Students Occupy Former Cross Cultural Center at UC Davis « occupy california

Students Occupy Former Cross Cultural Center at UC Davis

by G via Occupy California

Students at UC Davis have occupied the former Cross Cultural Center, the center having moved to a new $22 million building.

They have declared their solidarity with UCR, Egypt, the hotel occupation in San Francisco and Occupy Oakland – especially with their upcoming moving day on January 28th.

Pictures will be posted soon, here is the communiqué:

The spaces we live in are broken: occupation is our defense.

As capital spirals further into crisis, we are constantly confronted with the watchword of austerity. We are meant to imagine a vast, empty vault where our sad but inevitable futures lie. But we are not so naïve. Just as Wall Street functions on perpetually revolving credit markets where cash is merely a blip, so also does our state government. High tuition increases have been made necessary not by shrinking savings, but by a perpetually expanding bond market, organized by the UC Regents, enforced through increasing tuition and growing student loan debt. Growth has become a caricature of itself, as the future is sold on baseless expanding credit from capitalist to capitalist. Our future is broken. We are the crisis. Our occupations are the expressions of that crisis.

But on the university campuses, where militarization is increasing daily, we have more immediate needs. Our relationship with the administration and police is not one of trust and openness; the arrogance and nonchalance with which they regularly inflict violence against us is just as regularly followed by a thoroughly dissembling, inadequate, and cowardly condemnation of that violence. One hand attacks—one hand denies. Our universities and our public spaces are today ultra-militarized zones, where students and workers are monitored and subjugated under the pretense of “health and safety.” Officer Kemper from UC Irvine drew his gun at the Regents’ meeting at UCSF. Berkeley UCPD participated in violently clearing the Oakland Communards from Oscar Grant Plaza just weeks before they would come to UC Davis for the events of November 18th. On the day of the first Oakland General Strike, UCOP office in Oakland was lent out to OPD to “monitor” protests. Under the pretext of mutual aid, squads of armed and armored riot cops move from one campus, one public space, one city, to the next. The circulation of cops throughout the state shows that the mobile, militarized force of repression knows no boundaries: it will protect capital, government, and the status quo, wherever they are threatened. In a university whose motto is fiat lux, the administration crushes dissent and veils its intentions with lies. It has the same intentions as Mayor Quan or the Military in Egypt: to crush resistance, by any means necessary.

To continue our resistance, our immediate need is to create a safe space of togetherness, care, and freedom. When we occupied Mrak, the same officers who would later be involved in pepper spraying us watched over us as we slept. As we gathered to discuss, plan, and act to protect our right to education, the Orwellian “Freedom of Expression Team” and the “University Communications Team” loomed nearby, texting the pigs and administration on their stupid androids, smiling at us in their fake, overfed way, scooting near like unpopular highschool kids trying to overhear the weekends’ party plans. Later, these same concerned FOEs, would stand by on the quad and do nothing, grinning like idiots, as students pepper-sprayed at point blank range called for medics. It is clear to us that public space has become a euphemism for militarized, ordered, monitored space. Occupation opens a common space which is not the extension of private property to group property, but the active exclusion of all that reinforces private property. We must exclude the police and the administration, and their “Freedom of Expression Team” lackeys as well, in order to create the openness and togetherness which is impossible in their presence.

The UC Chancellor, President, Regents—who prattle on endlessly about diversity while the university closes its doors to brown students, who hail marginal utility while “the economy” closes its fist around the poor, who dream up ways to boost the university’s standing on some imaginary scale of “excellence” while slurs, swastikas, nooses, and Klan masks appear endlessly on our campus, who meet protests with violence and truth with lies—they have already proven their incapacity to imagine a future different than the present. We occupy because we will not wait for the broken future they have planned for us, because we do not trust our “elected officials” or administrators to make decisions that address problems beyond their own narrow interests. This action is not the beginning of a discussion; this is the end of the discussion. We cannot negotiate for our needs, we will not negotiate for our needs, we will meet our needs.

via Students Occupy Former Cross Cultural Center at UC Davis « occupy california.

via cuntrastamu!

Statement by Comrades from Cairo in Response to OWS Proposal to Send Election Monitors

re-posted from jadaliyya.com
[The following statement was issued by Comrades from Cairo on 13 November 2011.]

