A Brief List of Impossible Demands


from occupyUCI:

Much confusion within the student movement has been due to the ideologies of “Demand Nothing” and “Demand Everything.”  Of course, there is one camp which lives by the mantra of “Demand a few things, most of which we will give up for concessions from administration, and even these ‘victories’ will again be taken from us as soon as we leave admin’s office, but that’s OK.”  There’s also the sects which invariably believe in “Demand a few lofty things which show our commitment socialist revolution, which we’re not going to actually fight for because we’re too busy selling newspapers.”  In reality, DN and DE make up the radical flank of the movement, comprising the near-entirety of the occupation movement.

While seemingly opposite in every way, both logics of demand and logics of anti-demand, and are about as different from each other as the guy sitting next to you on the bus on his way to work is from you.  Demand Nothing suggests that nothing that we want or need can or should be granted to us by authorities.  Demand Everything articulates the long partial list of desires and issues that we are fighting for, while acknowledging still that these “demands” can’t and won’t be accepted by the State and Capital, and that any authority that actually redressed these demands would no longer be an authority since they would be mandando obedeciendo, leading by following.  Neither explanation does justice to the issues or what’s at stake, but we hope this articulated well enough the similarities between the two: basically, they are so far apart that at some point they join back together.  And indeed, these do not have to be separate and conflicting strategies, but rather complementary as our movement moves forward to March 4.

In an attempt to bridge the chasm, we offer a “brief list of impossible demands” localized for UCI.  We also subscribe to the demands issued by SFSU during their first occupation.

  1. Institutional support for AB540 students, including full access to grants or fee waivers.  If AB540 students cannot access FAFSA-based aid, the UCI administration should find other funding sources, including private donors. (read all 34 demands)

One Response to “A Brief List of Impossible Demands”

  1. enginesummer Says:

    to demand nothing is to refuse the state as interlocutor. to demand everything, as you say, is to rhetorically transcend it. an important thing that’s missing here is the question of whom one is addressing – the first UCSC occupation announced that it was demanding “the people of California” to rise up – not the school or state to do anything.

    the response to this by some comrades in greece (TPTG) was, i thought, pretty interesting. they pointed out that demandlessness is not usually the starting point of struggles but a transcendence that is attained at a point of frustration when “partial” or specific struggles, which of course always arise from specific local conditions, find their demands cannot or are not being met within the framework of class society. there demands end and war is taken up.

    for this reason i am not particularly interested in the question of “to demand or not to demand”. i think that demands which can improve our position tactically and improve the conditions of groups we are in solidarity with may be worth making. eventually, if this keeps going in the direction we want it to, demands will be irrelevant. in the meantime getting people to see occupation and other tactics not as means to an end, but means to more means, is key, i think.

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