UC "Student Leaders" Sabotage Occupation of Wheeler Hall
An occupation committee had prepared the logistics for the occupation of Wheeler Hall, and planned to bring a proposal to the so-called "general assembly" planned for 6pm. But moderators representing the official student leadership stepped in to impose a formal procedural structure that would prevent any and all political action following on the heels of the successful walkout.
Bullying from the moderator led to a vote in favor of breakout discussion groups, which divided and weakened the energy that had been brought to the room. The occupation committee managed to move the general assembly to Wheeler Auditorium, but the "leaders" insisted rigidly on a reportback from every single breakout group, hearing every single proposal for letter-writing campaigns, for contacting our elected representatives, etc. When members of breakout groups suggested an occupation, this was placed as a proposal among many to be subjected to an eventual, meaningless vote, long after the time for doing so had come and gone.
At one point, a student managed to convince these "leaders" to allow the reading of the occupation statement issued by students at UC Santa Cruz. The crowd was visibly moved, and roared in support of the UCSC students, before chanting "Occupy! Occupy!" for several minutes. As the occupation committee sought an immediate vote, the self-imposed leadership insisted that the reportback procedure continue for a full hour more (yes, there was a vote, but both options led to the same continuation of procedure). The energy and momentum of the room was not respected, this was not democracy: it was proceduralism in an effort to prevent any strategy or tactic that the leadership disagreed with.
Members of the occupation committee began to secure the building with locks and chains (while leaving doors open for those who wished to leave), while continuing efforts to bring the proposal before the crowd, whose energy was now waning as a result of a thousand reportbacks.
This was when the real ugliness began. Ricardo Gomez of CalServe took the stage and began barking at the crowd, ironically seizing the bully pulpit to denounce the occupation effort as "undemocratic." What was undemocratic was the proceduralism of the leadership which refused to respect the will of the people present. Gomez knew what he was doing: he was consciously destroying the radical energy of the people gathered there. Rather than calling a vote on occupation, he pushed the gullible to tears by insinuating that they had been taken hostage when this was not the case. (These "leaders" were later seen snitching to police).
This was a disgusting and despicable case of the worst form of opportunism, the effects of which are only beginning to be felt.
That goes for all you college liberals who helped the police shutdown the UC occupation last night. Your pacifist demands won't change a godamn thing to stop the layoffs and tuition hikes. I got to say that being passive comes with being a privileged college liberal. Rather than unstoppable unbeatable empowered citizens running wild in the streets you have happy apathetic liberals walking passively in the streets.
You talk about revolution but when it comes down to it you really don't have what it takes to stand up. The French and everybody else in the world was right about America. Even under worst circumstances, the harshest state of affairs you will not abandon obedience to authority and for not rising up you deserve what ever treatment you get from the state and your capitalists oppressors.
Thanks a lot!
"folks in favor an occupation"
WRONG: the assembly had voted for this structure and procedure.
the meeting began in the caesar chavez student center, after the self appointed moderators (supposedly professional, but this was clearly not the case) decided that everyone would fit (we didn't).
they proposed the agenda and procedure, but didn't vote on it. the "professional" moderator actually said "this is how its going to be". then they proceeded to demonstrate their ineptitude as moderators until an hour had transpired and we got
kicked out of the building onto lower sproul. on lower sproul, they decide to CHANGE the agenda, that noone had voted on anyway, and move PAST the discussion of the days events and PAST the announcements section (there were several waiting) and INTO a group breakout. so they began the general assembly by breaking it up into 20 person groups. after this breakout session, they decided on their own to move the meeting to wheeler, after having been informed that people were talking about taking it over.
PERHAPS CORRECT: some folks who were in favor of occupying wheeler apparently felt things were moving too slowly and decided to take matters into their own hands and begin locking doors. when the crowd heard that some of the doors were being locked without their consent, a significant number of them voiced their dissent and many left. the folks in favor a walkout totally over-played their hand and turned the crowd against themselves. had they been a little less macho and a little more patient they probably would have had their occupation.
EXCEPT THAT: the crowd was stirred up by alarmist bullshit and denunciation from the podium. these same moderators 1) led the march off campus, engaged in sitins and traffic blocades, and marched into wheeler (intentionally, without a room reservation) declaring "its ours, were taking this shit". so technically the meeting was already an occupation. the moderators they did all of this undemocratically, very intentionally. for example, someone on lower sproul said to the "moderators" before they moved to wheeler should they put it to a quick vote. this suggestion was immediately contradicted, and they had a brief discussion to discuss where we would move to, and then announced the result to the crowd. but then when someone else tried to do something else a little undemocratically, they flipped out, proving that their problem was their lack of control over the process, and not the content.
An occupation is not locking the doors without the democratic consent of the people on the inside.
