March 4: Anarchists in the Student Movement

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Anarchists in the US have been slow to respond to the economic crisis, missing many of the opportunities it has offered. One of the exceptions is the recent participation of anarchists in the student movement protesting budget cuts and austerity measures. This came into the national consciousness in December 2008 when students occupied a building at the New School in New York City. NYU followed suit in February, and the following fall students in California began occupying schools up and down the coast.

The most recent phase of the student movement came to a head on March 4, when protests took place all around the US. The Bay Area was perhaps the epicenter of this day of action, seeing thousands of people on the streets—but at this epicenter, the tensions and contradictions around anarchist participation in the student movement came to the fore. Here, we present an eyewitness report on March 4 actions in the Bay, and complement it with a set of discussion questions we hope will help anarchists and others in the student movement hone their strategies. We’re seeking responses to these questions—email answers to rollingthunder@crimethinc.com or post them in the comments section here.

Report from the Bay Area, March 4
Anarchists in the March 4 Protests: Discussion Questions

14 thoughts on “March 4: Anarchists in the Student Movement

  1. The one thing i really didn’t like about this piece is the polarization of radicals, with their being two teams, the anarchists, and the authoritarians. It’s not accurate according to how things happen in the real world, and it’s in my opinion not what we should be striving for. Things are more fluid, with people including those speaking at “boring” rallies somewhere in flux between poles of among other things: authoritarianism-anti-authoritaranism, militance-non-militance, how we relate to the state and capital, amongst other things, with people having divergent viewpoints and not being a static one or other (sometimes even the same people have those divergent views).

  2. . . Some quick to arm, some for adventure, some from fear of weakness, some from fear of censure, some for love of slaughter, in imagination, learning later . . .

    walked eye-deep in hell believing in old men’s lies, then unbelieving came home, home to a lie, home to many deceits, home to old lies and new infamy…

    Daring as never before, wastage as never before.
    Young blood and high blood,
    Fair cheeks, and fine bodies;

    fortitude as never before

    frankness as never before, disillusions as never told in the old days, hysterias, trench confessions, laughter out of dead bellies.

    There are tens of thousands at every public university in California. The campus of UC Berkley covers over 6,000 acres. And, under the same sky as the thousands who walked to class, 150 were beaten and arrested on the highway. Daring as never before? Or love of slaughter?

    But it is all about the build up, the relations constructed in anticipation. What is Fate? What to do in the absence of millions? March with the unions, march away from the unions, march with the acronyms, march away from the acronyms, receive our clubs to the head, relive our glory, reveal the traitors.

    The actual events need to be compared to the language used to promote them.

    Victory? Victory! Then the boy was an appropriate sacrifice.

    Defeat? Defeat! Then the boy was an inappropriate sacrifice.

    To which gods?

  3. Deanosor–I hear you. Please don’t read this text as implying that everyone is on one team or another. Perhaps instead you can see it as a clumsy attempt to discuss which tendencies were uppermost. You’re right that real life takes place in a grey area–and often, the longer things are left grey before being defined, the more people find themselves on the anarchist side of the spectrum when the chips are down. As a minority milieu, indeterminacy often serves us better than drawing hard lines.

  4. [Here are answers from one comrade in California. We're hoping to get others in soon.]

    I. Local Contexts- Fresno

    -How much of the movement that led up to March 4 was anarchist-organized?
    What were the strengths and weaknesses of anarchist participation and
    initiatives?

    A good portion of the organizers either consider themselves anarchists or
    at least have anti-authoritarian views. The strength was that it allowed
    the group to stay focused on local administrators rather than sacramento
    politicians. We tried to frame everything in terms of a movement rather
    than a campaign as well. The weakness is that many anarchists tend to
    prefer doing actions rather than going to countless meetings, tabling,
    holding seemingly meaningless rallys and because of this they can be lazy
    and drop the ball some times.

    -What were the dynamics between anarchists and authoritarians ahead of
    March 4? How did the two camps attempt to outflank each other to determine
    the tone of the actions?

    For our march and rally we had been having joint community meetings with
    @’s and A’s, there was a definite tension as the radicals would push for
    things and the spineless liberals (mainly the CFA rep) would mellow it
    down, I mean fuck, they paid to have the march permitted and have cops
    follow us. The A’s kinda dominated the rally, we were down to 80 when we
    occupied the admin building. The occupation was planned exclusive from
    the A’s and after we passed out After the Fall they began to bug us for
    details. We also operated under the St. Paul principles which all sides
    have followed. So there was definite tension, we were annoyed with them
    and they were a bit afraid of what we might do.

    -Which tactics have anarchists had the most success with—occupations vs.
    protests, spontaneous versus announced actions? What does this tell us
    about what anarchists are best equipped to do in this context? In what
    ways was March 4 conducive or not conducive to these approaches?

