The Do-It-Yourself Occupation Guide: 2012 Redux

March 29, 2012 at 6:07 pm (Building Occupations, Housing Occupations, Occupations, Squatting, Student Occupations, Workplace Occupations) (, , , )

A new occupation guide, as a continuation and re-adjustment of the previous DIY occupation guide that emerged during the student movement in the fall of 2009. This guide takes into account the strategy and tactics of the previous student movement in relation to Occupy Oakland and the J28 Move-In Assembly. With various practical how-to’s as well as general strategic and tactical questions, this guide hopes to further the discourse and debate on how to occupy.

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Announcing: Occupy Everything: Anarchists in the Occupation Movement 2009-2011

January 30, 2012 at 4:33 pm (Building Occupations, Housing Occupations, Land Occupations, Squatting, Student Occupations, Workplace Occupations)

From LBC Books

Anarchists in the Occupation Movement 2009-2011

Since the first day that Zuccotti Park was occupied there has been a shadowy figure haunting Occupy Wall Street. The anarchist. Who is this anarchist? What role has she played in the Occupy Movement? What would Occupy be without him?

This is a book where anarchists, in their own words, express how and why they engaged in Occupy, what methods they used, and evaluates the success of Occupy on anarchist terms. It also expresses the flexibilty, energy, and experience that anarchists brought to The Occupy Movement as it moved beyond lower Manhattan onto the docks and streets of Oakland, the town square of Philadelphia, and abandoned buildings around the country.

The anarchists’ way of operating was changing our very idea of what politics could be in the first place. This was exhilarating. Some occupiers told me they wanted to take it home with them, to organize assemblies in their own communities. It’s no accident, therefore, that when occupations spread around the country, the horizontal assemblies spread too.
-From Nathan Schneider in The Nation

Contributors: Antistate STL, Anon, Ben Webster, Cindy Milstein, Crescencia Desafio, Crimethinc, David Graeber, Denver ABC, Dot Matrix, Ignite! Collective, ingirum, John Jacobsen, Phoenix Insurgent, R.R, Serf City Revolt, TEOAN, Tides of Flame, TriAnarchy

Edited: Aragorn! publishes books at Little Black Cart, edits The Anvil Review and writes on popular culture, nihilism, and identity. He also blogs and does technology consulting.

Buy: Now
250 pages, Digest
$15
ISBN 978-1-62049-000-6

Purchase at Little Black Cart


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Argentina to Wall Street: Latin American Social Movements and the Occupation of Everything

October 13, 2011 at 6:09 pm (Building Occupations, Housing Occupations, Indigenous, Land Occupations, Peoples' Assemblies, Squatting, Student Occupations, Workplace Occupations) (, , )

Assembly at Occupy Wall St. Photo: Flickr/MatMcDermott

By Benjamin Dang, Toward Freedom

Massive buildings tower over Wall Street, making the sidewalks feel like valleys in an urban mountain range. The incense, drum beats and chants of Occupy Wall Street echo down New York City’s financial district from Liberty Plaza, where thousands of activists have converged to protest economic injustice and fight for a better world.

As unemployment and poverty in the US reaches record levels, the protest is catching on, with hundreds of parallel occupations sprouting up across the country. It was a similar disparity in economic and political power that led people to the streets in the Arab Spring, and in Wisconsin, Greece, Spain and London. Occupy Wall Street is part of this global revolt. This new movement in the US also shares much in common with uprisings in another part of the world: Latin America.

This report from Liberty Plaza connects tactics and philosophies surrounding the Occupy Wall Street movement with similar movements in Latin America, from the popular assemblies and occupation of factories during Argentina’s economic crisis in 2001-2002, to grassroots struggles for land in Brazil.

Latin America: Economic Crisis and Grassroots Responses

Almost overnight in late 2001, Argentina went from having one of the strongest economies in South America to one of the weakest. During this economic crash, the financial system collapsed like a house of cards and banks shut their doors. Faced with such immediate economic strife and unemployment, many Argentines banded together to create a new society out of the wreckage of the old. Poverty, homelessness, and unemployment were countered with barter systems, factory occupations, communally-run kitchens, and alternative currency. Neighborhood assemblies provided solidarity, support and vital spaces for discussion in communities across the country. Ongoing protests kicked out five presidents in two weeks, and the movements that emerged from this period transformed the social and political fabric of Argentina.

