Occupy the Workplace

Occupy the Workplace

Only through fol­low­ing a long-term orga­niz­ing approach can Occu­py Wall Street begin to har­ness the anger and ener­gy it has made vis­i­ble and trans­late it in into a dynam­ic, class-con­scious move­ment. And only the labor move­ment has the expe­ri­ence and orga­ni­za­tion­al capac­i­ty to take on the chal­lenge.

Insurrection, Oakland Style: A History

Insurrection, Oakland Style: A History

This is an unfin­ished work – a snap­shot of his­to­ry as it occurred, expe­ri­enced by me, report­ed on social media, or retold by trust­ed com­rades. It will lack the final­i­ty of hind­sight. Con­tained with­in is my account of the Oak­land Insur­rec­tion, as it has unfold­ed over the past days and weeks. Both the insur­rec­tion and this essay are works of hope. I hope that we push for­ward on the streets of Oak­land, the Bay Area, and every­where else, to the lim­it of what is pos­si­ble – beyond occu­pa­tion and the pro­posed gen­er­al strike to “total free­dom” for us all.

The Italianization of Puerto Rico

The Italianization of Puerto Rico

Dis­man­tling a pub­lic edu­ca­tion sys­tem in a coun­try with strong back­ground of polit­i­cal strug­gles requires a mit­i­gat­ed form of neolib­er­al strat­e­gy. Between 2009 and 2010, I observed this oper­a­tion as a new pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Puer­to Rico. In the spring of 2010, stu­dents opt­ed for an indef­i­nite strike. The one-month-long occu­pa­tion of the Mayagüez cam­pus left a per­ma­nent mem­o­ry in those who par­tic­i­pat­ed in it.

Who Threw the Can of Green Paint? The First Two Weeks of Occupy Philadelphia

Who Threw the Can of Green Paint? The First Two Weeks of Occupy Philadelphia

On the morn­ing of Octo­ber 14, one week into Occu­py Philadelphia’s encamp­ment beside City Hall, some­one emp­tied the con­tents of a paint can on the building’s south­west­ern entrance. This inci­dent sug­gests the ambi­gu­i­ty and con­tra­dic­tion in the polit­i­cal imag­i­na­tion of Occu­py Philadel­phia. What con­sti­tutes mean­ing­ful action – a spec­tac­u­lar act of van­dal­ism, the peace­ful occu­pa­tion of pub­lic prop­er­ty, or direct action on the hori­zon more con­fronta­tion­al and rad­i­cal? There has been no short­age of activ­i­ty – dai­ly march­es strike out to the usu­al tar­gets – but as of yet no dra­mat­ic con­fronta­tions like those of Occu­py Wall Street have occurred.

From Egypt to Wall Street

From Egypt to Wall Street

For­mer Egypt­ian pres­i­dent Hos­ni Mubarak had already stepped down, fol­low­ing a pop­u­lar move­ment that estab­lished a micro-repub­lic, the Gumhuriyyah el-Tahrir (Repub­lic of Lib­er­ty), which con­tra­dict­ed the per­vad­ing log­ic of the inter­na­tion­al eco­nom­ic sys­tem. And now pro­test­ers in Wis­con­sin were occu­py­ing the state house to pre­vent the pass­ing of leg­is­la­tion that would effec­tive­ly sus­pend bar­gain­ing rights for pub­lic work­ers. Sit­ting in a Wash­ing­ton news­room, we need­ed a head­line. I very quick­ly sug­gest­ed some­thing along these lines: “Mid­dle East unrest spreads to the Mid­west.” I got a side eye. After all, how could a free and open soci­ety, the demo­c­ra­t­ic soci­ety, be tak­ing its cues from, of all places, Egypt, an antique land with back­ward ways, Islam­ic fun­da­men­tal­ists, and Arab dic­ta­tors? The edi­tors went with a more mod­est title.

Oakland

Oakland

A gen­er­al strike has been declared by the Oak­land Gen­er­al Assem­bly. The orig­i­nal ver­sion of this song was the num­ber one hit dur­ing the 1946 Oak­land Gen­er­al Strike.

Everybody Talks About the Weather

Everybody Talks About the Weather

It could very well be that the dura­bil­i­ty and rad­i­cal­iza­tion of this move­ment will rely on its poten­tial as a medi­at­ing ele­ment between the the var­i­ous seg­ments of the class, their par­tic­u­lar inter­ests, and their tra­di­tion­al forms of strug­gle. Achiev­ing this means going beyond a spon­ta­neous reflec­tion of changes in our work­ing lives. It has to start by under­stand­ing the sys­tem under­ly­ing them.

Letter 1: Pannekoek to Castoriadis

While you restrict the activ­i­ty of [work­ers’ coun­cils] to the orga­ni­za­tion of labor in fac­to­ries after the tak­ing of social pow­er by the work­ers, we con­sid­er them as also being the organ­isms by means of which the work­ers will con­quer this pow­er. In the con­quest of pow­er we have no inter­est in a “rev­o­lu­tion­ary par­ty” that will take the lead­er­ship of the pro­le­tar­i­an rev­o­lu­tion.

Letter 3: Pannekoek to Castoriadis

Nat­u­ral­ly, I do not claim that the rev­o­lu­tion­ary actions of the work­ing class will all unfold in an atmos­phere of peace­ful dis­cus­sion. What I claim is that the result of the strug­gle, often vio­lent, is not deter­mined by acci­den­tal cir­cum­stances, but by what is alive in the thoughts of the work­ers, as the basis of a sol­id con­scious­ness acquired by expe­ri­ence, study, or their dis­cus­sions. If the per­son­nel of a fac­to­ry must decide whether or not to go on strike, the deci­sion is not tak­en by smash­ing fists on the table, but nor­mal­ly by dis­cus­sions.