Torchlit Evening with Birgeneau


“Everybody throw your lighters up, tell me y’all finna fight or what?” -The Coup 

It is no secret that the kids are pissed. Since September, we’ve carried out over a dozen building takeovers of varying scale and intensity on California campuses, and during the Days of Action against Cuts and Hikes in November, students in Berkeley and LA actually fought police. In the past few days, evictions of occupied spaces at SFSU and Berkeley by the armed agents of the state and academy can only represent the future of this form of education. Last night, we marched to war and for once didn’t wait for the enemy to strike the first blow. 

Everyone can follow the thread connecting these events. The police action towards students in the past few months could be accurately called “extraordinarily frightening and violent” as Birgeneau whined of the ruckus that woke him last night. As a leading beacon of the capitalist media recently observed, “Whether you’re an oppressive foreign dictatorship or an American state in the process of committing fiscal suicide, you know you’re losing the public relations battle when encounters between armor-clad riot police with truncheons and college students are broadcast on TV.” Despite the liberal overtones, Newsweek exposes some important points. The dictatorship of capital is indeed performing an ensemble suicide, and as we are its captives, our will to live can only be expressed through revolt — refusal, negation, and the unleashing of unlimited human strikes. As students, we are supposed to be the embodiment of society producing its own future, but this society has no future; there will be no “return to normal” and we must find ways to inhabit this reality. From Berkeley to Greece and back around the other side, we are in civil war. This is the basis of modern life, and it is high time we illuminate this fact for any who remain confused. 

It’s worth noting that last night, the activist-mediators and movement-bureaucrats who have behaved as volunteer deputies so many times in the past few months were nowhere to be seen. This was neither peaceful nor a protest; the time for dialogue is over. The path of reform and representation is our target as much as the sphere of academic production itself. Birgeneau was right, we are “criminals, not activists”: we are no longer kept obedient by the myth of peace as our normal condition. We must wonder as well about the people who cleared obstructions from the street in the wake of the march – streets used minutes later by police who attacked the mob and arrested 8 comrades on extreme and absurd charges. A reminder to everyone: solidarity means attack! 

The rage that was loosed upon the chancellor’s disgusting palace was not only well-deserved, but a long time coming and should not by any means stop there. Not until every knowledge-factory grinds to a halt and every rich man’s house is either squatted or burned to the ground.


2 Responses to “Torchlit Evening with Birgeneau”

  1. Mandy Says:

    It sounds like your version of solidarity is the silent consent of a mob, with no room for individual opinion, thought or dissent. Of course, you have openly accepted this by declaring that “dialogue is over.” So who’s making the calls in this war you see yourselves waging? Certainly not the people, because collective action only occurs through discussion. You want the intelligent community members of the UCs to shut up and fall in line behind your violent actions, but I believe that the majority of individuals who have been mobilized are more interested in speaking out in defense of our public institutions than in burning it down.

    What you call “movement bureaucracy” I see as the slow, difficult process of democratic organizing. So this is one “activist mediator” who will not give silent assent to destructive actions. I think you will find I am not alone, and I wonder how many of the 2000 who stood outside Wheeler in support will follow suit when they hear this kind of rhetoric.

  2. Mark Says:

    Lets be careful here. I am not a pacifist by any means but I don’t think this is the time or place for violent confrontation. NVDA is powerful and I don’t need to tell activists here that. I would suggest taking into consideration Chomsky’s thoughts on violence in a debate with Hannah Arendt among others. The power of contrast and juxtaposition shouldn’t be underestimated as it gives impartial observers a true sense of irony. And for me, political irony is one of the most powerful insights one can gather.

    Here is a link the the transcript of Chomsky and Arendt in 1967.

    “The Legitimacy of Violence As A Political Act”

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