These activities reflect those taking place at Occupy Wall Street and in other actions around the US right now. Such events in Argentina and the US are marked by dissatisfaction with the political and economic system in the face of crisis, and involve people working together for solutions on a grassroots level. For many people in Argentina and the US, desperation pushed them toward taking matters into their own hands.

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Greece: 300 university departments occupied by students

September 12, 2011 at 9:50 pm (Building Occupations, Student Occupations) ()

The main building of the Athens School of Economics: The graffiti reads ‘Solidarity to Migrants’ and ‘What the hand of the state cannot reach, can be reached by the knife of the para-state’ referring to the wave of attacks by fascists against migrants, plenty of them taking place in the district of Kypseli where the school is located. The banner reads ‘Occupation’

From The Greek Streets:

It is estimated that circa 300 departmental student assemblies have decided to occupy their departments. The majority of the universities in Greece are occupied by students protesting against the new reform bill. The new bill aims into the commercialisation and privatisation of higher education of the country, into the withdrawal of the academic asylum, the introduction of tuition fees and university managers, amongst other.

Today, is the first school day for high schools, people from the occupation of the Athens School of Economics and Business went to local secondary schools to publicise the demands of the occupation and meet with school students.

Check out the blog of the occupation.

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#OCCUPYWALLSTREET

August 2, 2011 at 2:48 pm (Building Occupations, Housing Occupations, Land Occupations, Student Occupations, Workplace Occupations) (, , )

#OCCUPYWALLSTREET

A shift in revolutionary tactics.

Alright you 90,000 redeemers, rebels and radicals out there,

A worldwide shift in revolutionary tactics is underway right now that bodes well for the future. The spirit of this fresh tactic, a fusion of Tahrir with the acampadas of Spain, is captured in this quote:

“The antiglobalization movement was the first step on the road. Back then our model was to attack the system like a pack of wolves. There was an alpha male, a wolf who led the pack, and those who followed behind. Now the model has evolved. Today we are one big swarm of people.”— Raimundo Viejo, Pompeu Fabra University
Barcelona, Spain

The beauty of this new formula, and what makes this novel tactic exciting, is its pragmatic simplicity: we talk to each other in various physical gatherings and virtual people’s assemblies … we zero in on what our one demand will be, a demand that awakens the imagination and, if achieved, would propel us toward the radical democracy of the future … and then we go out and seize a square of singular symbolic significance and put our asses on the line to make it happen.

The time has come to deploy this emerging stratagem against the greatest corrupter of our democracy: Wall Street, the financial Gomorrah of America.

On September 17, we want to see 20,000 people flood into lower Manhattan, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street for a few months. Once there, we shall incessantly repeat one simple demand in a plurality of voices.

Tahrir succeeded in large part because the people of Egypt made a straightforward ultimatum – that Mubarak must go – over and over again until they won. Following this model, what is our equally uncomplicated demand?

The most exciting candidate that we’ve heard so far is one that gets at the core of why the American political establishment is currently unworthy of being called a democracy: we demand that Barack Obama ordain a Presidential Commission tasked with ending the influence money has over our representatives in Washington. It’s time for DEMOCRACY NOT CORPORATOCRACY, we’re doomed without it.

This demand seems to capture the current national mood because cleaning up corruption in Washington is something all Americans, right and left, yearn for and can stand behind. If we hang in there, 20,000-strong, week after week against every police and National Guard effort to expel us from Wall Street, it would be impossible for Obama to ignore us. Our government would be forced to choose publicly between the will of the people and the lucre of the corporations.

This could be the beginning of a whole new social dynamic in America, a step beyond the Tea Party movement, where, instead of being caught helpless by the current power structure, we the people start getting what we want whether it be the dismantling of half the 1,000 military bases America has around the world to the reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act or a three strikes and you’re out law for corporate criminals. Beginning from one simple demand – a presidential commission to separate money from politics – we start setting the agenda for a new America.

Post a comment and help each other zero in on what our one demand will be. And then let’s screw up our courage, pack our tents and head to Wall Street with a vengeance September 17.

for the wild,
Culture Jammers HQ

—————————————————————————————————————————————

Is America Ripe for a Tahrir Moment?