    Occupations by far. Protests are a good way for someone to get their feet
    wet but don’t do that much. With an occupation you are actually doing
    something, asserting your power and taking action, this is very
    empowering. As far as spontaneous vs. announced, the study-in at the
    library was announced and went off without a problem, I was afraid we
    might get shut down but it didn’t and we had around 100 students and
    community members. The march 4th occupation was planned but unannounced.
    I felt a bit bad because we had told the group we were going to go march
    and then protest in front of the admin building, the next thing they knew
    we had led them to a soft occupation. When we took over the presidents
    office in October it was completely spontaneous, we were just going to
    take him a list of demands and 70 people followed us up and sat down when
    told he wasn’t there. So I would say it varies.
    Protest is a way of getting attention and trying to educate people.
    Direct action is so much more therapeutic though and anarchists need to
    show people how to get shit done rather than continuing to beg for scraps
    from obese masters.
    March 4 was good because it got enough publicity and backing that the more
    mainstream groups did a fair chunk of the work organizing the march/rally
    which allowed the rest of us to work on other things. It felt like there
    was space for different tactics.

    -How will the events of March 4 influence the development of the student
    movement? How is this fortuitous or problematic for anarchists?

    “the only way to learn revolution is by doing it” -Abbie Hoffman
    people are getting exposed to new things, they are feeling the power of
    standing up with large numbers of their peers. Just in the core group
    we’ve seen many new faces since the oct/nov actions, I think march 4 will
    bring in many more.
    This is both fortuitous and problematic. Fortuitous because it gets more
    people involved and more ideas into the group. Problematic because it
    brings more people into the group and they sometimes are less exposed to
    radical thinking and present great opposition to @ ideas.

    II. International Influences

    -How influential have overseas student occupation movements—the anti-CPE
    movement in France, university occupations in Chile and Greece and
    Austria, and so on—been in anarchist participation in the student
    movement?

    Tremendous, for myself personally all the activity in Greece is extremely
    exciting and a sign that the potential for global revolution is here and
    the spark has been lit in Greece. I remember watching an interview with
    Tariq Ali talking about how in ’68 Paris the workers saw the students
    behind the barricades in the streets and thought “those are just wimpy
    kids, we should be the one’s out there”, I think many movements really
    begin with the student movement and that’s something we’ve talked about as
    well.

    -“Public education” is much different in the US than in any of the
    aforementioned countries: it’s more expensive, and student bodies are thus
    very different in class composition. How does this affect US student
    movements?

    In rallies, Cuba and Ecuador come up; I’m a bit uneasy with them mentioning
    Cuba just because of the stigma attached to that country.
    But yeah, I think alot of people are really starting to view this as class
    war, it’s good.

    -Likewise, although there was a powerful North American student movement
    in the 1960s, there is less continuity in student activism in the US than
    there is overseas—radicals have to reinvent the wheel every generation.
    Similarly, university grounds don’t have legal “autonomy” the way they do
    in Greece, Chile, and Colombia; and unlike Chile and Greece, we’re not
    coming out of a recent era of dictatorship, so non-students don’t readily
    interpret student revolt as a struggle for everyone’s freedom as they do
    in those nations. How can US anarchists inspired by overseas student
    movements go about offsetting these differences?

    Alot of the student activists don’t interpret student revolt as a struggle
    for everyone’s freedom. Especially with the foreclosure situation I think
    the moment is ripe to move the occupation tactic out of the schools and
    into the neighborhoods. We’ve attempted to work with the homeless
    community and assisted them in taking advantage of bank foreclosed homes,
    I know Modesto has been doing some work with evictees resisting and also
    the Miwok tribe who is occupying their home. I think the more our tactics
    extend off campus the more the non-students will understand.

    -What shortcomings do European/Latin American student movements have that
    US anarchists risk importing along with the models themselves? What have
    the limits of anarchist action in those contexts been?

    I’m not sure on this, I should look into it.

    III. Strategy

    -Anarchists have to find some “ground” to act from in a society in which
    there is practically no space in which anarchist values are legitimized or
    even understood. This creates paradoxical situations: for example, taking
    part in a student struggle “for education,” in a country in which the very
    concept of education has always been tied to the state. In what ways does
    participating in a student movement legitimize social structures, roles,
    and privileges that anarchists would otherwise set out to undermine? How
    can anarchists undermine these while finding common cause with those
    who—at least initially—desire to reform them?

    People are concerned about fee hikes and fewer classes and all of that.
    We frame this as being due to fiscal mismanagement by administration, lack
    of transparency, shady general fund dealings… Let the liberals tout
    AB656 and writing to congresspeople, we’re are challenging people to
    seriously question authority and hold them accountable. After the
    occupation of the presidents office we arranged a “negotiation” of the
    demands out in the no justice no peace garden with him. We brought him
    out into the open and made him say he would not give back his raise and
    let the public see his general lack of truth in his responses. Once a
    person begins to question authority they have taken the first step towards
    rejecting authority.

