Arendt – On Violence (extract)

Arendt, H. (1972). On Violence. In Crisis of the Republic (pp. 114-133). New York: Harcourt.


The more dubious and uncertain an instrument vio­lence has become in international relations, the more it has gained in reputation and appeal in domestic affairs, spe­cifically in the matter of revolution. The strong Marxist rhetoric of the New Left coincides with the steady growth of the entirely non-Marxian conviction, proclaimed by Mao Tse-tung, that “Power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” To be sure, Marx was aware of the role of violence in history, but this role was to him secondary; not violence but the contradictions inherent in the old society brought about its end. The emergence of a new society was pre­ceded, but not caused, by violent outbreaks, which he likened to the labor pangs that precede, but of course do not cause, the event of organic birth. In the same vein he regarded the state as an instrument of violence in the command of the ruling class; but the actual power of the ruling class did not consist of or rely on violence. It was defined by the role the ruling class played in society, or, more exactly, by its role in the process of production. It has often been noticed, and sometimes deplored, that the revolutionary Left under the influence of Marx’s teachings ruled out the use of violent means; the “dictatorship of the proletariat”—openly repressive in Marx’s writings—came after the revolution and was meant, like the Roman dicta­torship, to last a strictly limited period. Political assassina­tion, except for a few acts of individual terror perpetrated by small groups of anarchists, was mostly the prerogative of the Right, while organized armed uprisings remained the specialty of the military. The Left remained convinced “that all conspiracies are not only useless but harmful. They [knew] only too well that revolutions are not made intentionally and arbitrarily, but that they were always and everywhere the necessary result of circumstances en­tirely independent of the will and guidance of particular parties and whole classes.”[14]

On the level of theory there were a few exceptions. Georges Sorel, who at the beginning of the century tried to combine Marxism with Bergson’s philosophy of life—the result, though on a much lower level of sophistica­tion, is oddly similar to Sartre’s current amalgamation of existentialism and Marxism—thought of class struggle in military terms; yet he ended by proposing nothing more violent than the famous myth of the general strike, a form of action which we today would think of as belonging rather to the arsenal of nonviolent politics. Fifty years ago even this modest proposal earned him the reputation of being a fascist, notwithstanding his enthusiastic approval of Lenin and the Russian Revolution. Sartre, who in his preface to Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth goes much farther in his glorification of violence than Sorel in his famous Reflections on Violence—farther than Fanon him­self, whose argument he wishes to bring to its conclusion—still mentions “Sorel’s fascist utterances.” This shows to what extent Sartre is unaware of his basic disagreement with Marx on the question of violence, especially when he states that “irrepressible violence … is man recreating himself,” that it is through “mad fury” that “the wretched of the earth” can “become men.” These notions are all the more remarkable because the idea of man creating himself is strictly in the tradition of Hegelian and Marx­ian thinking; it is the very basis of all leftist humanism. But according to Hegel man “produces” himself through thought,[15] whereas for Marx, who turned Hegel’s “ideal­ism” upside down, it was labor, the human form of me­tabolism with nature, that fulfilled this function. And though one may argue that all notions of man creating himself have in common a rebellion against the very factuality of the human condition—nothing is more ob­vious than that man, whether as member of the species or as an individual, does not owe his existence to himself— and that therefore what Sartre, Marx, and Hegel have in common is more relevant than the particular activities through which this non-fact should presumably have come about, still it cannot be denied that a gulf separates the essentially peaceful activities of thinking and laboring from all deeds of violence. “To shoot down a European is to kill two birds with one stone . . . there remain a dead man and a free man,” says Sartre in his preface. This is a sentence Marx could never have written.[16]

I quoted Sartre in order to show that this new shift toward violence in the thinking of revolutionaries can re­main unnoticed even by one of their most representative and articulate spokesmen,[17] and it is all the more note­worthy for evidently not being an abstract notion in the history of ideas. (If one turns the “idealistic” concept of thought upside down, one might arrive at the “materialis­tic” concept of labor; one will never arrive at the notion of violence.) No doubt all this has a logic of its own, but it is one springing from experience, and this experience was utterly unknown to any generation before.

