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March 11, 1969 - Image 4

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1969-03-11

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-steve anzalone - in quiet desperation

Ei~e 51r41&igau Datl
Seventy-eight years of editorial freedom
Edited and managed by students of the University of Michigan

Enter the Irrational Man

420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, Mich.

News Phone: 764-0552

Editorials printed in The Michigan Daily express the individual opinions of staff writers
or the editors. This must be noted in all reprints.

TUESDAY, MARCH 1 1, 1969

NIGHT EDITOR: MARTIN A. HIRSCHMAN

Woe unto himn
who follows and leads not

TUCKED AWAY IN LAST Tuesday's
New York Times was a heartening
piece of news about an intellectual dispute
that may lead to the demise of thinking
and reasoning.
At a recent "theater of ideas," Norman
Mailer and Leslie Fiedler came close to
performing last rites on the long exalted
concept of rationality.
Mailer and Fiedler, the "laureates of
irrationality," jousted in heated debate
with authors Peter Gay and Jean Mala-
quais over the question: Is rationality
dead? Mailer shocked many of his con-
temporaries when he expressed doubt whe-
ther rationality ever lived.
Fiedler outlined the cult of the new
irrationality when he said that it was
a response directed against the city, the
church, and the university.

CHAPTER I
NOW IT CAME to pass that McNamara
begat Clifford and Clifford begat
Laird. And Laird was anointed prophet
of the Americanese who were the Lord's
chosen people.
And in the eighth year that his people
had striven in the land of the Vietnam-
ites, the Lord, who was then called
Jehovah, Prince of Knownothing, Richard
M. Nixon, visited Laird in a dream.
. And he spake unto Him and said, Go
and tell my people that you shall lead
them forth out of this land.
Laird went and journeyed to the land
of the Vietnamites, a heathen people who
worshipped the idols of survival, and saw
the Lord's people still tilling in the battle-
field and reaping sheaves of casualties.
A ND LAIRD WAS exceedingly wroth and.
beseeched the Lord that he should
rain brimstone down upon the Vietnam-
ites, who slew 435 of his people in one
week, and prayed for the day when the
land of the Vietnamites would be de-
livered into the hands of the Ameri-
canese.
Give unto me $70 million more and I
shall wip6 this stain of iniquity frctr
the earth, he cried, calling uponthe
names of his forefathers.
But the people of the Lord murmured
among themselves and called upon
Laird to release their brethren from the
land of the Vietnamites, who were a war-
ring people and could verily war among
themselves.

Sing praises to the Lord and trust not
your enemies, answered Laird.
The Vietnamites must be taught the
way of the Lord.
But the Lord remained in his heavens
and gave no heed to the burnt offerings.
He cursed the land of the Vietnamese
and kindled anger at the ieetingplace in
Paris. But he spake nothing but words.
CHAPTER II
AND THERE arose a tumult in the land
of the Americanese that the missiles
of death called the ABM should not be
brought into the cities of the living.
Then Laird summoned together the
high priests and pharisees of the Penta-
gon and brought forth a new plan which
would move the missiles into desert places
25-30 miles from the cities.
And Laird spake unto the people,
Gather your gold and silver and bring
tithes unto the Lord for he shall need
$400 billion. And the people cried, Woe
unto us, for we are already $365 billion
behind in our tithes.
CHAPTER III
AND LAIRD the anointed prophet of the
Lord Nixon kept all these things and
pondered them in his heart.
And he went forth and said, Let there
be ABMs and let there be a million
Americanese in the 'land of the Vietnam-
ites.
And he spake further, Vengeance is
mine, I will repay, for I am the Lord.
--HOWARD KOHN

As a response to the
the new irrationality
ticing possibilities for
college students.

