Sunday, October 26, 2014

Stalinism within UC Berkeley Activism and the 50th Anniversary of the Free Speech Movement

Stalinism within UC Berkeley Activism and the 50th Anniversary of the Free Speech Movement

1.  Leading up to the #FSM50 Rally on Oct 1st 2014 
2.  T Minus Zero: The Day of the #FSM50
3.  When facts don’t back up your position, resort to slander and smears!
4.  On the ReclaimUC/UAW cabal denying their part in pro-cop ratfucking by more smears and lies and snitchjacketing.
5.  The Plot Thickens: Occupy the Farm’s role in this Stalinist Ratfucking
6.  Some semblance of wrapping up with some ideas towards solutions for actual movement building

[Edit 11/8/2014-- This is a long read: 90% shorter bullet point version here]

October 1st 2014 was a day where hundreds gathered at UC Berkeley to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Free Speech Movement… and completely whitewash the history of Occupy Cal.  This was done over the course of a day filled with rallies, speeches, panel discussions and an “occupation” orchestrated by yet another Alphabet Soup “activist” front group (now calling themselves the Cal Progressive Coalition or CPC) led again by a Stalinist cabal within the United Auto Workers (UAW) 2865 (who represent 13,000 graduate student-workers at the University of California) in collusion with heads of the #FSM50 event planners.  The motives of this action by this coalition, which now explicitly includes Occupy The Farm, are to stall and blunt any actual radical student movement/community-building on campus and in its place prop up meant-to-fail “Protest Theater” groups to maintain the Administration’s status quo of conformity, docility and non-engagement of the 30,000 students enrolled.  With the historical framing of the mythologized UC Berkeley Activism starting in 1964 with the Free Speech Movement, through the Anti-Vietnam War protests in the 60s-70s, the Anti-Apartheid movement in the 80s, etc, UCB has earned (sought or unsought) the role of Vanguard Standard Bearer of Student Social Justice Activism: As goes Cal, goes campus activism in the rest of the country.  Therefore the Powers That Be have unleashed this Stalinist faction of specialized Agent Moderators to sabotage genuine, populist, radical activism locally (and consequently nationally) these past three-plus years.  And these Stalinists used the #FSM50 event in front of this crowd of hundreds as the latest episode to legitimize their Protest Theater façade and their Brand.

Though many of the actors engaging in this sabotage/usurpation are self-avowed communists, this article isn’t about reviving the Red Scare or some sort of Neo-McCarthyism.  The use of the term “Stalinist” isn’t meant to get into the weeds of Marxist wonkism, or to delineate between the strains of communism be it Leninism, Trotskyism, Maoism etc: For the purposes of this article “Stalinist”/”Stalinism” is used to describe a particular political behavior.  

“In terms of the organization of a state, Stalinist policies are quite clear: democratic rights threaten the position of the bureaucracy, and hence democracy is incompatible with Stalinism. In basic terms on a world scale, the forces of Stalinism have done everything in their power to prevent socialist revolution.” 

This is how certain cliques of people have been operating at Occupy sites around the Bay Area for 3 years now: profess open, horizontal direct democracy as a primary organizing principle, but behind the scenes manage a secret steering committee or leadership bureaucracy to exploit loopholes in the democratic structure to advance their cabal’s goals over the majority’s objectives.  With their vast knowledge of how to manipulate meetings or General Assemblies, they’ve thrust themselves to the top hierarchical positions of what is supposed to be leaderless meetings by subscribing arbitrary voting procedures to an ad hoc coalition and trick the majority with an entirely artificial method of facilitating a meeting with a sophist form of make-it-up-as-you-go-along sort of “’Anarchist’ Version of Robert’s Rules of Order”. 

Most neophyte activists are slow to catch on and/or happy that other people are doing most of the heavy lifting of organizing for them, but once the majority votes in a course of action not conducive  to the steering committee’s secret goals, or enough activists catch on and challenge this hierarchy, two things inevitably happen:  First, a smear campaign is waged against those who dare question the cabal’s authority; Second, if the smears do not deter the dispute, the steering committee will split away and form a new front group with the old bureaucracy that will go unchecked/unchallenged for a time again.  IE once the People’s Front of Judea’s leadership is challenged, a split group will form the Judean’s People’s Front, and in turn if the JPF is challenged, they’ll split away and form the Popular Judean Front.  This first happened at Occupy Cal in late November 2011, when the dominance of the Original Facilitation Committee was limited, so they in turn formed the UAW-led Occupy Education.

 (You try working with a union hack like "Eric Alexander" for months...)

