From the Open-Publishing Calendar
From the Open-Publishing Newswire
Indybay Feature
Related Categories: East Bay | Education & Student Activism | Global Justice and Anti-Capitalism
Torchlit Evening with Birgeneau
by some undisciplined pupils
Saturday Dec 12th, 2009 1:21 PM
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.
"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.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by c
Saturday Dec 12th, 2009 3:10 PM
Was this at the chancellor's house that is in a corner of campus?

not to connect the events in any way, but here I'll link to a relevant historical account related to protests at the chancellors house. Back in the 90s, a young woman named Rosebud was active in the People's park scene. (She lived on Regent Street, and happened to be in the same cottage previously used by Ted Kaczynski, when he was a math professor before he became the unabomber). Rosebud was mentally ill, probably bipolar. One day she went creeping around the chancellor's house at night and was carrying a big knife but she wasn't known to be violent, or have anything against him specifically. The police blew her away because she carried the weapon:

The 1991 park riots were over a territorial dispute in People's park. The fraternity-type community got a volleyball court put in, and were almost taking shifts in using it in order to establish a presence, and people responded as though they were trying to erase the early 70s legacy of the park
by Dan
Saturday Dec 12th, 2009 5:25 PM
Violence only ensures that a protest (and likely future ones) will be met with equal or greater violence in return. For some this may be the end goal in any protest, but it does nothing to bring about positive change in the corrupt, undemocratic management of the UC system. It also serves to alienate those who would support a more open and accountable UC board of Regents.
by Dan
Saturday Dec 12th, 2009 5:50 PM
Having just read Mark Kurlansky's excellent 'Nonviolence', a few of his 25 Lessons of a Dangerous Idea strike me here:
No 8:People who go to war start to resemble their enemy.
No 9: A conflict between a violent force and a nonviolent force is a moral argument. If the violent side can provoke the nonviolent side into violence, the violent side has won.
No 16: Violence does not resolve. It always leads to more violence.
No 23: Violence is a virus that infects and takes over.
by Emil Barth
Saturday Dec 12th, 2009 6:45 PM
Comrades, To the Barricades!!!!! Dude, 1871 was a long time ago. This kind of action and rhetoric, as correct as it may be, will repulse, rather than attract the masses. Reads like Revolution-Porn.
by antiocharrow
Saturday Dec 12th, 2009 8:32 PM
so if its not easy, why not take the easy route?

also all of those arguments are dogmatic rhetoric.
by Solidarity through Action
Saturday Dec 12th, 2009 10:25 PM
Violence is for the weak. It is a knee-jerk reaction that reveals your overly-simplistic thinking.

Your acts prevent solidarity from occurring. Only other manarchists and their pseudo-intellectual neo-marxist ramblings believe that violence works. I hope you continue to be a pawn of the system, incapable of realizing that you behave within the narrow constructs that society has indoctrinated you into, so that you may end up in prison and we won't have to be subjected to your betrayal. You perpetuate the system through your ignorance. Those in power count on your automaton like behavior to reinforce the system and their power. It is time to end your neo-colonialist ideology that imposes your elitist garbage on the poor and on the people of color.

way to sacrifice the future of others. how proud you must be of running from the cops and letting others take the fall for your idiocy. Where is your commitment if you are so willing to sacrifice others?
by solidarity media
Sunday Dec 13th, 2009 8:51 AM

1.) The Chancellor chose to initiate this escalation. Breaking a tacit agreement, the police were sent into Wheeler early Friday morning without warning to mass arrest peaceful students. Some are still in jail, and will remain. This rightly infuriated many students, who felt betrayed by the administration. It was this fury that was directed toward the individual who made the decision: the Chancellor. It became clear that even the most peaceful and orderly of protests would be met with repression. Had the arrests not taken place, neither would what occurred at the Chancellor's residence.

2.) The Chancellor is now speaking of violence, but this is notably not the violence that he himself unleashed on students by deploying the police to beat, smash, shoot, and arrest. The Chancellor was not beaten or clubbed. His fingers were not broken. He was not shot with any rubber bullets. Students activists have been subjected to all of this violence in recent weeks. The Chancellor, on the other hand, was in no danger whatsoever. And yet now, "violence" has become the word of the day. Many students have justifiably concluded that the only violence that matters in the eyes of the administration is that which affects administrators; violence against students simply does not count (even as it is perpetuated with trumped-up charges and bail amounts of $132,000).

3.) Of the eight persons arbitrarily arrested by the police in the aftermath of the concert, two are UC Berkeley students, two are UC Davis students, one is a visiting student from City University of New York, one is a journalist, and two are community members supporting the work of student activists. The student movement draws strength from its connections across various schools and with those from allied communities whose work for social justice is intimately connected with students who are working for a more just and equitable education system. Let's remember UC spokesman Dan Mogulof's outrageous claim on the night of November 20 that the vast majority of those involved in the first occupation of Wheeler were not students when in fact 41 out of 43 were. No one should be fooled by the administration's continued attempts to divide the movement by pitting campus against campus and students against community members.
by VP
Sunday Dec 13th, 2009 12:52 PM
I don't like to condone violence, and agree with your stated points, but I'd like to hear
your response to the scenario in Palestine, when the terrorist group Irgun used violence and
forced the local inhabitants to leave their homeland. They are forever locked in foreign camps today, because they subjugated to the violence inflicted on them. Did the world stand up for them on their moral righteousness? A simpler question, is what about self-defense?