university at least,
demonstrates en-
today's disaffected

to fit to what they perceive the teacher
wants to hear. Many will also come to feel
that a teacher's reply is not really an an-
swer but usually just an acknowledge-
ment of the question.
It probably will become apparent to the
new irrational man that dialogue serves no
useful purpose in dealing with differences
of opinion, that it has only minimal
cathartic value as a means of registering
disagreement.
The irrational man is likely to shy away
from futile intellectual embroglios where
nothing is resolved. Instead, he might find
that it is more desirable to insult his
teacher or classmates. It may be that in-
vective and absurdity have at least as
much intellectual value as rational in-
quiry and certainly can lead to much more
visceral satisfaction.
* * * *
THE NEW IRRATIONALITY is likely to
be spurred on by political frustration. Radi-
cal students will become more convinced
that rational things like elections, petitions
and protest, produce no positive effects
for seeking change.
When disillusioned radical students
come to believe that the nation is deaf,
they will become irrational men. Then, in-
stead of engaging in meaningless debate
with disinterested government leaders, the
irrational man will find that it is just as
productive and certainly more enjoyable,
to dismiss anyone to the right of Norman
Mailer as a fascist.
Ultimately, thinking and reasoning will
be done better by machines. Will man then
remain content to exist as a thinking ani-
mal when he is outstripped by a machine?
The ranks of the irrational men will swell
as a response to omnisicient computers,
and man perhaps will prefer to be a feeling
animal.
But for the present the new irrational
man will probably be just the isolated in-
dividual at the university-the very den of
rationality-who can find comfort in the
virtues of positive unthinking.

o0

THE UNIVERSITY is purportedly an
association of rational men in pursuit of
knowledge. Ideally the purpose of the
classroom is to serve as an arena f o r
Socratic dialogue between 'teacher and
student. Together, through rational dia-
logue, student and teacher will arrive at
truths just as Socrates and his students
did.
This rational tradition places unwaver-
ing emphasis on the value of communica-
tion. It is not surprising then that many
rational men prescribe a little more Soc-
ratic dialogue between the generations as
an antidote for the disharmony on campus
these days.
But somewhere along the line, someone
slipped a little hemlock to the unquestion-
ed acceptance of the ideal of Socratic
dialogue. Many students have discovered
that dialogue does not exist and that their
rational teachers have little of value to
communicate anyway.
Just the other day, students at the Uni-

Mailer Fiedler

versity saw first-hand how the language
requirement controversy was solved ' in
the best Socratic tradition. Both sides were
virtually deaf to the arguments of the
other; communication served only to gen-
erate further ill-will between faculty and
students.
Concerned students who 'attended the
faculty meetings looked with genuine dis-
taste at an assembly of rational men meet-
ing together in the spirit of sound think-
ing. Many foolish arguments were trumpet-
ed in favor of the language requirement,
and the whole debacle finally ended in
faculty non-action. Many students could
safely conclude after the whole encounter
with their rational teachers that rational-
ity is not for them.
THE NEW IRRATIONAL MAN will be$

come more apparent with the growing de-
nial of the efficacy or even the desirabil-
ity of communication. Likely. to replace
the icon of communication will be the
twin sacraments of irrationality - ab-
surdity and the insult.
Many students will become more dis-
satisfied with the preponderance of lec-
ture courses wheiae dialogue with the
teacher is completely non-existent. If he
cannot communicate with the teacher, per-
haps the only relevant thing for the ir-
rational student to do is to scream out in
assertion of his own existence or to enter-
tain himself and his classmates with ab-
surd parody.
Students are also likely to learn that
communication is not necessarily facili-
tated by seminars. Many will become more
disillusioned, with tailoring their remarks

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
The rent strike and the mayor

The perils of parity

THE LSA CURRICULUM COMMITTEE
yesterday discussed extensively the
problem of student representation on the
committee. A decision, needless to say, is
still rather far off, but the lines that it
will follow are already forming. The de-
cision is likely to be one most students
will not appreciate.
First, the curriculum committee as now
constituted is not vitally important. It is
an entirely advisory committee, and as
the language requirement question has il-
lustrated, there is no, reason to expect the
entire faculty to follow its recommenda-
tions very closely,
On the other hand, the committee does
handle all proposals, for curriculum and
degree requirements, matters that a r e
important to the college.
BUT WHAT ROLE will students play on
the committee?,
While the logic of the student activists
has consistently emphasized t h a t stu-
dents should have parity in the decision-
making process, the faculty is very far
from that view.
The faculty cannot understand why,
students should have any major say in
the operations of the college. Token vot-
ing or advisory positions are fine, b u t
anything approaching effective power is

