The Spiral of Conflict: Berkeley, 1964

The Spiral of Conflict: Berkeley, 1964

The Spiral of Conflict: Berkeley, 1964

The Spiral of Conflict: Berkeley, 1964

Excerpt

On October 1 and 2, 1964, several hundred students at the University of California's Berkeley campus held a police car captive for thirty-two hours, until administrative leaders of the university agreed to negotiate a series of grievances. The prolonged conflict that emerged from the encounter of the newly formed "Free Speech Movement" with the university administration convulsed the campus for most of the year, leading to mass arrest of students, a general strike, the involvement of the entire faculty in the dispute, the removal of some administrative officers, and a continuing atmosphere of crisis and distrust. Perhaps more significantly, it saw the emergence in student circles of massive civil disobedience as a strategy for carrying on conflict, making the "philosophic" problem of the basis of law and order a matter of practical, daily concern to the entire university community.

As a dramatic, historic episode, the Berkeley conflict holds much fascination. It gains additional interest, however, because of what followed. As the first of a new genre of conflicts on American campuses, the Free Speech controversy set the tone for an entire college generation's confrontation with authority. Some of the conflicts that ensued grew directly from the influence of Berkeley; others arose independently but adopted (and eventually came to adapt) the Berkeley style. So pervasive was this influence that by 1968--only four years, but an entire college generation later--" freedom," "anarchy," "law and order," "student power," and similar themes had become burning issues on scores of campuses across the country. The radical activist had become the symbol of a college generation.

A few years earlier the University of California had set the pace in . . .

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