Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Students Movements in 1960s

Source : The Contemporary History

Comments by yours truly will be in blue colour.

Q: Why is this topic important for the present blog?
A: Yours truly has been arguing against the continuation of the AMU Student's Union. This institution is against the ethos of Aligarh Movement. Here we are looking at the genesis of the idea of Student's Union. Historically the ideas seems to have developed in the US. The students movement became so strong in America that special measures were taken to politically disarm the father ideology of Marxism there. Mrxists remember that action as the McCarthy era. If US was forced to protect itself from the bad effects of that movement then why do we Aligs think that AMUSU is such a sacred institution that it is harbinger of some good for Aligarh Movement itself?
The most striking result of the baby boom was the activism of college students during the 1960s. In the United States, the initial impetus for student activism came from the Civil Rights movement. As the decade wore on, students in the United States and elsewhere found more elements of the "establishment" that required political action: the Vietnam War, the draft, and charges that universities were complicit with the military.
Q: What is Baby Boom?
A: Between first and second world war US economy, and hence the world economy in general, took a nose dive. Slightly after the second world war US experienced a markedly increased birth rate. It is called Baby Boom. Here are some landmarks: Wall Street (Economic) Crash : 1929. US Birth Rate Minimum : 1934. US Birth rate Peak : 1948.
The first major student protest organization, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), was founded in 1960 by Ella Baker, who had organized the Southern Christian Leadership Conference for Martin Luther King, Jr. She believed that existing civil rights organizations were out of touch with African-American students who were willing to push the movement further. Also in 1960 Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) emerged from the Student League for Industrial Democracy, created in the 1930s to try to build a political left in Great Depression America.
Remarks : Above paragraph missed two significant points. Firstly the conscription, the military draft, that compulsory military service was one of the reasons behind the students movement. It was Richard Nixon, much later who did away with the draft. Secondly the black people's organization, the Nation of Islam, lead by Elijah Mohammed was at the forefront of the civil movement. This organization, though copying many things Islamic, was not Muslim at all.

SDS became the central institution of what would soon be called the New Left. In June 1962, 59 SDS members and sympathizers, including some SNCC members, assembled at an AFL-CIO camp in Port Huron, Michigan, to develop a political manifesto.

The resulting Port Huron Statement was written by student Tom Hayden. It suggested that U.S. universities should become the locus for a new movement concerned with empowering individuals and communities.
Remark : The movement clearly has all the tell-tale signs of communist methodology that is so obvious till today. A few years back the girls from Women's College occupied the Registrar Office, during Dr P.K.Abdul Aziz's tenure, bringing not only the corresponding residential Hall to a stand still but the Registrar Office itself. Even the press was surprised by the clockwork precision of the events that took place. Amongst the AMU community it is a common knowledge who was behind the episode except the then provost of the girls residential Hall. She is clueless till today. AMU is not a place for simpletons. The  starting point of the episode was a purported sexual assault which simply disappeared into thin air as the things progressed.

SNCC was the first of these organizations to achieve national prominence. Its members, who had initiated sit-ins at segregated lunch counters, took part in the Freedom Rides of 1961, testing federal court orders desegregating interstate bus terminals. They conducted voter registration programs in several southern cities and demonstrated against segregation.
Remark : This is a side remark only. From last few paragraphs it is clear that the civil rights about which US is so keen to implement in India and the rest of the world, these civil rights are about half a century old even there.

In 1964 SNCC and CORE (the Congress of Racial Equality) staged "Freedom Summer", during which white college students were invited to teach African-American children and assist with voter registration efforts in Mississippi.
Remark : Another side remark. The blacks were getting lynched in US even in 1930s. With such a horrible immediate past it is strange that US takes a high moral ground in all things social. Or is it because of its past? So that we do not remind her, the US, of her sordid immediate past?
During that summer, three student activists, whites Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman and African-American James Chaney, were murdered by white racists. The University of California, Berkeley’s Free Speech Movement began when students returning from Freedom Summer found their university restricting political activity on campus.

White resistance to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the 1965 Voting Rights Act led activists in both SDS and SNCC to see themselves as allies of revolutionaries in the rest of the world and to move further left.
Remark : We are talking about 1960s. That is just a generation ago. It is commendable that US learned its civil lessons on its own and it learned it fast. But it does not have the right to push its ideology down other people's throat. same goes for the communists - the main contention of this post. They have an ideology but it does not match the ideology of AMU. The defining characteristic of AMU ideology is Crown of No god But God on their head.

Stokely Carmichael (later Kwami Ture), who became chairman of SNCC in 1966, coined the slogan "Black Power" to express African-American pride, which had the effect of driving white activists out of the organization.

SDS and other white-dominated activist groups had, by this time, become outraged at the escalation of the war in Vietnam. The first "teach-in" against the war took place at the University of Michigan during the spring of 1965. In April a march on Washington organized by SDS drew 20,000 protesters. It was the first of many.
Remark: One can see how old black empowerment is in US. We are at present living in the era of first black US President.

Concentration on antiwar politics had an unforeseen consequence. In 1964 SNCC staffers Mary King and Casey Hayden anonymously circulated a position paper noting male dominance in movement organization.

Later, they publicly raised the importance of feminism in civil rights and antiwar groups. Some men in the movement saw women’s issues as a trivial distraction from their own concerns about the draft. King and Hayden’s work led to women’s caucuses.
Remark : Point to note is the beginning of time line of feminist movement coming onto the stage. And concerns over the draft competing with it.

In May 1968 youth uprisings in Paris nearly brought down the government of Charles de Gaulle. A general strike led by elite Sorbonne university students, joined by many French workers, decried France’s education system and its role in the Vietnam War.

That same year, Czechoslovakia’s "Prague Spring" tried to implement "socialism with a human face" in the teeth of Soviet domination. In August Warsaw Pact troops crushed the movement, while in the United States riots erupted between Chicago police and student activists during the Democratic National Convention.
Remark : Here we have a perspective on spread of the student's movement. The point to note once again is that aprt from AMU no other institution, US government, French government, Czech government is paralyzed by the student's movement in the present times. If other countries have solved their student's movement problem then why not AMU? Let us not forget that even the citadel of Marxist ideology, the JNU, is never brought to its knees by their student's union.
Violence escalated in 1970 when National Guard units shot and killed students protesting the Vietnam War at Kent State and Jackson State Universities, touching off protests on many other campuses. But by then SNCC and SDS were collapsing. SDS had splintered at its 1969 convention into a number of groups, the best known of which, the Weathermen, took its name from a Bob Dylan song.
Remark : There are two lessons here. Brutality of US towards unarmed students as well as the resulting collapse of student's movement. And the rabble rousing poets switching to lamenting mode. 

Renamed the Weather Underground, this group is best remembered for a Greenwich Village explosion in which three members blew themselves up while assembling explosives. Broad-based student activism declined after the draft was discontinued in 1973.
Remark : The draft discontinuation remark is a red herring. US simply realized that student's body is not a proper power center to be nurtured. Are we taking heed at AMU?