Category Archives: Resources

Free Education – Newsletter for Bay Area Education Struggle

We would like to introduce you to the Advance the Struggle Free Education newsletter, an agitational tool we use at various campuses across the Bay to connect with school workers and students interested in engaging around the conditions and struggles of the education sector.

We welcome any feedback and encourage our friends and supporters to spread these widely!

Here is our first edition:
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WOSP – The City of Oakland’s Plan for Gentrification: A Target For Anti-Displacement Activity

What follows is a critique of the West Oakland Specific Plan – WOSP – which the city of Oakland hopes will help in “developing” West Oakland and is attempting to pass in the coming weeks.  We offer this critique and brief thoughts on strategy in order to support the ongoing work of combatting displacement and gentrification that has been hitting the Bay Area for a long time.  Please add comments, questions, and critiques in the comment section in the spirit of deepening our collective discussion of anti-displacement analysis and strategy.

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Advertisement for Public Release of WOSP in Feb. 2014

Snapshot of the State and Capital in the Bay Area

If the Bay Area’s economy was compared to every other national economy in the world, it would be the 19th largest.  The Bay has the highest GDP per capita in the entire United States, and even outpaces London and Singapore.  It captures 40% of the entire flow of venture capital in the US (p11), which constitutes a higher amount of capital than that captured during the dot.com boom.  While the Bay accounts for only 2.4% of the total jobs in the US, it has 12% of the computer & electronics manufacturing, 10.3% of software development, and 8.3% of internet related jobs (p13.) Seven of the top 10 social media companies are here – Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter, Linkedin, Zynga, and Yelp.  In short, the Bay is home to one of the highest concentrations of capital in the world and mapping out the composition of capital is key for us to situate ourselves as we continue to engage in class combat. (Footnote #1)

The regional state is well aware of its place within the world economy.  Over the past years, city politicians from the greater Bay Area have come together to generate a 30 year strategy about how to restructure the region’s housing, employment, and transportation structures.  Plan Bay Area (PBA) was developed by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) to carry out the tasks of determining how the state can support and facilitate the accumulation of capital throughout the region.  In order to grease the wheels of the local capitalist economy, the PBA aims to redevelop housing and transit throughout the Bay; New units are set to be built, new transportation “hubs” developed, and both of these projects are to be coordinated across single cities and the bay area as a whole.

PBA aims to align the various metropolitan areas of the Bay in their development of housing to match projected increases in employment.  Internet, computer and electronics manufacturing, along with professional, scientific and technical services are accounting for some of the largest contributors to job creation here.  PBA states that between early 2011 and late 2013 the Bay Area added more than 200,000 jobs, an increase of 7.5 percent that is well above the state’s average of 4.5%.  PBA is projecting that this area will continue to outpace the rest of California and the US in its share of job growth due to the heavy concentration of tech related industries which forms part of the economic base of Bay Area political economy.  (Footnote#2)

West Oakland Specific Plan – One Part of Capital/State’s Total Plan

We find ourselves in a city that’s clearly at the crosshairs of the system’s plans for intentional development and displacement: highly concentrated capital in the Bay Area and projections of millions of jobs being created in the next 10 years; a strategic plan by city politicians across the Bay to house these new high wage workers within its multiple cities; and the ongoing displacement of low wage workers and unemployed people.  This is the situation Oakland Mayor Jean Quan references when she states that she’s seeking to bring in 10,000 new residents to Oakland while saying nothing about keeping long term residents and working class people in Oakland. Continue reading

Evict This! A History of Housing in West Oakland and Tools to Resist Displacement

Everyone on the left recognizes gentrification is happening. Its political, economic and social implications are far-reaching, with the state aiding and abetting the process. Neighborhoods in L.A., San Francisco and Oakland look completely different now than even ten years ago. In a gentrifying neighborhood residents feel the effects with ‘in-your-face’ style evictions and/or foreclosure notices. These have become an almost daily occurrence for struggling families. Many are forced to find ways to cope or resist the shifting nature of their neighborhoods; while those conscious of it, and even active in confronting the major players driving it (banks, real estate companies and big developers), recognize they also play a role in it. Considering this, how does the left get a full understanding of how and why gentrification happens? And then, how do organizers bring up conversations with our neighbors that will lead to constructive dialogue and a collective fighting strategy?

The East Bay Solidarity Network, based in West Oakland, focuses primarily on direct-action eviction defense. As a group of radicals, they seek to develop a deeper understanding of the history, process and results of gentrification before embarking on an eviction defense project. They’ve spent months base-building in West Oakland by: hosting monthly tenants’ rights meetings, door knocking to neighbors, flyering around liquor stores, laundromats and dollar stores, in addition to organizing neighborhood BBQ’s.