To our kindred occupiers in Zuccotti park,

When we called out to you, requesting you join us on 12 November in defending our revolution and in our campaign against the military trial of civilians in Egypt, your solidarity—pictures from marches, videos, and statements of support—added to our strength.
However, we recently received news that your General Assembly passed a proposal authorizing $29,000 dollars to send twenty of your number to Egypt as election monitors. Truth be told, the news rather shocked us; we spent the better part of the day simply trying to figure out who could have asked for such assistance on our behalf.
We have some concerns with the idea, and we wanted to join your conversation.
It seems to us that you have taken to the streets and occupied your parks and cities out of a dissatisfaction with the false promises of the game of electoral politics, and so did our comrades in Spain, Greece and Britain. Regardless of how one stands on the efficacy of elections or elected representatives, the Occupy movement seems outside the scope of this; your choice to occupy is, if nothing else, bigger than any election. Why then, should our elections be any cause for celebration, when even in the best of all possible worlds they will be just another supposedly “representative” body ruling in the interest of the 1% over the remaining 99% of us? This new Egyptian parliament will have effectively no powers whatsoever, and—as many of us see it—its election is just a means of legitimating the ruling junta’s seizure of the revolutionary process. Is this something you wish to monitor?
We have, all of us around the world, been learning new ways to represent ourselves, to speak, to live our politics directly and immediately, and in Egypt we did not set out to the streets in revolution simply to gain a parliament. Our struggle—which we think we share with you—is greater and grander than a neatly functioning parliamentary democracy; we demanded the fall of the regime, we demanded dignity, freedom and social justice, and we are still fighting for these goals. We do not see elections of a puppet parliament as the means to achieve them.
But even though the idea of election monitoring doesn’t really do it for us, we want your solidarity, we want your support and your visits. We want to know you, talk with you, learn one another’s lessons, compare strategies and share plans for the future. We think that activists or as people committed to serious change in the systems we live in, there is so much more that we can do together than legitimizing electoral processes (leave that boring job to the Carter Foundation) that seem so impoverished next to the new forms of democracy and social life we are building. It should be neither our job nor our desire to play the game of elections; we are occupying and we should build our spaces and our networks because they themselves are the basis on which we will build the new. Let us deepen our lines of communication and process and discover out what these new ways of working together and supporting one another could be.
Any time you do want to come over, we’ve got plenty of comfy couches available. It won’t be fancy, but it will be fun.

Yours, as always, in solidarity,

Comrades from Cairo
13 November, 2011

P.S. We finally got an email address: comradesfromcairo@gmail.com

An Introduction to Tahrir Documents

A man sits with signs in tahrir square

Fueled by mass participation across disparate demographics, and by excitement over Tunisia’s recent uprising, the January 25th protests in Egypt unexpectedly transformed into a revolution. International news sources described this transformation as one made possible only through the use of new social networking media, and so the events of late January and early February were variously branded “Revolution 2.0,” the “Facebook Revolution,” the “Twitter Revolution,” etc. Yet so many acclamations of new social media and its liberatory potential overlooked the persistence of print in the revolution and its aftermath, from the earliest protests up through present efforts at political mobilization. Tahrir Documents is an attempt to address this other, less-examined element in the remaking of political life in Egypt.

Tahrir Documents collects printed matter from Cairo’s Tahrir Square and its environs. Since the first week of March, volunteers in Cairo have gone to the square, usually on Fridays, to gather documents distributed at protests and rallies. The archive continues to grow as new groups emerge, rallies continue, and the production of printed material keeps pace. We also accept scanned or  photographed submissions sent in by individuals not directly involved in the project, such as friends in Alexandria documenting the appearance of printed material there. On one particular Friday, editors who went to Tahrir Square decided not only to collect printed documents, but also to take photographs of the many poems and signs on display. These photos then became “documents” of their own on our website.

Our editorial board is made up of four people, all of us students of Arabic who came into contact in various ways, whether as colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania or while living in Cairo. Initially, we assembled a group of volunteer translators from among our personal contacts, academic or otherwise, who then suggested colleagues of their own whom they thought might be interested in participating. Eventually, we put together a group of over seventy translators, who continue to contribute their work as time and personal interest allows. Translations, once submitted, are then sent on to our reviewers, who check for both accuracy and English style. The editors then post the reviewed translations online alongside PDF’s of the original documents. The project is not affiliated with the documents’ authors nor with any political organization, Egyptian or otherwise. We also have no institutional affiliation. Our goal has been to disseminate political conversations more articulate and more developed than those possible in tweets or Facebook wall posts, yet which remain overlooked amidst the press’ rapturous and uncritical celebration of new social media. We are also concerned with the establishment of a permanent reference for the revolution’s participants and researchers alike.

As the political situation in Egypt changes, so does the project. We initially translated tactical pamphlets (such as the now-famous “How to Revolt,” a translation of which was first published in the Atlantic), lists of demands leveled at Hosni Mubarak and his regime, and explanations of the motivations behind the popular uprising. Yet single-minded and unified opposition to the previous regime have now given way to the more fractious work of re-assembling Egyptian politics, and we are now encountering a wild proliferation of genres, subjects, and styles. Recent translations have included new parties’ manifestoes, statements on sectarian strife, and calls for solidarity with Palestine and Libya in addition to poems, plays, and even personal rants and admonitions regarding moral conduct. Lists of demands have not disappeared entirely, but have multiplied and diversified as new groups develop. Whatever papers appear in Tahrir and its environs are collected and translated, regardless of source, content, authorship, or even quality. We hope that the collection, however limited,  provides a point of entry into the kinds of serious political thought and action now underway throughout Egypt.