#OCCUPYWALLSTREET goes viral.

#OCCUPYWALLSTREET

Hey you rebels, radicals and utopian dreamers out there,

Our call to #OCCUPYWALLSTREET on September 17 shook up a tsunami of spontaneous enthusiasm. Jammers from all over the nation (and a few Canadians!) have sent word that they will be there. Meanwhile various activist organizers have realized the potential of this event, rolled up their sleeves and gotten to work. While some techies have teamed up to build an indie open source website for organizing carpools to the event (occupywallst.org), others are thinking through the logistics of feeding everyone and defending the first days of the occupation. Through it all, a deluge of solidarity messages have been pouring in from Spain, Egypt and elsewhere.

Will you be there?

Imagine … the dawn of the 13th day of the occupation … you’re tired, not sleeping or eating too great … you’ve been harassed, maybe tear gassed and beaten. Bloomberg is threatening to call in the National Guard, Obama is hemming and hawing, but you are sitting tight because much of the nation is cheering you on. Al Jazeera and the BBC are beaming your struggle to a captivated world and the tension is building for Obama to break his silence. It feels much like it did in Tahrir Square moments before Mubarak caved. You’ve never felt so alive!

What had the power to inspire all this?

It was our one simple demand that Barack Obama must ordain a Presidential Commission tasked with ending the influence that corporate money has over our representatives in Washington. Our one simple demand is: STOP THE MONIED CORRUPTION AT THE HEART OF OUR DEMOCRACY!

Achieving this Presidential Reform Commission will be the crucial first step towards opening a political space for a flurry of further people’s demands like, total transparency in all government affairs, a Tobin Tax on financial transactions, a grand strategy for reducing America’s carbon footprint …

September 17 could be the beginning of an American Spring … the moment we the people turn the tables on our would-be corporate masters and start acting like free empowered citizens once again.

Are you with us? Bring a tent.

for the wild,
Culture Jammers HQ

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Refectory of Athens University is Occupied – Demos in 17 Cities

May 12, 2011 at 7:58 pm (Building Occupations, Student Occupations, Workplace Occupations) ()

From Occupied London:

At least 3 demonstrators had to have medical operations the last 24 hours as result of their injury by riot police during the 11/05/2011 General Strike demonstration. The refectory of University of Athens in Panepistimious Av. in the centre of Athens is occupied and an assembly will take place there after the 18:00 demo. Loudspeakers have been erected on the Refectory square (Propylea) informing people about police brutality and the first announcement of the occupation has been already issued.

There are calls for anti-repression and anti-police demonstrations at 18:00 (GMT+2) in 17 cities so far and more are to be added.

PASOK’s offices were attacked by protesters in Volos last night, while various spontaneous demos took place in other cities. the Workers’ Centre in Corfu is occupied at the moment by an assembly, preparing for the 18:00 demo.

First announcement from the occupied Refectory building in Propylaea, Athens:

From contra-info:

In the May 11th general strike demonstration, thousands of protesters voiced their opposition to the Greek government’s anti-social measures which directly affect workers. While the predatory policy of the ‘Troika’ along with the cooperating Greek government, is pushing even larger sections of society in absolute poverty and destitution, the riot police forces are attacking demonstrators with fury.

In the demonstration of May 11th and while a big part of the demonstrators had passed the parliament and were heading to Propylaea (Panepistimiou Str.), the cops attacked furiously and unprovocably against various blocks of demonstrators (neighborhood assemblies, rank’n’file labour unions, anarchists/anti-authoritarians, extra-parliamentary left) beating them wildly and firing tons of tear gas. More than 100 demonstrators were transferred to general hospitals (Nikaia, ‘KAT’, ‘Evangelismos’), while three of them underwent surgery.

Comrade Yannis K. has been murderously attacked by the repression forces. Wounded and with a bleeding head, he began to move away from Panepistimiou Street along with another demonstrator. Going down Amerikis Street, at the height of Stadiou Street, they entered into a porch where people who were present saw him bleeding. He was then transferred in antemortem condition (according to the hospital doctors union’s press release) at the General Hospital in Nikaia suffering from an internal head bleeding. He was directly operated and hospitalized in intensive care, in a coma situation.