True enough. But the problem is that the moderators prevented any attempt to get the consent, or indeed dissent, of the assembly. At no time was anyone locked inside the building, or forced to take part in an occupation, without their consent. Some people did make preparations for a possible occupation by locking some (not all) of the doors. They did so, I think, in the belief that a) there was significant support for occupation in the assembly, and b) that the assembly would be able to make a collective decision as to whether to procede or not with an occupation.
The students who acted in favor of occupation can, perhaps, be faulted for failing to explain their positions, and actions, sufficiently to the rest of the assembly. But we shouldn't forget that the reason they weren't able to do so was because the moderators specifically prevented any discussion of moving to an occupation.
2. the moderators had been notified previous to moving the assembly to wheeler that folks had been talking about occupying it. they had also been informed that people who were talking occupation wanted it to come up as an issue at the general assembly before any announcements were made so that people could have an opportunity to discuss the matter and decide.
At UCSC there was no need for any of this bullshit: the folks that wanted to occupy the building went and did it, the folks that didn't want to occupy the building stood outside as support...
Then we started a dance party that went till 3 am. And the building is still occupied and the dance party starts up again at 9pm, right after a teach in that will fill the plaza with groups discussing what to do next.
perhaps this was part of the problem, but you can't compare the two efforts
The message should be made clear: what we demand is transparency; without it lies corruption. This is only the beginning, the most immediate threats to us as students come from the university... but we're not stopping there. This fight will go all the way to Sacramento, and hopefully like a million little fires burning down the forest, campuses from around the country will see the same direct actions–bringing the fight to the doorsteps of the White House and the Pentagon.
Our generation has inherited this shit-state from the generation before us. That generation has become the very problem their flowers and drugs tried to stop. Putting a daisy in the barrel of a gun does not make it benign–it still shoots and does. Smoking a joint doesn't stop corruption.
Bring out the heavy machinery. Don the black, cover your face, chain the doors, and send these mother fuckers a message in a bottle!
That is not to say that the 'leaders' of the walkout didn't undermine your plans (they probably did). Instead, they out organized you. Learn and prepare from it in the future.
This is in fact the model that the "anarchists" who attempted to initiate a building occupation were following. But inside Wheeler hall, 200 people were intently following a discussion of what to do next, and preparing to vote, as a body, on the proposals they were working out.
The power of the General Assembly is to allow the undecided, the curious, the newly activated students and workers to discuss, debate, vote, and feel ownership of their decisions. When people make their own decisions they make a commitment to and become organizers for their own plan of action. This is fundamental to anarchism, no?
Was the General Assembly disorganized? Yes. Did it need better facilitators. Hell yes. Was it stupid to break out into groups and then read every last proposal? Yes, that is the consensus. However, while two hundred people were in the middle of a general assembly, deciding collectively what to do, these "anarchists" began to initiate a building occupation by chaining the doors shut, without consulting anyone except themselves. When this action was announced to the assembly the overwhelming reaction was outrage, disgust, frustration, and even fright.
This sort of putsch by a group of self-selected individuals acting in the name of people without consulting them or winning their consent is authoritarian, sterile, and destructive. This is not the anarchism of Durruti, Bakunin, and Malatesta. This is puerile bullshit reminiscent of the worst actions of the Maoist sects of the 60s and 70s. Our movement will need to occupy buildings, initiate strikes, and take militant actions, but it must be with the participation, consent, and full support of people through democratic discussion debate, and democracy.
Luckily for those who hoped to build a bigger movement beyond the UCs, the students who came to the General Assembly were able to regroup and vote on the most important proposals of the evening: to continue holding mass democratic meetings, and to plan a conference of all who are effected by the budget cuts to be held at UC Berkeley on October 24th. All activists, radicals, revolutionaries, true anarchists, socialists, and concerned individuals who participated in that decision can be proud that people's desire for real self-organization and democracy persevered despite the best attempts of some stupid or malevolent individuals to disrupt it.
For more on October 24th see: http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/09/25/18623233.php
-A Participant in the General Assembly
Finally, it must be said that, as for the idea of the whole assembly voting on the idea of an occupation beforehand and then setting about making the preparations (so as to feel equal participants in the action) during the assembly, well, that's just stupid. The place was crawling with people whose first move would have been to notify the authorities, and this is precisely why not letting the assembly decide on the occupation after the statement was read was, essentially, to force a "no" vote. Hardly democratic.
Nobody was being forced into anything -- many people in the crowd supported an occupation, and nobody would have been asked to stay who didn't want to. . . If you think that occupations are a part of your struggle and you think the details can be worked out in general assembly, then please prepare to find the cops waiting for you.
Oh yeah, btw: Bakunin, Durrutti and Malatesta would have laughed at your bullshit liberalism.
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