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Heirich, ; Weinberg, When the state Governor intervened, he was challenged by a university-wide strike. Weinberg points out that the civil rights campaign tables were not just aimed at racism in the Deep South, but at the practices and interests of powerful local employers in the Bay Area. Those interests, he suggests, pressured the university, which succumbed. In that sense,. The University of California is a microcosm in which all of the problems of our society are reflected.

Not only did the pressure to crack down on free speech at Cal come from the outside power structure, but most of the failings of the university are either on-campus manifestations of broader American social problems or are imposed upon the university by outside pressures.

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Weinberg, One of the most unique features of the Berkeley student revolt is that from its beginning to its climax it was linked closely to the social and political issues and forces of the bigger society outside the campus. At every step the threads ran plainly to every facet of the social system: there were overt roles played by big business, politicians, government leaders, labor, the press, etc. This was no conflict in the cloister. Draper, All of this tended to radicalize sections of the student body.

Similar issues would resonate through later campus movements too. Previous civil rights activity, both in the Deep South but also in the San Francisco Bay area, had already habituated quite large numbers of Berkeley students to organized collective action. On the other hand, the very fact that the coalition was so broad meant that it could, and did, easily fracture and disassemble almost as quickly as it was formed.

Nonetheless, what Berkeley showed was that an initially small group of students could, faced with a university administration that lumbered into action almost unaware of the sleeping energies its own responses could provoke, convert relatively small oppositional forces on a campus into a broad and wide-ranging student movement. Their overt thinking was marked by a conscious avoidance of any particular radical ideology.

At the same time, ideological weaknesses meant that they were ill-equipped to answer questions about what to do next after mass mobilizations had been achieved. Such movements could be tamed quite easily if the authorities recovered their poise and offered compromises that would quieten things down. They were liable to lack persistency in struggle, so the movements could rise and fade away with equal facility.

The war against the intellect ; : episodes in the decline of discourse, by Peter Shaw

In the United States, at least, other forms of student politics began to gain momentum. The American war in Vietnam slowly emerged as a core issue. Later that year the anti-war demonstrations started to gain serious momentum Harman, In turn, they fed back into campus radicalism, not only in the US, but in Europe. Later that year, a University Senate ruling, that no university facilities could be used for political activities, set off a second student insurgency.

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Thousands of students took part in street demonstrations and strikes, with thousands more signing petitions calling for reform of the administration. Strongly influenced by the ideas of Marcuse, the SDS focused attention on anti-imperialist politics, notably against American policy in Vietnam and the Middle East. When Hubert Humphrey visited Berlin in , they organized predominantly student demonstrations against his presence, and in June that year, on a larger scale, they mobilized demonstrations against the visit of the Shah of Iran. Police surrounded and violently attacked a student demonstration outside the Opera House, clubbing both demonstrators and bystanders.

One student, Benno Ohnesorg, was kicked unconscious; as his unconscious body was dragged to a police wagon, an officer placed a gun to his head and shot him. Tens of thousands attended his memorial service, which became a huge protest for university and political reform, compelling the resignations of the Police Chief and SDP Mayor of West Berlin. As in Italy, the tendency of the police in Germany to respond with brutal violence to student protests conditioned the form that radicalization took Della Porta, ; These and other student demonstrations shifted opinion in Germany.

This kind of opinion-shift accompanied rabid attacks on student radicals in the right-wing press empire of Axel Springer. Radical students certainly held the Springer press responsible for the serious wounding of the German student leader, Rudi Dutschke, by a right-wing would-be assassin who shot him in Berlin in April This event, in turn, set off a round of student attacks on the offices and distributors of Springer newspapers. In street battles across the country, two more protestors were killed.

The passage of the emergency powers legislation drove some to cynicism and personalistic withdrawal. After its spring peak, SDS fell apart at its congress later that year. German radicalism was marked by two new developments. On the other hand, a small section of the German movement turned, despairing of mass protests, to individual and small-group terrorism Zirakzadeh, Most radical students readily accepted the arguments of writers like Marcuse and Fanon that the working class was no longer capable of acting as a revolutionary subject, being co-opted and ideologically blinkered by commodity consumption.