    -What are the goals of anarchists in participating in the student
    movement? To win the respect of others in the movement? To seduce them
    into anarchism, or into militant confrontations? To win actual concessions
    from the government? To have exciting adventures? To create unpredictable
    situations and/or autonomous zones?

    Revolution.
    It’s good to have allies but I don’t need respect from those I can’t
    really respect.
    It’s not so much seduction as teaching them critical thinking skills,
    anti-authoritarianism is the logical outcome of serious critical thought
    (I suppose I’m biased but that’s how I see it).
    fuck the government, every stimulus dollar they give the school hurts the
    movement, I would rather we never got any concessions.
    Having a dance party in the VP’s office was pretty fun, chanting “abolish
    administrators” at him while he was trying to talk was awesome. So yeah,
    there’s definitely an adventure aspect to it, that’s not the motivation
    and having 6 hours a week of meetings was definitely no adventure.

    -Let us hypothesize that the student movement is a strategic and opportune
    terrain for anarchists right now, in that students are suddenly facing
    significantly worse prospects than before: as a downwardly mobile class,
    students are likely to reassess their interests and consider new
    allegiances. In this context, is it more important to prioritize the
    circulation of anarchist messaging, or of militant tactics? Focusing on
    militant actions can reduce one’s notion of success to getting to use
    one’s preferred tactics, regardless of whether or not this helps foster
    long-term connections or critiques. Militancy itself can serve multiple
    masters: in other times and places, authoritarians have achieved their own
    ends by means of the same tactics US anarchists currently celebrate—so
    anarchists should not assume that others are on the same page with them
    just because they join in for confrontations. At the same time, without a
    clash, opposition to authority is mere empty rhetoric, and people are
    always more open to ideas and values that they have seen work. Is it
    possible to transcend this dichotomy between messaging and tactics?

    Without the messaging it’s just another bourgeois revolution. If people
    don’t actually understand what they are fighting for then they are just as
    dangerous as the people they fight against. Yes, the time for action is
    now, but we have to spread conciousness as well as flames.

    -Let us further hypothesize that in the US, a movement about “education”
    is likely to play into the hands of statists, thanks to the common
    conception of education as something organized by the government or
    corporate entities. Using militant tactics to address the funding crisis
    (or that appear to address it, regardless of the participants’ intentions)
    can win anarchists the attention of a broad range of people concerned
    about “education.” But so long as most people assume that “progress”
    around the question of education can only come from state action,
    anarchists can either settle for being militant cannon fodder for a
    reformist movement, or risk enabling authoritarians to isolate them when
    it comes out that they are not interested in reform after all. Is there a
    way out of this double bind?

    People keep getting screwed over to the point where they realize that the
    authoritarian structure is the problem and it must be removed.

    -Let us hypothesize yet further that the actions that go well for
    anarchists are likely to be the ones initiated by anarchists, or else in
    conjunction with others who respect anarchists’ goals and autonomy. In
    such cases, anarchists more likely to succeed in determining the character
    of events, preparing a context conducive to autonomy and confrontation.
    This may explain why some of the occupations and more apparently
    “spontaneous” actions have given more space and opportunity to
    decentralized forms of resistance than large-scale events such as the
    permitted marches of March 4. Authoritarian and lowest-common-denominator
    organizations can more easily dominate the latter, both by literally
    laying the groundwork of what is to happen and by monopolizing legitimacy
    in the public eye by presenting themselves as “the” representatives of
    student protest. So long as anarchists remain on the margins of liberal
    and authoritarian organizing, organizing breakaway marches and the like,
    will lack of initiative and “legitimacy” in the public eye always impose
    structural limits on their efforts? Should anarchists seek more influence
    and legitimacy in the coalitions that organize major protests such as
    those of March 4? Or is it wiser to focus on developing a counter-power
    outside the coalitions, general assemblies, and mass actions?

    We need to be out there for people to see. If this movement is going to
    grow then the students who are a bit more radical or growing more radical
    need to be able to tap into the group. This group is very nurturing to
    developing radicals, it’s been good to see.

    -Anarchist critiques of the university tend towards calling for the
    “self-abolition” of the student; this makes sense, insofar as the role of
    student, like every role in this society, maintains the reign of
    capitalism and hierarchy. At the same time, as students put this into
    practice (either by dropping out, or ceasing to organize as students in
    favor of organizing as anarchists), this abolishes the ground from which
    anarchists and others could act in the student movement in the first
    place. Does this mean that anarchist participation in student organizing
    tends to abolish itself before it can abolish anything else? What
    strategies could make the best of this internal contradiction?