The pathos and the Man of the New Left, their credibility, as it were, are closely connected with the weird suicidal development of modern weapons; this is the first generation to grow up under the shadow of the atom bomb. They inherited from their parents’ generation the experience of a massive intrusion of criminal violence into politics: they learned in high school and in college about concentration and extermination camps, about genocide and torture,[18] about the wholesale slaughter of civilians in war without which modern military operations are no longer possible even if restricted to “conventional” weap­ons. Their first reaction was a revulsion against every form of violence, an almost matter-of-course espousal of a politics of nonviolence. The very great successes of this movement, especially in the field of civil rights, were fol­lowed by the resistance movement against the war in Viet­nam, which has remained an important factor in deter­mining the climate of opinion in this country. But it is no secret that things have changed since then, that the adher­ents of nonviolence are on the defensive, and it would be futile to say that only the “extremists” are yielding to a glorification of violence and have discovered—like Fanon’s Algerian peasants—that “only violence pays.”[19]

The new militants have been denounced as anarchists, nihilists, red fascists, Nazis, and, with considerably more justification, “Luddite machine smashers,”[20] and the stu­dents have countered with the equally meaningless slogans of “police state” or “latent fascism of late capitalism,” and, with considerably more justification, “consumer soci­ety.”[21] Their behavior has been blamed on all kinds of social and psychological factors—on too much permissive­ness in their upbringing in America and on an explosive reaction to too much authority in Germany and Japan, on the lack of freedom in Eastern Europe and too much free­dom in the West, on the disastrous lack of jobs for soci­ology students in France and the superabundance of careers in nearly all fields in the United States—all of which appear locally plausible enough but are clearly contradicted by the fact that the student rebellion is a global phenomenon. A social common denominator of the movement seems out of the question, but it is true that psychologically this generation seems everywhere characterized by sheer courage, an astounding will to action, and by a no less astounding confidence in the possibility of change.[22] But these qualities are not causes, and if one asks what has actually brought about this wholly unex­pected development in universities all over the world, it seems absurd to ignore the most obvious and perhaps the most potent factor, for which, moreover, no precedent and no analogy exist—the simple fact that technological “prog­ress” is leading in so many instances straight into dis­aster;[23] that the sciences, taught and learned by this generation, seem not merely unable to undo the disastrous consequences of their own technology but have reached a stage in their development where “there’s no damn thing you can do that can’t be turned into war.”[24] (To be sure, nothing is more important to the integrity of the uni­versities—which, in Senator Fulbright’s words, have be­trayed a public trust when they became dependent on government-sponsored research projects[25]—than a rigorously enforced divorce from war-oriented research and all con­nected enterprises; but it would be naive to expect this to change the nature of modern science or hinder the war effort, naive also to deny that the resulting limitation might well lead to a lowering of university standards.[26] The only thing this divorce is not likely to lead to is a general withdrawal of federal funds; for, as Jerome Lettvin, of M.I.T., recently pointed out, “The Govern­ment can’t afford not to support us”[27]—just as the univer­sities cannot afford not to accept federal funds; but this means no more than that they “must learn how to sterilize financial support” (Henry Steele Commager), a difficult but not impossible task in view of the enormous increase of the power of universities in modern societies.) In short, the seemingly irresistible proliferation of techniques and machines, far from only threatening certain classes with unemployment, menaces the existence of whole nations and conceivably of all mankind.

It is only natural that the new generation should live with greater awareness of the possibility of doomsday than those “over thirty,” not because they are younger but be­cause this was their first decisive experience in the world. (What are “problems” to us “are built into the flesh and blood of the young.”)[28] If you ask a member of this gen­eration two simple questions: “How do you want the world to be in fifty years?” and “What do you want your life to be like five years from now?” the answers are quite often preceded by “Provided there is still a world,” and “Provided I am still alive.” In George Wald’s words, “what we are up against is a generation that is by no means sure that it has a future.”[29] For the future, as Spender puts it, is “like a time-bomb buried, but ticking away, in the present.” To the often-heard question Who are they, this new generation? one is tempted to answer, Those who hear the ticking. And to the other question, Who are they who utterly deny them? the answer may well be. Those who do not know, or refuse to face, things as they really are.

