Author Archive

Pushed by the violence of our desires

11 March 2010

What follows is a letter from (as it is signed below) some queer women of color, regarding the fiasco at Hunter College in NYC on March 4th. We print it here, not because we wish to bring the debate concerning what happened at Hunter home to California (we weren’t there). Rather, because this letter gets at some of the deepest, structural contradictions within the discourse of identity politics today. If the past weeks have shown anything, they have shown that in this country, there is no way to avoid an explicit (anti-)politics of race and gender in the US — and for very good reason. Race and gender cleave us into pieces, both to the benefit of capital and the detriment of movements. How do we adapt to this situation? Certainly, we start by listening to what women and people of color have to say about it…

Over the past few days, dozens of communiqués, letters, and statements have been circulating regarding issues of race, gender, and disrespect on M4. We have no intentions of addressing or disputing particular accusations or narratives regarding M4 in this statement; these things will inevitably be argued about elsewhere. Here, we attempt to discuss the language and politics that have been used in framing these issues.

As queer women of color, we feel as if we are trapped in the middle of all of this talk about identities. We have had, for some time, our own frustrations with and critiques of a number of white men with whom we have worked. At the same time, we are uncomfortable with the way in which the identities of “people of color” and “women” are being used to critique and condemn the events of M4, because we – as queer women of color – don’t agree with how these critiques and condemnations are being framed. In fact, we’re not just uncomfortable; we’re actually really angry about the way a small group of people, purporting to speak for the entire population of CUNY, has hijacked this rhetoric of talking about privilege and identity and deployed it in a fashion entirely too simplistic, generalized, and essentialist. Issues of privilege and identity are incredibly important to us and we wholeheartedly agree that they should be talked about. But as it stands now, identities like “person of color” and “woman” are being invoked in order to mask reactionary politics, and furthermore, are being employed in ways that contribute to the erasure of our identities as active participants in militant struggle.

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From Anti-Capital Projects: Reflections on the I-980/I-880 Takeover

11 March 2010

Like any number of urban freeways, the I-980 and I-880 are lines of containment. They mark out the zones and boundaries of economic apartheid, making West Oakland into an island of poverty, a police zone, boxed in on all sides. A freeway, in this sense, is merely one of the most visible forms of the lines of force that cut up our cities and, in turn, our lives, that butcher them according to the logics of race and class, money and property. How can we see these arteries as anything less than instruments for the formation of a controlled population, instruments in the successive waves of urban centralization, white flight, gentrification? They are checkpoints and blockages – massive pours of concrete, of labor, erected to determine who gets to go where and how. And they have no meaning beyond the insinuation of the automobile into every facet of our lives, the automobile which is hallmark of US economic power in the 20th century, token of class mobility, passageway to pseudo-freedom, emitter of poison gases, turning our lives into a cut-and-paste of frantic alienation and isolation, responsible for more deaths than the M-16. Who could love a freeway?

Those of us who chose to take our march onto the I-980 have been accused of turning our backs on the tactic that made the student movement so powerful and inspiring, the tactic which inscribed our actions in a lucid, anticapitalist language – occupation. Don’t worry. We haven’t abandoned anything, only expanded our repertoire. The last six months have been a process of experimentation, one in which it becomes difficult to distinguish the failures from the successes, since the two fold into each other, since each action, regardless of the outcome, is a process of learning, of adaptation, part of a living conversation, one in which there is as much disagreement as there is agreement. On a day dedicated to the convergence of political actors from multiple spaces across the Bay Area it would have made little sense to barricade ourselves inside a building on this or that campus. If there were a suitably central, common and defensible target, perhaps we would have occupied that. Perhaps we will next time. We still look forward to the emancipation of foreclosed homes and apartment buildings, shuttered workplaces, to the permanent occupation of university buildings. None of that is behind us. We are not yet powerful enough for these things. We are still trying to build a force capable of taking and holding a space, and then another, and another.

Read the rest at Anti-Capital Projects.

