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(en) Britain, Anarchist federation journal Resistance #110 - Page 4 - OCCUPATION WAVE YET TO BREAK

Date Sat, 07 Mar 2009 21:50:27 +0200

Despite the recent atrocities in Gaza having disappeared from our TV screen sand dropped
out of the media spot-light, resistance to the actions of the Israeli state and calls for
solidarity with ordinary Palestinian people still continue. Since the last issue of
Resistance there have been university occupations in Nottingham, Sheffield Hallam,
Strathclyde, Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh, East Anglia, Goldsmiths , St. Andrews,
Cardiff, Plymouth and London University of the Arts. The occupations have met mixed
results. Some students have won partial demands, while others have been forcefully evicted
(as at Nottingham) or seen the suspension of students and union officers participating (as
at Sheffield Hallam).

Despite the peaceful nature of the protests
and a commitment to not disrupt education,
time and time again university management
have harassed, victimised and threatened
activists with police action.The commitment
of universities to free speech and political
dissent has always been skin-deep. In a time
when education is so heavily marketised,
political protest is simply "bad for business".
Students are increasingly seen as "consumers",
paying a service and rewarded with good job op-
portunities. Universities, for their part, pro-
vide employers with a well trained, skilled
and obedient workforce able to fill the man-
agement positions of the future. In reality
students face a bleak future ­ a significant
chance of unemployment on graduation,
with the luckier ones finding work which
they don't need a degree for anyway.

The priority of the universities
is to keep turnover up, and students who
are increasingly questioning the role of the
army, arms manufacturers and sweatshop
employers at their universities represent
a real threat to a huge portion of admin-
istrations' revenues. In the face of this, it
is good to see student activism on the rise
once again and a general acknowledge-
ment of the on-going crisis in the occupied
territories and the continuing need to offer
practical aid and solidarity. What is gener-
ally not so positive is the way that the Stop
the War Coalition have been claiming this
activity as some kind of resurgence for
their organisation. Undoubtedly activists
from Stop the War Coalition have been in-
volved as participants and organisers in oc-
cupations, however the actions of students
are by no means a result of any centrally
planned campaign on their part. This is a
genuinely grass-roots movement and occu-
pation shave seen a diverse coalition of ac-
tivists coming to gether for a common cause
acting to support each other and share ideas
and tactics. Members of the Anarchist Fed-
eration, for example, have been active in
sustaining occupations in Leeds, East An-
glia, Sheffield and Nottingham along with
many other areas. Unfortunately, in some
cases Trotskyist groups have attempted to
sabotage occupation attempts outright in
cases where the party would not be able to
exercise control over the action. Anarchists
in Leeds were even forced to stage an "oc-
cupation walk-out" after a minority of
Trotskyists showed themselves to be com-
pletely incapable of living and organising
collectively. More generally the endorse-
ment of this newest bout of student mili-
tancy by the Stop the War Coalition seems
rather strange given their opposition to
direct action in the run-up to the Iraq War
(which saw AtoB marches fail to stop any-
thing and slowly dwindle into nothing).

However, these problems aside,
this is a positive move for the student
movement and we only hope to see this
grass roots militancy spread further into the
fight against the marketisation of educa-
tion, student debt and general resistance to
the economic crisis.
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