Theory


New article up at Reclamations. Originally published in Against the Current, already it feels a bit dated.

1) A major new contribution to the analysis of the movement, by Advance the Struggle, has developed the conversation around the state of the student movement in California in some important new directions. While I don’t agree with all of their analysis, I do think that it raises some issues that we in the “mass-movement-building” wing of things need to take up. Some parallel questions are being raised in response to the Hunter College March 4 conflagration. Frankly, my political sympathies are almost entirely with the folks being criticized in this last piece, the so-called “movement builders.”

In the aftermath of the Hunter College affair, I had some very interesting conversations with anarchists; it is fascinating to me how little the socialist / anarchist split matters in terms of political methodology in the student movement today. On the “mass-movement-building” side of things one will find anarchists, socialists, some liberals and progressives, and a fair number of people who don’t claim one of those political camps; on the “adventurist / insurrectionist / occupationist” side of things one will find self-identified anarchists and communists and a fair number of people who don’t claim an overarching camp. I don’t think that we “mass-movementists” have successfully thought ourselves, and the piece above along with the ATS-initiated conversation in California offers us perhaps a dialectical opening to do so.

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My last post generated some interesting conversation on Facebook. A couple of people posed interesting challenges, and my responses quickly became way too long for FB comments. I decided they were probably too long even for a comment on the original entry, so I made them into a new post. This post is a bit esoteric for this blog, but it’s a slow Wednesday: it’s either turgid analysis or a video response to Dave Kliger’s latest absurdity. If the latter is your cup of tea, here you go!

If you’re interested in some further considerations on economic context and the political bloc I suggested in my last post,  read on. (more…)

Note: this blog didn’t actually exist in January 2010, but I’m cross-posting an article I wrote then in the interest of having pieces I’ve written about the California student movement in one place.

In California today, we are facing an onslaught of austerity capitalism in the form of privatization / private accumulation, funding cuts, and neoliberal prioritization that effects public goods including education, health care, and transportation as well as prisons – hardly a public “good” but certainly a public function.

Are we all in the same boat? If so, some people have been in the bottom of the boat for a while. Now that the boat has sprung more leaks, their heads are barely, inconsistently above water. The question is one of breathing / drowning. Other people have been doing okay on the decks for a while. We’re getting wet; we have something to complain about, and we’re worried that the boat might sink. Some of us think the captain really ought to listen us; some of us are beginning to think we could pilot the damn boat ourselves. (Some of us would like to head for the life rafts, now, and forget the boat.)

Okay, this metaphor is obviously simplistic. It is addressed to a kind of leveling rhetoric that has emerged in sections of the California student movement in the aftermath of Gov. Schwarzenegger’s proposed constitutional amendment tying higher education funding to school funding, supposedly guaranteeing better funding for higher education and decreasing prison funding without decreasing incarceration.

The Schwarzenegger proposal has forced us to think these institutions and social positions together. Are the social positions commensurate, or incommensurate? Are the institutional positions structurally similar, structurally contradictory, or both? A friend asked me to reflect on this, and here’s an edited version of my response.

Read the rest on the Solidarity Webzine.