Second General Strike rocks Greece

11 March 2010

As our frequent readers probably know, Greece was racked by riots in December, 2008, after a 15-year-old boy was murdered by the police. These riots followed on a series of occupations, which tore through the education sector in 2006-7, spreading from universities to high schools. At the end of 2008, a major question was: would the insurrection spread from the students, youth, and the immigrants — that is, those systematically excluded or marginalized in the production process — to the unionized workforce of regular and semi-regular employees? For an analysis at the time, see The Glass Floor by Theorie Communiste, as well as other writings by TPTG and Blaumachen (available from libcom.org).

For a while, it seemed that the rioters would receive nothing more than repression for their troubles. A socialist government took power in the aftermath of the riots, wasting no time in cracking down on the  milieu. At the extreme, government forces continually violated the sanctity of the Exarchia district in Athens (Exarchia had been declared a police-free zone after students played a key role in bringing down a US-backed dictatorship in the mid-1970s). Greece was racked by bombing campaigns, both from the extreme left of the “Nuclei of Fire” and from the extreme right of Greek fascists, who attacked social centers and other movement strongholds.

Now the situation seems to be changing. Over the past year, as a result of the ongoing world economic crisis, Greece has been plunged into chaos. Like many other small, European republics (Spain, Ireland, Iceland, Portugal, etc), its government is heavily in debt after the bursting of continent-wide bubbles. Greece is seeking relief from the EU (led by Germany). The struggle is on to determine who will be left holding the empty bag. The outcome of this struggle, in Greece as elsewhere, will have huge implications for the dying financial order of our dying world-capitalist economy.

Germany is putting major conditions on the disbursement of aid to Greece: the crisis will have to be borne by the class “formerly known as working”. The socialist government of Greece is therefore pushing through a major austerity program — to ensure stability and, of course, to atone for the “guilt” of widespread “overspending”.


As the crisis comes to a head, the regular and semi-regular workers — who had been missing from 2008 riots — are coming out in force. This is happening despite, rather than because of, the leaders of the Greek public- and private-sector unions. On March 4th, public and private workers came out for a first mass (or general) strike. But the differences between this moment and the moment of December 2008 are considerable. When will workers move beyond demands on a dying system? And what role will be played by the non-regular forces of students, youth and immigrants, who made up the main contingent of the rioters? The second general strike in a month took place today, March 11th, with hundreds of thousands of participants. See the description below, from libcom.org.

All to frequently, we have been written off as an attempt to “copy” the situation in Greece. Without making any easy analogies, what do we have to learn, here in California, from the unfolding sequence in Greece? We, too, are being asked to hold the empty bag, as corporate CEOs and their government cronies laugh all the way to the (newly “restored”) bank. But we are far behind Greece in our mobilizations. At the very least, we should be humbled by the number of people participating in their direct action movements. We should also note the time-frame: from occupations in 2006 to riots in 2008 to strikes in 2010. Only the most optimistic think that this sequence will leap towards “revolution” or “insurrection” soon, but it remains a distinct possibility. What do you think?

More articles (and a better historical overview) available from libcom.org section on Greece.

Battle Ground Athens: second general strike leads to pitched battles

Submitted by taxikipali on Mar 11 2010 15:34

More than 150,000 people took to the streets of Athens against the austerity measures in a mass protest marches that have led to extended battles in the greek capital.

On Thursday March 11 all Greece came to a 24h standstill as a result of the second general strike to be called within less than a month (not the third as reported by foreign media, as the first strike in February only concerned the public sector). As a result of the strike called by GSEE (private sector union umbrella) and ADEDY (public sector union umbrella) as well as PAME (the Communist Party union umbrella) no buses, trams, metros, trolley buses or suburban trains exited their stations, while due to air-traffic control workers’ strike no flights are being realised within or in and out of the country.

