Thursday, November 18, 2010



Herbert Marcuse

The present campus unrest must be seen in the context of a deep-rooted protest against the established society, its immoral and illegal war in Vietnam, its glaring inequality and injustice, its general aggressiveness and hypocrisy. The following remarks refer to this context only; therefore other cases of legitimate police intervention (such as enforcement of civil rights legislation against segregationists) are not mentioned.

There are instances where the intervention of the police on campus would be justifiable even according to the standards of the Left: when human life is endangered, and when there is the possibility of serious bodily injury; also in the case of willful destruction of facilities and materials serving the educational purposes of the university (libraries, etc.). To the best of my knowledge, such destruction is no part of the strategy and tactics of the New Left.

The occupation of buildings and the disruption of “business as usual” are, in my view, no reasons for police intervention. Such temporary violations of Law and Order must be judged in the light of the crimes against which they try to draw attention – the continued slaughter in Vietnam and the continued oppression of racial and national minorities. Compared with this normal daily violence which goes largely unpunished and unnoticed, the student protest is nonviolent.

New York Times Magazine (May 4, 1969)