Leading up to the #FSM50 Rally on Oct 1st 2014

                I previously described in great detail how the UAW-led Occupy Education ratfucked Occupy Cal so I won’t rehash it all here.  Being no longer content with the Coalition for Public Education or CPE moniker of last semester, this UAW cabal rebranded for the 2014 Fall Semester with the new name Cal Progressive Coalition or CPC.  The CPC was first announced as an ad hoc UC Berkeley umbrella group in this publication, netting in the most diverse base of advocacy groups to form a coalition since the start of Occupy Cal.  Surprisingly, through what I must only imagine was severe editorial oversight from the UAW cabal, our activist group, bpOffCampus was listed as part of the CPC!  (For the record, Occupy Cal, like all local Occupations of the Occupy Wall Street movement consisted of whoever showed up: Open University was a working group of Occupy Cal; the only one to achieve the formal status of an official UC Berkeley student group.  Open University’s main project since Spring/Summer of 2012 has been bpOffCampus: That’s it. We don’t represent/front ourselves as anything else.)

                Despite being formal members of the ad hoc CPC, we were never informed of any of organizing meetings of the students who were organizing to be a part of the #FSM50 events: to draw a line of continuity between past UC Berkeley activist struggles fifty years ago to this day.   So we were not informed of/present at a woefully-(/purposefully) under-advertised 1st CPC General Assembly.  At this GA, witnesses reported back to us that about 30 people showed up, mostly grad students in the UAW 2865.  These people then split into various working groups, and without any previous announcement that this course of action was going to be decided on, a working group of five people reported back to the rest that they had voted on one person, let’s again call her AA (not her birth certificate initials—I have not and will not reveal any anonymities/pseudonyms or name names of any less-than-public figures), to represent all current student activists as a speaker and panelist during Oct 1st #FSM50 day of events.  Stalinism!

                So we in bpoffcampus, along with other CPC activists disgusted by the Stalinist tactics of the secretive UAW steering committee, reached out to #FSM50 main organizers to discuss what was going on behind the scenes in their event’s name:  That it was totally undemocratic, not to mention highly unethical to have one speaker represent all current student activist at their event, let alone one of the characters most responsible for sabotaging Occupy Cal and other populist campaigns (notably = #No2Napolitano) on campus these past three years!  We sat down and talked with the de facto leader of the Free Speech Movement Jack Weinberg (who had inherited this position by default ever since Mario Savio passed away) at length.  He was sympathetic to our concerns but ultimately paid them lip service: Jack said we could possibly be on a yet-to-be-organized panel on the next day.  He never got back to us.  (More on our meeting with Jackie-boy, and why he never got back to us later in the article.)

T Minus Zero: The Day of the #FSM50

Highlight of the day:  After 3 years of activism at UC Berkeley with Occupy Cal, I finally filled up my local sandwich club card with stamps, enabling me to get a free sandwich.

Lowlight of the day:  Everything else.

Read someone else’s damn write-up if you want a full accounting of the #FSM50 speakers at the rally that began the day of events.  What was consistent was a lot of liberal self-back-patting of how great activists were 50 years ago, and how their generation opened up so many doors for us activists today.  Missing was any sort of reflection that UC Berkeley in 2014 is the most conformist campus since 1963, and I don’t say that lightly.  It was like all the speakers at the rally were following a script with these rules in bold print:  1. Don’t mention Occupy Cal.  2. If you must mention Occupy Cal, it must be in the framework of it existing exactly TWO days: Nov 9th, (the first day when student and community activists set up tents on Sproul Plaza mere feet from where Mario Savio gave his famous Free Speech Movement speech and were brutally beaten with batons by the UCPD) and Nov 15th when Occupy Cal had the largest General Assembly in all the of the American Occupy Movement; a proposed 81% tuition fee hike was reversed and everyone went home: a happy ending.  3. Again, if you must mention Occupy Cal, do so in an a past tense: make no mention that there is an active Occupy Cal lawsuit versus the UCPD and campus administration for over $15mil that will put former Chancellor Birgeneau on the witness stand.  Or in other words: A complete whitewash of history.

Why limit Occupy Cal’s history to two days?  Because if Occupy Cal existed beyond Nov 15th, you’d have to mention the UAW-run Original Facilitation Committee breaking away from Occupy Cal to form Occupy Education: a group that was purported to run parallel to Occupy Cal’s aims but was in fact set up to try and sabotage Occupy Cal’s efforts of direct actions; to try to vote down building occupations in progress (they didn’t always succeed), and to ratfuck any #copsoffcampus type movement versus the infamous pepperspraying Lt. Pike, to ensure he got away scot-free and given more moneythan the students he chemically tortured.  They accomplished this with an aggressive smear campaign (that at the time, we at Occupy Cal only guessed at the scope of it, massively underestimating it) while pretending to build towards an “immense” day of action in Sacramento at the Capitol Building, which by all honest accounting was a total waste of time, money, and most importantly, activist energy that accomplished NOTHING. 

