It would be impossible for me to respond to all the wonderful comments posted on this blog while I was away, but this morning, as I wait to go off and deliver my sixth Marx lecture, I would like to say a few words about some of them.
First, let me thank my old friend. classmate, graduate school apartment mate, and Columbia colleague, Charles Parsons, for his observations about the 50th anniversary of the ’68 Columbia student uprising, which happened when both of us were there. I knew that Paul Cronin is bringing out a commemorative volume. He asked me to contribute something, but after I did, he apologized and said it had to be cut for reasons of length. No big loss. Charles is of course right that since the event took place in the spring, it is this semester and not the fall semester that is the real anniversary, but I am hoping that Todd Gitlin and I will draw a few students who still want to talk about it when we teach next fall. All I can say, quoting Tennyson, is Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive/ but to be young was very heaven.
To those who commented on Robert Heilbroner author of the classic work The Worldly Philosophers, Bob and I were pretty good friends back when I was teaching at Columbia. He was heir to the Weber and Heilbroner clothing store fortune, and lived in an elegant Park Avenue apartment. My first wife and I once attended a soirée there at which the guests were entertained by a concert pianist hired for the occasion. He was a real class act and a wonderful person. When I donated to the Houghton Rare Book Library at Harvard my original copy of the 30 page cablegram from John Reed in St. Petersburg announcing the October Revolution, I wanted to do so in his honor, but he modestly declined, so I donated it in the name of my grandparents, lifelong socialists in New York.
A propos the idea of taping the Gitlin/Wolff course, I thought this through with regard to the Marx course I taught at UNC Chapel Hill some years ago, and decided it was a bad idea. There is no way it could be done without compromising the freedom and protection offered to students in a classroom setting. Imagine a student taking the course who is considering a career on Wall Street [30% of Columbia graduating seniors!] Would such a student, intrigued by Marx or Marcuse, want his or her voice and even face in such a setting on the Internet forever? I suspect not. If I permit readers of this blog to post comments anonymously [or, to be more precise, Anonymously], I cannot do less for my students.
Well, there is much more to say, but my lecture beckons, and besides, in this 24 hour news cycle, last week’s comments are old news. J