At one point or another all of us feel like giving up. Some could say it is from depression, but I would say the depression comes from frustration. Sometimes I just feel completely unable to change my current situation, and on top of that stress I understand that there is a whole apparatus in my way. Police, Bosses, Banks, Military, Politicians and of course people who shout me down. Simple problems become mathematic word problems. If I don’t work I can’t pay rent. If I don’t pay rent then the cops will come with guns and remove me. I will go to a jail and now have a record, a record that can make sure that I can’t get a job in the future, which will put me in the situation again. Then of course there is work. I work for a wage. $8.00 an hour when rent is 900 dollars a month, 112 hours of non taxed work could get me a place to sleep. It’s weird though, I’ll buy a bag of flour and it’ll cost four dollars, but the workers who bagged or processed the flour didn’t get a dollar for that bag, they still got paid their wage. You can work at Starbucks or Jamba Juice and make 30 drinks in an hour, each costs at least three dollars, but you still get the $8.50.
$1.50 for a bottle of water, $6.00 for a sandwich, buying lunch just cost me an hour of labor at work. I could always hope that enough people get fed up and take it to the streets and begin to takeover space in such ways that not even the bravest police force could begin to put down the strike. One thing I’ve learned is that all hope is to my disadvantage. Why would I merely wish for something to have a certain outcome when I can make an outcome? Now, back to the concept of taking space, self interest is the only reason anyone would ever decide that it is the time or place to actually take back space and defend it. I do wish to see this. What is most miraculous is that the reason that it would be impossible for police to put down such a human strike is because within such a refusal people transform. I know, I know, they don’t really transform, but something changes. I don’t know if I’m to the point where I could explain what changes, but I do hope to find out. These pages are really just my thoughts. I can’t claim to represent anyone but myself, but maybe you will find something amongst these sentences that is useful. No text can be all bad, sometimes we can relate and sometimes we can’t, and that’s alright.
Salt Of The Earth, 1950’s film about a Mexican-American miners strike. The feds attempted to ban it.
Student Strikes It is damn near impossible to find any sort of work in this country without a college degree. Sure, 30 years ago a high school graduate could walk into a mill of some sort and get work and start a career, but nowadays this just isn’t the case. 10 years ago an Associate’s Degree, that can be attained from any Junior College for only two years of schooling, could land you a solid job with benefits, but now people with Bachelor’s degree granted from 4 year colleges end up working service jobs.
“We are the crisis”, well not really. The crisis is more so the collapsing of capital because of the sheer arrogance of rigid American indvidualism and bad loans, but what the hell, you can be the crisis too. Santa Cruz student occupation of a hall.
It seems that the students and some workers in California and other places are beginning to challenge authority. We have seen school building occupations and various forms of student strikes. The economic crisis is continuing despite media reports that stock numbers and house sales are up. Locally, in Berkeley and Santa Cruz there were quite energetic and mass strikes against a 32% fee hike on college tuitions. Being low income, this fee hike affects me and many of my friends.
On top of all of this people are just generally pissed. The difference is that those participating in the strikes don’t just cry about their situation or let the frustration destroy their personal relationships, they seek power the only way it is possible to seek it, by taking it.
Strikes used to be common place in this country, they were one of the tools used by workers to attain vital demands. It seems as if some sort of social amnesia has taken place, where people have forgotten that they are simply cogs that make machinery move and that any disruption of the mechanisms in the machinery causes production to halt, One of the reasons to stay in California is the afthis is worst case scenario for employers. Workers fordability of education, which many times can be can make these things happen by striking, or by supplemented with the insane price to live here. sabotage. Another form is to have a work slowThis trade off is also counteracted by overcrowded down, where few things get done, intentionally. class rooms, deteriorating desks and books and of course budget cuts. Many students, regardless of how low your income is, aren’t eligible for food stamps and don’t qualify for lower income apartment complexes, even if their income does meet the requirements. It is of no surprise that Community College, State College and University students are pissed off. Many classes are being cut and with the way that college transfer systems work, this can keep you at a Junior College for another whole year. It is an absolute falsehood and lie that many college students are upper-middle class brats whining about education.
Police and students/supporters clash at UC berkeley. Occupiers are inside of buildings.
The new wave of student strikes is bringing the tactic of occupation back. By disrupting the flows of colleges they constitute themselves as a power and therefore demand recognition. The media’s job in all of this is to, of course, discredit the strikes, to talk about how they leave trash in the buildings they occupy and how much it costs to clean up the trash. The price is usually highly exaggerated and inflated because they want people to think “Oh my, the students strike against budget cuts but they make the college use vital money to clean up.” They give you only the information that you would need to come to the conclusion that they want you to come to.