                So during the course of the speeches of the first rally of the #FSM50 anniversary, the public whitewash of Occupy Cal was completed, all of my/our efforts conveniently erased from history in some Orwellian scheme; while people I organized with, faced down riot cops with, sat in overcrowded jails with; smiled and clapped along: lockstep with the other goosestepping Stalinists.  But the backstabbing of the day wasn’t over yet: there were still to be two more panel discussions and a “building occupation” to keep twisting the blade…

AA, not content with being the only current “student activist” speaker at the #FSM50 rally, and giving the WORST reciting of Savio’s speech EVER, so monotone and dispassionate that had half the crowd lukewarmly give a smattering of confused applause and the other half smack their foreheads at the awfulness; no, not content with that defiling of history, AA was also to sit on a panel as a featured speaker called “The Struggle Today”.  Which was, long story short, absolutely horrendous, but more importantly, absolutely uninspiring.  Again: purposefully so.

When facts don’t back up your position, resort to slander and smears!

More appalling was the next panel: “50 Years of Organizing” which featured a dais of speakers involved in various populist campaigns at UC Berkeley over the years.  There was exactly one presenter who had fire in her belly (the rest were decent to mediocre; clearly their activist days were behind them), only to be followed by the “student-activist representative of Occupy Cal”, AG (kind of surprising that it wasn’t AA again).  To put AG in this position was a total farce: she was present at, generously, 10% of Occupy Cal meetings, rallies and actions.  Her pointless, rambling, otherwise totally forgettable “speech” was notable for her assertion that she believed that Occupy Cal was threatened by the specter of “Misogynist Infiltrators”… whatever the fuck that is supposed to mean, it was clearly a dig at me.

AG is the kind of person who would scream “White Male Privilege!” at anyone who disagreed with her, no matter what the context.  This isn’t to say “white privilege” and “male privilege” aren’t actual things, but she, like too many other social justice activists of a certain age since 2010 or so just love to scream these things like a toddler who just learned a new dirty word, to the point where the phrase becomes meaningless.

The brief history of AG and the UAW cabal publicly slandering me at Occupy Cal as a “sexist” or “misogynist” goes like this.  On Jan 28th 2012 or #j28 over 20 members of Occupy Cal were arrested among the 409 members of Occupy Oakland after a day of tear gas, batons and general police state horror (many more managed to escape arrest but were still traumatized by the violence).  Even though there was still cross fertilization between Occupy Cal & Occupy Education at the time (IE people who declared themselves with both), Occupy Education/UAW refused to interrupt their lame as fuckshit meetings to offer jail support, or even make a 5 minute announcement.  In an email to the listserve, I typed “WHERE THE FUCK WERE YOU” regarding Occupy Education’s lack of support: this was called “Use of sexist language” and therefore, I was a sexist.  I made the union hack that made this smear apologize publicly at our next GA: that I wasn’t sexist and neither was that comment.  But in hushed terms the UAW cabal kept the smear going behind the scenes: “See? They’re harboring sexists at Occupy Cal: it’s an ‘unsafe space’”.

At the next GA after that, I spoke at length about how Occupy Education/UAW was co-opting and sabotaging Occupy Cal, connecting the dots for many for the first time.  Seeing that nearly everyone present (40+ people) at the meeting agreed with my version of events, AA did the only thing she could think of (instead of, y’know, honestly responding): she crumpled into a ball on the ground and began loudly (fake) sobbing.  AG rushed to her “defense”, saying I needed to “check my white male privilege”, and I was a misogynist sexist, because in the course of a political, not personal, disagreement, I made AA “cry”.  Outrageous bullshit.  For the record, since I’ve already written this much about a non-entity, I’m going to wrap up by recalling the time AG publicly said I didn’t deserve to organize with Occupy Cal at UC Berkeley because I wasn’t a student, just a community member: a little speech that had even my non-allies shaking their head in disbelief in how over-the-top and wrong that statement was.  So, hey, AG, if you’re reading this: Check your elitist university privilege!

On the ReclaimUC/UAW cabal denying their part in pro-cop ratfucking by more smears and lies and snitchjacketing.

One of the ongoing themes of many of the #FSM50 speakers and panelists throughout the day of 10/1/2014 was the idea that “We need to be aware of the struggles in Ferguson, and the protesters who are seeking justice for Mike Brown” (regarding the recent murder outside St. Louis of another unarmed young black man by an unaccountable police force).  I looked around the crowd: of the hundreds gathered, exactly one other person besides me participated in a Fuck the Police #FTP solidarity march for Ferguson through Oakland and Berkeley several weeks earlier: again, a lot of talk and no action with these #FSM50 and CPC “activists”.  One funny comment stuck with me throughout the events of that earlier #FTP march: As we dodged a kettling attempt from riot cops of at least 5 different police agencies and marched onto the UC Berkeley campus, the autocrat who runs the @OccupyOakland account proudly pronounced “This is the first time an Oakland Fuck The Police marched on campus!”
“Incorrect!” I yelled back to the rest of the marchers.  “The last time was on 2/19/12!”

Funny story:  On February 9th 2012, Occupy Cal had set up an encampment with tents and renewed the occupation for over a week on campus, the first since 11/17/2011, and it was one of the only tented Occupations at the time across the entire nation, as nearly all were brutally destroyed by police forces coordinated by the Department of Homeland Security (current University of California president Janet Napolitano’s old job).  It was swept away a week later, by a pre-dawn raid of the UCPD.  In response, I called to my allies in Occupy Oakland who were organizing weekly “Fuck the Police” marches and asked them if they would redirect their march to UC Berkeley in solidarity with us post-raid.  They happily agreed to, and over 60 dedicated themselves to a 4+ mile march to support us.