Acknowledging that there is more to learn — they wrote a small pamphlet, passed it out to neighbors, and sought to gather as much feedback as possible.  The pamphlet, or zine, was a compilation of knowledge about gentrification learned through research, conversations, outreach and organizing; and an attempt to answer questions about the foreclosure crisis that re-ignited the gentrification in West Oakland. It explains how a national wave of foreclosures specifically affected this neighborhood, then goes on to highlight a history of West Oakland residents fighting back against federal, state and city policies. Policies which have resulted in the targeted displacement of Black residents since they arrived in the post-WWI boom years. It emphasizes that losing a house is not the fault of the individual, but instead a systematic approach by banks and big real estate companies to kick out long-term residents and drive up property values.

This is one strategy the East Bay Solidarity Network utilized to answer some of the most important questions to better understand gentrification; and was the medium used to talk to neighbors about how to fight back against a capitalist system that would rather — see their family-home empty with a ‘For Sale’ sign in the front — than with current and past generations living inside.

Advance the Struggle hopes to write a longer, more researched piece on gentrification in the upcoming months but would first like to showcase some of the work organizers have been doing. Here is the East Bay Solidarity Network’s zine:

Pages from Evict This

Click for full PDF version.

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Feeling Sad and Depressed?

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Classroom Struggle Flier: Not One Cut!

OUSD Cuts Flier

Click on image to see full English version.

Click here for Spanish version.

We received the following leaflet from a group of Oakland educators called Classroom Struggle.  The leaflet outlines some information on a recent round of austerity in the Oakland Unified School District of 7.6million dollars.  Prominent among this round of cuts is the entire Adult Education program (which has been severely gutted in the past 3 years, going from $14million to $1million since 2010) and the entire GED program that OUSD offers.  There is a school board meeting this Wednesday where parents, adult ed teachers, classroom teachers in the OEA, and students will come to speak out against this round of cuts, as well as the entire austerity regime which the OUSD school board and Superintendent Tony Smith have been pushing for years.  Just last year, 5 elementary schools were set to be shut down.  On November 19th 2011, at the height of Occupy Oakland, a mass march of thousands helped politicize the issue of school closures, and was followed months later in June 2012 by an occupation of Lakeview elementary school.  Though the schools were eventually closed, the movement against austerity took a step further in politicizing people’s understanding of the cutbacks, and denouncing the role of Tony Smith, a superintendent often touted as being down with the people due to his name dropping of critical race theorists and other social justice related themes.  The struggle that may unfold against this round of austerity has this recent history as its jumping off point, but it will take ongoing organizing of parents, teachers, students, and other school workers at the workplace and community level to really push back on what OUSD is attempting to push down on working class communities of color in Oakland.  This flyer is one artifact of the unfolding organizing happening in real time that is offerred for your analysis and distribution.

Revolutionary Organization Study Group Reader

“The building of a fighting organization and the conduct of political agitation are essential under any “drab peaceful” circumstances, in any period, no matter how marked by a “declining revolutionary spirit”; moreover, it is precisely in such periods and under such circumsstances that work of this kind is precisely in such periods and under such circumstances that work of this kind is particularly necessary, since it is too late to form the organization in times of explosion and outbursts; the party must be in a state of readiness to launch activity in moment’s notice.”

-Lenin (Where to begin, 1901)

Lenin’s quote is particularly meaningful in this historic moment. In 2007, global capitalism entered a structural crisis, while in 2009, students developed insurgent movements within the US. In 2011, the Occupy movement formed in hundreds of cities across the US. In 2013, the political landscape is changing what resistance means and how it is done. The hyper-individualistic and social-democratic political positions that dominated the US left in the 1990-2006 era are gone. A new era of revolt, and radicalization is beginning. The historical experiences of 2007 to the present, coupled with the structural crisis of capital that formed in 2007, has established the most favorable conditions for the building of a new revolutionary organization within the US since the 1960s.

The revolutionary left of the US, is deeply divided, ideologically hyper, detached from both the American working class, and militants in other countries (especially non-European ones). This disallows a clear proposal to emerge of how to build a revolutionary project in the US. The generation of revolutionary cadre of the 1960s have devolved in isolation, and adapting to retirement. This older generation is far more detached to the new generation of militants, compared to the multi-generational lineage of militants in other countries that are politically and organizationally linked.

At the same time, in the US, every city is developing small, loose, informal radical circles. Many are composed of politicized working class youth, alienated from American capitalism, and cynical about a prosperous future. Such radical working class youth are taught and treated to feel like the bottom, “scum”-like material of society. Such people are anything but the “scum” of society, but more the promising movement for a new society, one beyond capitalism.