While this text is being written, the formal mechanisms of manipulation, along with their regimes’ apologists are intensively trying to present the murderous attack as an ‘injury under unclear circumstances’ relieving thereby the principals and instigators (Greek state, repression forces).

The memory of December 08 revolt is turning like an ax over the heads of the rulers, that tremble while facing the possibility of a new social explosion. Alongside, the repression forces  in close cooperation with members of extreme-right organizations, have launched a coordinated pogrom against political milieus and squats (Villa Amalias, Patission 61 & Skaramaga squat), attempting thereby to disrupt the ‘enemy within’ by sending messages of terror and fear to anyone who fights back.

Today, May 12th, at 9 o’clock, we occupied the Refectory of University of Athens in Propylaea, in Panepistiniou Str., in the centre of Athens. We have already converted the building and the courtyard in front of it into a counter-information centre and a front of struggle, as an embankment to the States’ invasion and capitalist brutality.

NO PERSECUTION AGAINST THE ARRESTED
OF THE
MAY 11th GENERAL STRIKE

WAR BY ALL MEANS AGAINST THE STATE-MURDERER

CALL FOR AN ASSEMBLY IN THE OCCUPIED REFECTORY BUILDING AT PROPYLAEARIGHT AFTER THE END OF THE DEMONSTRATION
(THE DEMO WILL BEGIN AT 18.00)

Anarchists/Anti-authoritarians from the occupied ground of the Refectory building (Propylaea)


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France: Occupations of Secondary, Primary and Infant Schools

April 24, 2011 at 10:24 pm (Building Occupations, Student Occupations, Workplace Occupations)

From Libcom.org:

Since the very end of March, there have been increasing amounts of school occupations throughout France. Provoked by the suppression of nearly 16,000 teaching posts, the closure of classes, the threatened closure of some of these schools and the consequent increases in class sizes, these occupations have been particularly concentrated on infant schools and primary schools, but have also included “Middle Schools” (“Collèges” for 11 to 14 or 15-year-olds) and those lycées with “Collèges” attached to them. Though it’s hard to gauge how many occupations there have been, it must be at least 250.

Starting off with just a 3 hour occupation at the end of March in an infant school in a village called Kernéval, south of Brest in the North West, this has spread throughout the country, with all night occupations lasting several days, often with parties, barbecues and the parents sleeping in tents in the playgrounds. In and around the Montpellier area in the South West there have been at least 15 (probably a lot more) occupations of infant and primary schools. And a bit further north in Lunel there have been several blockades of schools (as elsewhere) and also a blockade of the offices of the education section of the Prefecture.

The cuts to (mis)education, involving particularly the suppression of classes for those with learning difficulties, has been met with innumerable occupations especially of the schools in the poorer areas (though certainly not exclusively), which for obvious reasons are more effected by such cuts. The initiative for these occupations seems to have come mainly from parents, teachers explicitly saying that they have been heavily pressured to suffer – though not quite in silence, but rather into a practical acquiescence under protest.

News of these occupations have been largely restricted to local news, though just a couple of days ago, TF1, one of the main TV channels, known as Sharko’s favourite channel because its often quite unsubtle propaganda (his ex-wife’s brother is one of the heads of it), broadcast this (in French). In a sense, the fact that such a crap channel can put out a fairly neutral, if not favourable, take on these occupations is indicative of both their strength – they’ve become too extensive to ignore – and their weakness – they only confront the austerity programme but not the more profound question of the form, content and goals of miseducation (at least, not explicitly).

In many parts of France the Easter holidays have begun, but in those parts where they only begin tomorrow night, the occupations continue and many of the occupiers have vowed to continue the struggle after the Easter break. Unlike the lycée struggles, which tend to die out after Easter, these schools aren’t yet hampered by the pressure of looming exams in the summer term. So their promises to continue are very likely to be kept. Watch this space.

