Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Strategy and Tactics

I find it difficult to comment on the UCSC occupation due to reliance on the statements, but I would say I probably find myself on the side of sympathetic disagreement, ie not agreeing with the tactics, but recognising the genuine nature of the protest (see the SW interview).

First, I personally doubt the 'terminal crisis of capitalism' thesis (I'd like it to be true...), or at least that the crisis will (a) lead to collapse anytime soon, or (b) lead to an accumulation of new radicalised forces (or automatically lead to such an accumulation). Maybe it's pessimism, which I certainly have, but I don't see the capitalist 'practico-inert' simply falling away or disintegrating except on a very much longer time scale (to be honest, at a minimum fifty years, and probably longer), unless there is a far more global and substantial development of alternative social forms (ie socialist / communist / non-commodified). These forms would also be required to prevent the 'common ruin of the contending classes' or simply authoritarian solutions. This is not a spectre of fascism argument, but a recognition of the risk of re-tooled authoritarian forms and national-popular mobilisations.

Second, I'm doubtful about maximalist 'demandless' occupation as a tactic. I have no real knowledge of the US university experience, but I do think actually particular administrations here are responsible for their responses to the crisis, and how they work within the crisis - and they should be held accountable. In fact, precise demands are what are required I think, and I know this is not my own original argument, far from it. This is especially the case in the context of the 'solutions' being offered of more business to solve the problems business caused.


ECW said...

Sorry to not respond to this yet, been rather swamped. I'll write a proper response in the near, addressing the occupation in the particular and as a broader tactic (see my A STAKE IN THE DEAD HEART piece up on the blog for a first salvo in that direction), but I will say here that something which hasn't been properly stressed is that I, like my other comrades involved, certainly want t stress accountability and a particular attack on this administration. In addition, we have no issue with concrete demands in addition to this broader "maximalist" stance. The point, however, was that so far we have seen only concrete demands with no hint of the kind of pressure/escalation that would even make such demands heard. As such, what interests us is not replacing the real work of giving direction to local situations (in this case the university) but supplementing them by trying to create a sense of urgency and crisis. This TAZ action, and others like it, can only be "successful" insofar as they function as advanced tactics, not as a replacement for broader strategy.

ECW said...

You've already seen my final statement of sorts, I see below. I'll send your way the next thing I'm working on (when I finish the apocalypse MS).