    A handful of the anarchists organizing in Fresno are alumni and not
    technically students but have had a main role in the organizing. We have
    had no problem working in the group. I know Modesto bumped heads in
    Stanislaus because the SO has done most of the organizing there,
    fortunately there is no SO in Fresno.
    Education revolution. As we redefine the schools structure we must
    redefine education. The contradiction is that the current state of the
    school is inhuman and unnatural, as we push it towards freedom and a
    non-heirarchical structure we can create a more human university and avoid
    the contradiction.

    -Controversy after controvery has focused on anarchists’ alleged whiteness
    and maleness, alongside accusations that anarchists are outsiders and
    agents provocateurs. The former allegation exerts disproportionate demands
    on queer anarchists of color, who often shoulder the burden of credibly
    responding; the latter creates a narrative in which anarchists are always
    defending themselves against accusations and responding with charges that
    authoritarians are attempting to undermine their organizing, a narrative
    that can itself serve to frame anarchists as distant from everyone else.
    The fact that liberals and authoritarians find it necessary to attempt to
    discredit anarchists at least indicates that they view anarchists as a
    potential threat; but these smear campaigns can cripple anarchists by
    separating them from the social base they need. Are there aspects of
    current anarchist rhetoric, organizing, or tactics that render anarchists
    particularly vulnerable to these charges? Are there ways in which outside
    anarchists actually are acting as provocateurs, seeing others’ struggles
    as a field in which to organize militant confrontations for their own sake
    without reference to the needs of those they claim to support? What can
    anarchists do to propagate a discourse that engages with oppression
    without lending itself to efforts to discredit resistance?

    I am a pale skinned male, but that’s the interesting thing about Fresno,
    the core organizing group came out of mecha which is predominantly
    anarchist. The brown berets were the ones accused of being provocateurs
    (which we did try to escalate things, that’s what we do) but they are a
    chicano group (there are a few anglo’s myself included but…)
    But seriously, anarchist literature in general is written for anarchists,
    if we want to branch out we need to write more non-sectarian propaganda.
    It’s like if I picked up something and it was from the mormons, I wouldn’t
    even bother to read it once I figured it out, there’s too much stigma
    attached to anarchism, push the ideas not the word. Oppression affects
    all poor people, connect it to someone’s life and inspire them to fight
    back.

    -What might a genuinely non-hierarchical approach to learning look like,
    entirely outside statist models for education? Why has there been so
    little concrete discussion of this question in reference to the student
    movement, even in anarchist circles?

    There’s been a decent bit of talk of this among our circle, there’s
    actually been a constitution in the works for this approach. But yeah, I
    completely agree, we’re saying this current system is fucked and we gotta
    get rid of it but people can’t imagine anything else, we have to give them
    at least some alternative idea or they just cling to the same old bs.

  5. i love how spontaneous = planned but not announced!

    see you insurrectionists do plan and organize!

    obviously you have valid reasons for keeping the authoritarians and other folks out of the loop but that is why voluntary association and theoretical/tactical unity is a useful thing.

    you don’t have to organize with everyone…duh.

  6. I trust you’re not referring to anyone involved in maintaining this website as “you insurrectionists”–!

  7. I’m not necessarily a fan of socialists, but the “authoritarian” rhetoric is overblown hyperbole. Second, if we want to bring more people into the fold, draw people in with issues first and ideology later. Third, let’s be honest with ourselves, insurrectionists are overwhelmingly, if not exclusively, straight white males. The whole rage smashy-smashy thing fits in pretty nicely with the dominant narrative of how privileged young men with a sense of entitlement are socialized in America. Sometimes I think the only difference between a fratboy and an insurrectionist is the thin line of political awareness. and unfortunately fratboys are usually better at looting and rioting.

  8. @hawkeyecatholicworker

    Look, much has been said already about the dangers of tagging anything that involves “rage smashy-smashy things” (or insurrectionary actions, if you wanna limit them to “rage smashy-smashy things”) as solely for those who have privileged identities.

    Just because we’re not born with that privilege doesn’t mean we’re not acting already to tear all this shit down without waiting for the ‘right’ leadership. Instead of dismissing these actions because they sound like they’re only for the realm of white straight males, we should look for those who don’t share those identities that are already doing these actions in their communities alongside these ‘privileged’ people and talk on how to expand and spread the revolt rather than eat each other out with presumptuousness.

    These peeps have already said a thing or two about this. Check em out:

    A response to a critique of the “white” student movement: http://occupyca.wordpress.com/2010/03/03/response-to-a-critic-of-the-%E2%80%9Cwhite%E2%80%9D-student-movement/

    Pushed by the violence of our desires: http://news.infoshop.org/article.php?story=2010march4-pvd

  9. [Answers from another participant in the student movement:]

    I. Local Contexts

    -How much of the movement that led up to March 4 was anarchist-organized? What were the strengths and weaknesses of anarchist participation and initiatives?

    i am not sure. i was not involved in organizing; i heard about the day of action just a few days in advance.