The student rebellion is a global phenomenon, but its manifestations vary, of course, greatly from country to country, often from university to university. This is espe­cially true of the practice of violence. Violence has re­mained mostly a matter of theory and rhetoric where the clash between generations did not coincide with a clash of tangible group interests. This was notably so in Germany, where the tenured faculty had a vested interest in over­crowded lectures and seminars. In America, the student movement has been seriously radicalized wherever police and police brutality intervened in essentially nonviolent demonstrations: occupations of administration buildings, sit-ins, et cetera. Serious violence entered the scene only with the appearance of the Black Power movement on the campuses. Negro students, the majority of them admitted without academic qualification, regarded and organized themselves as an interest group, the representatives of the black community. Their interest was to lower academic standards. They were more cautious than the white rebels, but it was clear from the beginning (even before the in­cidents at Cornell University and City College in New York) that violence with them was not a matter of theory and rhetoric. Moreover, while the student rebellion in Western countries can nowhere count on popular support outside the universities and as a rule encounters open hostility the moment it uses violent means, there stands a large minority of the Negro community behind the verbal or actual violence of the black students.[30] Black violence can indeed be understood in analogy to the labor violence in America a generation ago; and although, as far as I know, only Staughton Lynd has drawn the analogy be­tween labor riots and student rebellion explicitly,[31] it seems that the academic establishment, in its curious tendency to yield more to Negro demands, even if they are clearly silly and outrageous,[32] than to the disinterested and usually highly moral claims of the white rebels, also thinks in these terms and feels more comfortable when confronted with interests plus violence than when it is a matter of nonviolent “participatory democracy.” The yielding of university authorities to black demands has often been explained by the “guilt feelings” of the white community; I think it is more likely that faculty as well as administrations and boards of trustees are half-consciously aware of the obvious truth of a conclusion of the official Report on Violence in America: “Force and vio­lence are likely to be successful techniques of social con­trol and persuasion when they have wide popular sup­port.”[33]

The new undeniable glorification of violence by the stu­dent movement has a curious peculiarity. While the rhetoric of the new militants is clearly inspired by Fanon, their theoretical arguments contain usually nothing but a hodgepodge of all kinds of Marxist leftovers. This is in­deed quite baffling for anybody who has ever read Marx or Engels. Who could possibly call an ideology Marxist that has put its faith in “classless idlers,” believes that “in the lumpenproletariat the rebellion will find its urban spearhead,” and trusts that “gangsters will light the way for the people”?[34] Sartre with his great felicity with words has given expression to the new faith. “Violence,” he now believes, on the strength of Fanon’s book, “like Achilles’ lance, can heal the wounds it has inflicted.” If this were true, revenge would be the cure-all for most of our ills. This myth is more abstract, farther removed from reality, than Sorel’s myth of a general strike ever was. It is on a par with Fanon’s worst rhetorical excesses, such as, “hun­ger with dignity is preferable to bread eaten in slavery.” No history and no theory is needed to refute this state­ment; the most superficial observer of the processes that go on in the human body knows its untruth. But had he said that bread eaten with dignity is preferable to cake eaten in slavery the rhetorical point would have been lost.

Reading these irresponsible grandiose statements—and those I quoted are fairly representative, except that Fanon still manages to stay closer to reality than most—and looking at them in the perspective of what we know about the history of rebellions and revolutions, one is tempted to deny their significance, to ascribe them to a passing mood, or to the ignorance and nobility of sentiment of people ex­posed to unprecedented events and developments without any means of handling them mentally, and who therefore curiously revive thoughts and emotions from which Marx had hoped to liberate the revolution once and for all.

