Thursday, September 2, 2010

October 7th

So, another state-wide day of action has been called for on October 7th in response to the continuing privatization of education. As far as I can tell, there has been very little discussion about planning something within the Irvine context, and I am a little concerned about that. We had some very impressive events last year, as well as some fairly substantial conflicts. At this point, the substantial alliance that produced the February sit-in and other events seems to have fallen apart, and there doesn't seem to be much interest in reviving or replacing it. (In all fairness, I think that it is very possible that substantial organizing can occur here without my notice. I'm not hopeful that this is the case, though.)

We should recognize that the same crisis in state funding is still in effect, and the University of California's upper administration is still largely committed to the logic of privatization. The student movement was really the only effective counter-measure to those forces, and most likely, we would have seen much more draconian actions if it hadn't occurred. I am genuinely concerned at what that administration would accomplish if we don't continue to put pressure on them.

At the same time, I don't want to paper over the real problems with the movement, particularly around issues of sexism and racism within its ranks. We have repeatedly gestured towards the need for an intersectional analysis, but that analysis has often been overwhelmed by the nostalgia for the often very problematic master plan, as well the post-war public research university. Our relationship to those institutions differ profoundly depending how we are racialized and gendered as subjects. At the heart of this, is a need to think through the way that the public research university, simultaneously allowed for the inclusion of working class students, as well as its contribution to reinforcement of the logic of white supremacy. (Without a doubt more needs to be written here, and that analysis needs to hold onto a number of intersecting categories to be useful.)

I want to keep this posting brief, so I will end with some questions for the probably not too large group of folks reading this. Do you think that a continued student movement (a very problematic term that stands in for a movement that has included actions by workers, professors, as well as students.)is necessary? If so, how can that process be revived in the UCI context? What are the conversations going on outside of our little cul de sac, in the other UC schools, outside the state? I'm not sure if I will hear from anyone, as that I've just started this blog, but I thought I would toss out the question.

In addition, I want to make it clear that aside from a vague sense that we need confrontational activism on the campus, I'm not sure what the answers are to these questions.  They are posed from a position of ignorance, and not that fake ignorance that Socrates takes on in the dialogues.


  1. I'll preface this by saying that I'm going to be totally myopic and have nothing to say about conversations outside of UCI. With that said, I'd linger on the issue of whether or not there is anything at UCI to revive. Not to say that nothing happened here last year, but what did happen here last year? We were successful in staging a handful of events, some of them were well-attended almost accidentally. There was a lot of energy in several bursts, but I don't know if that constitutes a movement.

    I don't want to talk about tactics (not that we're in much of a position to be considering tactics) here because these blogs tend to end up in DOS reports later on, but we've got a few avenues: an extensive political education campaign, a very specific goal (X and Y concessions from group A or B) that is organized around aggressively, or a series of sparsely-attended events wherein we recite all of the incantations of an imagination-less Left....

    My concern is that there has been a lot of organizing among students (the union has its own issues, the majority of faculty are catatonic or reactionary) that has been more or less a simulacrum of student activism: 'student activism is, literally, when a group marches for this much time, chants these several things, and decries these several abuses while being sensitive to these several groups.'

    In short, I don't know what is going on either.

  2. James, I think that it's important to put the UCI events in the larger context of events in the state. Our actions should be seen as a small part of that larger totality. I should also note that we had more than a simple handful of events, and the large events occurred because of both our organizing as well as the influence of the larger movement. In that sense, I think that we can think about what is going on as a movement, albeit certainly not a mass movement (aka the civil rights movement or The Popular Front.) I'm not sure what possibilities exist for action now. I also don't think that I'm that significant within those equations.
    I certainly agree with you about discussing tactics here. Right now, we probably need conversations more than anything else. As to the question of a framework, I think that the demands made during the sit in might provide a good beginning to avoid the kind of confusion that we are often very, very good at implementing. For those not involved, here is the website.
    It might not hurt to add some creativity into our events...