Tag Archives: budget cuts

Pamphlet Release – Crisis and Consciousness: Education Struggle in CA

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!)

Continue reading

Bay Area Class Struggle History: Panthers at Peralta Colleges

The roots of the Black Panther Party (BPP) lie within student struggle for fully-funded public education reflecting Black history, culture, and struggle. The founders of the party, Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, met at Merritt College in Oakland and began to struggle for education together with other black students. But unlike liberal forces in the movement, Newton and Seale saw the necessity to connect their struggle as black students to structural oppression in working-class black communities. Police murder and beatings combined with a deadly lack of jobs, healthcare, food and affordable housing; the BPP saw that the struggle for control over our schools must be connected to the revolutionary struggle for control over our communities. Looking to the present not a whole lot has changed in Oakland: the BART police murder of Oscar Grant and the numerous murders committed by OPD before and after him demonstrate that state-sponsored racism and violence continues to oppress and kill us; East Oakland has some of the highest rates of foreclosures in the state creating more and more homeless families; health clinics and other vital social services continue to get cut back or completely eliminated; free after-school youth programs and daycare centers continue to close down placing more burdens on working-class mothers, who struggle to find ways to make sure their children are cared for when they attend work and/or school. A central difference between then and now is the lack of an organization like the BPP striving to connect these issues and build community control. There is however a growing student movement, which is trying to fight the budget cuts and demand affordable quality education. There are also BPP sun, flag, fistindividuals and organizations who, like Bobby and Huey, are trying to connect the student struggle to broader issues affecting the working-class as a whole. One of these is the militant student organization Student Unity & Power (SUP), which exists at San Francisco State University, City College of San Francisco, and Laney College. The Laney College branch has put forth a very important analysis demonstrating their radical perspective while drawing from the rich local history of one of the most inspiring and influential revolutionary organizations of all time, The Black Panther Party. This analysis will be useful as we move forward in our struggles for freedom, peep game!

 

Panthers at Peralta

by Laney College Student Unity & Power

SUP draws inspiration from the birth of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense in October 1966 when Huey Newton and Bobby Seale met as students on 57th and Grove St. (now Martin Luther King Jr. Way) at Merritt College. Unliketoday’s view of Peralta as a job training hub, the Panthers saw the campus as “not a typical institution for so-called higher learning. Grove Street College is what is called a community college: a place where, for a variety of reasons, people who don’t have an opportunity to attend larger colleges and universities go to seek knowledge and hope for a better life.” The Grove Street campus also represented a base for organizing the neighborhood and a place to demand self-determination for Black and all oppressed people via community control of the curriculum, operations and facilities of the College. While engaged in militant resistance to the District, rank-and-file Panther women built counter-institutions to reproduce their culture of struggle.

This piece is an effort to remember the lessons of their struggle. Continue reading

To the Budget Cut Movement: No More Ignoring State Violence

by Rebelde

The anti-budget cut movement and struggle for public education in California over the last year has inspired worldwide resistance, and has brought in a lot of new people who have never organized or been political before. The March 4th movement provided an outlet for people to get involved and educate themselves about the budget cuts; it also created a base to build off for the next cycle of struggle. Since March 4th conferences have gone down and a new date for mass action has been picked: October 7th… but will October 7th be qualitatively different than March 4th? Will more sectors of society be brought in? Will struggle deepen and become more militant? As the economic crisis deepens and affects more and more people internationally, there is a real need for a militant perspective examining why the budget cuts are happening, who is causing them, and who is suffering from them.
So far the education sector has largely lead resistance to the cuts, on college campuses specifically, but these cuts go far beyond the universities. It is not just education that is being destroyed; social services, such as free and/or affordable healthcare are being cut; there are massive foreclosures and a lack of affordable or public housing; unemployment remains high. Anyone can see that these cuts aren’t just affecting students, but the working-class as a whole. While all these cuts are happening in the public sector the top corporations and banks were immediately bailed out by the Federal Government as soon as their financial instruments evaporated in the bubble pop. If it wasn’t clear to you before that this system was based off of exploitation and a class divide between the rich and the poor, massive bailouts to the capitalists and bankers while we are left to struggle for the basic necessities of life should make it clear.

