Tag Archives: occupy oakland

The San Francisco Chronicle: State Journalism At Its Finest

These protesters have been tried in the public arena and left open to vigilante justice and a lifetime of being associated with crimes for which they have yet to be convicted, with a permanent Internet trail for any future employer to consider. Far from critical journalism, this is state propaganda at its finest.

http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/12423-the-faces-of-resistance-mock-san-franciscos-newspaper-of-record

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Turning the Tide: 1st Issue of Bay Area Port Workers’ Newsletter

Cover of Port Workers Newsletter

Click on this image to view or download the newsletter.

We published Occupy, ILWU EGT and the Coming Class Battles to point out the limits of a militant alliance between Occupy and ILWU rank-and-file.  As the former came into being as a radical force with its own wild contradictions, and the militancy of the latter carried a tradition of struggle from 1934  to the present, there still needs to be a framework for port class struggle.

Occupy, ILWU EGT and the Coming Class Battles offers a critique of 1) social movement unionism, 2) surplus population insurgency, and proposes to form class-wide committees, which we also call multi-sector committees.  A rank-and-file newsletter that contains articles written by port workers is a first step towards bridging the craft divides in the port. It breaks jurisdictional logic ingrained by existing unionism, orienting towards the whole space of the port. The idea is to lay the basis for a multi-sector unity that offers serious leverage against the employers and a potential model for workers in struggle throughout the US.

This newsletter is a product of combined work between different tendencies of revolutionaries, the Occupy Oakland Labor Solidarity Committee, and workers from different parts of the port.

Enjoy, and bring it down to the docks in your city!

Occupy, ILWU, EGT and the Coming Class Battles

What follows is a controversial contribution to the discourse around the past year of struggle that Occupy forces have been involved in regarding the various port shutdowns on the West Coast, the relationship to the ILWU, and the challenge to capital’s attack on the proletariat – waged, unwaged, unionized, non-unionized, identifying as workers and not identifying with work.  There are many discussions and debates which the content of this intervention has already started – in person, behind closed doors, on list-serves, and at national conferences.  Our expectation is that publishing it here will allow for these debates to become more accessible to all revolutionaries, activists, members of organizations, and independent radicals.  Please add your thoughts in the comments section. All criticism, disagreement, appreciation and further lines of questioning are welcomed – we only ask that you do so in principled ways that avoid strawmanning the arguments presented here, as well as the arguments put forward by new writings and comments which will be forthcoming.  Enjoy.

Occupy, ILWU, EGT and the Coming Class Battles.

Union agrees to support the Employer in maintaining operations, including: promptly advising the Employer that any Work Stoppage is unauthorized; declaring publicly that such action is unauthorized, if questioned; and promptly ordering its members to return to work notwithstanding the existence of any wildcat picket line.

                                                                                 -EGT & ILWU local 21 contract

Capital itself is the moving contradiction, [in] that it presses to reduce labour time to a minimum, while it posits labour time, on the other side, as sole measure and source of wealth.

                                                                                                -Karl Marx

I. Introduction

II. The Fight for ILWU Jurisdiction

III. ILWU Class Struggle History

IV. Occupy, Surplus Populations and the Spectacle of Blockades.

V. Social Movement Unionism

VI. Automation, Accumulation and the State

VII. Rank-File, Union Leaders and Capital

VIII. Contract Time

IX. Labor White, Black and Brown, Shut the Ports Down!

X. The December 12th, 2011 experience

XI. Classwide Organizing

XII. Our Future

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Unifying Revolutionary Forces in the Coming Year

We are some members of Advance the Struggle, a New York revolutionary collective, and Black Orchid Collective who have been travelling together and discussing during the lead up to the Everything for Everyone Conference in Seattle.  Through these conversations, we have been brainstorming ideas for how we can build together over the long term. The following is the results of these brainstorms.  To be clear, this is a discussion document, NOT a formal position representing our groups.  It is also not something we aim to push as an immediate outcome of the Everything for Everyone conference.  Instead, we hope it will prompt discussion about how to move forward during 2012 into 2013.  We also acknowledge that not everyone involved in E4E will agree with or be interested in this project, but we hope that those who are contact us so we can discuss further.

  1. Tensions of building a national formation
  2. Character of Occupy
  3. Rupture versus base building? Towards a new Revolutionary Organization
  4. Towards a working class insurrection

2012-2013 can be a year of unifying revolutionary militants from around the US. In order for this to happen we need to take the necessary preparatory steps in 2013 to develop a common political analysis and perspective on revolutionary work.  Our strength will come from unifying all of the militants that come out of left communism, anarcho-communism, Johnson-Forrest Tendency/Sojourner Truth, and like-minded revolutionary forces close to this constellation.

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Occupy Oakland Post-May Day: Strengths, Limits, and Futures

The Beginning and End of Occupy Oakland:

The article “Occupy Oakland is Dead,” posted on Bay Of Rage, covers the beginning and end of Occupy Oakland and captures many important points. The origins of Occupy Oakland lie in the first rebellion against the police murder of Oscar Grant on January 7 2009, making Occupy Oakland distinct from other Occupies. The insurgent student movement that fought austerity through building occupations shook up the liberal wing of the student movement that argued occupation as a tactic was akin to property destruction and thus destructive.

Occupy Oakland didn’t apply the logic of the 99% to the police, and was clear how and why the police were violent agents of the 1%. The centrality of food, health care, and shelter as “use-values”, useful items for human reproduction, within the camp symbolized and embodied the seeds of a world free of exploitation.

Incredible political events were launched as a result of Occupy Oakland: the November 2nd march on the port; the unpermitted march on November 19th to Lakeview Elementary as a direct response to the wave of school closures in Oakland; the December 12th west coast shutdown supporting ILWU struggle against EGT; and the January 28th move-in day to upgrade the content of the evicted camp with an actual building; the February 17th immigrant rights march against the firing of undocumented workers at Pacific Steel in Berkeley after an attack by ICE; the February 20th protest at the gates of San Quentin; a wave of neighborhood BBQs in West, North, and Deep East Oakland; and finally, completing its cycle of struggle, actions on May 1st.

Occupy Oakland captured the unfolding radicalism across the nation and upped the ante, with a fierce anti-state and anti-capitalist character.

The authors of the Bay Of Rage article argue, “It makes no sense to overly fetishize the tactic of occupations, no more than it does to limiting resistance exclusively to blockades or clandestine attacks. Yet the widespread emergence of public occupations qualitatively changed what it means to resist.” Occupy Wall Street generally, and its expression in Oakland in particular, opened up a space for newly politicized individuals, revolutionaries, and progressive people of diverse backgrounds to engage with one another directly across various political and identitarian divisions.  The engagement went beyond verbal interaction and took the form of direct confrontation with the state, reclamations of public space, and strategic interventions against the circulation of capital.  This by all means is true. But what is also true is every labor struggle Occupy Oakland engaged in was also lost, with the most notable example being the ILWU-EGT struggle and the Licorice Factory strike in Union City.

How do we make sense of a situation where, Occupy Oakland, a leading center of resistance, has lost every labor battle it has engaged in? How do we make sense of the limitation that Occupy Oakland’s central space, Oscar Grant Plaza, has been lost. Tahrir square, Plaza del Sol and Syntagma square were spatial centers that facilitated the generalization of rebellion, declaring war on the capitalist order.  What is a radical social movement left to do once it has lost its spatial center? Continue reading

Occupy Oakland: Advance the Struggle’s Political Reflection

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

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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.

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