Personally I think the recent incident has given the chancellor a great media opportunity . Note he was moved away to a confidential location. Reminds me of Bush being flown away during the 9/11 response. A storm over a couple of broken pots and a shattered window. They escalate the incident using deceptive words, why don't the media give an inventory of the damage?

by reoccupied
Sunday Dec 13th, 2009 1:10 PM
trying telling the female rioters and arrestees that this was "manarchy..."
Yes, revolution is necessary, and yes, it's about damn time, but how can a new peaceful and cooperative order be established on a foundation built of violence?

That house is an ultimate symbol of the bourgeois hierarchical power structure of the university, and I would be more than thrilled to base actions there, but smashing light-posts and planters and breaking windows is not constructive, nor is upturning trashcans and newsstands and scattering garbage into the streets.

Now is not the time for revolution in the streets--we are not yet unified enough internally, nor unified enough with the general population--if this trend of violence and extremism continues, the general population will become alienated from the cause, even if it is in their favor. They will be caught in a war, and the militant few will become part of the bio-power-structure also, as forces just as oppressive as the undemocratic order of the bourgeois plutocrats.
by Not going anywhere
Sunday Dec 13th, 2009 2:34 PM
We do not need torches, ever. This contempt for our health has been going on for sometime and it is long overdue that it stop. These torches stink as all smoke is bad for the lungs and torches are always dangerous.
by (a)
Sunday Dec 13th, 2009 8:51 PM
What is everyone else who posted comments smoking?
You aren't going to convince anyone with your dogmatic pacifism.

Violence is a tactic. Property destruction is a tactic. Non-violence is a tactic. Do what you are comfortable with. If you don't like it, don't do it. Or better yet, get outside of your comfort zone.

For you non-violence dogma types, a few book suggestions:
"Pacifism as Pathology" by Ward Churchill
"How Nonviolence Protects the State" by Peter Gelderoos

by Not Going Anywhere
Monday Dec 14th, 2009 8:28 AM
Ward Churchill is best known for his support of the US terrorist murderers, the contras, in Nicaragua, in their overthrow of the Sandanista government. He also made the extremely reactionary and wrong statement in support of the government's lie on the 9/11 Inside Job, referring to the workers murdered in New York City as "little Eichmanns." Adolph Eichmann was a Nazi known for his murders of thousands of Jews using mobile gas vans. As we saw the 9/11 Inside Job on TV, we saw NO AIR DEFENSE, and that can only mean it was an inside job perpetrated by the US military, under the direction of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice & Giuliani. Further evidence of an inside job is the controlled demolition of the Twin Towers and Building 7, which was not hit by a plane. 9 of the so-called hijackers were alive on 9/12/01. The planes were on remote control guided by the US Air Force. Thermate, a military substance, was used to bring down the towers and Building 7. A military plane or missile was used to hit the Pentagon on the side that was under construction, in addition to construction explosives. Those who promote Ward Churchill and any concepts of violence are no friends of the workingclass or education. The future of education will be decided by organizing the workingclass for a general strike to put an end to the capitalist profit motive.
by stratigic @
Monday Dec 14th, 2009 10:15 AM
I'd encourage actually reading this articulate response to Ward Churchill's often cited essay.

If we want to actually win positive changes for education, our communities and the world, it will require being strategic and thoughtful, not dismissing debate as "whining" or calling for "smashing" instead real struggle that builds movements, increases participation and community support.

Challenging Ward Churchill's "Pacifism As Pathology"
By George Lakey
by c
Monday Dec 14th, 2009 7:27 PM
You could probably write and ask him, but my understanding is that Churchill and his friends opposed the Sandinistas because they wanted to be allies of an indigenous group that were being pushed off their land, and were pressured to drop their separate ethnic identity to become 'workers' in cities of Nicaragua. Indeed, Churchill has many right-wing edges in his philosophy, even though he is classified as an anarchist.

That said - when he spoke at AK Press, he stressed that the book's title is 'Pacifism as pathology' rather than 'Pacifism *is* pathology'. In other words, he wanted to detail how insisting on nonviolence under all circumstances, including when your people are being attacked or there is ample evidence that the regime in power won't respond to reason or nonviolence civil disobedience.

In my opinion, he is correct, but he presents the situation too simply. I think >85% of society would agree that war or violence resistance against dictatorships during WWII or various colonial struggles was acceptable. The converse of the strawman argument, trying to convince pacifists that violence defensive tactics can be morally acceptable, is that violence does *not* guarantee success and might be equal or lower in success than other approaches. The genuine, and very difficult question, is which tactic gives us the greatest chance of success for this situation?
Just look at the breakout of dozens of black bloc style street melees in U.S. cities during the escalation in Iraq, plus various DNC/RNC events, and global economic governance meetings. I would say that they were successful at Seattle WTO, but breaking windows and bringing hundreds of thousands of people out during spring of 2003 didn't slow down the Iraq events at all.
There aren't that many strict pacifists around really, however, u.s. residents are a lot more shocked by violence at political rallies than in europe where this stuff happens all the time - in France, Greece, Germany.