    -What were the dynamics between anarchists and authoritarians ahead of March 4? How did the two camps attempt to outflank each other to determine the tone of the actions?

    i’m not sure about this either.

    -Which tactics have anarchists had the most success with—occupations vs. protests, spontaneous versus announced actions? What does this tell us about what anarchists are best equipped to do in this context? In what ways was March 4 conducive or not conducive to these approaches?

    i am not sure what has worked in the past. it seemed that the elasticity, spontaneity and sheer exuberance were the things that allowed the dance party in oakland to get as far as it did (i was part of this at first, though i didn’t get on the freeway). i think that the weaknesses of the police stem from the fact that they work in an organized fashion, move slowly and react based on orders while the anarchists and friends (i call us this because i know non-anarchists who participated partly because they didn’t know what was going on and it just seemed fun) were acting together based on choice and there was no distance between the people involved, allowing a kind of straight-up communication that the police just can’t match even with all their high-tech devices.

    -How will the events of March 4 influence the development of the student movement? How is this fortuitous or problematic for anarchists?

    it seemed the march 4 events strengthened people’s faith in their collective impact but i don’t think this is helpful for anarchists. it seems we are still going to be labeled by the media and probably by the students, too, as separate from other protesters. unless the student movement was generally publicly seen as supportive of a militant approach i don’t think we will stop being regarded as provocateurs and troublemakers amongst good law-abiding demonstrators.

    II. International Influences

    -How influential have overseas student occupation movements—the anti-CPE movement in France, university occupations in Chile and Greece and Austria, and so on—been in anarchist participation in the student movement?

    for me personally, the little i know about what has been going on in greece is really inspiring, when i first heard about it i was shocked and pleased. i kind of thought there were simply not enough anarchists in the world for us to make a difference, but it seems in greece that anarchists and non-anarchists (students, mostly) worked together i had always thought that that was the kind of thing that happened in the sixties but not anymore and it showed me that there is stuff going on in the world i can participate in to create the world i want. also, my greek friend’s anecdotes about her involvement in a socialist group, about demonstrations, squats and other things have woken me up to what is going on here… and low and behold there is plenty of radical action to be found taking place here in the east bay once you know where to look.

    i would not consider myself part of the student movement. but i am a student (high school) and an anarchist, so for the purposes of these discussion questions i could say that on march 4, i was an anarchist participating in the student movement.

    -“Public education” is much different in the US than in any of the aforementioned countries: it’s more expensive, and student bodies are thus very different in class composition. How does this affect US student movements?

    i am not sure. being a high school student i don’t really know anything about the local university student movement or any others.

    -Likewise, although there was a powerful North American student movement in the 1960s, there is less continuity in student activism in the US than there is overseas—radicals have to reinvent the wheel every generation. Similarly, university grounds don’t have legal “autonomy” the way they do in Greece, Chile, and Colombia; and unlike Chile and Greece, we’re not coming out of a recent era of dictatorship, so non-students don’t readily interpret student revolt as a struggle for everyone’s freedom as they do in those nations. How can US anarchists inspired by overseas student movements go about offsetting these differences?

    i felt a lot of support from non-students surrounding the march 4 actions. the budget cuts are affecting all the city, county and state employees. my mom, who is a librarian, and my teachers were very enthusiastic about my going to the protest on the 4th. this is definitely something we can use. in the bay area we have a rich history of activism and i think we can use that to our advantage… when you’ve got something like people’s park flourishing in front of your eyes as proof of the ability of the people to fight the system and win, it’s really encouraging.

    -What shortcomings do European/Latin American student movements have that US anarchists risk importing along with the models themselves? What have the limits of anarchist action in those contexts been?

    i don’t know even close to enough to analyze that.

    III. Strategy

    -Anarchists have to find some “ground” to act from in a society in which there is practically no space in which anarchist values are legitimized or even understood. This creates paradoxical situations: for example, taking part in a student struggle “for education,” in a country in which the very concept of education has always been tied to the state. In what ways does participating in a student movement legitimize social structures, roles, and privileges that anarchists would otherwise set out to undermine? How can anarchists undermine these while finding common cause with those who—at least initially—desire to reform them?