That night, AA went around to all the Occupy Cal activists who were planning to show up and gave them “The Tap”.  “The Tap” is something I witnessed many times in the 1st weeks of Occupy Cal, where a professor or some or other campus authority figure would pull an individual student aside and give them a little speech that went something like this: “If you keep organizing with these people, you will be jeopardizing your future academic career and subsequently you won’t be hired for x y z, get into a PhD program, etc; so leave Occupy Cal before you get into any trouble.”   AA went around a couple of hours before Occupy Oakland showed up to support us, and gave “The Tap” to many Occupy Cal student activists who would have otherwise been absolutely game to participate in, actively sabotaging a #copsoffcampus march/rally.  So instead of dozens/hundreds ready to receive the Occupy Oakland march, there were only four of us.  

Luckily, the UCPD overplayed their hand with an outrageous show of force, and the #FTP marchers didn’t really have time to process “Where the fuck are all the Occupy Cal students?” as they went directly into what they did/do best = not be afraid of riot cops.  Which is something the UCPD isn’t used to; they’re used to beating up timid students, not militant activists getting in their faces yelling “All Cops Are Bastards! A.C.A.B.!”  Which had them literally shaking in their boots.  An incident like this further cements my theory that The Powers That Be will do anything to prevent an Oakland/UC Berkeley activist alliance, and have been doing so since the days of the Black Panthers in the 1960s.  This is why a person like AA, and other Agent Moderators are such useful tools for them…

So when called out on this, what does the ReclaimUC sect do? Lie and smear and deflect and hope no one pays attention and the criticism goes away.

Gee ReclaimUC: what is the 1% of my writing that aren't "conspiracy theories"?  My use of prepositions?

And how many other behind the scenes secret smears and threats has there been?  Many people have quietly approached me saying they’ve got the message “If you want to be in [clique XYZ] don’t go to Occupy Cal/bpoffcampus meetings or promote them on social media.”  There was even an instance where a new teacher was told her job was on the line if she didn’t immediately remove a Facebook post promoting my (now censored) Occupy Cal TruthOut .org article.  Toe the party line or else.


The Plot Thickens: Occupy the Farm’s role in this Stalinist Ratfucking

Occupy the Farm began on Earth Day 2012, with hundreds of activists marching of the Gill Tract Farm, a plot of land entrusted to the University of California at Berkeley for agricultural research, but was being sold away to developers and privatized bit by bit for the past 80+ years.  Nearly half a year after the Occupy encampments were destroyed by the DHS, Occupy the Farm took the concept to another level, with activists working together to till the earth and plant organic food together. It was such a breath of fresh air literally and figuratively: Occupy away from the urban concrete settings and on farmland where the goals were being realized with everyone laboring together and transforming the space communally, which was such a welcome shift from the infighting and distrust that had marked the movement nationally and locally the past several months.  …And then the Occupy The Farm “General Assemblies” and “organizing meetings” began…

OTF had a specific goal of stopping development on the last ten acres of Class 1 organic soil in the East Bay, be it in the form of a parking lot, a Whole Foods supermarket, a baseball field, etc.  Beyond that it had a more generalized vision of reclaiming space, urban and rural, for organic and/or permaculture farming, drawing ties to landless peasant movements in Brazil and other countries.  To these ends, many people gathered on the farm to share their ideas on how this movement could proceed and grow.  Now obviously, not all ideas are equal: there were plenty of terrible ideas put forth; hippie nonsense espoused (IE the totally unrealistic variety), various local farmers’ market advocacy type groups who wanted to market their brand/ideals, etc, but there were also a lot of intelligent people who showed up with farming/agricultural experience who wanted to participate in this “direct horizontal democracy” which, if operating to movement ideals, the best ideas would win and would be acted upon.  It became increasing obvious that a secret steering committee or behind-the-scenes Stalinist bureaucracy prevented any vision but their narrow one would be realized at OTF.

As I spent a good amount of time there, “illegally” camped out at the farm, etc, I observed first-hand the daily ritual/farce/perversion of General Assemblies and “direct democracy” many times.  The Leaders-NotLeaders of OTF (who are veterans of the Wheeler Hall protests at UC Berkeley 2009-2010 and connected with the ReclaimUC clique, and therefore… connected to the UAW! More explicit examples soon) would call a “work meeting”, if something to their favor was voted on, great!  If not, “oh this isn’t an official vote: this is just a ‘work meeting’”, Then they’d hold a “Facilitation committee meeting” = same thing.  Then they’d have a daily General Assembly where “oh, we already decided to do X Y Z at the work meeting” or “Oh, we voted against this earlier in the Facilitation committee meeting” Then they’d call for break out working groups after the GA, with the Stalinists roaming from one group to the next.  These people would literally wait for enough people to leave any particular group or lead opposing voices away to another group/area of the farm so the vote would be stacked in their favor.  And if it wasn’t, they’d just wait another hour or so and call another meeting!  I really wish this was hyperbole, but there would be easily 4 to 6 meetings/GAs on any given day, or however many/few were necessary to advance their bureaucracy’s objectives (more on their motives and objectives to come).