Who has ever doubted that the violated dream of violence, that the oppressed “dream at least once a day of setting” themselves up in the oppressor’s place, that the poor dream of the possessions of the rich, the persecuted of exchanging “the role of the quarry for that of the hunter,” and the last of the kingdom where “the last shall be first, and the first last”?[35] The point, as Marx saw it, is that dreams never come true.[36] The rarity of slave rebellions and of up­risings among the disinherited and downtrodden is no­torious; on the few occasions when they occurred it was precisely “mad fury” that turned dreams into nightmares for everybody. In no case, as far as I know, was the force of these “volcanic” outbursts, in Sartre’s words, “equal to that of the pressure put on them.” To identify the national liberation movements with such outbursts is to prophesy their doom—quite apart from the fact that the unlikely victory would not result in changing the world (or the system), but only its personnel. To think, finally, that there is such a thing as a “Unity of the Third World,” to which one could address the new slogan in the era of decoloniza­tion “Natives of all underdeveloped countries unite!” (Sartre) is to repeat Marx’s worst illusions on a greatly enlarged scale and with considerably less justification. The Third World is not a reality but an ideology.[37]

The question remains why so many of the new preach­ers of violence are unaware of their decisive disagreement with Karl Marx’s teachings, or, to put it another way, why they cling with such stubborn tenacity to concepts and doctrines that have not only been refuted by factual de­velopments but are clearly inconsistent with their own politics. The one positive political slogan the new move­ment has put forth, the claim for “participatory demo­cracy” that has echoed around the globe and constitutes the most significant common denominator of the rebel­lions in the East and the West, derives from the best in the revolutionary tradition—the council system, the always de­feated but only authentic outgrowth of every revolution since the eighteenth century. But no reference to this goal either in word or substance can be found in the teachings of Marx and Lenin, both of whom aimed on the contrary at a society in which the need for public action and parti­cipation in public affairs would have “withered away,”[38] together with the state. Because of a curious timidity in theoretical matters, contrasting oddly with its bold courage in practice, the slogan of the New Left has remained in a declamatory stage, to be invoked rather inarticulately against Western representative democracy (which is about to lose even its merely representative function to the huge party machines that “represent” not the party member­ship but its functionaries) and against the Eastern one-party bureaucracies, which rule out participation on principle.

Even more suprising in this odd loyalty to the past is the New Left’s seeming unawareness of the extent to which the moral character of the rebellion—now a widely ac­cepted fact[39]—clashes with its Marxian rhetoric. Nothing, indeed, about the movement is more striking than its disinterestedness; Peter Steinfels, in a remarkable article on the “French revolution 1968” in Commonweal (July 26, 1968), was quite right when he wrote: “Péguy might have been an appropriate patron for the cultural revolution, with his later scorn for the Sorbonne mandarinate [and] his formula, ‘The social Revolution will be moral or it will not be.'” To be sure, every revolutionary movement has been led by the disinterested, who were motivated by com­passion or by a passion for justice, and this, of course, is also true for Marx and Lenin. But Marx, as we know, had quite effectively tabooed these “emotions”—if today the establishment dismisses moral arguments as “emo­tionalism” it is much closer to Marxist ideology than the rebels—and had solved the problem of “disinterested” lead­ers with the notion of their being the vanguard of man­kind, embodying the ultimate interest of human history.[40] Still, they too had first to espouse the nonspeculative, down-to-earth interests of the working class and to identify with it; this alone gave them a firm footing outside society. And this is precisely what the modern rebels have lacked from the beginning and have been unable to find despite a rather desperate search for allies outside the universities. The hostility of the workers in all countries is a matter of record,[41] and in the United States the complete collapse of any co-operation with the Black Power movement, whose students are more firmly rooted in their own com­munity and therefore in a better bargaining position at the universities, was the bitterest disappointment for the white rebels. (Whether it was wise of the Black Power people to refuse to play the role of the proletariat for “dis­interested” leaders of a different color is another question.) It is, not surprisingly, in Germany, the old home of the Youth movement, that a group of students now proposes to enlist “all organized youth groups” in their ranks.[42] The absurdity of this proposal is obvious.