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Snap occupations at Sussex

11 March 2010

http://brightonsolfed.wordpress.com/2010/03/11/breaking-news-snap-occupation-at-sussex-uni/

Following a large demonstration against the suspension of the Sussex 6, hundreds of students have staged a snap occupation in defiance of management and the state, following the granting of a High Court injunction banning ‘occupational protest.’

The injunction is based on the testimony of John Duffy, who claimed students had taken members of staff hostage during an occupation of Sussex House last week, a claim vehemently disputed by eye witnesses. Despite the heavy police presence, no charges have been brought for hostage taking or any other offences.

Update: The occupation has now moved to a lecture theatre, defying the High Court injunction and demanding VCEG come and collect the petition for the reinstatement of the Sussex 6.

WE ARE THE CRISIS!

UCSC professors defend student strikers!

10 March 2010

http://checkingeducation.com/?p=702

To: The UCSC Community
From: Some UCSC Faculty (signatures below)

We write to object to CPEVC Kliger’s report issued on Thursday March 4 at 9:50 am regarding the demonstration [see below].

It is true that the demonstration successfully stopped “business as usual” on the UCSC campus. While this may have represented an inconvenience for some, it perhaps bears repeating that no significant social change occurs without some inconvenience.

Many faculty participated in the campus closure, some for the entire day, starting early in the morning. A number of us who were present at the two main entrances and at key intersections throughout the day can say with confidence that metal pipes, clubs, and knives were nowhere to be seen.

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I-880 Revisited. Again and Again…

10 March 2010

Below are some of the best and most insightful writings to have emerged out the March 4th takeover of the I-880 and subsequent police attack and mass arrest of nearly 160 comrades:

President of Oakland Teacher’s Union Supports 880 Takeover
from Betty Olson-Jones, President, Oakland Education Association. Olson-Jones was one of the motorists stuck in traffic while police arrested the 160 people involved in the action
.
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/03/09/18640422.php

Rebuttal to “Why Did the March onto the 980 Freeway Happen”
Melissa Merin rips apart divisive and reactionary criticism of the interstate takeover couched in the language of racial justice
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/03/07/18640165.php

Notes on March Fourth and The Invisible College
a traveler from afar ponders the significance of the days actions and the doors that have opened to the ‘invisible college’
http://www.anarchistnews.org/?q=node/10834

The Dawn of the Crisis Generation. March 4th is over, but we’ve only just begun.
non-student perspective on the significance of the 880 takeover and seeing ourselves as part of an emerging crisis movement
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/03/10/18640529.php

Feeling Froggy? Dicking Around in Santa Rita
thoughts and pranks from inside jail after taking the interstate
http://www.anarchistnews.org/?q=node/10836

Raider Nation Collective Statement on the M4 Highway Takeover
An Oakland-based anti-police violence collective states their unconditional support for the action
https://occupyca.wordpress.com/2010/03/07/raider-nation-collective-statement-on-the-m4-highway-takeover/

March 4: Anarchists in the Student Movement -Crimethinc
Crimethinc gives a blow by blow account of the days actions and asks questions about the role of Anarchists
http://www.crimethinc.com/texts/recentfeatures/march4.php

An Analysis of I-880 Direct Action
A legal observer gives a nuanced analysis of the interstate takeover
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/03/07/18640165.php

A Response to the Lies of March 4th (from NYC)

8 March 2010

Over the past century, the US has seen a series of direct-action movements, which spread like wildfire across the country. In the 1930s, for example, movements of industrial workers and the unemployed took over streets, factories, government offices and other spaces. In the 1960s and 70s, movements for civil rights, movements against the war–and of course, movements to defeat capital–did the same. In each case, direct-action contingents faced off, not only against the rich, not only against the police, but also against the established “leaders” of unions, parties and other organizations. Here and now–in CA and across the country–we are beginning to scare established “activists”, who are worried about losing their “following”, worried about the effects that a period of “uprising” and “turmoil” will have on them and their supposed “constituencies”–and especially on poor (as if we ever won anything by playing nice and following the rules). If history is any indication, we should take these denunciations as an sign that we are having some effect, that we are becoming “dangerous” to those who benefit from the present order–including those on the left.