Trust me; I wasn’t the only one to observe this.  Many veterans of Occupy Oakland showed up sporadically over the course of days/weeks, tilled the soil and volunteered their physical labor at OTF and witnessed this fuckshit.  But rather than call attention to it; how a Stalinist faction was usurping the democracy at OTF, they quietly told their friends/comrades and walked away.  The reason for this lack of whistleblowing: The same patterns happened at Occupy Oakland, but with more people/factions and over a greater period of time, IE months not days.  Occupiers saw firsthand what happened to those who questioned the cliques who were running things behind the scenes: they became the targets of vicious social media smear campaigns and yes, cyber-bullying.  This did sometimes advance to become actual physical threats.  Even more pernicious was the “Loose Lips Sink Ships” rhetoric that was deployed as a weapon against asking direct questions: if one asked for details or characters involved this half-true canard would be pulled out all too often to deflect criticism of the secret steering committees; IE revealing X Y Z information could jeopardize persons A B C and get them arrested (though I can’t think of one case where this actually happened, IE someone jailed because of too-revealing twitter gossip).  This tactic was used constantly to deflect criticism from Occupy Oakland organizing cliques, and keep them totally unaccountable.  An infamous case in point was the Occupy Oakland Finance Committee was supposed to post the accounts and expenditures of the movement monthly: ten months went by without any update, and the people who did question this accounting delinquency were, of course, smeared.

So with no organized counter-faction within Occupy Oakland to question/call out these cliques/Stalinists, one person would step-up and commit this mortal sin of questioning their authority, and that one person would have their life (via social media gang-smears and more) become a living hell for the next few days.  One by one people from Occupy Oakland would be picked off and never return. To be clear, these people weren’t always ‘valued allies’ or courageous whistleblowers, but the piling on behavior (which, by the nature of the beast of twitter I sometimes unwittingly participated in) was/is reprehensible, especially when used against honest critiques from those who volunteer labored so much time and energy within the movement.  We all can do better.  Many from Occupy Oakland had seen this movie, played that game, so they quietly left OTF without publicly vocalizing their concerns.

Yet many of us stayed at Occupy The Farm despite all this fuckery because we believed in the movement.   It’s hard to describe the magic of working on a radical farm land with your friends and comrades, giving life to a green and good goal: this made many ignore the bullshit and focus on the positive.  Members of Occupy Cal’s Open University, on their own volition (IE not approved/unapproved by an OTF GA/meeting/forum etc), built bridges between OTF and UC Berkeley professors, inviting several to participate in teach-ins at the farm (see the pdf for more details).  The Open University also made a presentation to the UC Berkeley student government, the ASUC, which resulted in a unanimous endorsement of Occupy The Farm.  Having the ASUC support the farm delayed the inevitable UCPD raids for over another week; the administration instead had to wait for the student body to leave at the end of the semester before shutting down OTF with riot cops.  I wrote this, exposing how the admins censored the daily student paper.  Members of the Open University even interrupted a UCB graduation ceremony to give the chancellor veggies from the farm. We were never given any credit or offered any thanks for our efforts.

After the farm was raided, it became even more abundantly clear that the OTF “leaders” wanted people to do their farm labor, show up at the drop of the hat en masse whenever the UCPD threatened a pre-dawn raid, but when it came to planning the farms next steps, these Stalinists were NOT interested in organizing with other people (including us) on any sort of semblance of equal footing.  Over the course of the next year in preparation for Occupy The Farm 2.0, they met on a ~weekly basis.  What ensued was the most over-the-top “Security Culture”-Theater I’ve ever witnessed in the already paranoid Bay Area radical activist “scene”.  People were ordered to surrender all electronic devices at the door and have at least 2-3 other activists vouch for them.  Was this because a highly detailed plot was going to be conspired?  A building on campus they were going to Occupy?  A bank robbery or an elaborate Ocean’s 11 style jewel heist to fund the revolution?  No, these “precautions” were taken, making everyone unnecessarily uncomfortably paranoid and then there would be a boring as cow shit meeting about soil samples, where to plant the tomatoes, who’s turn it was to wash the camp dishes, etc.  

This all led up to May 2013, Occupy The Farm 2.0: occupy the Gill Tract farmland again.  Holy shit, the administration NEVER SAW THAT COMING = good thing you went through the security theater bullshit.  This was supposed to be timed with the premiere of the Occupy The Farm Film documentary highlighting the “achievements” of OTF1.0 … but said film was tens of thousands of dollars over budget and months past due.  Only a trailer was completed: it reminded me of my small high school graduating class- the principal recruited the head-cheerleader to make a “Memories” retrospective type film of the seniors.  Weeks later they came back with a film that was 90% her and her 12 other cool-kid clique friends with “I Will Remember You” looped for a score.  Now, I haven’t seen the finished product, but if the OTF trailer is any indication, it will highlight the same 6-8 people of the Stalinist faction of OTF espousing half-baked farming philosophy over and over again in close-up interviews, while the hundreds of other participants of OTF are shown in long-shots, mere ants toiling for the clique-queens.  