    i have experienced this on a personal basis in my conversations with my non-anarchist friends and family. surrounding march 4 i did get a lot of comments from people who said things like “why are you attending a rally for education if you don’t even want to go to school/don’t think the government should make us go to school?” to which i responded “i personally don’t want to go to school but i know people who do, and i think they should be allowed to go to a well-funded school if that is what is important to them… and i don’t think it is realistic to try to abolish the government in the near future, and in the meantime i think that if the government is going to be taking my parents’ money they should spend as much of it as possible on schools and other public services.” i think that participating in struggles to reform the state when we really want to eliminate it altogether IS legitimate and useful. we should make the best of our situation, change what we can (as long as we don’t lose sight of our ultimate goals). and maybe in working with students we can help them rethink their views of education… when people are out in the streets demanding money for their “education” it forces them to acknowledge whether that “education” is worth spending money on in the first place… it gets them into activism and familiarizes them with the fact that they have power… we cannot expect people to wake up one day and become revolutionaries. perhaps our best bet to forming a society of critical thinkers who will take action to change the world is through their participation in reform movements, which will inevitably lead to them realizing that it is the system itself that is corrupt and cannot be modified but must be obliterated. participating in a student movement for a cause we may not think is the one we should be fighting might be the only way to end up fighting for the real cause.

    -What are the goals of anarchists in participating in the student movement? To win the respect of others in the movement? To seduce them into anarchism, or into militant confrontations? To win actual concessions from the government? To have exciting adventures? To create unpredictable situations and/or autonomous zones?

    i guess all of those are important to me. it might be unrealistic but i like to think that other protesters might have seen us dancing and marching in oakland and joined us even if they weren’t anarchists. i know a few middle school students who joined the dance party for that reason… one told me “if there’s going to be a riot today, i’m going to be in it”, so some were there for the thrill. that is at least part of the reason i joined them, i read radical literature about direct action all the time and so i would take any chance i got to live those experiences for myself. and of course there is the joy and freedom you feel when openly doing something illegal in a group like blocking traffic without a permit, with riot cops all around, and getting away with it… it made me feel invincible. walking home from the protest, i forgot to check the stoplights at intersections several times… it was like all the laws had disappeared during the dance party and i forgot they still existed outside the little liberated area we created with us. i don’t think it is possible to win actual concessions from the government through this type of action because it doesn’t address any specific issue.

    -Let us hypothesize that the student movement is a strategic and opportune terrain for anarchists right now, in that students are suddenly facing significantly worse prospects than before: as a downwardly mobile class, students are likely to reassess their interests and consider new allegiances. In this context, is it more important to prioritize the circulation of anarchist messaging, or of militant tactics? Focusing on militant actions can reduce one’s notion of success to getting to use one’s preferred tactics, regardless of whether or not this helps foster long-term connections or critiques. Militancy itself can serve multiple masters: in other times and places, authoritarians have achieved their own ends by means of the same tactics US anarchists currently celebrate—so anarchists should not assume that others are on the same page with them just because they join in for confrontations. At the same time, without a clash, opposition to authority is mere empty rhetoric, and people are always more open to ideas and values that they have seen work. Is it possible to transcend this dichotomy between messaging and tactics?

    why do we need to prioritize? why not simply allow anyone who wants to partake in thinking to think, and anyone who wants to partake in acting to act? need we have a master plan? there are those who are uncomfortable with militancy and that’s okay. and there are people who just don’t care about what an anarchist society would look like or how to get there but just hate authority, for whatever reason, and want to demonstrate this through militancy, and that’s okay. we need to accept and work with these people because we will never achieve anything if we are too specific in who we choose to interact and collaborate with. why don’t we let each and every person decide for themselves what is important, because what anarchist would do something they believed wasn’t?

    -Let us further hypothesize that in the US, a movement about “education” is likely to play into the hands of statists, thanks to the common conception of education as something organized by the government or corporate entities. Using militant tactics to address the funding crisis (or that appear to address it, regardless of the participants’ intentions) can win anarchists the attention of a broad range of people concerned about “education.” But so long as most people assume that “progress” around the question of education can only come from state action, anarchists can either settle for being militant cannon fodder for a reformist movement, or risk enabling authoritarians to isolate them when it comes out that they are not interested in reform after all. Is there a way out of this double bind?

    i am in favor of using militant tactics with the distinct message that reform will not cut it.

    i guess the question is, do we really want to “address the funding crisis”? hell no! we want to change education completely. we want a revolution in the way we educate ourselves! we want to learn useful skills and knowledge, learn things we are interested in, learn in ways that work for us — we want to treat each student as an individual with dreams and passions and not as cattle to be fed through the goal-oriented butchering machine that is school! and the people whose minds we have to change in order to change education are the students. we can’t afford to appeal to legislators who don’t give a fuck about kids and are just worried about money when there are students — most of which already hate school to the fucking core and would love to reclaim their lives and education. the key thing is for them to realize that they can be successful and happy in their lives without being “educated” in school. when i realized that, i talked to my parents, i talked to my friends, i talked to my classmates and relatives — and now i’ve got all of them thinking, what is education, really? how can we educate ourselves?

    who cares if the mainstream media talks about us like we’re crazy violent kids? what is really important is getting students to question school. and i don’t doubt that every teenager who saw a picture of militants smashing windows, spray painting things, taking over freeways secretly wished they were in that black bloc (and every kid hates the cops). what we should be thinking about is getting students involved in their own education… whether that means talking to the people in our classes at school or shouting “join us!” to kids watching from classroom windows as we march down the street. that’s the important thing, instilling in them the idea that they can change the way school is.

