The Call: On March 4, Escalate–Occupy–Reclaim
The call has gone out. On March 4th, students, workers and teachers throughout the nation and across the globe will strike. Pre K-12, adult education, community colleges, and state-funded universities will come together in an international Strike and Day of Action to resist the neoliberal destruction of public education in California and beyond.
We stand beside all who wish to transform public education, and we seek to advance the struggle by generalizing the tactic that has, by far, been the strength of the movement: direct action.
In keeping with the spirit of March 4th, we call upon everyone, everywhere, to occupy everything—from collapsing public universities and closed high schools to millions of foreclosed homes. We call on all concerned students and workers to escalate the fight against privatization where they are, in solidarity with the California statewide actions. We envision a network of occupied campuses in multiple states across the nation.
We call upon all Bay Area students, teachers, and workers to unite on March 4 to march from Berkeley into downtown Oakland. We encourage all those in the Bay Area to organize actions alongside and in support of the occupation movement, so that March 4th becomes a day of blockades, sit-ins, mass marches to the streets and freeways, a day for reclaiming public spaces and institutions. In solidarity with hundreds of occupied schools and workplaces across the globe, we seek to make March 4th an international day of action demonstrating our collective resistance.
Why Direct Action?
We understand clearly that decades of rallies and petitions have not and will never be enough. We have already witnessed the violent extremism and radicalism of the other side: behind every fee increase, a line of riot cops. Behind every call for “dialogue,” the threat of prison. Behind calls for “shared public sacrifice,” millions in obscene raises and bonuses.
Governor Schwarzenegger’s recent proposal to tie public education to privatized prisons has accompanied the authorization of mass student arrests, the labeling of student activists as “terrorists,” and the accelerating militarization of California from its public campuses to its patrolled borders.
The state’s decision has also revealed the power and effectiveness of direct action to turn the tide against the corporate and financial interests, the lobbyists and politicians, who have used the crisis to enrich themselves while destroying or privatizing fundamental public goods like education and health care.
Public Education Versus Private Prisons: A False Choice
As more and more jobs are lost and homes foreclosed, an entire generation has been reminded that those who work do so at the expense of others who are barred from doing so. The availability of scarce future jobs depends upon the forced subtraction of a portion of the population from the work-force. This is the web of relations in which we work and study; this is the truth of a profoundly racist, neoliberal society whose logic education reproduces, alongside prisons, in the name of “meritocracy” or “a better life.”
Prisons and schools are the last remaining spaces in our society where individuals rendered superfluous by contracting job and housing markets gather together for years at a time. Schools and prisons house the “privileged” or the “pathological.” The university produces the wage earner-to-be, with skills financed by a lifetime of debt. Prisons are a home of last resort for those unable to pay the steep price of admission for job training, certification, and the right social networks.
The Governor’s zero-sum proposal pits various sectors of the population against each other for diminishing resources, for the right to die slower or faster. It is a false choice and we reject it. This crisis cannot be solved, only magnified, by distributing violence and misery among scapegoated populations: immigrants, prisoners, the “urban poor,” and now, students and youth in general.
The Crisis Is General. So Too Is The Resistance
To occupy a building, to defend it against the police, to shut down a city, is to subtract ourselves as much as possible from the property relations that govern our relationships to each other—from the enclosure of knowledge and skills within dwindling job markets and hollowed-out institutions; from the enclosure of universities within admissions policies which crowd out students and workers of color through exclusionary logics of race, class and citizenship; from the enclosure of tuition within capital projects financed by student and worker debt; from the enclosure of work within the wage relation which clearly cannot meet the basic human needs of the vast majority of us.
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- February 6, 2010 / 12:07 pm