Police attack people protesting the racist murder of Oscar Grant. - July 9th, 2010, Oakland

These budget cuts are also occurring during a time period of massive state violence to communities of color and queer people; the passage of the anti-immigration bill SB 1070 is causing and supporting more profiling of immigrant populations and ICE raids; the Oscar Grant movement has exposed the police’s continual assault against Black women and men that stems from the days of slavery; and there is consistent harassment and murder of queer and gender oppressed people. Is a budget cut struggle solely confined to defending education enough to really fight the cuts and the crisis? Is it enough for the people most affected by it to be brought in? No. We need a larger analysis that identifies the true enemy, the capitalist system, which relies on other systems of oppression (patriarchy, racism, & homophobia) to target and discipline people of color, women, and queer folks to keep divisions within the class that makes uniting and resisting harder.

Continue reading

What’s Next in the Struggle for Oscar Grant?

The outcome of the verdict for Johannes Mehserly, the cop who murdered Oscar Grant, left people with feelings of outrage, disappointment, and defeat, and rightfully so. We live in a world where police can kill innocent and un-armed people, have it captured on video, and still get off. The fact that Mehserle was convicted at all should be seen as a partial victory for the black working-class of Oakland. That victory was largely due to the black and brown Oakland youth who took the streets, and made the system listen to them as they bashed in windows of banks, corporations, and other sources that profit off of the exploitation and murder of black and brown people. When the day of the verdict finally arrived on July 8th we found ourselves in a similar place: angry in the streets with no real outlet to fight back. Our options were dismal, chaotic rioting on one end, and non-profit sponsored apolitical, non-violent speak-outs on the other end. Im not against rioting or community expression, but none of these options represent a concrete and effective way for people to resist, a way to flex their power as people and workers, while simultaneously striking back against the bourgeois state that relies on the police to repress our resistance through murder and incarceration

The day of the sentencing is November 5th, which is three months away. People are still angry and we have plenty of time to do something about it, but what? We have tried a variety of tactics from symbolic rallies and marches to riots/rebellions, and nothing has managed to bring justice for Oscar Grant, and the Black working-class yet. It’s time to try something different. A huge jumping off point for this is the recent involvement of the Longshoremen who are a part of the ILWU local 10. So far the Oscar Grant struggle has been organized mainly by activists, and community members with no involvement by organized labor. The longshoremen have a reputation of being one of the more militant unions. They have shut down the coast numerous times for political reasons: apartheid in South Africa, Mumia, and most recently for Palestine. The longshoremen also have majority Black membership, and their reps have experienced state violence on the job and during actions. All these things have fueled their own interest to get involved in the Oscar Grant struggle. They recently had a meeting, which they opened up to the public, to discuss the planning of a protest on Saturday October 23rd, where two major outreach committees were created to try to mobilize the community and other sectors of labor. This demonstration has the ability to bring in 1000’s of workers and community members if the organizers build it right.

So you are probably wondering how this demonstration is different from any other symbolic protest. It will be another permitted, Saturday afternoon action that probably won’t change a thing. There is some truth to that, but this demonstration is deeper than it seems initially. First of all there is potential to shut down the ports that day, because the Longshoremen work Saturdays. If the ILWU is able to mobilize all their members and locals to the demonstration that day, then there will be a work-stoppage, and that is significant in its own right. Politically this demonstration represents an opportunity for us to bring in people from different struggles and sectors of labor and the community. The most active struggles right now have been for Oscar Grant, Immigrant Rights and the Budget Cuts. All of these struggles have been disconnected from each other in key ways, which has been a huge weakness of the organizers in these struggles, because not only are we stronger when we are united, but these struggles are organically connected. They all share the same enemy: the racist, sexist capitalist system.

When black and brown youth walked-out to protest the budget cuts during March 4th this past year they made that connection. They weren’t just talking about budget cuts and their schools; they were talking about police and incarceration. They understand that when 90% of the Oakland bailout budget goes to killer cops and not schools that the budget cut movement should be a part of the Oscar Grant movement. Did I mention that 90% of the bailout money went to OPD? Why aren’t we making these connections? When Arizona passed the racist, anti-immigrant law SB 1070 Oakland youth took the streets again walking-out on April 30th, a friday, to protest a system that oppresses the black and brown working-class. At the bottom of all three of these struggles is the violence of the state, both direct and structural, being aimed at working-class communities of color.

