|The Cornell Daily Sun > The Cornell Daily Sun 17 April 1970 > Page 4|
The Cornell Daily Sun, Volume 86, Number 121, 17 April 1970 — Page 4
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Apocalypse — II
Yesterday, The Sun commented on the bomb-scare tactics currently being used against this University, and expressed the opinion that such tactics, by ignoring basic political realities, might well result in the slow death of Cornell, best parts first. It was concluded that at this point in time, the basic question to be asked is not "is the University corrupt?" but rather "is the University, warts and all, worth saving?" To respond to our own question, yes. There are many sweeping changes that have to be made, particularly with regard to the way Cornell relates to the society at large. The advances of last spring, if one can call them that without being laconic, relate merely to internal, structural issues: the changes that occurred resulted in a liberalization of the oligarchical way in which we are ruled, yes. But these changes are rendered meaningless unless external affiliations are also changed, and changed drastically. The recent exposures involving Thailand counter-insurgency are but a timely reminder of the frighteningly vital way in which American universities relate to America. The fact that a Marxist historian is somehow more suspect than a capitalist one is also indicative. As is CAL. As is ROTC. In short, universities in general and Cornell in particular serve a system in ways which many of us see as both corrupt and corrupting. And yet we say that the University is more than worth saving. Why? We say this for two reasons: if the military metaphor may be forgiven, one strategical and one tactical. First, the University is, at best, profoundly irrelevant. By this it is not meant that material taught bears no relation to our lives — were this the case, Cornell would be merely ridiculous. No, what we mean is that when things are working as they should, we are not being taught a vocation or an immediately useful skill. We are being taught how to live; we are learning a sense of heritage, logic, clarity, culture, incisiveness and creativity that is essential to any man, be he revolutionary or banker. An end to the "business as usual" at Cornell would mean an end to classes whose normal business is far from usual in any pejorative sense of that word. Second, the tactics of terror do not bring about an end to those functions of the University which we oppose. Classes may stop, yes, and administration functions may in the long run come to an ass-griding halt. But military related research, investment would all continue — they are too valuable to our country for the powers-that-be to allow them to be stopped. Thus, paradoxically, what would culminate is precisely that which we find most valuable. Politically, molotov cocktails are simply not viable, either as a tactic or more frighteningly as ends in themselves. At best, they will destroy any possibility of a working coalition for the change that is needed ; at worst. the tragically wrenching conclusion about which we have speculated above. Neither of those scenarios is a desirable one, neither is productive, or effective, or politically sound, or justified, or justifiable. It takes a degree of resignation to face up to the fact that the struggle ahead will be long. hard, and often unfruitful. It is less romantic to work for change than to throw bombs. But these are not apocalyptic times. As was suggested in La Guerre Est Fioie. what we need is patience and irony* , ( . I
-Webster G. Tarpley=
This year's spring crisis has quickly played out its logic, from furor to cinders. The political agitation undertaken by white radicals in support of the black demands did not convince most people that there were great issues at stake, received therefore a rather lukewarm response, and quickly degenerated into fitful expressions of individual rage. Before we let these events recede into the oblivion which deservedly awaits them, we ought to let them teach us a few things. The author of a turkey that closes after to playing to empty houses for a very few performances generally concludes that there is something wrong with his dramaturgy. Student radicals are now in an analogous position: no longer where it's at. The difference is that most of them have not realized this. What has occurred is basically a replay of April, 1969, but in reverse. Last year the students seriously interested in the black demands as a political issue grew more numerous during the week of crisis. First the sizeable constituency then represented by the old S.D.S. announced support of the blacks; then more and more moderate layers joined up, immobilizing the radical clique bent on taking a building under any pretext in a swamp of well-meaning confused liberals. This process was climaxed by the orgy of good will and reconciliation in Barton Hall. This time the liberals, instead of being goaded into participation by appeals to their legendary guilt, responded with apathy. The Wednesday night meeting in Goldwin Smith was the most considerable group that was ever mustered ; from then on those able to relate politically to the black demands dwindled. The left-liberal faculty, who last year supported the blacks, and contemplated a building seizure in case of similar student action, this year declared themselves apolitical, and merely interested in averting violence. The dissipation of whatever momentum there was became complete as a result of the victory achieved by Corson and Purcell last Friday afternoon, when the moderate center became convinced that the blacks' demands had in effect been met. The radicals could produce only petty criticisms, which reflected the weakness of their position, and their personal hallucinations. The debates that went on in the various meetings held during the week indicate why events this year were fated to move in a descending line. These discussions were in a way equivalent to a lecture series on the ideas of the now-defunct student movement: they summarized and recapitulated the arguments of student radicals during the decade just ended, and, by no coincidence, terminated in the same dilemmas. The student movement developed from the civil rights work of the early 1960's. then passed through anti-war, antiimperialist, and anti-racist phases, and finally fragmented and disappeared. Its demise is aptly symbolized by the tumultuous SDS. convention held in Chicago last June. Organizing experience acquired in fights against imperialism (investments in South Africa, etc.), militarism (ROTC), and racism (support of black power and ghetto community control) proved that the