They also drew on the analyses of fascism produced within the Frankfurt School.

How dangerous is Jordan B Peterson, the rightwing professor who 'hit a hornets' nest'?

Their isolation from working-class support made the German student movement very self-dependent, also encouraging a certain elitism towards the rest of society. It was one of the first student movements to decline and fade. There was no sense, however, of a major crisis brewing.

By comparison with their colleagues in Germany or Italy, French students seemed more docile. When, at Easter , news came in of the attempted assassination of Rudi Dutschke in Berlin, French far left students called a demonstration in Paris. It mobilized at most students, and promptly dispersed when the police appeared. There, a small anarchist group raised demands about Vietnam on the one hand, and sexual liberation on the other.

Daniel Cohn-Bendit and others from the Nanterre students were summoned to the Sorbonne to answer charges, shifting the conflict from the suburbs to the city centre. When Sorbonne students demonstrated in support of the Nanterre students, the university called in the police, who attacked the students, further raising the temperature, and drawing in larger student numbers. On 3 May, the authorities decided to close the Sorbonne, no doubt hoping that approaching examinations would turn most students to their studies.


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The miscalculation was immense: for a week there were daily student demonstrations and clashes with the police, who used batons and CS gas. All night 30, of them fought the hated CRS riot police, swinging public sympathy towards them. Next day, faced with a decision of the CGT to call a one-day national strike in solidarity with the students, the prime minister, Pompidou, announced the immediate re-opening of the Sorbonne and indicated that imprisoned students would be released. But it was too little and too late. The initiative passed from the government.

The same day, students occupied the main buildings of the re-opened Sorbonne. And there things might have ended, with the students occupying the Sorbonne for a while and finally fading away.

But on Tuesday, workers at the Sud-Aviation aircraft factory at Nantes on the Atlantic coast occupied their plant and locked up the management in their offices. Initially this attracted little attention, but within days similar occupations were launched in workplaces up and down France. The strike movement was set in motion by local groups of militant activists, without reference to the leaders of the union federations.

Initially taken aback by these developments, the union leaderships stepped in to encourage a movement they had not initiated, so as not to lose control. Within two weeks, more than nine million workers were on strike, across every sector of society, in the largest single general strike Europe had ever experienced. During the strike, while there were some notable and interesting examples of workers extending control over the production and distribution processes, only in a few occupied workplaces was the strike run by a democratically elected strike committee, More often unions imposed strike committees which commonly did not involve the mass of strikers in much decision or action Birchall, When they succeeded, the results could be dramatic.

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The War against the Intellect: Episodes in the Decline of Discourse

One memoir by a Renault worker recalls:. In the first few days of May every evening I took five or six workers — quite often members of the Communist Party — in my car to the Sorbonne. When they returned to work next day they were completely changed people. There was a completely libertarian atmosphere at the university, so different from the totalitarian atmosphere at the factory. The student demonstration created an environment in which people were free to coin their own slogans.

In the official trade union demonstrations, only certain, centrally determined, slogans were permitted. When Renault was occupied, the workers experienced a change from control by the management which uses modern manipulative techniques, to control by the CP bureaucracy, which is completely totalitarian. In Renault their freedom was alienated. In the Sorbonne they felt free. When a worker went to the Sorbonne he was recognized as a hero. Within Renault he was only a thing. In the university he became a man. This atmosphere of freedom in the sense of being human gave great combativity to the young workers.

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When a large student demonstration marched from the Sorbonne to the Renault factory at Billancourt, to show solidarity with the occupying workers, the factory gates were shut tight against them — by the strike committee. Even though perhaps a third of the strikers actually belonged to one of the three trade-union confederations, those bodies nonetheless maintained a grip over the progress of the strike. Thus, from late May onwards, the union leaders — and especially the CGT — were able to organize a return to work on the basis of pay increases negotiated in the Grenelle agreements with the employers — this despite serious expressions of dissatisfaction even in CGT strongholds like Renault Billancourt.

The movement which, at some points, appeared to herald a veritable social revolution, thus ended quite tamely. The return to work also greatly reduced the impetus of the student movement. There had been a big expansion in student numbers, without a concomitant growth in facilities.