April 8, 2010
Takethecity.org – Recent events have raised many important questions: What does a real and vital movement look like? What is the nature of leadership in struggle? Is there a ‘correct’ way for us to fight against our conditions? Below is a statement from some friends addressing theoretical and practical concerns that have arisen in the last month or so.
“The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living. And just as they seem to be occupied with revolutionizing themselves and things, creating something that did not exist before, precisely in such epochs of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service, borrowing from them names, battle slogans, and costumes in order to present this new scene in world history in time-honored disguise and borrowed language…. The social revolution of the nineteenth century cannot take its poetry from the past but only from the future. It cannot begin with itself before it has stripped away all superstition about the past. The former revolutions required recollections of past world history in order to smother their own content. The revolution of the nineteenth century must let the dead bury their dead in order to arrive at its own content. There the phrase went beyond the content – here the content goes beyond the phrase.” Karl Marx – 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte
The above quote is just as integral to revolutionary struggle in the 21st century as it was for France in 1852. Across the vast human topography of class society, clear lines are being drawn between those who parody and fetishize the movements of dead generations in order to dominate the movements of today, and those who seek to expand forms of praxis and theory created in the current cycle of struggle, through the self-directed struggle of workers and students themselves.
After several weeks of smears, ad hominem attacks and political diatribes, the conversation surrounding the events of March 4th has finally shifted to the terrain of tactics and ideology. The small segment of humanity actually paying attention to this debate has been gifted with lapidary critiques of Anarcho-Imperialism, Anarcho-Situ-Autonomism, Demand-Nothingism, and – most recently — dangerous, “anger-based” Anarcha-Feminism. While these critiques are coming from various activist quarters, they all focus their attention on the supposed Take The City “Organization.” Each of these critiques (even if accurate) could land only a glancing blow, because the people who comprise their opposition are neither a party, nor an association nor even a website. In fact, the alleged saboteurs of March 4th, the occupiers of last April, the self-proclaimed “bitches,” the militant feminists, and many others are merely tendencies within a larger, informal network. This group has no party-line, no hierarchical structure and little theoretical unity. The only thing that unites us is camaraderie and solidarity on the one hand and an understanding of direct action and self-organization on the other. The following is a partial critique, by one tendency within this group, of the tactical and theoretical composition of what has been called the ‘student movement’.
Can a couple hundred students at an outdoor rally at Hunter be considered a movement? Can six or seven hundred people standing in a Midtown police pen be considered a movement? The reason the NYC ‘student movement’ must be put in quotations is because the label is largely self-flattery. We hope to show below that the tactics of the coalition of movement-builders are, at best, unhelpful to the development of a strong and vital movement and, at worst, preventative of one.
March 11, 2010
Another varmint statement posted on Take the City:
on march 4th the vanguard of submission (the I.S.O., maoist allies, & activist “organizers”) denounced the truly radical contingents that refused their policing. confronted w/ a loss of power, the specialists of protest took every measure to sabotage those autonomous subjects who refused reification as objects in their “movement.” the implications of possible native ‘uncontrollables’ being too much to bear, every student that called for concrete subversive action was branded an “outside agitator” or “agent provocateur.”
the comedy of all manner of guevara worshippers indicting anyone as an ‘outside agitator’ does not escape, but the implications of invoking this ever present counter-revolutionary watchword are sincere. in such an invocation a real division is made clear:
on the one side: those who represent spectacular conflict, who play the approved role of a “social conscience,” who side with the police when sedition belongs to desire, not party functionaries. this reformist bloc is committed to maintaining the reign of specialists, of even the school administration, for to question one hierarchy would counterfeit them all. their role is essential in the mystification of progress. “moralizing the marketplace,” wherein the world is delivered back into the hands of the same bosses who’ve decimated it, is the realm of this permitted resistance.
on the opposing side: those who would not separate revolution from daily life, those who refuse to be executed under the weight of “objective conditions,” but prefer to disrupt the continuity of the probable, the routine, the expected, & explore the possible, who recognize that there is no dialogue in hierarchy/no democracy under bosses, who extend their critique to every wing of the commodity life & refuse the lure of “causes,” who recognize that there is no ‘outside’ because of this totality, who realize poetry in the lyricism of action, who accept no revolution but the revolution of all creative life. Read the rest of this entry »
March 5, 2010
Oh how lovely it is to be accused of causing all the fantastic actions at the CUNY Hunter rally on March 4th! If only we were such a large, nebulous conspiratorial varmint army. If only we were all privileged white boys! If only the Hunter organizers weren’t all ISO trots and maoists claiming to speak for everyone! If only there was such thing as outside.
The issue in this debate is not inside/outside agitators, or oppressed/less oppressed — these are disguises for the real issue: the conflict between those who are angry and those who want to control other people’s anger.
