That the New Left has selected the campus as a base for the disruption of society and a target for assault is not surprising. The halls of academe are peculiarly vulnerable because of the emphasis within the academic community on free discussion and on the relative immunity of the campus to the operations of law-enforcement agencies.
The deeper factors that have contributed to the student left remain largely concealed, partly because of the attention given by the news media to the surface phenomena of campus uprisings. The behavior of campus radicals seems to many to be mindless, irrational, and without rationale. Mindless and irrational it may be; without rationale it is not. Nor is it enough to attribute the behavior of academic militants to some vague feeling of alienation or of loss of individuality, though these do enter into the dynamics of the current wave of student rebellion.
But there is a very definite rationale, traceable to systematic and dogmatic indoctrination. The low-key social pessimism of the late C. Wright Mills does, we are persuaded, underlie much of the mentality of the campus left. Professing a commitment to reason and freedom, Mills nevertheless has sown down the academic world with views of society rooted in romanticism. His volume The Power Elite seems to many a visceral response to a frustrating experience. He holds that the power structure in our national life is an impenetrable and sinister force, completely out of reach of any influence by the citizenry.
Essential to this thesis is the view that the determining decisions in our nation are made by a three-headed “power elite”—the military, the business community, and government. He holds that big hierarchies keep the rank and file voiceless and ...1
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