Socialism and Education
The history behind how socialism entered and became dominant in our education system is not well publicized. All modern publishers are graduates of liberal arts colleges, the stronghold of the movement, and tend not to publish about such matters.
It began with a student rebellion. The rebellion of students against authority has been chronicled since the days of ancient Greece. In more recent history, this type of rebellion has occurred periodically worldwide for the past two hundred years. The students rioting in Korea are frightening to watch on television, throwing bottles of flaming gasoline on the police. Tiananmen square was a heart-breaker, as those in authority showed no mercy in settling who was still in charge. It has become clear that German university students consider active protest as part of their curriculum. Only in America have protesters against authority been so thorough in their rejection of it. The protesters of the sixties and early seventies extended their rejection into personal debasement, deliberately refusing even personal hygiene and sacrificing their personal dignity through gutter language, obscene literature, and deliberately promiscuous (sometimes public) sex to demonstrate their contempt for the authority of the state, school, church, and family. "Don't trust anyone over thirty" was one of their mottoes.
This rebellion was generated and led by the children of middle-class and wealthy white America. It was to grow and then splinter into other movements.
There is no particular beginning incident (or "happening" as it was called in those days) that started the scene of events which steamrollered into the conditions of today. One could point toward many events spanning half a century and say, "There, that's where it started." Many other points in space and time would be as valid. Klaus Mehnert, a German-American historian, selected the first public reading of Allen Ginsberg's poem "Howl" as the beginning. That's as good a place to start as any.
"Howl" was recited by Ginsberg in the "Six Gallery." This was a gallery for modern art in San Francisco where the art of six artists was normally on display. There was an audience of a hundred or so people there that evening in October of 1955. Gary Snyder and Jack Kerouac were among those listening. The novels of Kerouac, the writings of Snyder, and the poems of Ginsberg were to have a profound effect on activists for all causes, both in the United States and in Europe, for many years. Kerouac had already written his On the Road, although it had not yet been published. It, along with his The Dharma Bums was to become required reading for anyone in "the movement." When On the Road was published, it received wide acclaim, often compared to the early work of Hemingway. Riding on his sudden popularity, Kerouac quickly wrote seven other books along the same vein. Snyder, on the other hand, was enthralled with Asiatic religions and primitive cultures. He often suggested that man should use the society of the pre-discovery American Indian as a cultural model.
While drugs, arrogant behavior, promiscuous sex, and other forms of open rebellion occupied the white students, the next five years also brought black issues into the limelight. The Supreme Court issued a decision against segregation in schools in 1954, leading to the school integration battle in Little Rock in 1957. The Supreme Court came back with a decision in 1958 forbidding segregation in railway stations. It was on 1 February 1960 that modern-day activism began. Four black students entered the Woolworth store in Greensboro, North Carolina and sat at a lunch counter marked "For White's Only." They were not served. Other black students joined and the first sit-in became history. They received extensive, almost overwhelming, television coverage, a fact that was not wasted on the multitude of white students who were smarting under "oppressive authority." Here was a chance to fight back, with a cause that was proven to be photogenic. The television coverage would allow them to reach the working people of the country. Marxist doctrine assured them that these workers were only waiting for an opportunity to rise up in a long overdue revolution against capitalism, believed by the students to be the root of the stifling authoritarianism which they felt was so pervasive in America.
The National Student Association (NSA) urged its members in 500 colleges to organize demonstrations and boycotts of the Woolworth stores. The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) decided that nonviolence was to be the key-word. During the next year more than 3,000 white activist students received jail sentences, only a small percentage of those who had participated. They had, however, been successful. The pressure of their actions along with the omnipresent television coverage had desegregated many establishments. Next came the "Freedom Rides," started in May 1961. Two whites were murdered as a result of this action.
New black leaders began to emerge: Stokely Carmichael, Rap Brown, and Malcolm X were dominant. The Watts district in Los Angeles exploded. The Black Panthers were formed. Black rhetoric hardened.
The Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) became active. Tom Hayden was a leader in this organization, which was an outgrowth of the League for Industrial Democracy (LID) founded by Upton Sinclair in 1905. By the summer of 1963, they had issued four papers: The Port Huron Statement, Students and Social Action, Students and Labor, and America and the New Era. These four papers encompass the ideology of the SDS of those years. They claimed that America was being victimized by their leadership, found fault with American society, and complained of the Democratic Party and the labor unions. The Republican Party was not mentioned, being beneath contempt. SDS then approached the blacks in the North, trying to do in the North what the SNCC had done in the South. They envisioned joining with the blacks and labor to form a Marxist revolutionary force which could prevail. Revolution was the stated aim. They were shocked when they were rebuffed by both. There was too much friction between the blacks and the whites for an alliance to work and the laborers did not trust these weak-looking young men with the incomprehensible jargon and big mouths.
In 1964 the emphasis shifted to Berkeley. President Clark Kerr, himself a former LID member who should have known better, issued a statement intending to define and broaden the scope of universities required for the U.S. to be competitive in an ever more knowledge-hungry world. He called for a "multiversity concept" which effectively changed the university into a "knowledge industry," an instrument of national purpose and a center of knowledge for providing trained men for every need. He saw increasingly specific controls from and more active involvement by the government. It was a red flag waved in front of an already angry bull. Brad Cleveland, a graduate student, angrily addressed a letter to the undergraduate student body (from D'Souza):
"The multiversity is not an educational center, but a highly efficient industry: it produces bombs, other war machines, a few token "peaceful" machines, and enormous numbers of safe, highly skilled, and respectable automatons to meet the immediate needs of business and government. This institution, affectionately called 'Cal' by many of you does not deserve a response of loyalty and allegiance from you. There is only one proper response to Berkeley from undergraduates: that you organize and split this campus wide open!"
The Marxist influence is seen in the wording of this proclamation. Marxist doctrine claims that all forms of social discipline, including religion and education, are for the purpose of controlling the public for exploitation by the ruling class. The same doctrine claims warfare as one of the tools of exploitation. As with Marx, Cleveland calls for revolution as the means of correction.
The student body needed little prodding. There was a protest march of five-hundred students on the dean's office shortly after, followed a month later by an eight-hundred sit-in at the administration building. Six-hundred police were dispatched to clear the hall on orders of Governor Edmund Brown. The Free Speech Movement (FSM) was formed with student Mario Savio as head. The police action aroused students who had not been involved before. The revolt spread. Kerr eventually resigned.
Why did these students rebel? In retrospect it appears to be a revolt without a cause. Living conditions were excellent. The campus is beautiful. The curriculum and the teaching staff were outstanding. The young people in the movement were from middle class or wealthy families. No one pleaded poverty or hunger. No one claimed incompetence in the faculty. In foreign countries the students under oppressive governments protest for freedom, or if under a corrupt regime they protest for a change in the head of state. In China there was a revolt by students over living conditions and quality of food. The demands at Berkeley were for inconsequential, almost childish, things. They demanded more freedom to cohabit but the school's very few rules had not been rigidly enforced. And they demanded abolition of grades and exams. It appeared to be a generalized rebellion against society.
The reason for the revolt was so obscure that those in the faculty could not fathom it, though among their ranks were some of the finest minds in psychology and psychiatry in the country. The well known sociologist and philosopher, Lewis Feuer, resigned in disgust and moved to Canada. He wrote a book The Conflict of Generations which was quite critical of the student behavior at Berkeley. Clark Kerr reflected the faculty consensus when he said, "We fumbled, we floundered, and the worst thing is I still don't know how we should have handled it."
Then a real cause appeared, the war in Vietnam. And the students already had a taste of power. They were ready. They had learned how to organize. They had learned how to recruit. Above all, they had learned how to use television to their advantage. SDS gathered up twenty-five thousand supporters, including folk singer Joan Baez, and marched on Washington on 17 April 1965.