out of the question in the minds of al-
most all faculty members.
BUT THERE IS AT least -one more fac-
tor-the ability of the faculty todecide
some of the matters in which they claim
expertise.
Students do not challenge the expertise
of professors in their stated areas of com-
petence - their chosen academic disci-
plines. But where they are not trained
specifically - in education as a goal in
itself, not academic skills or scholarship
- students can rightfully claim an equal
say.
The recent agonies of the curriculum
committee in trying to act on the lang-
uage requirement are all too revealing.
Most professors are not educators, they
are academicians, and the difference was
painfully obvious.
It is not that students have any special
expertise in education, but there are many
who certainly have no less expertise than
the faculty. Both groups must, in trying
to make such decisions, appeal like every
committee must to experts aid other out-
side advisors. It is in this that students
can be on a par with professors, it is in
this that accomodation must be sought.
This will be a hard lesson for the fac-
ulty to learn.
-RON LANDSMAN
Managing Editor

To the Editor:
T HE ANN ARBOR TENANT'S
Union Rent Strike has been
a reality for less than a month.
During this period of time we have
been interested to observe the de-
veloping debate between the two
candidates for mayor concerning
our impact on Ann Arbor housing.
The Republican candidate Rich-
ard Balzhiser has attempted to
characterize himself as a neutral
catalyst "to bring the two parties
to the conference table." In the
context of Ann Arbor, no candi-
date can be a disinterested third
party. Our impression is the same
as the Ann Arbor News which
headlined the article reporting his
efforts "Balzhizer Attempts To
End Rent Strike."
The Rent Strike will not end,
however, until the right of ten-
ants to organize is recognized,
and the landlords have engaged
in meaningful collective bargain-
ing. The history of labor move-
ments has shown that labor strikes
were necessary to bring trade un-
ions into existence and win col-
lective bargaining rights.
Professor Harris, while he would
"give government recognition and
protection to the rights of tenants
to organize and bargain collective-
ly," is apparently unaware of this
fact of history. He proposes to
bring about t hi1s recognition
througha"imaginative legislative
proposals" and lobbying efforts.
Such efforts will certainly be help-
ful but will never be decisive.
PROFESSOR HARRIS has at-
tempted to justify his refusal to
endorse the rent strike on the
grounds that as a mayor his first

duty must be to justice. Justice
and the interest of the tenants
may not be identical, says Harris,
when tenants are striking reason-
able landlords. We maintain that
no "reasonable landlord" would
refuse to bargain collectively with
his tenants; yet no landlord has
to date agreed to bargain collec-
tively.
Harris avers that the Tenants'
Union has only a secondary al-

legiance to the public interest. To
whose "public interest" does Har-
ris owe his allegiance? Is it the
unreasonable landlord against
whom Harris implies a rent strike
is justified? Is it the "reasonable"
landlords who refuse to negotiate.
with their tenants? Is it those suc-
cessive Republican administrations
whom Harris correctly accuses of
having presided over the deteriora-
tion of housing in Ann Arbor?

"Welcome to the United States of America 1"
- 1

Harris' concern reminds us of
a shepherd's concern for the "pub-
lic interest" of wolves and sheep;
that is, he must determine how
hungry the wolves are before feed-
ing them the sheep.
The rent strike organizers have
never contended that students are
the most victimized people in Ann
Arbor. In the contrary, the poor
who are forced to live outside Ann
Arbor to obtain housing within
their means, working people v/ho
must rent in Ann Arbor and stu-
d e n t s prospectively prevented
from attending the University are
also victims of, the Ann Arbor
landlords. Ours is a Tenants' Un-
ion, not a students' union. We
feel it must include all of the ten-
ants of Ann Arbor is meaningful
improvements are to be achieved.
In Ann Arbor, which has for a
decade elected conservative ad-
ministrations, only a broadly
based coalition of all of the pro-
gressive, citizens can hope to ini-
tiate substantive change.
THERE IS NO contradiction
between the interests of poor peo-
ple and the formation of a Ten-
ants' Union through a rent strike.
Harris should endorse the rent
strike as a means of improving the
position of tenants vis a vis land-
lords in the city and as a step
toward the formation of the coali-
tion which is a prerequisite for the
attainment of his expressed polit-
ical goals.
,Neither the Rent Strike Steering
Committee nor any citizens con-
cerned with changing the balance
of power in the Ann Arbor hous-
ing market should support 'either
Harris or Balzhiser unless he gives

