Actions at Regents' meeting, Covell Commons, UCLA -- photos by Derek Liu
Fourteen people are arrested at UCLA while the Regents go ahead with their huge tuition hikes. As the second UC Walkout unfolds across the entire system, a text is published from an occupied “Capital Projects” building somewhere on the Berkeley campus. The events of the occupation aren’t very clear, but the message is getting closer to home. This time it’s not about debt, it’s not about bankruptcy, it’s more essential:
In the university we prostrate ourselves before a value of separation, which in reality translates to a value of domination. We spend money and energy trying to convince ourselves we’re brighter than everyone else. Somehow, we think, we possess some trait that means we deserve more than everyone else. We have measured ourselves and we have measured others. It should never feel terrible ordering others around, right? It should never feel terrible to diagnose people as an expert, manage them as a bureaucrat, test them as a professor, extract value from them their capital as a businessman. It should feel good, gratifying, completing. It is our private wet dream for the future; everywhere, in everyone this same dream of domination. After all, we are intelligent, studious, young. We worked hard to be here, we deserve this.
We are convinced, owned, broken. We know their values better than they do: life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness. This triumvirate of sacred values are ours of course, and in this moment of practiced theater—the fight between the university and its own students—we have used their words on their stages: Save public education!
When those values are violated by the very institutions which are created to protect them, the veneer fades, the tired set collapses: and we call it injustice, we get indignant. We demand justice from them, for them to adhere to their values. What many have learned again and again is that these institutions don’t care for those values, not at all, not for all. And we are only beginning to understand that those values are not even our own.
The values create popular images and ideals (healthcare, democracy, equality, happiness, individuality, pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, public education) while they mean in practice the selling of commodified identities, the state’s monopoly on violence, the expansion of markets and capital accumulation, the rule of property, the rule of exclusions based on race, gender, class, and domination and humiliation in general. They sell the practice through the image. We’re taught we’ll live the images once we accept the practice.
Read the full text: The Necrosocial.
Also check out an interesting video in which a very middle-of-the-road looking student describes the occupation of Wheeler Hall at UCB, following the short-lived occupation of the Capital Projects building (actually the Engineering bldg). What does she hope? That these movements continue in the US and around the world so that student power can be reinvented as a real political force.
–>Here are some further resources, as of Nov. 24, after the really amazing events of Nov 18-19 including serious face-offs with the cops at Berkeley and UCLA, which may radicalize a huge student/faculty/staff movement.
–First, a great segment of Democracy Now, which includes the audio of the statement read from within occupied Campbell Hall, as well as a good interview with Bob Samuels.
—Occupy California, from Santa Cruz, has links to all the radical and confrontational groups, whose work has been very successful (no confrontation, no movement!).
—Bob Samuels’ blog is worth a read.
–A very interesting post by a UCSB professor, R. Flack, written in advance of Nov. 18-19, where he shows all the conditions that are coming together for a major social movement. This is actually pretty thoughtful stuff.
–Finally, this fairly surreal video on the occupation of Wheeler Hall at UC Berkeley on Friday Nov. 20 gives a feeling of the intensity of those events: