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Building the Red Army: The Death and Forbidden Rebirth of the Oakland Commune

Building the Red Army: The Death and Forbidden Rebirth of the Oakland Commune

“Don’t fuck with the Oak­land Com­mune.” Words which will live for­ev­er in his­to­ry, to be remem­bered and repeat­ed at every glo­ri­ous defeat inflict­ed upon the heroes of the future by may­ors, police offi­cers, unions, church­es, and chil­dren. A let­ter, signed by the Occu­py Oak­land Move-In Assem­bly, promised to respond to the inevitable evic­tion of an ille­gal build­ing occu­pa­tion by “blockad­ing the air­port indef­i­nite­ly.” Tac­tics only dreamed of by al-Qae­da, with­in the reach of Occu­py Oak­land after just four months. Yes­ter­day these words were at the cen­ter of a mate­r­i­al prac­tice which brought our move­ment up against its lim­its.

Voices from the Rank and File: Remembering Marty Glaberman and Stan Weir

Voices from the Rank and File: Remembering Marty Glaberman and Stan Weir

I have been asked to say a few words about Mar­ty Glaber­man and Stan Weir. It may be that the request is prompt­ed in part by recent events on the West Coast water­front. I have fol­lowed those events with inter­est, but I am not there and I have not had an oppor­tu­ni­ty to talk with par­tic­i­pants. Accord­ing­ly, please con­sid­er my remarks about my depart­ed friends and com­rades on their own mer­its, such as they may be, and accept my assur­ance that no implic­it mes­sage about cur­rent events is intend­ed.

A Constituent Power Greater Than its Parts: Occupy and Workers from the Port Shutdown to the Primaries

A Constituent Power Greater Than its Parts: Occupy and Workers from the Port Shutdown to the Primaries

From its begin­nings in New York City to the recent West Coast Port Shut­down, the Occu­py move­ment has con­sis­tent­ly con­front­ed the issue of co-opta­tion. About a month and a half or so ago, many par­tic­i­pants voiced wor­ries about being co-opt­ed by MoveOn, the Democ­rats, unions (to a less­er extent, since they had shown up as allies with­out seem­ing to try to monop­o­lize the def­i­n­i­tion of actions and events), and oth­er groups affil­i­at­ed with the polit­i­cal par­ties.

"It is better to fight": On Martin and Malcolm

“It is better to fight”: On Martin and Malcolm

The effi­gy of a black man, a son of South­ern soil and descen­dant of slaves, now stands over the nation’s Mall among its found­ing fathers, noto­ri­ous slave own­er in front and the so-called Great Eman­ci­pa­tor to his back. Look­ing out over the placid Tidal Basin with a steely-eyed reserve and chis­eled deter­mi­na­tion, the Mar­tin Luther King, Jr. Nation­al Memo­r­i­al, the first mon­u­ment on the Mall ded­i­cat­ed to a man of col­or, has whipped up yet anoth­er tem­pest of protest. Besides the same types who did not and still do not com­mem­o­rate the life of this influ­en­tial Civ­il Rights leader on the third Mon­day of every Jan­u­ary, oth­er dis­senters have not­ed that the veined, con­fronta­tion­al depic­tion of the Broth­er Preach­er by the Chi­nese sculp­tor Lei Yix­in does not evoke the round docil­i­ty asso­ci­at­ed with the open-armed love of non­vi­o­lence. For them, the image goes against what they see as King’s true lega­cy, while oth­ers see the statute as an appro­pri­ate stance of well-ground­ed, stony defi­ance and pride.

Hostile and Notorious: The Conditions of Private Property

Hostile and Notorious: The Conditions of Private Property

Fol­low­ing the recent four-day occu­pa­tion of an emp­ty bank build­ing at 75 Riv­er Street in San­ta Cruz and the attempt­ed occu­pa­tion of an emp­ty ware­house in Seat­tle, the con­tro­ver­sial tac­tic of attempt­ing to seize and hold vacant pri­vate prop­er­ty has been tak­en up as a new front of a sprawl­ing social move­ment. These actions move beyond protest­ing the enclo­sure of pub­lic space and sti­fling of free speech; they aim to expand the scope of cri­tique to the role that pri­vate prop­er­ty plays in our cur­rent cri­sis. This change in scope has not been lost on the land­lords. “I’m def­i­nite­ly not in agree­ment with this group tak­ing over pri­vate prop­er­ty,” a local prop­er­ty own­er told the Mer­cury News.

And We Mother Them Again: Motherhood at the Margins of the Movement

And We Mother Them Again: Motherhood at the Margins of the Movement

Some­day my daugh­ter will ask me how I met her father, and I will tell her about when we occu­pied the Grad­u­ate Stu­dent Com­mons at UC San­ta Cruz. At the end of the sum­mer of 2009, a group of col­lege stu­dents, grad­u­ate stu­dents, and staff set about plan­ning a cam­pus build­ing occu­pa­tion. News of the next school year’s dras­tic bud­get cuts had come to the sur­face, leav­ing many of us out of jobs and in debt. On top of that, entire depart­ments were being defund­ed, while class sizes, tuition, and admin­is­tra­tor salaries were being increased. The word “cri­sis” start­ed to echo among us.