On March 4th, at Hunter College in NY, a showdown occurred between those who wanted to have a disruptive indoor-demo and those who wanted to have a non-disruptive outdoor-rally. While the details are unclear, we are hearing some familiar insults, used to denounce those who favored disruption (the “privileged outside agitators”) over various forms of inactivity (desired, of course, by all the “local, peaceful activists”). We have heard all this before: the attempt to mask real fractures within communities by referring to all those who decide to act as dangerous outsiders. We have heard all this before: the attempt to silence the poor and less privileged by erasing them from actions. As always, neither side sounds like it is entirely blameless. But you know that our heart goes out, now and forever, to those who try to push struggles to their limits. Solidarity from occupyCA!

On March 4th 2010, a walkout was called for at Hunter College. This event was organized to coincide with the National Day of Action to “defend public education”. Inspired by walkouts, strikes, occupations and other acts of disobedience in public universities in California and here in NYC, Hunter students and allies decided on calling for a Walkout at CUNY Hunter. For a rundown of the day you can look here. This day has quickly become very controversial, with a multitude of accusations being thrown around the Internet. Pictures of participants of the action have even been emailed around activist circles at CUNY Hunter, and even published in articles in the Hunter Word by an ‘activist lawyer’ none the less. Based on this backlash from ‘activists’ who had little to no role in the organizing of the walkout and indoor demo that occurred, some of us involved in putting together and publicizing the walkout wish to clarify some points. We would also point out that, unlike those involved with the anti-walkout witch-hunt, we will not use photos of those involved with the rally or walkout or people’s names out of respect for their anonymity in the face of possible state repression …

[For the rest of the response, follow the link below]

http://takethecity.wordpress.com/2010/03/08/a-response-to-the-lies-of-march-4th/

Police Attack 880 Interstate Takeover, March 4th

7 March 2010

Raider Nation Collective Statement on the M4 Highway Takeover

7 March 2010

Once again there is debate on the nature that mass rebellion should take as anger grows in the face of colonial, economic, racial and gendered violence. On three occasions in the last year—the first Oscar Grant uprising, the recent UC Berkeley protests and now the takeover of Hwy 880 in Oakland—the race, class and gender of those who participated in the rebellions has come under fire.

On all three occasions individuals have tried to denounce these rebellions as white, middle class outsiders “leading” the youth of color. Reports and analyses from the first two uprisings have already exposed these assumptions as completely false:

Regarding the Oscar Grant rebellions:

http://www.sfbayview.com/2009/oakland-rebellion-eyewitness-report-by-pocc-minister-of-information-jr/

http://www.counterpunch.org/maher01162009.html

Regarding the UC Berkeley occupations (also relevant to the Oscar Grant uprisings):

https://occupyca.wordpress.com/2010/03/03/response-to-a-critic-of-the-%E2%80%9Cwhite%E2%80%9D-student-movement/

The reality is that the rebellions are more nuanced and complex than the caricatures drawn by those who choose to censor them as “extremist” and “violent”, without questioning their very deployment of these terms. On what basis are these individuals concluding that all the people involved are white, heterosexual and male when footage and first-person accounts reveal otherwise? On what basis are they assuming the people involved are necessarily middle-class or strangers to Oakland?

Individuals who were not a part of the rebellions, and have accepted the police discourse of “outside agitators” predictably disseminated through the corporate media, make these so-called observations. In contrast, accounts from the protesters themselves speak to the heterogeneous character of the crowd, made up in part by poor, queer, women, of color. To erase their presence and agency only replicates an established tradition in History.

A recent article by Nico Dacumos stated, “At issue here is not so much the political ideology of mostly white black bloc anarchists, but the ways that their incitement of actions here in Oakland speaks to an entitlement and privilege that makes them think it is okay to encourage people of color, mostly African American and Latino males, to engage in ‘violent’ forms of protest when they are already groups targeted and abused by the police.”

All of the same empty criticisms we encountered in previous rebellions are re-articulated in this one sentence. Not only is it a problem to assume that the people of color in the protests are led blindly, but it is also ridiculous to suggest that street rebellions are the purview of the white and middle class.

Is it not true that poor black and brown people have led the largest and most influential street rebellions of the last 50 years? In a 1968 speech, Stokely Carmichael stated, “A lot of people in the bourgeoisie tell me they don’t like Rap Brown when he says, ‘I’m going to burn the country down.’ But every time Rap Brown says, ‘I’m going to burn the country down,’ they get a poverty program…[applause]…they get a poverty program…”

Frederick Douglas tells us that power concedes nothing without a demand: Street rebellions force the establishment to yield to the demands of the movement or be faced with an ungovernable, rebellious populace. In short, stopping highway traffic in protest of the dismantling of public education was a smart move and we support it with no caveats.

-The Raider Nation Collective

Defend Public Education

4 March 2010

New School Walkout, Propaganda

2 March 2010

Beautiful propaganda from an unknown New School student:

Berkeley Pre-Game Communiqué (That’s Not The Sky, That’s The Ceiling)

2 March 2010

Inside a commandeered university building, we gathered, we spoke, and we conspired. Outside the police waited, they observed, they plotted. They were in no way prepared for the wave that came crashing down, and neither were we.

While there seems to be endless conversation on the violence of smashing windows and the damage to the movement done by spontaneous action, there is a notable absence of discussion of the violence of class division in american society and its relationship with higher education.

Is the movement so fragile that a smashed window destroys it, yet broken bodies don’t bring it to the boiling point. We are told that the streets must be policed in order to be “safe.” That no one will join us and that people who would’ve supported the cause are now frightened to participate. Yet what we see is laughter, dancing, and a freedom that is impossible to describe in the language of everyday capitalism. How, we must ask, is a movement that collapses under the weight of overturned trash cans going to withstand the presence of millions of people challenging their relationship to the economy? A structure that collapses in the rain will not withstand the earthquake.

The worry of a potential alienation of workers and students is disproven by moments like this. Where the underlying collective hatred of the police and those that manage the living social order is acted upon. The students, the kids at the bar, the street kids on Telegraph, the rioters, they do not alienate, they are alienated!

That is why they throw parties in the streets, that is why they burn what they touch, that is why cars are smashed, dumpsters are plowed into police lines, windows are broken, and people ghostride through the smoking streets.

Our roles as anarchists and organizers, communists and radicals, dissipated as the situation took on a life of its own. This is what happens when the conflict truly spreads beyond the university and its sanctioned student groups, when people become involved on their own terms. A dance party becomes a protest, becomes a party again, transforms into a riot and back again into a party.

This is the coveted mass movement! The point where people question their roles and identities as students, as street people, as jocks, or as activists.

Walkouts in September, occupations in november, riots in the streets in February and March. This points to nothing less than the willingness of participants to exceed the boundaries of expectation imposed upon the movement. We must refuse to allow anyone to split the movement, to divide it along the lines of what the police, the administration, the professional activists deem acceptable. Those who deny the sudden and spontaneous awareness of the Berkeley rioters regarding the role of police, or the arbitrariness of property relations, desire nothing else than the reintegration of the movement back into politics.

A movement moves forward on its own volition, exceeding the expectations of both its enemies and its participants. The role of those that find themselves caught in the middle is to develop along side it. There is an enigmatic quality about March 4th and no one can foresee what will happen. We eagerly anticipate this uncertainty.

UC Berkeley, Sather Gate, March 1

1 March 2010

BERKELEY, California – Black Student Union at UC Berkeley in outrage and solidarity with the UCSD BSU.

from a fall of protest…to a spring of resistance and refusal

27 February 2010

from a fall of protest…

…to a spring of resistance

and refusal

a collection of written insurrections from vienna

MARCH 4th STRIKE! SHUT IT DOWN! TAKE THE STREETS!

22 February 2010