1. there were “outside agitators”, and that is a good thing. it is a good thing because
a. it is everyone’s struggle, and everyone wants to work together to fight it. this is how we are strong.In the coming months, we will see more cuts, more police, and more struggles uniting us.
b. thus, there are no real ‘outside agitators.’ This label is specifically designed to i) deny that any hunter student/faculty/staff could be critical of hunter and want to see it attacked and taken over and ii) paint everyone who did something “undesireable” as coming from the “outside”.
c. to clarify: those who came in from outside hunter were not only from “New School” and “NYU” but workers from around the city and other CUNY schools.
d. Conservatives are famous for using the term “outside agitators”.
e. in the new school and nyu occupations, everyone at those schools accused the occupiers of being outside agitators.
we challenge the opponents: what is bad or wrong about non-hunter students/faculty/staff participating? don’t you want the “WORKERS OF THE WORLD TO UNITE”?!?!?!!!
2. it was not only “outside agitators” who escalated tactics.
a. “they varmits” (see the “Hunter Word” blog post from Owen Hill) was in large part HUNTER STUDENTS. In california, they varmits are occupying universities.
3. the ISO and other manipulative, authoritarian organizers killed the potential, the momentum of the event.
a. at every juncture, they pushed to destory the indoor demo: during organizing meetings, when we were on the 3rd floor, when we were walking through the building.
b. they told people not to go back inside the school once they were outside, even though most students in the crowd wanted to.
c. they smothered the dance music and the chants in order to continue to lecture the crowd, even though people were sick of being talked at and wanted to chant and dance.
4. The ISO and other manipulative leftists with their newspapers co-opt the activity done by others, while trying to smother people’s anger and desire to act when it arises.
5. The ISO are happy to call out people who do not accept their scripted perspective. They malign those who don’t dogmatically agree with their ‘idea of the movement’ and they call security and cops on them. They defuse anger and the power of students and workers.
written by: students/workers from at least 4 different schools and 24 different jobs. (including hunter, assholes)
March 5, 2010
-Walk-Out / Indoor demo at CUNY Hunter:
At 1pm students and supporters gathered on the 3rd floor of the 68th street campus. There was a large police presence inside and outside the building. Students attempted to move toward the upper part of the building to get more students to participate but were blocked by campus security. Scuffles broke out as students forced their way past a campus guard and took to the stairwells.
Word has it that, inside the building, the financial aid office had its windows broken, and the much hated security turnstiles at the entrance to the building were attacked and broken.
Before the demo, signs were posted up on the 3rd floor saying that the indoor demo would not be permitted but the simultaneous rally called by the International Socialist Organization (ISO) and others would be. There are also rumors that ‘Student Activists’ were warning other students via text message that unpaid agent provocateurs would be coming to Hunter to cause a riot (more on this when we get confirmation). A New School Student supporting the Hunter walkout was ejected from the building possibly after being pointed out by an ISO activist (there have been conflicting reports).
Students and allies marched through Hunter’s walkways, to the cheering of students standing by, many of whom joined in. The INDOOR DEMO proceeded to the 3rd floor:
The police were in full force blocking the escalators but at least 40 students broke through into the back stairwell and surged up the stairs, only to find yet more police on every single floor blocking every door.
While some ran through the building urging students to walk out of their classes, others began to urge people to leave the building and attend the rally outside. A few scuffles broke out between people involved in the walkout and those running the permitted rally. 3 or 4 individuals have supposedly been arrested inside of CUNY Hunter.
Eventually enough people were pushed out of the building by the police or by Organizers who wanted to have the rally and talk at the crowd:
More info soon…
Hundreds participated in a successful teach in that will hopefully build up to larger actions in the future.
– CUNY Graduate Center
about 30 Graduate Students (also adjunct professors) from the CUNY Grad Center arrived with allies at school this morning, to see five black cop cars parked in front of the building and the cafeteria filled with police. The students, however, were headed towards the elevators (the only means of entering the building), and filled them with their angry bodies, blocking entrance to the elevators while others spoke to people about the cuts, their shitty jobs, and encouraged folks to go to Hunter College. One of the elevators was boarded by a plainclothes police officer who shoved one of the students to the floor. He stayed in the elevator, harassing the students for their names and calling them cowards while the students hurled insults. He left the elevator only when the students exited to find support.
CUNY Grad Center Students also executed a banner drop, small but real (LUV U RIVERSIDE), with only more to come.
The Grad Students exited unscathed and immediately went to join the Hunter walkout.
– Centralized Rally
-There is currently a heavily policed and relatively small march making its way to the MTA hearings at F.I.T.
occupation still going, it needs support!
More to come,
For breaking news from California check:
February 27, 2010
An excellent new zine from Hunter students preparing for the March 4th walkout:
We’re always told that if we work hard we’ll succeed.
We wake up in the morning, get ready, then go off to school, or work, or work AND school, so that we can have enough money to go about our lives today and get the credentials we need for tomorrow.
We spend all of our free time studying or trying to relax because of all the pressure.
Many of us come from immigrant families, who came to the US for freedom and economic opportunities. Some of us are descendants of slaves, and we’re told that now that we have a black president, racism is pretty much a thing of the past. We’re told that now, if we just work hard, if we obey the rules and don’t cause trouble, we can all live the American Dream.
But is this dream a reality?