The documents selected for reproduction at Occupy Everything offer a cross-section of Egyptian political writing. In addition to the types of texts mentioned above, these documents place great emphasis on Tahrir Square’s “martyrs,” the brutality of the security apparatus, and the importance of religion and family values in Egypt. Yet because our archive is not limited to purely political writings, we have also selected some of the more eccentric documents found in Tahrir, such as a fashion price list/housing advertisement, a homeopathic solution for sectarian strife, and a “complaint” accusing a specific individual of having relations with thugs, stealing cars, and stalking women. While these documents are not necessarily at the heart of the project, they nevertheless give a glimpse of the kind of diversity we have seen and continue to see. Where more explicitly political writing is concerned, we have included issues of such revolutionary newspapers as “Revolutionary Egypt” (Misr al-thawriyya) and “Gurnal.” These publications, and especially “Revolutionary Egypt,” which is published by the Popular Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (groups formed across Cairo and elsewhere in early February 2011), provide some of the more eloquent expressions of grievances with the former regime, demands for change, and propositions for a democratic future. Though the views they express certainly do not represent the opinions of all sectors of revolutionary thought in Egypt, they nevertheless provide some of the revolution’s most cogent writing.

As of this writing, we have posted translations of nearly two hundred documents, together with the originals in PDF or JPG form on our website. Although not active during the early days of the protests, we have worked hard to collect documents from that period, and will continue our efforts at least through September’s parliamentary elections, the first of the post-revolutionary period. We expect to eventually archive some five hundred documents and their translations.

If you or someone you know is interested in volunteering with Tahrir Documents, please contact us. You can also follow us on Twitter @TahrirDocuments for updates regarding newly posted translations.

Plebiscites and Parasites

The upcoming referendum on the proposed amendments to the Egyptian constitution, scheduled March 19th, gives people a sense that the revolutionary process is reaching its end. The limited scope of the amendments, the majority dealing with electoral matters (such as presidential term limits, reduced length of the president’s term, judicial oversight of elections…), imply that the 11 men of the amendment drafting committee were not attempting to upend the existing order, but were attempting to establish a legal framework for the transition from Mubarak’s rule.

Yet, over the last few days, the legal community – including human rights lawyers, law professors and lawyers in general practice – has begun to coalesce around a consensus in favor of completely rewriting the constitution as the necessary next step in the political process. Many legal professionals believe that the amendments represent a dangerous step backward. As a result, many in the legal community have begun to organize a call for the referendum to be scrapped and/or for people to cast a “no” vote in protest to the entire process.

There are several principal complaints about these constitutional amendments, but the most significant is directed at the amended version of article 189 and the implications of the process it creates. The amendment calls for “A Constituent Assembly of 100 members, to be elected by the majority of the two houses of a joint meeting of parliament, to undertake outlining the new constitution during a period of time not more than six months from the time of its formation.”

The natural question on everyone’s mind regards who will make up the majority of the two houses of a joint meeting of parliament. Many political analysts predict that the remnants of the formerly ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) and the Muslim Brotherhood, together, will end up taking a majority of the seats in parliament by virtue of their being the two most organized political forces in the country. This sets up a situation where these two conservative political factions can create a coalition and essentially write their own constitution.

The general presumption in the western practice of constitutional law is that a body created to write a new constitution must be widely inclusive or it will be seen as illegitimate by the people. Similarly, many Egyptian legal analysts are extremely skeptical of the lack of an open and representative process for writing a new constitution. With so much blood and hope put in to the revolution, many people don’t want to take any chances that the constitution will be hijacked by a conservative majority, leaving other political forces locked out of the process. But, with so little time between now and the referendum, it is unlikely that an organized campaign to defeat the referendum can emerge.

This situation is particularly dangerous considering the current state of constitutional law in Egypt. The legal status of the military’s assumption of power after Mubarak’s resignation has been skeptically viewed by many lawyers. Further, one of the first acts of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces was to suspend the constitution upon taking power. As a result, there has been a constitutional crisis in Egypt since Mubarak resigned.

In strictly legal terms, some scholars argue that the military engineered a coup that invalidated the constitution when it took power upon Mubarak’s resignation. Others say that progress towards stability should move forward under a presumption that the constitution is still in place. Views, such as that of Tahani al-Gebali, Egypt’s first female judge and vice president of the Supreme Constitutional Court, express the legal trouble at issue. She argues that passage of the constitutional amendments could override the suspension of the old constitution and legally block the military from a legitimate decision making role in the country’s political process, invalidating their call for presidential and parliamentary elections.

Alternatively, the Muslim Brotherhood is predictably calling for a “yes” vote on the amendments and is already making plans for their own emergence as a major political force. The prominence of Brotherhood members on the amendment drafting committee only reinforces the skepticism of the left in the honesty of this whole process. Looking down the road at a potential NDP and Brotherhood dominated constitutional committee gives many people reason to smell a conspiracy with the army.

This interplay of law, politics and power is probably the fundamental issue regarding the future of the revolution. Egypt’s current lack of adherence to legal and constitutional norms provides ample opportunity to manipulate the process while reducing the ability to challenge abuses. The ability of the Egyptian public to influence the course of these challenges will continue to evolve as the process continues.

The army is forcing us into a premature yes/no decision that is being mulled by all of us in Egypt. As everything the past few weeks where the army is involved, the consequences are yet uncertain.

source: Plebiscites and Parasites | http://www.occupiedlondon.org/cairo/?p=378