So I participated in OTF2.0 in May 2013 (just in time for a late planting season… and most of the students leaving campus for the summer…) again hoping beyond hope that something worthwhile could be salvaged from this movement.  The autocrat who runs the @OccupyOakland twitter account granted me access to the (at that time, mostly dormant) account explicitly for the reason for tweeting out #OccupyTheFarm propaganda.  

My tweet is the top one, but an interesting conversation about where the Occupy Oakland $$$ went follows...

This was undemocratically revoked from me when I started questioning the methods and strategies of OTF2.0 on my personal twitter account and at the GAs.  Funny how so many veterans of Occupy Oakland rightly were outraged when the supposedly collective democratic socialmedia accounts of Occupy Wall Street were usurped by J. Tunney and J. Wedes, yet they know the same thing happened to the OO twitter account, and they didn’t lift a finger.  Did I say “funny”?  I meant totally fucking hypocritical.

                So without any plans, strategies, tactics or vision beyond “Let’s plant veggies again!” (I didn’t/don’t just critique without offering other ideas: my constant proposal that I strongly believe would have helped OTF1.0/2.0 thrive beyond the boundaries of those ~10 acres), OTF2.0 was swept away rather quickly by the UCPD & administration.  One member of bpoffcampus was arrested at OTF2.0, disappeared inside Santa Rita prison for several days, and ultimately released without being charged.  It’s important to note, that bpoffcampus was very active in the 1st half of 2013, having weekly public teach-outs, organizing meetings, rallies, demonstrations, direct actions, guerrilla theater events, disrupted graduation ceremonies and interrupted Chancellor Birgeneau’s farewell party, and more!  What we didn’t know at the time was that the UAW 2865 cabal was threatening other student activists if they participated, or shared our events on social media, as I mentioned before; IE why there were dozens showing up instead of hundreds.  But what we did know, was that we invited Occupy The Farm folks to organize with us two times a week for months: they NEVER showed up to any of our events; they couldn’t even be bothered to share our actions on their social media accounts.  NOT FUCKING ONCE.  

To be absolutely fucking clear: We had open horizontal meetings we asked them to participate in against a known villain, British Petroleum, and a common enemy, the University of California top administration and the Board of Regents.  It’s not like we asked them to do some nonsense like, champion theories about how Shapeshifting Reptile Aliens are controlling us with chemtrails, or have them collect signatures for “Lyndon LaRouche for President”.  Yet for all the physical and organizational labor we donated to the Occupy The Farm cause, the amount of times we put our asses on the line against the riot cops of the UCPD for OTF; they couldn’t support us with even ONE HOUR of their time.  Nice solidarity, “comrades”.

And as a kicker, when I posted my article about how the UAW infiltrated and sabotaged Occupy Cal and ratfucked student activism at UC Berkeley, I was deleted from the OTF email list-serve, after being on it for about 21 months.  Hmm… 

                In Spring of 2014, OTF3.0 emerged as a gardening club for an explicitly UC Berkeley-run farm, and their political advocacy narrowed down to an anti-mini-mall campaign at the Gill Tract: In other words, next to total fucking irrelevance.  So by the Fall Semester 2014, the OTF Stalinist clique joined the CPC, and at the weekly meetings at the local UAW 2865 union hall, they immediately took positions in the leadership bureaucracy to organize for the #FSM50 anniversary.  Why? To promote their now 18 months overdue Occupy The Farm Documentary/Vanity Project.

                If you gave me a camera, a computer, film-editing software, and X amount of dollars for my labor (let’s say easily under $10k), I could have made an Occupy The Farm documentary in under a month, that would be “good enough”; highlighting the movement’s achievements and aims.  But a “good enough” film wasn’t/isn’t good enough for them.  They needed to make the OTF doc a Vanity Project to keep their insular clique’s lifestyle-activism Brand relevant, and highlight just how fucking awesome they are, so they can use pickup-lines to the next new crowd of co-ed would-be radicals/activists at UCB: “Hey baby, I’m a Direct Action Activist…” 

                Now a lot of you may think it’s ridiculously petty and slimy to attack a group’s sexual proclivities, and 99.999% of the time you’d be right.  But 99.999% of us haven’t produced/starred in a Reality TV series that aired on Premium Cable about our sex lives: They have!  I’m not a hater, I’m not a prude, I’m not jealous; I don’t give a shit about gossip regarding which activists are fucking who: I bring this up because it’s necessary to understand the OTF clique’s motives, their mentality, and their borderline egomania.  Other activists have told me that during the course of producing this Reality TV series in the Spring of 2012, the leadership clique being otherwise engaged, left a vacuum at Occupy Los Angeles (the UAW 2865 cabal connecting many occupies all over CA), making it almost impossible for that city’s wing of the movement to organize for the May Day “General Strike” in any substantial way.  Also, at the same time frame in which the UAW-led Occupy Education was co-opting/ratfucking over Occupy Cal, Occupy UC Davis and all other University of California Occupy student activism; this Reality TV series featured OVERT UAW PROPAGANDA!!!  I wish I was making this up, I wish this was a joke: it’s not.