Though the march on Washington was successful, no further large scale actions were attempted. But the revolt simmered on campuses across the country. The students were not directly affected by the Vietnam War since student deferments were allowed. Those who didn't want to be drafted could avoid it merely by staying in school after graduation. Many did just that. It didn't take the government long to realize that students were using graduate school for escaping their military obligations. Then, in the summer of 1967, the government applied the match to the student powder keg. It announced that deferments for education would no longer be allowed for graduate students and there were time limits placed on undergraduates. Impending military service loomed ahead for all the male students. They faced two years of strictly enforced authoritarian discipline. This was a blow to young men who were rebellious to any sign of any rule. Young people who had before protested America's imperialism from a coolly intellectual viewpoint now experienced raw fear in their entrails. They had been fighting for greater freedoms, even the removal of all restrictions, and they suddenly found themselves tightly bound in chains with no escape. The campuses across the United States changed overnight. As one student later wrote, "A burning frenzy enveloped the campus."
That far away war across the Pacific was no longer a distant but regrettable thing. It was now a personal and intimate part of each male student, along with their wives, families, and girl friends. Until this time, President Johnson had been a favorite of the students because of his stand on civil rights. That attitude changed overnight. He now became a hated figure. Shouts of "Sig Heil" greeted his appearance on television. "Hey! Hey! LBJ! How many kids have you killed today?" greeted him when he appeared in person. There was even, "Lee Harvey Oswald - Where are you? We need you!" Johnson received hundreds of assassination threats every month. Then he, perhaps wisely, decided not to run for re-election.
During the first few months of the Nixon administration, the public's attitude toward the student's rebellion hardened. Nixon promised "law and order." Thirty-nine state legislatures considered four hundred laws calling for punishment of students who defied law and order. Four-thousand students were arrested in the first half of 1969 on various charges from disorderly conduct to arson.
The SDS met in Chicago's Coliseum on 18 June 1969, the last of nine consecutive annual conventions. A six-page article was distributed by New Left Notes entitled You Don't Need a Weatherman to Know Which Way the Wind Blows. Thus were born the weathermen. But there was much dissension, so much that the meeting became stormy on many fronts.
Until this time, there had been a loose alliance between the students and the black activists. From the white student's standpoint it had been an honest effort to help the blacks reach their goals. This feeling was not reciprocated. The blacks had accepted the help reluctantly. They openly mistrusted those "wimpy white dudes." The Black Panthers, a militant black activist group, was the predominant black organization represented at the Chicago meeting. The Black Panthers immediately rejected the Maoist members of SDS, calling them traitors. The resulting power struggle resulted in the splitting of the Marxist SDS organization into two parts, half under the domination of the Maoists, the other half under the Trotskyites (led by Bernardine Dohrn).
A most significant event occurred during the convention. Not only did the Black Panthers succeed in splitting SDS, they left the organization themselves. Before they left, however, one of them also provided the catalyst to split the white women away from the white men in the nationwide activist effort. Until this time the white men and white women had been working together to gain a better world, one which would be fair to all, be they black, brown, yellow, white, male, or female. This Black Panther spokesman proceeded to explain from the podium the role of the woman in the revolution. It was to be "flat on her back with her legs spread." He continued this line of reasoning in spite of resounding objections from the floor. When finally shouted down, other Black Panthers insisted that he have his say. And he continued. "The purpose of the women," he said, "is to supply the pussy." The women in the movement were outraged. Many admitted there was a lot of truth in what the Black Panther said. The anger at first was mainly directed at the Black Panthers, but then it was turned against the movement men.
Not that this was a new issue. As early as 1965 at the SDS annual meeting of that year, Jane Adams pushed through a resolution which said in part:
"Women, because of their colonial relationship to men, have to fight for their own independence. People who identify with the movement and feel that their own lives are part of the base to bring about radical social change must recognize the necessity for the liberation of women."
