Saturday, November 21, 2009

Berkeley's Wheeler Hall Protest Marks Escalation in Campus Intifada

There's been a good bit of commentary on the student fee protests at the University of California. For example, regarding this week's action at Berkeley, CSPT, Michelle Malkin, NRO, and Tiger Hawk all discuss the spoiled brats of the elite university system. And Dan Riehl provides some quotes from activists on the ground, "Some Priceless Prose From Berkeley" (via). But as I've argued, and what's becoming more clear as the pace of activism picks up, the current unrest is being driven in large part by the hardline revolutionary contingents on the streets and in the halls of academe. I covered this previously. See, "‘Mobilizing Conference’ for Public Schools Revives ’60s-Era Campus Radicalism."

This photo, from the San Francisco Chronicle, captures the visual imagery of the protest's roots in the struggles of international revolutionary solidarity:

The Wheeler Hall protest has now been shut down (see, "Wheeler Hall Occupation Ends Peacefully"). But a wide array of "progressive" neo-communist groups are at the base of this latest wave of mobilizations, and they're vowing an escalation in the struggle.

Recall that International ANSWER organized the November 17th protest against the CSU Board of Tustees. The UC Solidarity group is an alliance of radical academics and student protesters seeking to rekindle campus unrest of the 1960s. The communist Amy Goodman's Democracy Now! is endorsing the protests, "Why Are We Destroying Public Education? University of California Students and Staff Prepare for System-Wide Strike to Protest Cuts," and "As UC Regents Approve Major Tuition Hike, Students, Faculty Decry Erosion of Public Education in CA and Nationwide." And from the hardline communist Fight Back! journal, "Student Struggles Continue Across California." The International Committee of the Fourth International has a report, "University Protests Continue in California," and that group's splinter faction, International Socialist Organization, as well, "Struggle Heats up in California."

The Wall Street Journal reported on the unconditional demands of the occupiers, which turned off moderate students focused on fee increases rather that worldwide revolution:
UC Berkeley officials condemned the action at their campus. "We certainly understand the students' frustrations and concerns, but it's disappointing they expressed their frustrations in this way," said Janet Gilmore, a UC Berkeley spokeswoman.

In the crowd, sentiment seemed mostly in favor of the building occupation. Protesters locked arms to block entrances to the building in an effort to impede police.

But some students said the tactics were counterproductive, and that the demands, in some cases, were unreasonable. For example, some protesters demanded the UC regents eliminate the fees. "I agree the tuition hike was not good for me, but I know the state is in a crisis," said Jeffrey Joh, a 19-year-old sophomore. "Their message here is unclear."
Recall that the student insurgency group, Occupy California, is mobilizing revolutionary cadres for widespread campus mobilizations. See, "California is Occupied," which features the image above from inside Wheeler Hall, and this picture below from UC Santa Cruz:

The Student Activism blog has pledged to take direct action to the next level, "Two Days After the Regents’ Vote, UC Fee Protests Go On." Check also the Indy Media blog for direct action updates.

My sense is that the only thing missing so far is the arson, kidnappings, and bombings that have marked earlier decades student revolutionary agitation. And unfortunately, my bet is that it's only a matter of time -- we'll be seeing some Bill Ayers wannabes popping up in short order.

RELATED: International ANSWER has released a press statement in solidarity with
jailed pro-communist attorney and terror-enabler Lynne Stewart, "Free Lynne Stewart."


Dana said...

That sophomores act like sophomores is unsurprising, though I never "occupied" a campus building when I was a sophomore!

I wish I knew, though, just who these concerned students expect to pay for their educations if they don't.

Cuffy Meigs said...

It's not a "protest" - it's a disruption of normal school activities. Every student involved in this disruption should either be suspended or kicked out of school. Outsiders affiliated with ANSWER caught organizing these disruptions should be banned from campus and have legal charges brought against them.

The time to play games with people like this is over.

Rusty Walker said...

The problem with Berkeley radicalism is its pathetic version of populism, a zeal to create a rhetorical community of revolutionaries within the university system. This provides a forum within the university system to then speak for “the people” on their behalf, rail against the elites (fellow liberals in this case). I lived in Berkeley in 1971, and they were then, and now, attempting to accuse all of subjugation and oppression of the community of entitled American students. Not so different from the Marxist tactic of identifying whoever disagrees with them as “bourgeois.” Berkeley is fond of labels. This “so last week,” as my kids would say. You are at Berkeley, you must be smart, I say, study, be successful as many of my friends were. Live the American dream. Break the cycle. Quit revolting against your parents!

Tom the Redhunter said...

Philippe said "Most people in Europe are presently totally uninterested in politics."

After handing their sovereignty and decision making over the unelected bureaucrats in Brussels, I'd imagine so. There's nothing for them to politic about.

Dana said...

I do have to thank you for putting me in the august company of Mrs Malkin, NRO and Tiger Hawk!

Mr Walker noted:

The problem with Berkeley radicalism is its pathetic version of populism, a zeal to create a rhetorical community of revolutionaries within the university system.