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The Occupation Cookbook

April 4, 2011 at 3:18 pm (Building Occupations, Student Occupations) ()

The Occupation Cookbook: or the Model of the Occupation of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb

Introductions by Marc Bousquet and Boris Buden

Translated from the Croatian by Drago Markisa

minorcompositions.info/occupationcookbook.html

The Occupation Cookbook is a “manual” that describes the organization of the student occupation of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences that took place in the spring of 2009 and lasted for 35 days. It was written for two reasons: to record what happened, and to present the particular organization of this action in such a way that it may be of use to other activists and members of various collectives if they decide to undertake a similar action.

What does it mean to “occupy” a school? A school occupation is not, as the corporate media like to portray it, a hostile takeover. A school occupation is an action by those who are already its inhabitants – students, faculty, and staff – and those for whom the school exists. (Which is to say for a public institution, the public itself.) The actions termed “occupations” of a public institution, then, are really re-occupations, a renovation and reopening to the public of a space long captured and stolen by the private interests of wealth and privilege. The goal of this renovation and reopening is to inhabit school spaces as fully as possible, to make them truly habitable – to make the school a place fit for living. – Marc Bousquet, from the Introduction

View this document on Scribd

Cover and design by Dejan Krsic
Photos by Boris Kovacev

PDF available freely online (http://www.minorcompositions.info/occupationcookbook.html), discounts for ordering multiple copies.

Released by Minor Compositions, London / New York / Port Watson

Minor Compositions is a series of interventions & provocations drawing from autonomous politics, avant-garde aesthetics, and the revolutions of everyday life.

Minor Compositions is an imprint of Autonomedia
www.minorcompositions.info |info@minorcompositions.info

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University of Minnesota Occupation

March 30, 2011 at 2:53 pm (Building Occupations, Student Occupations) ()

From UMN Solidarity:

March 29, 2011

Students, Faculty, and Community Members Continue Occupation of Social Sciences Tower at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities

Negotiations with UMN Police Allow Some Occupiers to Stay Overnight

Minneapolis – After occupying the first floor of the Social Sciences Tower on the West Bank of the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus for ten hours, students and community members were confronted by the University of Minnesota Police Department around 10:15 pm, 45 minutes before the building was supposed to be closed for the night. Police initially insisted that occupiers leave the building, and were not willing to negotiate with the group. However, the UMPD was persuaded to meet and discuss the issue with two occupiers, one of whom was a faculty member. After 40 minutes of negotiations between the two parties, a compromise was made. The police would allow 12 students to stay in the Social Sciences tower over night, but all other occupiers had to leave for the night.

“Ideally, we all would have been allowed to stay overnight,” said Elliot, a member of the South Minneapolis community, “But given the choice between being arrested and completely losing the space, or allowing 12 students to stay and continue the occupation, it was a fairly easy decision for us to make.” In the morning, the other occupiers returned and the space continued to function as it had the day before.

The occupiers have also created a calendar of events that are open to all members of the university and the public. The events, which are listed on their blog, umnsolidarity.wordpress.com, include group meals, a movie night, and workshops. According to Danny, a graduate student, more events are being planned to further spread the message of the occupation and to talk about how the university community can solve the issues that it is facing. “We have been approached by a number of professors who want to bring their classes to the space. So far, it has been really successful for both the classes and the occupation,” he added.

Students, faculty, and community members have been occupying the Social Sciences Tower on the West Bank of the Twin Cities University of Minnesota campus since 1pm on March 28th. Their list of demands is as follows:

“Because we are residents of Minnesota, and because this is a public, land-grant university,

We demand the right to peacefully occupy space at our university,

We demand that the general public has reasonable access to university resources;

We demand that the university respect the rights of all workers to organize and to earn at least a living wage;

We demand tuition and fee reductions;

We demand that regents be democratically elected by the university community;

We demand that the university treat student groups fairly and equitably with respect to funding and space. We demand student groups on the 2nd floor of Coffman Union be able to keep their spaces.

In doing so, we stand in solidarity with the people of Wisconsin, and students and workers worldwide.”

#

Press Release 3/28/11:

Students and Community Supporters Occupy Social Sciences Tower at University of Minnesota Twin Cities Campus – West Bank

Occupying in Solidarity with Wisconsin Students and Workers and Against University Budget Cuts

Minneapolis – On Monday, March 28th, a group of students and community members have occupied the first floor of the Social Sciences tower on the West Bank of the Twin Cities campus of the University of Minnesota. Following a rally in front of Coffman Memorial Union, participants marched across the East Bank of campus and crossed the Mississippi River onto the West Bank. Students and supporters entered into the first floor of the Social Sciences tower and held an assembly to discuss possible courses of action. Using a democratic process of consensus, protesters decided to hold the space in an open and soft occupation.