                This all led to the OTF clique’s participation in the Cal Progressive Coalition’s (CPC) “action” during the #FSM50 event on Oct 1st 2014.  After the formal speeches at the day’s opening rally on Sproul, the OTF/CPC led the crowd on a march of about 100 feet to a “building occupation”.  Since the building in question, the Architects and Engineers building was open to the public, the ten or so people loitering in the lobby were later reclassified as a “sit-in”.  This action was done with a series of demands, regarding the University be more transparent regarding the Gill Tract.  Skip to the end: the sit-in unoccupied later that evening (though some of the more radical who wanted to stay were voted down) with two of the demands nominally met/paid lip-service to by the administration.  Everyone went home, but not without one final “Come see our Occupy The Farm Film premiere!” plug.  Yet this isn’t about critiquing the event in what many freshmen present would call their first witnessed “direct action” which could only be considered lukewarm at best.  This is about the behavior that the OTF/CPC/UAW clique had, rallying the gathered crowd outside and the content of their speeches.  In the hours I spent observing, the Wheeler Hall protests and Occupy the Farm were mentioned repeatedly at length: not a word about Occupy Cal.  British Petroleum’s role as a privatizing influence at UCB was mentioned once, in passing: Not a word about bpoffcampus.  And not in a “Whoops!  In the 6 hours we’ve had to talk about anything and everything we forgot to mention Occupy Cal!” This was a deliberate, Orwellian-style sabotage: instead of mentioning Occupy Cal/bpoffcampus/Open University either in support or rebuke; they, the CPC/OTF/UAW, chose to make us “un-people”.  All of our labor and efforts of the past three years was “un-history”: We never even existed.

Some semblance of wrapping up with some ideas towards solutions for actual movement building:

                Yes, that went on for even longer than I expected.  But I feel every word of it is important to get us out of this funk and the activist state of denial that has been pervasive these past 3 years since Occupy began.  Also important is the fact I haven’t and won’t name names: not just because that would be a localized “Inside Baseball” discussion, but I’m making a bigger point that these patterns happened everywhere, and not just during Occupy.  Yet this narrative of, “Whoops!  Occupy failed: better luck next time!” doesn’t do justice for the necessary examination of why the radically politically vibrant Bay Area has been effectually inert these past years.  It’s because of these behaviors of Stalinist-type leadership cabals have gone unchecked in a supposedly leaderless movement, and this lack of accountability have led us to a toxic point where we flat out just don’t trust each other anymore.  

                Now there are ways to organize a movement that fosters accountability and community while dealing with checking the power of hierarchy and leadership-cabals.  Off the top of my head:

Almost a year ago, I published an article with TruthOut dot org exposing how unions betrayed the largest populist mass movement against unequivocally again plutocracy the USA has seen since the 60s, perhaps since the Labor movement of the 20-30s (IE before the Leftists got purged).  Instead of sparking a local or national dialog about the role modern business unions have in activism; my article was censored on behalf of the UAW.  Union members who were/are allies from the Occupy movement played this deaf and dumb role like the longshoremen in On the Waterfront: anything less than near total unquestioning solidarity to the idea that the “Unions make us strong” (even with the plethora of evidence of bureaucratic corruption for the past 30-70 years and an ever shrinking unionized workforce) is not to be openly spoken of: at least if you want to advance and/or keep your job.

Take for example, the case of Michael Moore and his film 1989 documentary “Roger & Me”.  In a 90 minute film about how the most profitable corporation on the planet, General Motors, destroyed the industrial city of Flint by outsourcing; he spends 90 seconds on the UAW’s role in corruption and planned obsolescence by never fighting back against the corporation or plutocratic CEOs, instead giving concession after concession.  Which is why Flint and Detroit (and so many other American cities) are the dystopian urban hellscapes they are today: the UAW betrayed its populist mission as a union and refused to fight back. 

But instead of rightly damning the UAW for their failings, Michael Moore falls into this oft repeated trope/propaganda of “Whoops! If only these unions could get their act together, we’d see some real change!” purposefully ignoring that the unions have had over 70 years to get their “act together”: if they haven’t done it by now, they will never do so.

After all: What have unions done for us lately?  The largest labor campaign since Occupy has been the SEIU astroturfing #FightFor15 (the fight for fast food workers to receive a $15/hr minimum wage and a union)… and setting it up to fail so they, the SEIU bureaucracy, can save face when they utter capitulate for the DNC’s (Democrats) $10.10/hr minimum wage counter-proposal.  Just think: A tiny portion of the billions of dollar in the collective Union strikefunds would have won a living wage for ALL American workers by now… if unions were truly concerned about the working class.