I am not sure what the explanation of these inconsis­tencies will eventually turn out to be; but I suspect that the deeper reason for this loyalty to a typically nineteenth-century doctrine has something to do with the concept of Progress, with an unwillingness to part with a notion that used to unite Liberalism, Socialism, and Communism into the “Left” but has nowhere reached the level of plaus­ibility and sophistication we find in the writings of Karl Marx. (Inconsistency has always been the Achilles’ heel of liberal thought; it combined an unswerving loyalty to Progress with a no less strict refusal to glorify History in Marxian and Hegelian terms, which alone could justify and guarantee it.)

The notion that there is such a thing as progress of mankind as a whole was unknown prior to the seventeenth century, developed into a rather common opinion among the eighteenth-century hommes de lettres, and became an almost universally accepted dogma in the nineteenth. But the difference between the earlier notions and their final stage is decisive. The seventeenth century, in this respect best represented by Pascal and Fontenelle, thought of prog­ress in terms of an accumulation of knowledge through the centuries, whereas for the eighteenth the word implied an “education of mankind” (Lessing’s Erziehting des Menschengeschlechts) whose end would coincide with man’s coming of age. Progress was not unlimited, and Marx’s classless society seen as the realm of freedom that could be the end of history—often interpreted as a secularization of Christian eschatology or Jewish messianism—actually still bears the hallmark of the Age of Enlightenment. Beginning with the nineteenth century, however, all such limitations disappeared. Now, in the words of Proudhon, motion is “le fait primitif” and “the laws of movement alone are eternal.” This movement has neither beginning nor end:Le mouvement est; voilà tout!” As to man, all we can say is “we are born perfectible, but we shall never be perfect.”[43] Marx’s idea, borrowed from Hegel, that every old society harbors the seeds of its successors in the same way every living organism harbors the seeds of its offspring is indeed not only the most ingenious but also the only possible conceptual guarantee for the sempiternal continuity of progress in history; and since the motion of this progress is supposed to come about through the clashes of antagonistic forces, it is possible to interpret every “re­gress” as a necessary but temporary setback.

To be sure, a guarantee that in the final analysis rests on little more than a metaphor is not the most solid basis to erect a doctrine upon, but this, unhappily, Marxism shares with a great many other doctrines in philosophy. Its great advantage becomes clear as soon as one compares it with other concepts of history—such as “eternal recur­rences,” the rise and fall of empires, the haphazard se­quence of essentially unconnected events—all of which can equally be documented and justified, but none of which will guarantee a continuum of linear time and continuous progress in history. And the only competitor in the field, the ancient notion of a Golden Age at the begin­ning, from which everything else is derived, implies the rather unpleasant certainty of continuous decline. Of course, there are a few melancholy side effects in the reas­suring idea that we need only march into the future, which we cannot help doing anyhow, in order to find a better world. There is first of all the simple fact that the general future of mankind has nothing to offer to indi­vidual life, whose only certain future is death. And if one leaves this out of account and thinks only in generalities, there is the obvious argument against progress that, in the words of Herzen, “Human development is a form of chronological unfairness, since late-comers are able to profit by the labors of their predecessors without paying the same price,”[44] or, in the words of Kant, “It will always remain bewildering . . . that the earlier genera­tions seem to carry on their burdensome business only for the sake of the later … and that only the last should have the good fortune to dwell in the [completed] building.”[45] However, these disadvantages, which were only rarely noticed, are more than outweighed by an enormous ad­vantage: progress not only explains the past without break­ing up the time continuum but it can serve as a guide for acting into the future. This is what Marx discovered when he turned Hegel upside down: he changed the direction of the historian’s glance; instead of looking toward the past, he now could confidently look into the future. Progress gives an answer to the troublesome question, And what shall we do now? The answer, on the lowest level, says: Let us develop what we have into something better, greater, et cetera. (The, at first glance, irrational faith of liberals in growth, so characteristic of all our present poli­tical and economic theories, depends on this notion.) On the more sophisticated level of the Left, it tells us to de­velop present contradictions into their inherent synthesis. In either case we are assured that nothing altogether new and totally unexpected can happen, nothing but the “nec­essary” results of what we already know.[46] How reassuring that, in Hegel’s words, “nothing else will come out but what was already there.”[47]

