New School Solidarity Statement with UC Santa Cruz
September 25, 2009
To the occupiers of UCSC,
We fellow workers and students from New York City stand in solidarity with those at UC Santa Cruz who have occupied their university against the cuts and austerity measures forced on them by capital and its bureaucrats.
Public services are some of the first gains to be rescinded when capital desperately thrashes out in an effort to valorize itself. As workers have been crowded out of their jobs, and as the failure of various financial machinations to alleviate this crisis has become clear, more have been heading back to school. They have been burying their heads under even more debt with the hope of riding out the job scarcity and making themselves more attractive to employers.
As California’s universities reduce their enrollment by tens of thousands and simultaneously increase student fees and tuition, they are giving us a clear message: there is no escape from this turbulence.
So lets meet it head on.
We are workers and students. Both labels, while signaling different functions under capitalism, infer social roles predicated on material dispossession and a poverty of meaningful creative existence. These are the conditions we seek to transcend through organization and revolutionary praxis. These are the roles we seek to abolish.
Lately, those with a proprietary investment in the prevailing political, economic and social order have labeled us with countless specious and unflattering sobriquets: terrorists, intruders, criminals, fanatics, undemocratic vanguardists — even fascists.
You should expect the same.
That the rhetoric has risen to such vacuous and vitriolic heights only reveals the imminent threat that self-organization and autonomous action pose to the status quo.
Each of us began as atomized subjects careening off each other in chaotic trajectories. This generalized separation is the direct product of the destructive, competitive imperatives of capital imposed upon every human life.
As individuals we learn, work, sleep, drink, debate, fight and struggle. However, when we abolish the separation that permeates our lives we become the human embodiment of that oft-trampled watchword, solidarity, made shockingly concrete. It is only collectively that our voices attain transformative potential. It is only as a singular,
united mass of human potential that we can take control over our lives.
In an epoch when all human life has been subsumed by capital we cannot spirit ourselves away or live in self-imposed isolation. Our arena of struggle is the battlefield of everyday life.
This is how we learn. This is how we fight.
Capital appears both material and immaterial; a durable ware and a ghostly chimera. Capital in its commodity-form is a social relation reified; it is abstract exploitation disguised in concrete form. In the acephalous netherworld of capital there is no spatial core, no actor in the part of Lear, no time outside of commensurable, compressible time.
Let us be clear: we cannot bomb a social relation; nor can we burn down a mirage. Without a revolt an order of magnitude greater than Watts, Paris or Iran isolated insurrection cannot illuminate, nor can it transcend.
At this very moment there remains for us, however, a revolutionary immanence splayed across a million arenas and a thousand moments of each living day. By occupying space and transforming its use-value we not only arrest the temporal circuit of capital, we transform ourselves and the actuality of our social relations. We magnify the
increasing historical potentiality of libertarian communism immanent within capitalism.
Accumulation of capital is only possible through the movement of commodities through space and time. In order to produce and realize value, some portion of capital must be embedded in the built environment to facilitate the ever-increasing velocity necessary for expanded reproduction. Indeed, within this process capital constantly “annihilates space through time”.
Historically, one of the great powers of capital is its ability to radically alter entire landscapes by organized exploitation of living and dead labor. But this is also its greatest weakness, for when capital fixes itself – embeds itself – it is motionless in space and static in time. No longer an apparition, it is apprehendable and therefore assailable.
Space produced by capital is alien to us, but represents the concrete agglomeration of millions of moments of socially necessary labor time. Its true potential is only immanent: capitalist space can only be valuable to humanity insofar as it facilitates the negation of capital; insofar as it becomes the venue for abolishing value as the mediation between the production and distribution of use-values.
Until the overthrow of capitalism and the rise of worker and community councils to democratically organize space, space-for-humanity can only be achieved through the transcendence of capital-space through organization and generalized occupation.
There are many ways to appropriate space. The sit-in is a tactic that has been well applied in past struggles. There are still situations where it is worthwhile as a defensive tactic. However, it must be stated that there is a fundamental difference between the defensive sit-in and the offensive occupation. The sit-in entails blocking the
normal functions of space in order to gain recognition for a political cause. Occupation, on the other hand, requires no recognition from power. Occupation-for-itself is power: the power to transform the narrow instrumentality of capitalist space; the power to abolish exchange-value and monopoly rent; the power to farm fallow land or utilize foreclosed houses; the power to open up space to those who have none; the power to abolish exploitation; to form workers’ councils; to socialize production.
Occupation is the power of ordinary women and men to organize their lives on their own terms.
However, just like insurrection, occupation can not succeed in isolation. Nor can occupiers be content with a single street, squat, block, college building, factory or borough.
When the wave of occupations begin, from Greece to New York to Santa Cruz to Johannesburg to Beijing, those within space-made-free will craft out of the cruel detritus of capital many mighty fortresses of negation and affirmation. The crest will grow to a tide as workers, students and communities create those novel conditions across space and time that will be both the content and the form of universal struggle. This tide will swell to a torrent and wipe away the stained fabric of spectacle, alienation and dispossession.
So let us here and now inaugurate another step towards the birth of generalized freedom from capital and constraint. Let us here and now militate, propagandize, organize and occupy again and again and again!
In the glorious swoon of our myriad actions, let our bodies and minds once more be the instruments that manipulate nature; as opposed to our bodies and minds being objects mediated through machines. Let us take
control over our lives and our reality. We will occupy absolutely everything, and finally, when we are completely draped in the fabric of everything we know, this world will warp and reconfigure itself with every move we make; space and time will obediently contort to the instant of our gestures, a metabolism with nature that supersedes even that which capitalism enabled; a metabolism that can only be shaped by our communal will and can only be measured by the speed of our thoughts.
This is the form and content of our struggle. This is the marriage of theory and praxis. This is a social war with no relent and a means with no end.
For those with no stake in the prevailing order – the working class, the homeless, the dispossessed, the students, the farmers – this moment is the next note to the crescendo of a song. Together, we are reaching out to others
in struggle to build a massive collectivity that will strike in concert. This is the symphony in which every woman and man is a conductor.
We fight for ourselves, our families, our friends. This fight is connected to our workplaces, communities and spaces.
We also fight for the past – our ancestors – those who have pulled the same levers as we, who have spent their lives as empty as we. We fight for redemption, not just of us-now but the redemption of all the dead. The dead who spent their time in different prisons. The dead who fought in daily wars untold and unmemorialized. The dead who were sucked dry and stand before us everyday as constant capital. The dead who call us now to revive their struggle and start anew.
Only that historian will have the gift of fanning the spark of hope in the past who is firmly convinced that even the dead will not be safe from the enemy if he wins.
Workers and students, in this generalized crisis of capitalism, we will constantly search for the fractures in the system and attack them with all of our might. Now is the time to use all of our weapons: the strike, the rally, the propaganda, the fires, all the diverse and joyful expressions of our reason and our rage.
Above all, we must occupy the fractures, occupy the space between and inside institutions, overturn markets, agitate in communities, and arrest all the circuits of capital. We must, in essence, occupy space and time.
We must act not just to stop the functions of the system, nor to merely displace the detritus of this rotting world, but to simultaneously destroy and create: to allow the birth of a new world so pregnant within the womb of the old.
In lives so totally subsumed by the logic of capital, revolution can only possibly mean a total rupture from the past. Let us not view this as simply the most recent of world crises of capital, but the last!
Take over the campus. Take over the city. END CAPITAL.
New School Schwarz und Rot,
Antithesis Collective (NEFAC)
24 September 2009