Capitalism is in a phase of devalorization: where the necessary price of wage-labor is lowered, partly from the attacks by capitalist austerity, partly by an increase of technological efficiency, and partly by state sponsored oppression and incarceration. This process has steadily unfolded since 1973. The political program of unions has been a buffer of this process, representing a left-wing force of the devalorization process. Going to an important college, or getting a prestigious job, is becoming a reality for a much smaller and smaller group of people. In 1970, 20% of the workforce was involved in strikes and labor conflicts of some sort, now that number is reduced to 0.5%. No revolutionary group has been able to define the path to rupture this problem of capitalist control. But the historical moment is forcing the revolutionary left to debate the reality of their situation, due to a demand for a new unfolding revolutionary force to emerge. Capitalisms is decaying. Revolutionaries must ascend.

Instead of finding ways to adapt to this system, functioning through a perspective of opportunism, or divorcing yourself from society, being counter-cultural and isolated, the alternative is forming the beginnings of a revolutionary organization. This begins by one, or a few dedicated revolutionaries, who make the building of revolutionary organizations their top priority in life. Part-timers will not suffice in the genesis of the project, sorry. With that commitment, come skills. The practical and political skills one needs to develop to form a revolutionary organization are many. There are practical skills you need, like be able to write out agitational flyers and distribute them in working class places, in order to advance unfolding social movements or class struggles. There are political skills one must have, such as knowledge of Marxism, a theoretical system to analyze the contradictions of capitalism, the character of the state, and the possibilities of the historical moment. One must have social and organizational skills, such as collecting 20 people’s contacts from a meeting and do follow up emails and phone calls about the objective political tasks from that meeting. One must be able to speak publicly during key junctures, when the possibilities of the left and the advanced sections of the working class can merge into more radical unified acts against capital.

One must strive to organically combine all these skills in order to build a small revolutionary group from scratch. Such a revolutionary cell formed from scratch would be composed of militants, or political organizers dedicated to such a revolutionary project, trained in doing such political work, that can act as a unit. The study of key militants of the past, like Farrol Dobbs, Domitila, Elizabeth Gurly Flynn, Malcolm X, give a concrete understanding of the qualities such people were composed of. The possibility of small groups of militants who can act as unit, represent an ingredient needed for the formation of a much larger, more serious, national revolutionary organization. The American revolutionary left is far from building a national revolutionary organization, but it now confronts a landscape that has offered us some of the most favorable conditions to do so in 40 years. This shift in political conditions requires an intervention by revolutionaries to lay the groundwork for what could become in the next ten years.

Considering such conditions, Advance the Struggle proposes that small groupings around the country read this reader on revolutionary organization. Our comrades in Unity and Struggle put the first edition of this reader together, and members of Advance the Struggle edited it down. This reader is the basic theoretical and political interventions made by the most important Marxist of the twentieth century. Lenin, Luxemburg, Gramsci, Trotsky, and Bordiga stand as giants regarding the development of revolutionary Marxism. What we have today is a splintered revolutionary left that has latched on to crystallized traditions such as Trotskyism, Luxemburgism, Gramscianism, causing harmful splits within this dynamic, unable to unify this larger revolutionary body of thought. Such a body is tied together like ecology spread out through history. Each Marxist figure has challenged the existing totality of Marxism in that period, advancing the understanding of central marxist concepts: the revolutionary organization, the permanent character of accumulation, permanent revolution, revolutionary military strategy, historical materialism, and class struggle within the “advanced capitalist” countries.

The new generations of revolutionaries have a giant task ahead. Considering the famous position in Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth, that “each generation must discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it,” we can point to a revolutionary beginning. This beginning is tasked with mastering the original categories of Marx’s Marxism, coupled with re-assembling the latter Marxist after Marx, into a unified logic boiled down to a defined method for working class application.  Being able to reassemble such a body of Marxist thought for our historical moment, will give us the framework to apply the Marxist method to advance struggle into revolutionary motion. This political activity and perspective is what is needed to rebuild massive revolutionary organizations that we once witnessed from 1864 to the 1930s. In that spirit, we offer a basic reader on some of the most important work that tried to accomplish such a goal. We would also appreciate any thoughts people have on the reader and what affects it had on them and their promising group.

Click on the image below to read!

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Classroom Struggle with their latest Newsletter!

The TEACH Committee (formerly Occupy Oakland Education Committee) has been in existence since Nov. 2011. From their inception they have led marches for public education, created & circulated curriculum with class struggle content, built resistance to rampant union busting by Oakland Unified School District, and led an occupation of a shuttered elementary school from which they ran a free People’s School summer program.  This committee, composed of unionized and non-unionized educators, organize independently from hierarchical institutions (namely unions) while also intervening within unions to advance the struggle for quality public education.
They offer their 4th and latest Newsletter which is now called Classroom Struggle. This publication is comprised of articles on: the decision behind the name change, the effect recent elections had on public education in Oakland, the importance of contracts for education workers, analysis of teacher strikes in Sri Lanka and Namibia, and an after-school worker experiential piece. All these articles appear on this committee’s blog —  classroomstruggle.org (formerly education4the99).  Issues 1-3 are also archived as well education struggle articles from around the web. Thanks and ALL POWER to the PROLETARIAT!
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