    -Let us hypothesize yet further that the actions that go well for anarchists are likely to be the ones initiated by anarchists, or else in conjunction with others who respect anarchists’ goals and autonomy. In such cases, anarchists more likely to succeed in determining the character of events, preparing a context conducive to autonomy and confrontation. This may explain why some of the occupations and more apparently “spontaneous” actions have given more space and opportunity to decentralized forms of resistance than large-scale events such as the permitted marches of March 4. Authoritarian and lowest-common-denominator organizations can more easily dominate the latter, both by literally laying the groundwork of what is to happen and by monopolizing legitimacy in the public eye by presenting themselves as “the” representatives of student protest. So long as anarchists remain on the margins of liberal and authoritarian organizing, organizing breakaway marches and the like, will lack of initiative and “legitimacy” in the public eye always impose structural limits on their efforts? Should anarchists seek more influence and legitimacy in the coalitions that organize major protests such as those of March 4? Or is it wiser to focus on developing a counter-power outside the coalitions, general assemblies, and mass actions?

    i am flatly opposed to toning ourselves down in order to fit into the organizations involved in the major protests. i think presenting ourselves as a legitimate alternative to these organized, authoritarian mass demonstrations is definitely the way to go. hopefully the bigger we are the more people will join us (especially during illegal actions, as i’m sure people would feel safer from the cops in a large march than in a small group).

    -Anarchist critiques of the university tend towards calling for the “self-abolition” of the student; this makes sense, insofar as the role of student, like every role in this society, maintains the reign of capitalism and hierarchy. At the same time, as students put this into practice (either by dropping out, or ceasing to organize as students in favor of organizing as anarchists), this abolishes the ground from which anarchists and others could act in the student movement in the first place. Does this mean that anarchist participation in student organizing tends to abolish itself before it can abolish anything else? What strategies could make the best of this internal contradiction?

    this does not seem like a very practical way of dealing with this issue. in theory it is a problem, but think about it. when a student becomes interested in dropping out or getting involved with anarchists, it is not an immediate decision. and leaving school won’t prevent people from communicating with their friends who are still students. in addition, you’re disregarding the inevitable connection between people of the same age, whether anarchists or students.

    -Controversy after controvery has focused on anarchists’ alleged whiteness and maleness, alongside accusations that anarchists are outsiders and agents provocateurs. The former allegation exerts disproportionate demands on queer anarchists of color, who often shoulder the burden of credibly responding; the latter creates a narrative in which anarchists are always defending themselves against accusations and responding with charges that authoritarians are attempting to undermine their organizing, a narrative that can itself serve to frame anarchists as distant from everyone else. The fact that liberals and authoritarians find it necessary to attempt to discredit anarchists at least indicates that they view anarchists as a potential threat; but these smear campaigns can cripple anarchists by separating them from the social base they need. Are there aspects of current anarchist rhetoric, organizing, or tactics that render anarchists particularly vulnerable to these charges? Are there ways in which outside anarchists actually are acting as provocateurs, seeing others’ struggles as a field in which to organize militant confrontations for their own sake without reference to the needs of those they claim to support? What can anarchists do to propagate a discourse that engages with oppression without lending itself to efforts to discredit resistance?

    it may not be a great approach, but the way i think about it is, fuck anyone making those claims. they don’t know what they’re talking about.

    -What might a genuinely non-hierarchical approach to learning look like, entirely outside statist models for education? Why has there been so little concrete discussion of this question in reference to the student movement, even in anarchist circles?

    when i imagine the perfect school, i picture an all ages free skool, with classes free of charge and taught and attended by anyone and everyone.

    it’s my belief that students are just not thinking clearly enough to see that the school system they are fighting for is not worth shit, but eventually they will realize this (hopefully). and it seems that anarchists often trash talk the way things are without providing a solution or alternative; but i think about it all the time (often, instead of doing my homework.) it’s just a matter of asking, what do we really want to learn and how can we go about learning it?]

  10. Ok, I can tell you one thing that really PISSED me off,

    do any of you know about BAMN? who are they and what kind of ppl are organizing w/ them? are they like ANSWER and ISO? Anyway, I am REALLY pissed off at them, because people like me have been working on the DREAM act which is to ensure that undocumented students are able to go to college without paying insane out of state fees and also get scholarship money instead of having the university take it because we’re undocumented.