I do not need to add that all our experiences in this century, which has constantly confronted us with the totally unexpected, stand in flagrant contradiction to these notions and doctrines, whose very popularity seems to con­sist in offering a comfortable, speculative or pseudo- scientific refuge from reality. A student rebellion almost exclusively inspired by moral considerations certainly be­longs among the totally unexpected events of this century. This generation, trained like its predecessors in hardly anything but the various brands of the my-share-of-the-pie social and political theories, has taught us a lesson about manipulation, or, rather, its limits, which we would do well not to forget. Men can be “manipulated” through physical coercion, torture, or starvation, and their opinions can be arbitrarily formed by deliberate, organized misin­formation, but not through “hidden persuaders,” tele­vision, advertising, or any other psychological means in a free society. Alas, refutation of theory through reality has always been at best a lengthy and precarious business. The manipulation addicts, those who fear it unduly no less than those who have set their hopes on it, hardly notice when the chickens come home to roost. (One of the nicest examples of theories exploding into absurdity happened during the recent “People’s Park” trouble in Berkeley. When the police and the National Guard, with rifles, un­sheathed bayonets, and helicoptered riot gas, attacked the unarmed students—few of them “had thrown anything more dangerous than epithets”—some Guardsmen frater­nized openly with their “enemies” and one of them threw down his arms and shouted: “I can’t stand this any more.” What happened? In the enlightened age we live in, this could be explained only by insanity; “he was rushed to a psychiatric examination [and] diagnosed as suffering from ‘suppressed aggressions.'”)[48]

Progress, to be sure, is a more serious and a more com­plex item offered at the superstition fair of our time.[49] The irrational nineteenth-century belief in unlimited progress has found universal acceptance chiefly because of the astounding development of the natural sciences, which, since the rise of the modern age, actually have been “uni­versal” sciences and therefore could look forward to an unending task in exploring the immensity of the universe. That science, even though no longer limited by the finitude of the earth and its nature, should be subject to never-ending progress is by no means certain; that strictly scientific research in the humanities, the so-called Geisteswissenschaften that deal with the products of the human spirit, must come to an end by definition is obvious. The ceaseless, senseless demand for original scholarship in a number of fields, where only erudition is now possible, has led either to sheer irrelevancy, the famous knowing of more and more about less and less, or to the development of a pseudo-scholarship which actually destroys its object.[50] It is noteworthy that the rebellion of the young, to the extent that it is not exclusively morally or politically mo­tivated, has been chiefly directed against the academic glorification of scholarship and science, both of which, though for different reasons, are gravely compromised in their eyes. And it is true that it is by no means impossible that we have reached in both cases a turning point, the point of destructive returns. Not only has the progress of science ceased to coincide with the progress of mankind (whatever that may mean), but it could even spell man­kind’s end, just as the further progress of scholarship may well end with the destruction of everything that made scholarship worth our while. Progress, in other words, can no longer serve as the standard by which to evaluate the disastrously rapid change-processes we have let loose.

Since we are concerned here primarily with violence, I must warn against a tempting misunderstanding. If we look on history in terms of a continuous chronological process, whose progress, moreover, is inevitable, violence in the shape of war and revolution may appear to con­stitute the only possible interruption. If this were true, if only the practice of violence would make it possible to interrupt automatic processes in the realm of human affairs, the preachers of violence would have won an im­portant point. (Theoretically, as far as I know, the point was never made, but it seems to me incontestable that the disruptive student activities in the last few years are actually based on this conviction.) It is the function, however, of all action, as distinguished from mere behavior, to interrupt what otherwise would have proceeded automa­tically and therefore predictably.

