This is a nice post-mortem analysis of an Occupy set at “a large ‘public’ university in Michigan.” The essay touches on a number of things but there are two main themes: analysis of the GA, and the future of campus organizing. To the first point, the authors thoughtfully dissect what didn’t work with the GA model. They examine it in specific terms of their particular group dynamic as well as in the context of the larger, generalized, consensus-based model of direct democracy. This is a deeper analysis than Wendy Brown offered–though I don’t fault her since her thoughts on Occupy were one small part of a larger interview. And it is a far better nuts-and-bolts interrogation of Occupy than David Harvey offered in his fluffy few pages–for which I do fault him as he had the space of a book to look into the matter.
As to the second point, the authors “believe that university campuses are logical and essential sites of struggle.” Toward that end, they offer their thoughts on how university administrations quell revolutionary potential through the bureaucratic apparatus. They subsequently offer some thoughts on how to make campuses more potent sites of struggle, including some direct calls to us academics to stick our necks out. I really wish they had darkened a few more pixels on this section since it was quite interesting to hear their thoughts.
In the end, I found this essay far more informative and valuable than any of the other Occupy pieces that we have read… especially *grumble* David Harvey.
A short reflection on the meaning of democracy and our experience at Occupy organizing at a large “public” university in Michigan.
The three of us first began organizing together under the aegis of Occupy in 2011 at the university where we work (though we were also involved in other regional/local Occupies). While the GAs on our campus initially drew more than a hundred students, our numbers quickly began to decline and we ultimately turned into a sort of affinity group that, while consistently active, became a closed space with little potential for movement building. Looking back, we remain convinced that universities are an under organized space in anticapitalist struggles but that the dominant organizing models, in particular their emphasis on democracy, require some fundamental rethinking. In what follows, we detail our experience with the GA and sketch out some of the reasons why it failed to serve as…
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