Yet even a larger vision, far from a utopia, but very realistically winnable:  With all strikefunds deployed workers easily could, for instance, achieve a $25 minimum wage and a 20 hour work week and a more representative democratic government, etc and we’d all be better for it.
Instead, labor unions are plutocratic bootlickers of the oligarchs.

 We need a new Enlightenment:  We must be no longer content with Divine Right to Rule where Divinity = how much money one has in their bank account.  A slight adjustment of Occupy Wall Street’s slogan “We are the 99%” is needed to reframe the 1% not merely as the wealthy few who are in a higher tax bracket than 99% of us: No, the 1% are the plutocrats and their lackeys.
Occupy was the first stage in a long time in that Enlightenment, in that New Awakening.  And we were betrayed and sabotaged by Big Labor.

This all leads us back to a few days before the #FSM50, as mentioned before, when us members of the Open University were talking to the “Leader” of the Free Speech Movement.  Like I previously mentioned, Jack Weinberg was more or less sympathetic to our concerns that a Stalinist cabal within the UAW 2865, which had previously worked to sabotage Occupy Cal, was undemocratically taking positions of #FSM50 events.  With someone of his decades of activist experience, it was rather startling to see Jack’s manner abrupt change when we broached the subject of greater UAW corruption.  He snapped into this conditioned response, or “brainwashed”, which I believe is the new American term for it:
“The United Auto Workers is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful Union I've ever known in my life.”
         Jack Weinberg toed this line, even after detailing to us the years he himself spent in the UAW organizing, and how his ex-wife fought the corruption for over 30 years organizing within the UAW.  Yet when we mentioned the idea that possibly the United Auto Workers out of Detroit weren’t the best union to represent 13,000 graduate student-workers at the University of California.  We mentioned that there was historical precedence for Auto Unions sabotaging student activism (From RE the French Student Movement of 1968: “The bloody repression of the students by police shocked France and brought on a political crisis when auto-workers responded to appeals by students to come to their aid. France came to the brink of a revolutionary confrontation, which was averted by a 10 per cent pay deal supported by the trade union leadership who sent the workers back to work.”).  We pointed out that while he was organizing the Free Speech movement at UC Berkeley in 1964, at the same time, the UAW were denying African-Americans the right to attend the Democratic National Convention.  We proposed the notion to Jack that as long as these Union bureaucracies exist, they serve oligarchy more than the workers they represent, and they will continue to sabotage any efforts for radical change:
 ‘[Horrible alien scream of alarm]: You’re some of those anti-union people! You are the Other!’  He began fleeing the scene of what was an amicable conversation to that point.  He deflected all critiques of the UAW aside with platitudes like “Well, the UAW is better than nothing.”  At which point, he gave up his human autonomy, and became a pod-person.  We were no longer speaking to a rational human being who used logic and reason in his arguments; we were speaking to a fanatic, a cultist who was using a sort of religious fervor of “The Unions make us strong” instead of evidence.
This would be one thing if Jack Weinberg was another lackey: He’s not.  He’s only the Leader of the fucking Free Speech Movement, and ultimately culpable as well for the atrocity of erasing Occupy Cal’s history during the Oct 1st #FSM50 event.

This article is about how to win revolutionary change through student activism and community building; on campus and across the country.  By default, since the Free Speech Movement at UC Berkeley fifty years ago, as goes student activism at Cal, so goes the national campus activism scene.  This isn't personal (again: why I don't name names): if you think I'd be appeased, for instance, if the Occupy The Farm Film made a rush edit to include an hour of bonus footage of "Why Ergoat is awesome" for their premiere in a couple of weeks, you're a moron and/or an asshole.  This isn't all about the money either, though that is a factor: I spent many, many hours setting up a 501c3 status for Occupy Cal, only to be ratfucked by UAW/Occupy Education who redirected donation campaigns to their purposefully built-to-fail counter-movement.  But I'll happily disclose where the ~$700 we did manage to raise went... IF Occupy Education/UAW makes public their accounting, including where their millions of dollars of union dues go; because the dues certainly don't go towards winning a contract for student-teachers that includes a living wage to keep them off food stampsAND I'd like to know how many hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent on Occupy The Farm for a Stalinist clique's vanity documentary and the strategies that have failed for three years now.  This actually would go a fair way towards building a bridge of truth and reconciliation of activism locally.

But it's not about the money: it's about building an activist movement that is designed to win.  This won't happen until we recognize the Stalinist behaviors, and recognize the failed, corrupt US labor union leadership is sabotaging us.

1 comment:

  1. Yawn, if all you've got is tired trolling, no, you're not going to use my comment section for your platform. Save that shit for twitter and facebook. Wanna engage in dialog? Leave a comment. Better yet, write your own thoughtful rebuttal. But I know this is beyond y'all.