With organized labor being at such a low level in this country it is a qualitative advancement in the Oscar Grant struggle to have the ILWU get involved. It also moves us closer to making these connections between the struggles so we are stronger and more united as a class. We need to reach out to other sectors of labor to have them turn out as well. AC transit workers in Oakland are already upset over their contracts and there has been “labor unrest”–workers even directly intervened in the work process by ‘sicking out’ in large groups; the Oakland teachers union, OEA, went on strike April 29th and most likely will go on strike again this fall; high school students have walked out twice; immigrant communities have protested in SF and in Oakland for May 1st and again against the implementation of SB 1070; MUNI drivers in SF are upset over their contracts while the city tries to pit drivers (who, it should be noted, make significantly less than SF pigs) and riders against each other. There is huge potential to have a mass convergence of organized and un-organized labor, youth, activists, and community members to come out on October 23rd to protest a system that takes money out of our schools and into a racist police system that criminalizes and murders immigrants and black people; to protest a system that continually exploits and doesn’t take care of its workers who drive buses, BART, clean up our streets, our businesses, and teach our children. Not only would this be a day where we can all get together and share our struggles, but it will also be an important day to help build up November 5th.

Due to the work of hundreds of in the Bay Area, the underlying unity of these struggles is starting to take shape explicitly. We know October 23rd is not enough. We know that no conviction or sentence for Mehserle would represent true justice while the racist violence of the state continues to terrorize black and brown communities. We know that we have little chance at dignity and justice in a world with few opportunities and intensifying austerity. We also know that by coming together in the thousands to take direct control of our city, we have a real chance to go beyond partial victories, to fight back effectively against the budget cuts and pigs of all kinds, against the violence of the state in all its forms. This Fall, no struggle needs to stand alone. Justice–November 5th.

Chop From The Top Music Video

Social movements don’t just struggle against the system but build culture around theJabari Shaw performing Chop from the Topmovement itself.  Jabari Shaw’s Chop from the Top song is a product and a contributing factor to the budget cut movement. The song connects with issues that plague communities of color throughout the country: murder rates being high, graduation rates being low, meanwhile administrators yell about budget deficits, while being unwilling to cut from their own privileged positions.

Where’s the anti-war strategy? A response to Mike Ely

Below is Katy R’s contribution to the discussion on anti-war strategy.  She  responds to

Police formation in response to anti-war protest at the Port of Oakland in April 2003

Mike Ely’s piece on the state of the anti-war movement which we posted below.

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I hope I’m not being facile, but it seems to me that regardless of what kind of united front one enters, or whether the slogan on one’s banner calls out economic issues, Obama, or the murder of Iraqis, the anti-war movement loses or gains effectiveness based on other strategic and tactical questions.

It is simply objectively true that we cannot vote, nor march, nor wave signs out of any imperialist war. I believe that deep down, people who are at the very least sympathetic to the anti-war position don’t see the value of participating in any more symbolic sheep-crawls, and for the last several years (with some notable and short-lived exceptions) that has been the face of the anti-war movement.

The only way to stop the wars is to cut off their oxygen supply at strategic choke-points. Concerted shutdowns at ports, preferably by port workers and their allies, along with soldier refusals to deploy and fight, are just the minimum necessary activities. I’m not denying that a critique of the tacit support for “Obama’s war” is necessary, but I believe that drawing a line between so-called real anti-imperialists (people who never fell for the idea of voting for a new capitalist imperialist president, regardless of party) and anti-war progressives who voted for Obama or professed support for his campaign or presidency diverts attention from engaging in effective anti-war action.

It may be true that “both the current wars are kept well below both the pain and awareness threshold for many people here in the U.S.” But people are in pain, and people are aware, if not of the direct suffering of the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, then of the way jobs are being lost, services shut down, homes foreclosed, and so on. Drawing the link between these immediate social problems in US communities and the engagement in war and militarism is not, as Ely suggests, a frivolous and self-centered activity. It may be troubling to confront the fact that many people are not motivated to action based on a strict anti-imperialist line, but I would argue that it is less about the line, and more about the actual, objective effectiveness of our tactics that will embolden folks to participate in a revitalized anti-war movement. In other words, I’m more troubled by a rally at the SF Civic Center with an impeccable anti-imperialist message, than a port shutdown that is motivated by the fury over military spending and its impact on our local communities’ economic health.

Ely criticizes the sentiment expressed in the O’Neill/See piece which states, “We need to build activity at the local level that’s easy for people to engage in and doesn’t require signing on to a whole stew of anti-imperialist statements. We also need to bring our bodies and signs to the marches and vigils against budget cutbacks in our communities, instead of just waiting for people to show up at an anti-war rally. We need to make the connections in our messages; ‘Healthcare Not Warfare’ at the rallies on the congressional showdown. ‘Books Not Bombs’ when folks march in defense of public education.” I’m skeptical, too, but for a different reason: it worries me that the question is being boiled down to which “marches and vigils” we should bring our message to. That we are still talking about marches, vigils, and rallies, rather than blockades, occupations, and strikes, is the most worrisome aspect of the whole debate about the anti-war movement.