Have people accepted the old, not to mention ridiculous, adage that “Your freedom ends where mine begins”? Which assumes that freedom, of course, has a beginning and an end. It will be interesting to see which direction organizers and the participants in the strikes head. This could be a formula for very confrontational situations that have the possibility to spread and resonate. It also has the likelihood of becoming simple protests that lack ability to spread and to become exhausted by liberals and bureaucrats, in which case it is not hard to imagine those who fancy themselves revolutionaries throwing their hands up and becoming frustrated at the failure of something they put so much faith into. The next few years will be telling in regards to the personal integrity among students and workers. It has two outcomes, one is continued submissiveness to anyone who claims authority, and the other is revolutionary activity that seeks its own freedom and ends. www.occupyca.wordpress.com www.7daywknd.blogspot.com www.occupycentralvalley.blogspot.com www.indybay.org
Of course, from my point of view, the strikes must go farther. It is not enough to merely seek negotiation or demands from the state. Humans must make their strike impact every facet of life, the strikes must become generalized and more open. Capitalism is the enemy, it must be attacked. It is my belief that people can live in ways that do not require them to use one another as stepping stools to boost themselves up social ladders. Of course doubts can be had, and they should be, but if every doubtful situation was met with inaction I am quite sure our lives would become much more boring than they are now. Student strikers have hung banners that read “Demand the impossible!” I am obliged to agree. If seemingly impossible demands were never made then how could progress be made? Is it just that people are too afraid to really want something?
Students and others occupy Wheeler Hall at UC Berkeley.
Recent News from www.7daywknd.blogspot.com Jan. 20-21—Meeting at UCSF, the UC Regents tried to claim ownership of the March 4th strike by suggesting that they stand “with the students” in demanding more money from the state treasury. At the very same meeting, they approved $3 million in pay raises for 38 upper-echelon UC executives. Jan. 24—Tenants in Warsaw, Poland occupied a housing office in response to city plans to gentrify their neighborhood. Jan. 28—Parents in Lanarkshire, Scotland occupied an elementary school slated to be closed, the latest in a series of school occupations that have taken place over the past year. Jan. 15—Indigenous Native American activists and their supporters gathered at the Central Valley Miwok Tribe’s sole piece of property, a foreclosed house in Stockton, CA to prevent sheriffs from evicting the tribe. Jan. 19—In Nsukka, Nigeria, at least two students and a policeman were shot and 22 vehicles were burned when hundreds of university students took to the streets to protest fee hikes. Rioting students looted stores and stormed the Chancellor and Vice Chancellor’s residences. Jan. 20—Four students tried to occupy the vacant Hibernia Bank building in downtown SF in conjunction with a demonstration against the foreclosure crisis and the treatment of the homeless. The students released a communique intending to bridge the gap between student protests and other struggles around precariousness. They hung a banner reading “You take our homes, we take your banks” before tripping an alarm and getting arrested. They were released the next day; all charges were dropped. Jan. 20-21—Meeting at UCSF, the UC Regents tried to claim ownership of the March 4th strike by suggesting that they stand “with the students” in demanding more money from the state treasury. At the very same meeting, they approved $3 million in pay raises for 38 upper-echelon UC executives. Jan. 24—Tenants in Warsaw, Poland occupied a housing office in response to city plans to gentrify their neighborhood.
Jan. 30—Police in Fresno evicted an encampment housing roughly 100 homeless individuals. Police told them they would be evicted from any new camps as well, but most of them, having nowhere to go, set up again in a vacant lot a block away. Jan. 31—Police in SF attacked a benefit party, which was raising money for fines and legal fees associated with student protests and occupations. Under an alleged “noise complaint,” 11 people were arrested. Many were beaten up both in the streets and later in their cells. All but one were released within 24 hours. The last, a person of color, was charged with multiple felonies. Sound equipment and computers were also seized and destroyed by the police. Feb. 2—In Holland, students occupied the main building of the University of Utrecht, against an administrative decision to stop publishing the paper version of the school newspaper. This is to be the first in a national wave of actions, fighting budget cuts in education. Feb. 5-7—Students held a study-in at UC Davis, keeping the Shields Library open over the weekend (it had been closed due to budget cuts). Before the event, however, and in response to the planned study-in, the chancellor announced that he would preemptively open the library. Stu-dents responded “the library will be open all weekend, because we opened it!”