ELF | The Spring Encampment: Failed Revolution or the Only Way to Live? (ft. Spencer Beswick)

There was never revolutionary potential in the Liberated Zone. I wrote in April that there were always two likely outcomes: that Martha Pollack would dismantle the encampment outright, as police did at Columbia and UCLA, or that she would trust in the existing cultural order to prevent the demonstration from reaching any sort of leveraged position in negotiations. Pollack’s stall tactics succeeded — ahead of the summer recess, the Coalition for Mutual Liberation called an end to the encampment last week. 

That my piece received heartfelt recognition from within and outside of the encampment should indicate some acceptance by proponents of the Liberated Zone that the demonstration would fail. Did it mean nothing, then? Was it a disingenuous attempt by privileged Ivy League students to virtue signal, with little concern for its success?

WILSON | Ghosts of the Encampment

“Yet there is no avoiding time, the sea of time, the sea of memory and forgetfulness, the years of promise, gone and unrecoverable, of the land almost allowed to claim its better destiny, only to have the claim jumped by evildoers known all too well, and taken instead and held hostage to the future we must live in now forever. May we trust that this blessed ship is bound for some better shore, some undrowned Lemuria, risen and redeemed, where the American fate, mercifully, failed to transpire.” — Thomas Pynchon ’59

When Cornell’s encampment is uprooted tonight, green and yellow patches of deadened grass will remain on the Arts Quad for some time — subtle discoloration indicating that at some point, something was here. After a few weeks at most, the grass will be mowed and grown anew, removing this temporary imprint. In three years, virtually all of the undergraduates who experienced life within our Liberated Zone will have graduated. Soon enough, our story will be reduced to the same vague murmurs of disquiet that eventually subsume all student protest movements.

MARGULIES | Winter in Day Hall

Winter is tenacious in upstate New York. It endures far longer than it should, and brings with it a darkness that makes you bury your head and pray for spring. I thought of our long, dark winter when the editors of The Sun asked if I would jot a few lines about the encampment on the Arts Quad. And I thought about Emerson, who spoke at Boston’s Masonic Temple in 1841, and whose remarks I have edited for space:

The two parties which divide the state are very old, and have disputed the possession of the world ever since it was made. Conservatism is always apologizing, pleading a necessity; it must saddle itself with the mountainous load of the violence and vice of society, must deny the possibility of good, deny ideas, and suspect and stone the prophet; whilst innovation is always in the right, triumphant, attacking, and sure of final success.