[Footnotes]

[14] I owe this early remark of Engels, in a manuscript of 1847, to Jacob Barion, Hegel und die marxistische Staatslehre, Bonn, 1963.

[15] It is quite suggestive that Hegel speaks in this context of “Sichselbstproduzieren.” See Vorlesungcn iiber die Geschichte der Philosophie, ed. Hoffmeister, p. 114, Leipzig, 1938.

[16] See appendix I, p. 185.

[17] See appendix II, p. 185.

[18] Noam Chomsky rightly notices among the motives for open re­bellion the refusal “to take one’s place alongside the ‘good German’ we have all learned to despise.” Op. cit., p. 368.

[19] Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (1961), Grove Press edi­tion, 1968, p. 61. I am using this work because of its great influence on the present student generation. Fanon himself, however, is much more doubtful about violence than his admirers. It seems that only the book’s first chapter, “Concerning Violence,” has been widely read. Fanon knows of the “unmixed and total brutality [which], if not immediately combatted, invariably leads to the de­feat of the movement within a few weeks” (p. 147).

For the recent escalation of violence in the student movement, see the instructive series “Gewalt” in the German news magazine Der Spiegel (February 10, 1969 ff.), and the series “Mit dem Latein am Ende” (Nos. 26 and 27, 1969).

[20] See appendix XI, p. 187.

[21] The last of these epithets would make sense if it were meant de­scriptively. Behind it, however, stands the illusion of Marx’s society of free producers, the liberation of the productive forces of society, which in fact has been accomplished not by the revolution but by science and technology. This liberation, furthermore, is not acceler­ated, but seriously retarded, in all countries that have gone through a revolution. In other words, behind their denunciation of consump­tion stands the idealization of production, and with it the old idolization of productivity and creativity. “The joy of destruction is a creative joy”—yes indeed, if one believes that “the joy of labor” is productive; destruction is about the only “labor” left that can be done by simple implements without the help of machines, although machines do the job, of course, much more efficiently.

[22] This appetite for action is especially noticeable in small and rela­tively harmless enterprises. Students struck successfully against cam­pus authorities who were paying employees in the cafeteria and in buildings and grounds less than the legal minimum. The decision of the Berkeley students to join the fight for transforming an empty university-owned lot into a “People’s Park” should be counted among these enterprises, even though it provoked the worst reaction so far from the authorities. To judge from the Berkeley incident, it seems that precisely such “nonpolitical” actions unify the student body behind a radical vanguard. “A student referendum, which saw the heaviest turnout in the history of student voting, found 85 per­cent of the nearly 15,000 who voted favoring the use of the lot” as a people’s park. See the excellent report by Sheldon Wolin and John Schaar, “Berkeley: The Battle of People’s Park,” New York Review of Books, June 19, 1969.

[23] See appendix IV, p. 188.

[24] Thus Jerome Lettvin, of M.I.T., in the New York Times Maga­zine, May 18, 1969.

[25] Sec appendix V. p. 189.

[26] The steady drift of basic research from the universities to the industrial laboratories is very significant and a case in point.

[27] Loc. cit.

[28] Stephen Spender, The Year of the Young Rebels, New York, 1969, p. 179.

[29] George Wald in The New Yorker, March 22, 1969.

[30] See appendix VI, p. 190.

[31] See appendix VII, p. 191.

[32] Sec appendix VIII, p. 191.

[33] See the report of the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence, June, 1969, as quoted from the New York Times, June 6, 1969.

[34] Fanon, op. cit., pp. 130, 129, and 69, respectively.

[35] Fanon, op. cit., pp. 37 ff., 53.

[36] See appendix IX, p. 192.