student movement, as long as it contained only students, was a dead end. The problem thus posed was the need to break out of the isolation of the campus by speaking to the needs of other groups. The solutions that different factions of the movement developed were mutually contradictory, and incompatible: some wanted to work with trade unions, others with adolescent street gangs, and others as a cheering section for community control militants. Tiny cliques, seeing hope only in the third world, turned to terrorism. Each of these groups wanted to act as a cadre organization based on a definite political line, so the catch-all non-exclusionary mass student movement collapsed. The slogans, the affectations, the cliches of the old student movement are repeated, not as an appropriate response to a lived reality, but as a compulsive obsession, an atavism. Or, as one understandably cynical undergraduate commented last week, a farce. Marshall, Kelly, and Burak, the charismatic protagonists of a year ago, could sway thousands; Plofsky and Margulies, their mimics of today, would love to do the same. All the old idealist polemics were naively rehashed during the course of the supportmeetings: racism, imperialism, antiauthoritarianism, and student alienation — a laundry-list of the concerns of the New Left. Meetings eventually ran upon the same contradiction that shattered the student movement: why are we so isolated, how can we build and broaden our base? A vague, populist desire to enlist the sympathies of the working class was shown in the proposals to finance housing needed in this area by expropriating trustees and banks they control. This corresponds approximately to the stage of development reached by Cornell S.D.S. in its housing program of early spring, 1969. The next step from there, for those who are prepared to cast off encrustations of class ideology, must be in the direction of a revolutionary socialist program capable of uniting students, blacks, workers, and the unemployed. This is the only realistic method of eradicating the material causes of racism. The real conditions for creating such a program, and for welding together the groups whose allegiance can make it live, are now emerging. On this count it is enough to point to the obvious potential of the current militant strike wave. Building real common-interest alliances, however, is a serious business. They cannot be whipped up in a few days to serve as releases for liberal guilt or a springtime libido. The real fight against racism means research, propaganda, and agitation to prepare mass struggles around wages and incomes, housing, open admissions, transport, and environment. Those students who have profited from yet another example of the pointlessness of parochial campus politics can begin to grapple with these society-wide problems. The comic episodes they have just witnessed should help them to bid a serene farewell to their own past. Webster Tarpley is a graduate student in the English Department.
Let There be Music
=Letters to the Editor =
To the Editor: In light of recent events here at Cornell I feel a trifle embarrassed writing about a situation of comparatively minimal importance. But since it is a topic I care about a great deal and have observed since my arrival here, namely the poor presentation of popular.music — rock, folk, blues, jazz, etc. — at Cornell and its apathetic reception by the community, I would just like to express my disappointment in what I have seen and heard. On April 7, 1 was one of the all too few members of the audience as Poppy Records and WVBR-FM presented Townes Van Zandt and the Mandrake Memorial in Anabel Taylor. It was an interesting and enjoyable concert. Townes Van Zandt, who has already released two albums, is a very talented folksinger-balladeer. The Mandrake Memorial played an interesting, innovative set. On April 10. Alpha Phi Omega was to have presented the "Sounds of England" featuring Savov Brown Blues Band, the Nice, and Family, three talented and accomplished groups who between them have released ten albums and have toured the United States numerous times. In fact Savov Brown made a very successful appearance here in Ithaca at the Warehouse on February 19. Yet. as of April 7. of the 4.000 tickets available for the two shows in Bailey Hall only 100 or so had been sold. Alpha Phi Omega understandably cancelled the two shows to prevent any further financial loss. What is wrong? Perhaps it is a matter of timing. I may be
observing a bad week. Spring vacation, the tragedy of 320 Wait Avenue, and mid-term pressures have been the focus of everyone's most recent attention. But what I have observed this week has been pervasive for far too long. The almost continual flow of ill conceived, ill promoted, and ill produced concerts < BB. King and the Youngbloods being the most recent exceptions) has demonstrated the inability of those people responsible for staging such events to understand the media of popular music and has resulted in widespread public apathy towards any concert. This misunderstanding has once again been illustrated in the recently announced Spring Weekend concert. James Taylor and the Pentangle in Barton Hall on May 2. Both acts are superb entertainment, but unfortunately both play "soft" music, relying very much on acoustic instruments. As a result both acts are very much ill-suited to perform in Barton Hall, where even the best electric music and speaker systems can barely reach the audience in listenable form. I do not wish to demean or discourage those organizations who sponsor and organize these concerts I only wish they would obtain the services of a truly competent promoter, one who understands the music he is promoting. Perhaps ticket prices would have to be raised slightly to cover the cost of this service, but I believe it would be well worth the extra quarter or half-dollar per ticket for everyone to hear an enjoyable evening of music. David Tepper '70
®t?p Cornell Satlg g>iw founded I88O Incorporated 1905 An independent newspaper edited by Cornell University undergraduates. Published daily except Saturday and Sunday during the college year by The Cornell Daily Sun, 109 East State Street, Ithaca, N.Y. 14850. Telephone (607) AR 3-3606. Yearly subscription rates $12 mailed, $9 if paid in advance. Member of THE ASSOCIATED PRESS And UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL The Associated Press is exclusively entitled to the use for reproduction of all news dispatches credited to it or not otherwise credited, and also the local news items published herein. Second Class Postage Paid at Hhaca, Now York o||ps|Ii2|)sS_r> NIGHT EDITOR: EJ. Stevenson '70 COPY EDITOR: Mike Horowitz 72 PHOTO NIGHT EDITOR: Leilani Hu '71 SPORTS NIGHT EDITOR: Rich Johnston '72 AD LAYOUTS: Brian H. We.ngenroth '73
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