Some passing thoughts on the Berkeley and Santa Cruz occupations, from someone who was there briefly
It is no great secret that the terminal crisis of capitalism is before our eyes: the welfare state, the bitter product of two world wars, the child of Hitler and Noske, wherein a certain social safety net was provided for a measure of social peace, is in the process of being forcibly liquidated by the exigencies of an incresingly bankrupt social system. This much is evident to all those who have a basic thinking capacity. And thus, those who are protesting for a defense of this transient historical form will find nothing here of value, nor even anything here addressed to them. Such people can protest all day for a return to the glory days they imagine, but since these halcyon times never existed anyways, one can see they will certainly have no success now. Rather we address ourselves to those who believe in any fashion in the “terminus of student life”; but not of course to open something so worthless as a literary polemic or discussion, nor to presume to give prescriptions or orders — all we do here is attempt a “generalization of insinuation.” For, to be right means nothing, what is important is acting in consequence.
The movement has already become acquainted with its enemies: the unionist, student politician type being only the most insidious and veiled. In this we have had to re-learn one of the primary lessons of the Movement of 77: the actual complicity of all unions and parties, however radical sounding, with the cops. At Berkeley, this special type of policing seems far more prevalent than at Santa Cruz, along with the historical baggage of Savio and the Black Panthers weighing like a nightmare on this current generation, not to mention the tired front-group appeals to some sort of radicality concerning Obama, which is about as sad and deluded as one could get. Whereas at SC, these safety valves were less firmly in place, and the flimsy protection of last resort for American capitalism, that is to say the pathetic ideological detritus of Crimethinc, was more in evidence. At SC, the occupation of Kerr Hall marked a high point of initiative and offensive, as the protestors left their original building and took another. This perhaps shows the opportunities afforded by the “repressive tolerance” of the SC administration. Yet after a while even this was not enough — in truth, what was important was not so much the building taken, but the audacity of the participants. This energy was lost throughout the following time, as the occupation tried to sit still while the police sent informants and surveyed the area, readying a response. Meantime, a list of responsible, and because of that, totally boring and irrelevent demands were made. It must be said that these demands were far less reasonable than others that might be made, or even better, as happened previously, there could be a breaking with the logic of demands itself. For the demands, to our knowledge, were not fulfilled in any serious way, nor could they be by a terminally ill capitalism on life support — rather there was a recognition of force, and the peasant ferocity of the police quickly gave way to a leniency when a crowd was present (at all occupations, from what one can gather, but especially in the case of SC and Berkely). Thus far, no one has deigned to say what is explosive, or perhaps implosive, in the US situation — the knavery of the police (smashing that girl’s hand, rubber bullets, numerous instances of wanton brutality, etc.) is rather the product of a deep fear among the US elite: their army is twice defeated, collapsing from a morale and logistical perspective; the country is essentially bankrupt; the inequality, notable even for the sociologists, continues to grow. These times are revolutionary, it must be said, even if the people are not yet.