    I can tell you this, I literally saw groups like BAMN and other so called progressives, basically take the DREAM act issue and try to cause ruckus around it. I have seen DREAM act organizations on campuses have serious fights with them. I can also tell you this, we have DREAM act support groups on campuses throughout the united states, where uncodumented states are able to go in order to organize, find support, etc. but these are safe spaces for some students who either 1) have not come out about being undocumented or 2) are afraid of deportation. I know that groups like the ISO and BAMN have on numerous occassions mis-represented themselves in order to infiltrate such groups and basically get us to get on board with their events. What they don’t understand is that we undocumented students CANNOT go to events where we’re going to risk being arrested and DEPORTED.

    Why don’t people understand that simple thing?

    Also what most don’t understand is that we don’t want the DREAM act to become this crazy progressive pushing point, cuz the fact remains the less republicans get riled about it the more of a chance we have for it to actually pass. The more people fight and cause fights about it the more high profile it will become within the WRONG groups and the more controversial it will become. These so called progressives treat us like idiots. They don’t understand that we’ve been organizing for years, that we are a TIGHT knit group of people, and we are very well organized and effective in what we’re doing. WE raise money for students being kicked out, we raise funds to make sure nobody has to drop out, we even have a network that allows members who don’t have a place to live or eat when they are at school to find others undercover who can help them, we help one another by swiping each other into dinning halls, we house our fellow undocumented students in dorm rooms, we find ones to get our hands on textbooks that are too expensive, we help each other, we are resourceful and creative and frankly i find is HIGHLY offensive to have some random progressive groups come in and TELL US how we should be organizing, that we need to go cause drama in the streets, that we need to do this and that and the other. HELLO you’re not the one that’s undocuemnted! you’re not the one that has to go to school for one semester and work another (getting paid under the table illegally) so that you can afford to go back and to college the next semester… which means it usually takes us TWICE as long or more to actually finish college. YOU HAVE NO FUCKING IDEA! so stop telling us how to organize. There are ways to be allies, there are ways to help but don’t push your so called progressive views on us when you have not walked A SINGLE DAY in our shoes.

    ok, I needed to just vent that, but anyway I’ll be back later to add more things when I think more objectively, but this is one thing that has reallllly been bothering me.

    BTW, in case you don’t know what the DREAM act is, look here, and please know that this is one of the most tangible things that you can help out with that will have one of the BIGGEST effects on the lives of thousands of students across the country. Please also know that this is not a pipe dream, this issue has successfully been passed in places such as freaking ARKANSAS and signed into law by a REPUBLICAN governor (mike huckabee of all people!) and it has also passed the CA assembly 3x, but Gov. Shwazeasshole has rejected it all 3x. But we can and we will pass it, it actually has a lot of political support, it’s just a matter of time.

    Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DREAM_Act
    http://www.dreamact.com/
    http://www.dreamactivist.org/

    I know some of you reading this don’t give a damn about reformist issues, but I strongly beg you to reconsider when it comes to things like the DREAM Act. You all have NO IDEA how difficult it is for us to 1) get into college and 2) to be able to stay in college and be afforded things that every single other student takes for granted. Some of us were brought here as CHILDREN and we worked just as hard to get into good schools and scholarships, but we are not entitled to those scholarships, the schools take it away. We have to pay almost twice as much to attend, which is very difficult when we’re not allowed access to loans, nor can we legally work in this country to even make MINIMUM WAGE. so please know that if the DREAM ACT passes it would change the lives of THOUSANDS if not millions. It would give us access to what others students use every day, furthemore it would encourage many others in our situation to try and make it to college, and in turn many of us would go back to our communities in order to organize.

    The DREAM ACT has brought us undocumented students together and afforded us the ability to organize without a lot of outside assistance, it’s given people might have been apolitical the chance to flex their political power even when we’re told to just keep quiet and disappear in the crowed, due to fear of deportation. We need your help, but please also respect the situation that we’re in.

  11. Anarchists in the student movement? What about students in the anarchist movement.

    Why is it that at school you learn about capitalism, nationalism, democracy, communism and fascism, while you never hear anything about our beloved anarchism? Is it because the other isms’s had their main spokesmen, their theories written down, examples in the history? Well anarchism has all these things.

    How can a study like Political Science do not teach the students anything about anarchism? The professors in political science use the word anarchy to express the chaos in certain times in history under certain regimes. How can such professors stimulate critical thinking when they don’t know or tell about anarchism. Since science should put a light on every aspect of society it’s absurd a major political theory like anarchism doesn’t get a place in education in political science.

    In Amsterdam (the Netherlands) an anarchist student group was “allowed” to teach the anarchist theory to students who were interested. Students could actually earn studypoints for the subject ” Introduction to the anarchist theory”.

    This happened 3 decades ago at the University of Amsterdam but can serve as an inspiration to current anarchist students,

  12. Most important things aren’t taught in schools, but that doesn’t mean, Diego, that they cannot be learned there.

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