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Occupied UC Berkeley, 18 November 2009

Being president of the University of California is like being manager of a cemetery: there are many people under you, but no one is listening.
UC President Mark Yudof

Capital is dead labor which, vampire-like, lives only by sucking living labor.
Karl Marx

Politics is death that lives a human life.
Achille Mbembe

Yes, very much a cemetery.  Only here there are no dirges, no prayers, only the repeated testing of our threshold for anxiety, humiliation, and debt.  The classroom just like the workplace just like the university just like the state just like the economy manages our social death, translating what we once knew from high school, from work, from our family life into academic parlance, into acceptable forms of social conflict.

Who knew that behind so much civic life (electoral campaigns, student body representatives, bureaucratic administrators, public relations officials, Peace and Conflict Studies, ad nauseam) was so much social death?  What postures we maintain to claim representation, what limits we assume, what desires we dismiss?

And in this moment of crisis they ask us to twist ourselves in a way that they can hear.  Petitions to Sacramento, phone calls to Congressmen—even the chancellor patronizingly congratulates our September 24th student strike, shaping the meaning and the force of the movement as a movement against the policies of Sacramento.  He expands his institutional authority to encompass the movement.  When students begin to hold libraries over night, beginning to take our first baby step as an autonomous movement he reins us in by serendipitously announcing library money.  He manages movement, he kills movement by funneling it into the electoral process.  He manages our social death.  He looks forward to these battles on his terrain, to eulogize a proposition, to win this or that—he and his look forward to exhausting us.
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