We received this flyer from comrades who have been distributing it to workers in San Francisco. The SF-MTA is currently taking the money they’ve received from selling advertising space
on MUNI buses and donating it to the
Human Rights Commission. While this attempt at liberalism is appalling, what we should be focusing on is finding the instances of workers struggle on the shop floor.
If what follows is any indication of what is possible (or what is already happening) then we should be keeping our eyes open for workers taking direct action against being exploited as proletarian bus drivers AND now as movers of portable Zionist propaganda. Additionally, we should pay attention to Arab, Muslim, and Sikh workers who are struggling on the shop floor – particularly in the custodial sector in San Francisco. International solidarity must – and already is – going beyond symbolic statements and becoming a material force where workers refuse the alienation of work and the imposition of Zionist propaganda and symbols within the labor process.
Props to comrades for putting in the work – intellectually and on the streets.
A Classwide Appeal in Response to Racist Ads on MUNI
It is time to view attacks on workers and oppressed populations not as isolated events, but as calculated measures in maintaining the rule of the global ruling class. We must envision strategies for fighting back that put us not in categories of victimization, but in solidarity with the international ranks of the working class. City expenditures on ads and public relations campaigns exceed millions of dollars, yet they enforce austerity and tell us they will close down our public schools and take away our benefits. The historical moment demands we respond to these attacks on a class-wide basis! Riders, drivers, students, and workers across sectors and communities must unite!
Racism on MUNI and the class-wide support we need
SEIU Local 87, a service workers union, is devising a new contract with the ABM Corporation, in which basic benefits are being jeopardized. In the last couple weeks, rank and file leaders have stood up against these attacks and even been arrested in civil disobedience. Many janitors involved in this union are from the Arab community. Unveiled last week, SFMTA approved MUNI ads, paid for by Pamela Geller and the American Freedom Defense Initiative to run on the side of our city’s buses. These ads come at the time that we have seen numerous hate attacks targeting Arabs, Muslims and Sikhs; there have been at least 8 incidents in the past 10 days across the country. Last week, after the second attempt in a month, an Islamic Center in Missouri was burned down. In the same week, four days after US congressman Rep. Walsh proclaimed in a public speech that “radical Muslims are trying to kill Americans every week”, a Mosque in a Chicago suburbwas shot at with a high-velocity air rifle while 500 worshippers were insidefor evening prayers during the Holy month of Ramadan. On the same day this advertisement ran on San Francisco buses, a mosque in Ontario, California found the limbs of a dismembered pig on the building’s front steps. And right here in the Bay Area, this past Thursday marked the fourth time in the last eight months that a Hayward mosque was targeted by vandals, this time resulting in one person injured. The ads on MUNI read:
“In Any War Between the Civilized Man and the Savage, Support the Civilized Man. Support Israel, Defeat Jihad.”
Today, MUNI drivers are exposed to draconian disciplinary measures like security cameras on the buses and threats of firing for taking a certain number of sick days or breaks even if it falls well within the quota outlined in the contract. The practices of management attempt to control resistance and create a culture of fear that has its roots in 1976 when workers organized in response to the City’s attempt to take away their right to strike.
The mass strike…suddenly opens new and wide perspectives of the revolution when it appears to have already arrived in a narrow pass and where it is impossible for anyone to reckon upon it with any degree of certainty.
– Rosa Luxemburg, “The Mass Strike.”
Occupy Oakland has reshaped politics not just for this city or the West Coast region where its impact has been greatest, but for the US as a whole and has given hope of revolution within the belly of the beast to millions of people around the world. Significantly, Occupy Oakland has injected a clear anti-capitalist current with the broader Occupy movement and has been able to implement an array of tactics to galvanize those politics. What are the lessons we draw from our young movement? The following is Advance the Struggle’s reflection on the movement. Comments, critiques, and discussion are welcome.
Table of Contents
I. Fight for Space Morphs into Battle for Class Power
II. Context of Occupy Oakland
III. Political Origins
IV. Attack: OPD Raids Occupy. OUSD Closes Schools.
V. Counter Attack: November 2nd General Strike
VI. November 19th: Unpermitted anti-school closure march
VII. December 12th: West Coast Shutdown.
VIII. Class Struggle or Substitutionism?
IX. Our Future
I. Fight for Space Morphs into Battle for Class Power
Revolutionaries around the world often ask why the people in the US don’t rise up against its government. With the rise of the Occupy movement, a global audience has been glued to the unfolding events surrounding this struggle, and tens of thousands within the US have participated in perhaps their first political protest. Like most movements, Occupy has its contradictions; in fact, its contradictions have largely been celebrated as diversity of political opinion. Working out the political contradictions through action, movement, struggle – in short, through practice – is the only way that masses educate themselves, becoming more clear in their critique of existing social relations and participate more fully in the implementation of strategies for change. Occupy has been a success just as much for the learning process it has unleashed as for the victories it has gained against “the 1%”. In what follows, we attempt an overview of developments at Occupy Oakland and refer to some debates within the movement. We aim to preserve the tone of unity and broad inclusion that has made Occupy so remarkable. What will be explored below is the relationship between Occupy Oakland’s class composition, the tools it uses to formulate strategy and the tactics implemented in practice.
II. Context of Occupy Oakland
The 2007-08 crisis has radically destroyed the public infrastructure of our society: schools, hospitals, public transportation, and parks have all been violently gutted. This is an expression of a much deeper crisis in capitalism that is pulling society into a downward spiral. The last 30 years we have seen an extremely rapid and unceasing technological revolution within commodity production, one that has devalorized labor-power so fast that the proletariat is being constantly expelled from the work process. As a class, the proletariat is thus unable to reproduce itself.
It’s been a while since we put up something of our own on the blog here, so we’d like to start another round of AS work on the blog with a compilation of our best work on one subject: the budget cuts struggle in California.
November 19th, 2009: UCLA students block the UC head administrators’ exit from a meeting where they voted to increase fees throughout the UC
Around the world for the last few years, working class people have been fighting back on a massive scale against “austerity measures”, new rounds of “structural adjustment” where state services are harshly cut back. In times of high unemployment and economic slowdown, the lives and training of the working class aren’t profitable and get cut. Students across California, just like students across the world, started to fight back against the cuts through protests, occupations, even riots….signs that folks are learning an important lesson: we can’t trust the Democrats to fight for our interests when the chips are down.
And like all mass movements, the student movement in California experimented and self-criticized as it struggled. Democracy was debated, communization attempted, capitalism questioned, race and gender often ignored but then brought back with a smash on white male movement dominance. Debates erupted about whether the “work within the system” folks are the only heirs to the history of ethnic studies struggle; occupations were announced, denounced, celebrated and apologized for. Amongst all this, revolutionaries like us were wrestling with questions:
When do reforms push struggle forward, and when do they slow it down?
Should the militant minority with “advanced consciousness” act independently of the more conservative mainstream?
Is Left unity important, or just pointless bickering on the margins?
Will the “governator” joke ever end?
And centrally for us:
How does class consciousness develop? (Pamphlet below the fold!)
Posted in Analysis/Theory, Bay Area Class Struggle, Literature, Pamphlets
Tagged budget cuts, california, class struggle, consciousness, CSU, democrats, fees, occupations, Students, the state, UC