On the Black Bloc

On the Black Bloc

The “internecine ultra-left argu­ment of the moment,” says the Wall Street Jour­nal, is the debate over the “black bloc.” And if this debate has led the WSJ to talk about “ultra-left­ism,” it’s clearly a debate we have to address.

Santa Rita, I Hate Every Inch of You

Santa Rita, I Hate Every Inch of You

Twenty-four hours into my incar­cer­a­tion in Santa Rita Jail, I found myself in yet another tac­ti­cal con­ver­sa­tion, dis­sect­ing the numer­ous fail­ures that had led to the ket­tling and mass arrests of about 400 Occupy Oak­land demon­stra­tors. This is one of the few upsides of a mass arrest. After get­ting the rowdy activists off the streets, the police find them­selves host­ing a three-day strat­egy con­fer­ence inside the jail. When­ever a con­ver­sa­tion begins to get stale, the guards show up and shuf­fle peo­ple into new dis­cus­sion groups, and the debate begins afresh.

Building the Red Army: The Death and Forbidden Rebirth of the Oakland Commune

Building the Red Army: The Death and Forbidden Rebirth of the Oakland Commune

“Don’t fuck with the Oak­land Com­mune.” Words which will live forever in his­tory, to be remem­bered and repeated at every glo­ri­ous defeat inflicted upon the heroes of the future by may­ors, police offi­cers, unions, churches, and chil­dren. A let­ter, signed by the Occupy Oak­land Move-In Assem­bly, promised to respond to the inevitable evic­tion of an ille­gal build­ing occu­pa­tion by “blockad­ing the air­port indef­i­nitely.” Tac­tics only dreamed of by al-Qaeda, within the reach of Occupy Oak­land after just four months. Yes­ter­day these words were at the cen­ter of a mate­rial prac­tice which brought our move­ment up against its lim­its.

Voices from the Rank and File: Remembering Marty Glaberman and Stan Weir

Voices from the Rank and File: Remembering Marty Glaberman and Stan Weir

I have been asked to say a few words about Marty Glaber­man and Stan Weir. It may be that the request is prompted in part by recent events on the West Coast water­front. I have fol­lowed those events with inter­est, but I am not there and I have not had an oppor­tu­nity to talk with par­tic­i­pants. Accord­ingly, please con­sider my remarks about my departed friends and com­rades on their own mer­its, such as they may be, and accept my assur­ance that no implicit mes­sage about cur­rent events is intended.

A Constituent Power Greater Than its Parts: Occupy and Workers from the Port Shutdown to the Primaries

A Constituent Power Greater Than its Parts: Occupy and Workers from the Port Shutdown to the Primaries

From its begin­nings in New York City to the recent West Coast Port Shut­down, the Occupy move­ment has con­sis­tently con­fronted the issue of co-opta­tion. About a month and a half or so ago, many par­tic­i­pants voiced wor­ries about being co-opted by MoveOn, the Democ­rats, unions (to a lesser extent, since they had shown up as allies with­out seem­ing to try to monop­o­lize the def­i­n­i­tion of actions and events), and other groups affil­i­ated with the polit­i­cal par­ties.

"It is better to fight": On Martin and Malcolm

“It is better to fight”: On Martin and Malcolm

The effigy of a black man, a son of South­ern soil and descen­dant of slaves, now stands over the nation’s Mall among its found­ing fathers, noto­ri­ous slave owner in front and the so-called Great Eman­ci­pa­tor to his back. Look­ing out over the placid Tidal Basin with a steely-eyed reserve and chis­eled deter­mi­na­tion, the Mar­tin Luther King, Jr. National Memo­rial, the first mon­u­ment on the Mall ded­i­cated to a man of color, has whipped up yet another tem­pest of protest. Besides the same types who did not and still do not com­mem­o­rate the life of this influ­en­tial Civil Rights leader on the third Mon­day of every Jan­u­ary, other dis­senters have noted that the veined, con­fronta­tional depic­tion of the Brother Preacher by the Chi­nese sculp­tor Lei Yixin does not evoke the round docil­ity asso­ci­ated with the open-armed love of non­vi­o­lence. For them, the image goes against what they see as King’s true legacy, while oth­ers see the statute as an appro­pri­ate stance of well-grounded, stony defi­ance and pride.

Hostile and Notorious: The Conditions of Private Property

Hostile and Notorious: The Conditions of Private Property

Fol­low­ing the recent four-day occu­pa­tion of an empty bank build­ing at 75 River Street in Santa Cruz and the attempted occu­pa­tion of an empty ware­house in Seat­tle, the con­tro­ver­sial tac­tic of attempt­ing to seize and hold vacant pri­vate prop­erty has been taken up as a new front of a sprawl­ing social move­ment. These actions move beyond protest­ing the enclo­sure of pub­lic space and sti­fling of free speech; they aim to expand the scope of cri­tique to the role that pri­vate prop­erty plays in our cur­rent cri­sis. This change in scope has not been lost on the land­lords. “I’m def­i­nitely not in agree­ment with this group tak­ing over pri­vate prop­erty,” a local prop­erty owner told the Mer­cury News.

And We Mother Them Again: Motherhood at the Margins of the Movement

And We Mother Them Again: Motherhood at the Margins of the Movement

Some­day my daugh­ter will ask me how I met her father, and I will tell her about when we occu­pied the Grad­u­ate Stu­dent Com­mons at UC Santa Cruz. At the end of the sum­mer of 2009, a group of col­lege stu­dents, grad­u­ate stu­dents, and staff set about plan­ning a cam­pus build­ing occu­pa­tion. News of the next school year’s dras­tic bud­get cuts had come to the sur­face, leav­ing many of us out of jobs and in debt. On top of that, entire depart­ments were being defunded, while class sizes, tuition, and admin­is­tra­tor salaries were being increased. The word “cri­sis” started to echo among us.

Finance in Frankfurt: The Global Left and the Eurozone

Finance in Frankfurt: The Global Left and the Eurozone

Com­ing out of the city on the train one morn­ing, I passed by Occupy Frank­furt – maybe three dozen large tents, a con­cen­trated but stead­fast group. It was pour­ing rain – my run from the tram to the main train sta­tion left me soak­ing, despite umbrella – but the encamp­ment seemed unper­turbed, perched as it is under­neath some of the largest sym­bols of Europe’s finance sec­tor.

Steal This Data

Steal This Data

“The rul­ing class in the United States,” as McKen­zie Wark puts it in the recent spe­cial issue of The­ory and Event on the Occupy move­ment, “is less and less one that makes things, and more and more one that owns infor­ma­tion and col­lects a rent from it.” Every time you buy a CD or DVD, even every time you stream from YouTube or Net­flix, you’re not fund­ing artists. You’re fund­ing the 1% and their per­sonal army of met­ro­pol­i­tan police, whose major inter­est right now seems to con­sist of gassing stu­dents and tear­ing down barns. What’s a polit­i­cally informed media junkie to do? Prob­a­bly what you’re already doing – pirate.