Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Mario Savio Lives!

Here is a speech by Robert Reich in honour of Mario Savio and the Berkeley FSM (Free Speech Movement)...

Sadly, Mario Savio is dead, but his words live on. I love this bit:
There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious—makes you so sick at heart—that you can't take part. You can't even passively take part. And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.

What sparked FSM? Students wanted to include "political" tables on the plaza along with the others about fraternities/sororities and other campus groups. Here is a video of the original "Occupy" Berkeley demo:

The struggle for a better world is an eternal fight. It can't be fought and won and forgotten. Sadly it is an on-going struggle. As Thomas Jefferson said of Shay's Rebellion which occurred shortly after the War of Independence:
What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must from time to time be refreshed with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.
Unlike Jefferson, I would propose that the focus of the struggle should be focused on education, voting, and the moral suasion of protest and not bloody revolution. Violence too often goes off the rails. But an organized and motivated social movement has a legacy. It is potent.

The last few minutes of the video make it very, very clear how actions have consequences and the social struggle continues through the ages. Reich recalls his friend Michael Schwerner who died in 1964 during the Freedom Summer when Mario Savio and many hundreds of other activists went into the Deep South to help register blacks to vote and to help bring change to that deeply brutal and ugly racist society. They won that struggle, but it was a bitter one. Robert Reich is evidence of how a thread of struggle knits the ages together. We are inheritors of previous struggles and our present struggle helps endow the future with a better world. It is an endless struggle, but a necessary struggle and a fruitful struggle.

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