[37] The students caught between the two superpowers and equally disillusioned by East and West, “inevitably pursue some third ideology, from Mao’s China or Castro’s Cuba.” (Spender, op. cit., p. 92.) Their calls for Mao, Castro, Che Guevara, and Ho Chi Minh are like pseudo-religious incantations for saviors from another world; they would also call for Tito if only Yugoslavia were farther away and less approachable. The case is different with the Black Power movement; its ideological commitment to the nonexistent “Unity of the Third World” is not sheer romantic nonsense. They have an obvious interest in a black-white dichotomy; this too is of course mere escapism—an escape into a dream world in which Negroes would constitute an overwhelming majority of the world‘s population.

[38] It seems as though a similar inconsistency could be charged to Marx and Lenin. Did not Marx glorify the Paris Commune of 1871, and did not Lenin want to give “all power to the soviets“? But for Marx the Commune was no more than a transitory organ of revolu­tionary action, “a lever for uprooting the economical foundations of . . . class rule,” which Engels rightly identified with the likewise transitory “dictatorship of the Proletariat.” (See The Civil War in France, in Karl Marx and F. Engels, Selected Works, London, 1950, Vol. I, pp. 474 and 440, respectively.) The case of Lenin is more complicated. Still, it was Lenin who emasculated the soviets and gave all power to the party.

[39] “Their revolutionary idea,” as Spender (op. cit., p. 114) states, “is moral passion.” Noam Chomsky (op. cit., p. 368) quotes facts: “The fact is that most of the thousand draft cards and other documents turned in to the Justice Department on October 20 [1967] came from men who can escape military service but who insisted on shar­ing the fate of those who are less privileged.” The same was true for any number of draft-resister demonstrations and sit-ins in the universities and colleges. The situation in other countries is similar. Der Spiegel describes, for instance, the frustrating and often humili­ating conditions of the research assistants in Germany: “Angesichts dieser Verhätltnisse nimmt es geradezu wunder, dass die Assistenten nicht in der vordersten Front der Radikalen stehen.” (June 23, *969. p. 58.) It is always the same story: Interest groups do not join the rebels.

[40] See appendix X, p. 192.

[41] Czechoslovakia seems to be an exception. However, the reform movement for which the students fought in the first ranks was backed by the whole nation, without any class distinctions. Marxistically speaking, the students there, and probably in all Eastern countries, have too much, rather than too little, support from the community to fit the Marxian pattern.

[42] See the Spiegel-Interview with Christoph Ehmann in Der Spiegel, February 10, 1969.

[43] P.-J. Proudhon, Philosophic du Progrès (1853), 1946, pp. 27-30, 49, and De la Justice (1858), 1930, I, p. 238, respectively. See also Wil­liam H. Harbold, “Progressive Humanity: in the Philosophy of P.-J. Proudhon,” Review of Politics, January, 1969.

[44] Alexander Herzen is quoted here from Isaiah Berlin’s “Introduc­tion” to Franco Venturi, Roots of Revolutions, New York, 1966.

[45] “Idea for a Universal History with Cosmopolitan Intent,” Third Principle, in The Philosophy of Kant, Modern Library edition.

[46] For an excellent discussion of the obvious fallacies in this position, see Robert A. Nisbet, “The Year 2000 and All That,” in Commen­tary, June, 1968, and the ill-tempered critical remarks in the Sep­tember issue.

[47] Hegel, op. cit., p. 100 ff.

[48] The incident is reported without comment by Wolin and Schaar, op. cit. See also Peter Barnes’s report ” ‘An Outcry’: Thoughts on Being Tear Gassed,” in Newsweek, June 2, 1969.

[49] Spender (op. cit., p. 45) reports that the French students during the May incidents in Paris “refused categorically the ideology of ‘output’ [rendement], of ‘progress’ and such-called pseudo-forces.” In America, this is not yet the case as far as progress is concerned. We are still surrounded by talk about “progressive” and “regressive” forces, “progressive” and “repressive tolerance,” and the like.

[50] For a splendid exemplification of these not merely superfluous but pernicious enterprises, see Edmund Wilson, The Fruits of the MLA, New York, 1968.


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