Since the occupation is non-violent and open, as of press time the University has not removed the occupiers. However, the University buildings close to the public at 11 pm each night. “We have a solid group of people here who are committed to the occupation, and we are using social media to bring more students and supportive community members to the space,” said undergraduate student Andrew, who has chosen not to give his last name. “We are planning specific events for the space in order to benefit the entire community, which we will be posting on our blog, umnsolidarity.wordpress.com,” added Sara, a U of M student who was forced to take a semester off of school for lack of finances.

Students and community supporters are outraged over soaring tuition, budget cuts, skyrocketing administrative salaries, mounting student debt, attacks on cultural diversity groups on campus, and blatant disregard for workers’ rights across the nation. In light of recent student and worker uprisings around the world, students in the Twin Cities are no longer willing to bear the burdens of the economic crisis while the rich only get richer. Inspired by the actions of students at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, Madison, and other campuses around the state, U of M students are standing up against injustices in their own state and their own university.

Contact: Hallie (612)217-2462, umnsolidarity@gmail.com

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Warts and All: On the occupation at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee

March 11, 2011 at 4:59 pm (Student Occupations) ()

From Burnt Bookmobile

The occupation is a feast at which we may satisfy our hunger for beautiful and intense moments. —Graffiti from the occupied UWM theatre building

The stage is set: years of defeat-induced, pessimistic depression and a more-than-healthy dose of cynicism; cut backs, layoffs, and foreclosures piled on top of already extreme levels of poverty, hopelessness and social disintegration; a context notable for its glaring lack of collective struggle against this misery.

Then suddenly an outburst of activity: the occupation of the State Capitol building in Madison; anti-austerity demonstrations involving tens of thousands of people; massive wildcat sick-ins, student walk-outs and murmurs of a general strike.

Of course this attempt to get back on our feet will include its fair share of missteps and stumbling. All the more so because for many of us, nothing quite like this has yet touched our lives. Even for those of us who desperately track such moments of conflict through the pages of books, across oceans and continents, this is a new and strange place we find ourselves in.

On March 2nd at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee a student walkout took place followed by a demonstration involving some 2,000 students, teaching assistants, professors, workers and unemployed. The demonstration took to the streets surrounding the university. Chants and signs were mostly dominated by anti-legislation, anti-governor as well as pro-union, pro-democracy rhetoric. “This is what democracy looks like:” an unintentionally ironic slogan given that the occupation of the State Capitol building, which partially inspires the university uproar, is actually an attempt to disrupt the functioning of democracy and majority rule.

The sadly predictable rally which followed the demonstration was sufficiently long and boring to kill most of the momentum generated by the walk-out and disperse all but a couple hundred of those who had participated in the demonstration. This, by no means recent, trend is, if not a tool of manipulation used by organizers and leaders to maintain control over the situation, then at least an undesirable hold-over from bygone eras.

The point here is not to value one form of symbolic protest over another (marching in the streets versus standing in a plaza), but to realize when an activity is detrimental to the continuation and expansion of the struggle and to replace it with a different form. Marching through campus buildings in an attempt to further disrupt classes and the functioning of the university, holding an open “speak-out” at which any individual from the crowd could voice their opinions, or directly moving to occupy a building with a several thousand strong crowd would all be better than the impotent spectacle of speakers and a passive crowd.

Eventually the remaining demonstrators moved back into the student union, this time to resounding chants of, “They say class cuts, we say class war”, “An eye for an eye, Walker must die”, and “Kill the rich” (a slight alteration of the mainstream slogan “kill the bill”). After a brief discussion on the best building to occupy, the group moved into the lobby of the theater department and set up camp.

Almost immediately the “occupation” was overwhelmed by the formalism of meetings and a consuming concern with minutia. Instead of immediately discussing how to make the occupation more potent and massive, energy and excitement was drained into debates about demands that ultimately had no basis in a real counter-power to the administration and rules for how to exist collectively within the space.