Three female activist members of the New Left were disappointed with the treatment they had received from the male members of the movement. One of them wrote:
"We were still the movement secretaries and the shit-workers; we served the food, prepared the mailings and made the best posters; we were the earth mothers and the sex-objects for the movement men. We were the free movement "chicks" - free to screw any man who demanded it, or if we chose not to - free to be called hung-up, middle class and uptight. We were free to keep quiet at the meetings - or, if we chose not to, we were free to speak in men's terms. If a woman dared conceive an idea that was not in the current limited ideological system, she was ignored and ridiculed. We were free, finally, to marry and raise liberated babies and clean liberated diapers, and prepare liberated dinners for our ass-hunting husbands or "guys we were living with." What men just can't dig is that we, females, are going to define our movement, that male advice is paternalistic - no less so than when given by a white to a black."
As another put it:
"Here they come. Those strutting roosters, those pathetic male chauvinists, egocentric, pompous and ridiculous bastards."
The Weathermen, as the portion of SDS under Dohrn became known, turned to violence (a common result in Marxist movements). As a matter of interest, even though this movement was criminal, ending in trials and jail for many, and Dohrn is prohibited from practicing law anywhere in the US, she is now a valued employee of the American Bar Association as an expert in the field of child law. Lawyers are usually graduates of liberal arts schools where they are liberally indoctrinated in socialism. Supporting Dohrn is evidence enough of the socialist influence in our modern justice system.
The students supported Nixon with his campaign promise to bring the boys home. But on the last day of April 1970, he ordered the incursion into Cambodia. The students were furious and began demonstrating in earnest. Four students were killed by the National Guard at Kent State. Two more, blacks, were killed at Jackson State College. These actions inspired more severe reaction from the students. Scarcely a campus escaped damage. ROTC buildings on many campuses were burned to the ground. Sixteen states found it necessary to call out the National Guard.
Troops were withdrawn from Cambodia and a small withdrawal of American forces from the theater was made. This seemed to mollify the students somewhat. Demonstrations continued but they were smaller and less destructive. A last giant demonstration was held in the nation's capital on 24 April 1971. There was no violence.
This appeared to be the end of the student revolution.
But it was not.
It was only the beginning.
So what does this mean? It was far-reaching and in the end disastrous to all Western culture.
The revolutionaries in the universities during the 60's tried for a Marxist revolution and failed. Since by tradition, the power behind any Marxist revolution is the worker, they went for that source of support but were rejected. They then tried for black support, but again they were rejected. They then used the Vietnam War as a rallying point. That too disappeared when that war ended. Lacking support, the movement apparently faded away. That was only the apparent result. They actually went back to school, got their degrees, taught their peers and students about socialism, and prepared for another day.
Those revolutionary students (a hundred thousand of them or more) are now the teachers, the journalists, the writers, the television producers, and the bureaucrats of the United States. In the meantime a legion of students have been exposed to this virulent disease. Many of them have contracted the same fever. There is no longer need for revolution. Socialism was now taught as a matter of fact. Since almost all leaders are educated, they also became well educated in socialism. Where before, Marx was read and quoted on the sly, he is now incorporated in the text books.
Balint Vazsonyi in an essay titled "The Battle for America's Soul," published in the Winter issue of Common Sense said in part:
"Education used to be based on the best available information, the consensus of generations, and rewards designed to extract the best effort from all participants. Currently, information is being replaced by propaganda, consensus by the whim and din of activist groups, best effort by primitive egalitarianism." Americans are no longer judged by their abilities, but by membership in favored classes. Our traditional standards of morality "are being displaced by doctrines which do not even recognize the existence of values; the spirit of voluntarianism is being choked by coercion. Sadly, all these symptoms of creeping socialism are endorsed by American liberals."
See Illiberal education: The Politics of Race and Sex on Campus, Dinesh D'Souza, 1991, The Free Press
See Tenured Radicals: How Politics Has Corrupted Our Higher Education, Roger Kimball, 1991, Harper Perennial.
Marxism Philosophy and Economics, Thomas Sowell, 1985, Morrow.
On the net: America's Future