Thing is, the lifespan of studenthood is relatively short; eventually these people will be graduated -- of flunk out -- and have to do something really radical, like earning a living. How many of those protestors, the ones absolutely livid about tuition hikes, would have been the ones to have voted down the Proposition 1A-E tax increases had they been actual working taxpayers? How many of their parents did vote against the proposed "temporary" tax increases?

Of course, they could always do something really difficult, and tell the Governator and the State Assembly just what programs they would cut, and by how much, to restore the U of C funding levels to eliminate the tuition increases.

Pissed Off Conservative (@DitTwitr) said...

I'm a 31 year old conservative student at UC Davis. I have a wife and three kids, work, and a rigorous academic schedule to keep up with. I've never been into protesting, demonstrations, or activism, but I am now in support of this action against the UC regents. My tuition is going up $1,500 in 4 weeks. It goes up another $1,500 next fall, meanwhile, CA taxes are rising. I'm being squeezed on all sides. And I will not be silent any longer. I struggle as it is to make ends meet and remain in school. I have classmates that can't return to school next quarter because of the fee hikes. Meanwhile the regents sit upon a $3.2 Billion dollar emegency fund an won't put forth the gooey to tap into it. Instead, they raise my raise my tuition because it's easier and requires less legal effort! Furthermore, CA spends more on prisons than on education!! Change must happen.

While I agree that it's shameful for "communist" groups to use our plight to further their agenda, I must point out a key fact. Thursday, at my school 52 were arrested after a PEACEFUL sit-in occupation of the adminstration building. When the police arrived I was among the demonstrators outside the building. We didn't resist the police access to the building. Those inside didn't resist arrests, yet we are the only school who's protestors were detained and against whom charges are pressed. At all the other UC campuses police were resisted and antgonized, yet no protestors are detained after arrests and the regents dropped the charges. Unfortunately the authorities only respond to anger! Rest assured we have learned an unfortunate lesson.

Pissed Off Conservative (@DitTwitr) said...

Edit: "won't put forth the *effort..." (iPhone predictive text- not so predictive)

Dana said...

Dear PO'd Conservative:

OK, so your tuition is going up. Surely you realize that your tuition does not cover the entire cost of your education at UC-Davis. Now, if you aren't going to be responsible for the whole cost of your education, just who do you think should be required to pay for it?

There are a lot of Californians who work as cashiers at convenience stores, who work collecting your garbage, who are stuck in the depressed areas of the cities, and who will never have a realistic chance at going to college themselves, and whose children will be lucky if they even finish high school; should they be taxed more to pay for your education?

I assume as a 31-year-old Californian, you voted last May in the special election: did you vote for the tax increase in Proposition 1A, or did you vote against it?

Dana said...

I have a longer response to the urinated-off Conservative here.

Matt said...

I have a huge problem with the way you characterize this situation.

First, I have a huge problem with you characterizing UC students as privileged. 37% of students on my campus, UC Santa Cruz, are first-generation, meaning they are the first person in their family to go to college. The UC also maintains a student body with a much greater portion of students who come from truly low income backgrounds than peer institutions in the mid-west and on the east coast.

Yes, there are a lot of privileged students on our campuses as well and generally they are the ones taking over buildings. The students without as many privileges are busy trying to just get through school, but we too believe higher education should be accessible and affordable. Given the UC is an economic machine for the state, I don't know why anyone would consider it smart policy to cut its funding. A large number of biotech businesses in San Diego, where I grew up, were spin offs of research and projects done at UCSD. What it comes down to is universities promote innovation and train a highly productive workforce.

Yes Dana, there are older people working in our state paying taxes who have never been to college. I believe the Master Plan for Higher Education envisioned a state where everyone would pay taxes towards our three higher ed systems that so that everyone's children could have the opportunity to attend a decent university. That is why the three tiered system exists. UCs for the top 12.5% (top as in academically top) CA High School students, CSUs for the next 30%, and the CCCs for technical and vocational training.

Dana, I see what you are trying to say, but consider this. The "evil liberal" vision for higher education in CA laid out in the 1960s by Clark Kerr and Pat Brown would have included opportunities for that cashier, opportunities in all three systems for mid-life education. The point of the "free" public higher education system was that the children of that cashier could go to UC Berkeley regardless of the fact that Mom and Dad are living on working class salaries.

I think the conservative movement needs to realize this economic crisis and all these kinds of discussions are really galvanizing a generation of Americans against conservatism. The generation of students right now at CSU, CCC and UC, totaling together over 1.5 million people, will not quickly forget that California GOP shot down a minimal Oil Severance Tax (like standard taxes already levied in Red states like Texas and Wyoming), a nickel a drink alcohol tax and the increased cigarette taxes and instead vouched for deep cuts to higher education.

People keep saying the state needs to live within these means. What these people forget is that the state's "means" can be changed by re-structuring the tax system.

Pissed Off Conservative said...

I have responded to Dana's comment on her post found here:

PO'd Conservative said...

To *his* [Dana] - apologies for the assumption of gender.