To the Editor:

WE HOPE THAT it might be
useful to correct some inis-
understandings that appeared in
The Daily editorial by Mr. Anza-
lone on March 4.
. The letter sent, by 40 tTniversity
of Michigan physicists to Senators
Philip Hart and Robert Griffin
was mailed on Feb. 25 (as was
noted on the front page of the
same issue of The Daily) and was
not intended by the signers to be
our substitute for any events on
March 4.
We hope that Mr. Anzalone is
correct in assuming that sufficient
opposition to ABM deployment al-
ready exists in the Senate. Un-
fortunately, it Is our impression
that the Defense Department is
still confident that they have
enough votes to obtain the neces-
sary appropriation.
Most Senators are still unaware
of the virtual unanimity of the
scientific community in its op-
position to an ABM system. Sen-
ator Griffin's vote is one of the
key uncommitted votes, and it is
possible that many letters from
Michigan voters will affect his
position favorably.
--Prof. Gordon Kane
-Prof. Harvey Gould
Physics department
March 5

unqualified support to the Rent
Strike and the Tenants' Union.
-Barry Cohen, '70
-Dale Berry, Grad
-Nancy Holmistrom, Grad
Steering Committee
Rent Strike
Scientists

maa L.- A

JAMES WECHSLER-,

Telling Nixon

that we are not on

the enemy's one-yard line

IT IS A MATTER OF RECORD that,
in the aftermath of the bombing
halt over North Vietnam decreed by
President Johnson last Oct. 31, Com-
manding Gen. Creighton W. Abrams
issued an order calling for "all-out
pressure on the enemy' on other
levels.
What is not in the published re-
ports is that Averell Harriman, then
our chief negotiator at the Paris
peace talks, somberly warned the out-
going Administration that this step
would inevitably invite the military
reaction that we have been facing in
recent days.
REACHED BY TELEPHONE at his
vacation refuge in Hobe Sound, Fla.,
Harriman acknowledged the other
day that he had advanced this force-
cast during the debate that preceded
1- taa i inn of nit,. , 4 ar, a .,ff

In bring this war to an end," he said.
"I don't want to say anything that
could be regarded as a hostile judg-
ment of the way Mr. Nixon is han-
dling things. The big decisions are
still to be made."
EVEN HARRIMAN'S limited com-
ment, however, assumes crucial sig-
nificance at a moment when Defense
Secretary' Laird is on his way to
Vietnam and the question of resum-
ing the bombing exercises is in the
balance. In his telecast President
Nixon took pains to point out that
most of the recent targets were mili-
tary; he appeared determined to
avoid provocative rhetoric.
But he left wide open the possibility
of a bombing renewal, and that re-
mark received the biggest press-no-
tice. That is why Harriman's testi-
._ _ ..1 - -. . 1.. . . _

Nixon is confronting a fateful deci-
sion in which the Pentagon and its
political allies-with the enthusiastic
cheers of the Thieu-Ky regime-are
once again pressing the delusion of
military "victory" and using the
latest Viet Cong assults as a cover
for their campaign.
It should be reported in this con-
text that Harriman has high regard
for Gen. Abrams, viewing him as a,
military figure with an unusual
awareness of the complexities of the
Vietnam conflict.
But he has no comparable esteem
for many chairborne strategists now
conductingatheir annual exercise in
the propaganda of promise; "We can
clean this up if we get one more
chance."
' He is also persuaded that each
new foolish journalistic communique

private negotiations (the only kind
that he has ever deemed meaningful)
can be destroyed by a reversion to
the futile formula of air power
against the North.
In this crisis, as in the ABM dis-
pute, Richard 'Nixon faces his first
momentous test of strength with
what Dwight Eisenhower described in
his farewell address as the "military-
industrial complex." His responses
may determine the fate of his Ad-
ministration.
For a sudden expansion of the war,
flimsily camouflaged by charges that
Hanoi has violated the "understand-
ing" of October when in fact the
"all-out pressure" order first came
from our side, will instantly recreate,
on a larger scale, the discords that
haunted the .Tnhnon era

s

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