Parallels Between Greece and California

Greece has been featured heavily in the news lately because of its ‘dire’ economic situation and the steps the European Union has taken to ‘bail it out’. Here is our comrade Sycorax’s analysis of why the economic situation in Greece actually shares some similarities with what’s going on in California.

Here’s the first post on the parallels:

Parallels between Greece and California: Understanding the Budget Cuts Means Understanding the Way our Global Economic System Works

Greek Farmers Blockading the Border Between Greece and Bulgaria

There’s also some coverage of the General Strikes that have been going on in Greece, which are also very applicable to the situation in California. Greece has had serious austerity measures placed on it, and there is tremendous pressure from the entire EU being put on Greece to cut its government spending.

In response, Greek public sector workers are not backing down. Their declaration? We did not make the crisis and we will not pay for it. This is a war on workers and we will respond with war.

Greek Public Workers on Strike

Check it out: Greek Public Workers on Strike!

So, what do ya’ll think? Parallels between Greece and California, is the comparison valid or not? What can we learn from both the crisis and the resistance to it, here and abroad?

Something to marinate on.

Obama’s War: Foreign and Domestic

Obama’s recent decision to commit 30,000 more soldiers to the

Translation: he criticized him so much . . . yet he follows his footsteps!

Translation: he criticized him so much . . . yet he follows his footsteps!

occupation of Afghanistan has angered folks who thought the promised “change” would include change in the US government’s imperialist foreign policy.  Anti-war, semi-socialist ex-Democrat Cynthia McKinney puts the cumulative effect well in a recent editorial:

“…there is deep disquiet today within the ranks of the President’s own base in the Democratic Party, with independents, and with middle-of-the-roaders called “swing” voters.  In unprecedented numbers, voters in the United States of all previous political persuasions went to the polls and invested their dreams and, most importantly, their votes in the “hope” and “change” promised by the Obama campaign.  But in light of the President’s defense of Bush Administration war crimes and torture in U.S. courts, the transfer of trillions of hard-earned taxpayer dollars to the wealthy banking elite, continued spying on environmental and peace activists as well as support for the extension of the Patriot Act, and removal of Medicare-for-all (single payer) as a central feature of proposed health care reform, Obama voters are rethinking their support.”

The resulting uproar from the liberal/progressive wing of Democratic Party voters doesn’t result from simple naïveté about the nature of the US political system; many up-until-recently disillusioned US residents were bamboozled by Obama’s race and rhetoric.  The Black electoral base, which is generally the most progressive section of US society, has been especially victimized by the assumption that racist, imperialist politics radiate from a white, racist chief executive.  The Obama administration PR team, and the Democratic Party in general, have encouraged this image through Obama’s constant appropriation of Black political heroes like MLK and most recently Muhammad Ali.  As Dave Zirin observes in his recent article Message to Obama: You Can’t Have Muhammad Ali, this is a cynical bastardization of one of the most famous war resisters in the 20th century. Continue reading

9/24 – Opening Shot Against the Budget Cuts

What follows is an analysis of the actions which took place at UC ba-ucwalkout25_3_0500638419Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz on September 24th, the different political strategies advocated, and some perespective on how to move forward.  Post comments to discuss & debate, and Enjoy!

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September 24th:  The Opening Shot

-Advance the Struggle

I. Introduction to 9/24

II. UC Santa Cruz Occupation

III. UC Berkeley Rally & General Assembly

IV. Twin Pitfalls of Tailism and Adventurism

V. Moving Forward

I. Introduction to 9/24

On September 24 2009, thousands across the state protested and picketed against the California budget cuts. CFA organized pickets at some CSU’s across the state, several UC unions had actions on the UC system, and students protested in mass. UC Santa Cruz launched a successful occupation of the graduate student center and UC Berkeley had a rally of 5,000 students, with 500 students taking over Wheeler hall for a mass assembly. Continue reading

Download this budget cut flyer and distribute!

Download this flyer and pass it out – https://advancethestruggle.files.wordpress.com/2009/02/crucs_budget_flyer.pdf

California’s public infrastructure is falling apart before our eyes, a state that is incredibly economically rich. When will we, the working class – the janitors, the students, the busdrivers, the nannies, the teachers, the sex-workers, the factory workers, the nurses, the unemployed… the people rise up and make a revolution for a new system?!

Email any comments you have – bay.strikes@gmail.com