While compromises were eventually reached on such issues as whether or not to barricade the doors, graffiti the walls, and drink indoors, the absurdities of “respecting the building” reached surreal heights. At one point an argument was started about what kind of tape to use when putting posters on the wall (the supposedly acceptable alternative to writing on them directly).

At another point, after agreeing to a demand for “immunity for all involved in the occupations” someone from within the occupation called the police on a fellow occupier. A terribly divisive move that if repeated can only serve to weaken and destroy the potential for further collective struggle. This act of “snitching” led to heated debates, a periodic police walk-through, and an eventual agreement to cease relying on the police as a means of solving internal disputes.

All of these details, while illustrating the confused and timid nature of what in actuality was a prolonged, indoor protest, should not be used to completely write off the events that transpired. Criticism in this context is meant as a means of learning and growing so that a future attempt to engage with social struggle may avoid the mistakes of our past. The very fact of our lack of a collective living memory on exactly how to fight back is both the explanation for these errors and the motivation for a continued presence within the struggle against austerity.

The adoption of a general assembly model for making decisions, while being a safeguard against the manipulations of small groups, was also a forum for the discussion of issues such as the nature and purpose of occupations and social struggle, the possibility of a generalized strike, and the role of police in society at large. While these discussions did not immediately translate into practical activity, their effect on the future of this struggle and others which may follow it cannot be foreseen from this vantage point.

Generally speaking, the transition from thought and conversation into action, or rather the lack of this necessary step, is a major hindrance to the development of the occupation in a more consciously conflictual direction. The lack of confidence in ourselves, in our ability to actually transform our environment and our daily lives, was exemplified by both the insistence on following the rules and thus preserving the position of “student” as well as the ever-present conversation revolving around the need to inform more people about what was going on. Covering the campus and surrounding neighborhood with posters, flyering desks and tables, disrupting classes or even consistently engaging those passing through the space in conversation were all ideas that were thrown out, but were only acted on to a limited degree. This hesitancy to take our ideas, and thereby our selves, seriously is a limitation that can only be overcome through further experience in struggle. The dynamic of leadership and followers must be superseded by the development of self-organization and the capacity to act decisively.

Perhaps the biggest limit of this attempt at occupation is its nature as an isolated activity for most of those involved. Because it does not currently coincide with a stoppage of either work or reproductive education, because there is yet no strike, the occupation takes on the form of an isolated protest. Without the lifting of the burdens of classes, homework, and part time wage labor many of the participants were quickly exhausted and didn’t have the time or energy to be more deeply invested in the project of qualitatively developing the situation.

Without any sign of disagreement or even a discussion of its implications, the participants accepted the slogan of “Strike, Occupy, Takeover!” Yet the first step in that simplistic equation wasn’t taken seriously as something we could collectively enact. Similarly, the assembled approved a statement calling for a general strike, and this without much of a discussion about just how a general strike could come about.

Due to the nature of the laws regulating labor disputes in the US, a general strike cannot be declared from on high by the large labor federations. For a generalized strike to occur here it would necessarily involve some degree of self-organization whether through discussion and activity at the local union level, the forging of complicit relationships at non-unionized workplaces (which are by far the majority), sabotage at non-participating workplaces, or some other form perhaps completely outside and unrepresentable by the familiar apparatuses.

Yet within much of the assembled body of students, a general strike was not understood as something that everyone would have to create together, a festival of disruption, but rather as something that would just happen; a disheartening attitude that reduces the likelihood of a meaningful and widespread stoppage. Perhaps other forums will be created in which this necessary conversation can be taken up in greater depth.

To sum up we can say that although the occupation is rife with limitations and fails to overcome most, if not all, of them, it is a beginning and not an end. The attempt to expand the struggle against austerity beyond the boundaries of time (one day walkouts, weekly demonstrations), geography (the centrality of Madison), and social position (workers vs. students) is a step in the right direction. In order to actually derail the legislation which sparked all this uproar, the struggle will have to spread across even more boundaries (precarious and poor vs. securely employed, etc.) and develop both in form and content. It is precisely through this struggle to reverse a specific attack on the working class that we can open up further avenues for struggle and maybe even the possibility of a world without legislators or classes of any sort.

– some non-student participants

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