities, such as St Louis, which gave birth to both the Occupy Movement and Black Lives Matter. Michelle Obama and the Soul Sisters of Baltimore are new types Americans have largely overlooked as types.
These are no longer 2% rich kids, but 15% (and counting) spoiled middle class kids and through them liberals are erecting their own true sub-culture, their own army. What once was Marxist cant in 1965 has now become a full-blown cultural characteristic, kids who make “demands” because they had never been taught to take “no” for an answer, not because that what Marxists do, make demands. Give me a million like-minded, spoiled 19-year olds who refuse to heed a policeman’s direction to get out of the car, or to surrender a cell phone in school, and all I have to do is supply the objective and the reward. With that kind of army, a handler has a blank check.
So let’s review what has changed between 1964 and 2015. 1) University administrations are more entrenched and sympathetic with left-wing purposes, so are more responsive to 2) the goals and purposes of the liberal arts faculties who can’t even teach a Greek play or discuss Renaissance art without drawing anti-American contexts to them. All human understanding shall be subject to the political process. 3) Student body affluence has been multiplied almost 10-fold, but education in areas of economics…simply putting together a household budget…has fallen drastically. As student debt rises, especially in unapproved areas of study, business and economics, the ability to connect the dots between student debt and paying off that student debt, i.e., jobs, lessen. Work=money=stuff no longer works…unless it is work inside the state apparatus. Private sector endeavors are punished. 4) Black radicalism is no longer a product of the inner city but of gated communities. It has been chic since Michelle Obama was in college, and Obama sat at the knee of Frank Marshall Davis being instructed as to what was really going on with the Black Panthers in 1968. 5) And as long as Democrats ran state assemblies, even the university boards of regents have placed little top-down pressure on universities to clean up their acts.
In short, the radicals have gotten much stronger.
But so have 6) the People, who are no longer uninformed or misinformed babes in the woods, courtesy of CBS-NBC-ABC as they were in 1968. And we are getting more angry.
The Greater Game
So, understand the coming storm in this context. With the sweeping of state legislatures and governors’ mansions in 2014, don’t look for the next and the next and the next campus uprising to occur at a patsy public university like Missouri, or chic private schools like Yale, who’ve been churning out part-time professional lesbians since 1968. Look for it to get serious where conservatives are in charge.
For instance, only this past week, Tom Ross, president of the University of North Carolina system, over 200,000 students, was suddenly ousted and replaced by former Bush secretary of Education, Margaret Spelling. Republican are now in charge so look for the fur to fly.
In 2016 there will be an election. Since 2014 the People have rallied to take power back in state assemblies and governors’ mansions and this stark political fact runs head long into the fact that the Democrats have nothing to offer even their own voters except more debt, more job stagnation (except in government service) and the very likely possibility that their only viable candidate is a (known) felon. They have to turn this image around, or draw people’s attention away.
Mizzou was just a warm-up, a practice game, a jay-vee exercise. Look for the real fireworks to start, and start soon, in red states, based on a choreography drawn up in ’64 and being refined as we speak. Considering the list of six line items, sbove, the only real variable is #6, the People, and the power they (we) can project over state political leaders to quell the coming storm.
In the Greater Game we are outcome determinative.