ANTIFA101: INTRODUCTION TO UCSD ANTIFA
Fall 2016/Winter 2017
This is a syllabus for an intro course, ANTIFA101. This course is meant to prepare students for the upcoming January 20 student-worker strike to (un)welcome Donald Trump into office. Groups throughout the country are currently in the process of organizing strikes, protests, and boycotts. Our aim is to welcome the racist, sexist, homophobic, ableist era of Donald Trump with a culture of non-compliance.
This is the first year that this course will be held at UC San Diego, and it has been created in response to Trump's election to the Presidency. The syllabus is designed to prepare you for the upcoming actions by providing you with the historical context of UCSD activism, and an analytical framework for understanding why normalizing a culture of work, study, and class stoppages has become tactically imperative for defeating the racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, xenophobia, and ableism of a Trump administration. UCSD is a key site for the production of military technologies, receiving as much as $2.5 billion /year in military funding from the US Department of Defense and private weapons contractors. The money goes to researching equipment later used by the state for destructive war efforts abroad and violent disciplinarianism at home. Donald Trump gains his power through holding a monopoly on state violence. We must fight to demilitarize our university. We can do so by refusing to produce for him!
The UC is also one of California’s largest corporations. Its for-profit model has contributed to a national student debt now larger than that of credit card debt. This means we are taking loans and paying a corporation to freely take our labor/research and use it to produce the same military equipment that is now threatening the lives of those of us who fall into the category of “other.”
In order to put forward a coherent analysis of the loci of power within the university it is important to understand both how the demands of our current moment align with those of various groups over the past half-century, as well as developing a theoretical framework which justifies certain forms of action. This course is divided into two sections; The first provides historical context, whereas the second centers around developing an analysis of the role of the university within the context of an authoritarian state.
But this is more than a history lesson: it is a call to action. Organizations and networks are not built overnight, or from one week to the next. We hope that you will find inspiration as you look back upon the history of activism at UCSD, while also learning from mistakes made in the past.
You will not be graded for your assignments in this course. Meritocracy is a myth! The university thrives on manufacturing consent by shaping student subjectivities in favor of respectability and brand loyalty. The overarching narrative is that students who put their heads down, work hard, and comply will be rewarded by the university through job prospects and thus achieving an upward mobility, which is the only “rational” reason for attending higher education. Loyalty to the brand requires strict obedience and compliance - should one step out of line, one risks access to “the good life.”
The harsh reality is that the university does not open doors. The university has no control over the job market. The university cannot assure its student body that they will even be employed in the sectors in which they are being trained. In fact, the university cannot assure students that they will be employed at all! Debt is the only certainty after a twenty first century journey in higher education. So why comply with an institution whose interests are so opposed to your own?
The assignments require noncompliance. They are a step towards shaping a new subjectivity, one that is in the interests of students’ self exploration, creative realization, and experimentation, rather than one that serves the interests of six figure administrators.
Assignment 1: Identify 3 shared grievances in your workplace and/or academic department by talking to at least 20 colleagues/peers.
Assignment 2: Using course texts, develop a structural analysis of these grievances. Even something so simple as the lack of availability of affordable meals on campus can be traced to a broader trend prioritizing profit over education.
Assignment 3: Reflect on how Trump’s presidency will only further exacerbate these grievances. Talk to folks in Lumumba Zapata Collective . They might help offer a insight, perspective, and/or resources.
Assignment 4: Return to your colleagues/peers with the structural analysis that you developed, and present it to them. Invite them to walk out on strike with you. Ensure them that collective action is the best way to confront those power structural powers that are generating the identified grievances. As individuals, we are powerless. As a collective, we can change the course of history.
Assignment 5: Strike!
Section 1: History
Week 1: “Ancient History”
First we will start with some “ancient history” of our campus. This glosses through fifty years of history and hardly captures the entirety of activism at the university, but teaches something about where we are located. We call this “ancient history” because the “end of history” era has misled many to believe that such recent historical events bear no consequence on the present, or the future.
Our campus was constructed upon sacred Kumeyaay land. This stark history came to public light in 2013, when three UC professors filed a lawsuit in an attempt to obstruct UCSD from handing over ancestral bones to Kumeyaay ancestors - the bones were found upon digging for building renovations made to the Chancelor’s mansion in La Jolla.
Lumumba Zapata College, BSC-MAYA Demands was produced during the student vs. administration battle for a college dedicated to studying, understanding, and enhancing the sixties in through a Third World-Left curriculum. The college would focus on understanding the relationship between US imperial projects abroad and the internal colonial projects of US society, oppressing communities of color both at home and abroad. The college was to be in active solidarity with decolonial struggles taking place in the Third World at the time. Eventually the college was co-opted and turned into Third and then Thurgood Marshall college - along the way administration has all the key aspects of the originally proposed college, including that it be largely student and faculty run.
A Student Democracy Movement Close to Home Needs Your Help! UCSD has a very radical history that lies deep beneath the modernist glass and concrete buildings, military research, and persistent bigotry that UCSD has come to be so well known for in the past five decades. The following compilation focuses primarily on the co-op struggles. It was made in the mid-1990s in the wake of the threats made by the UCSD administration to shut down the student-run cooperatives on campus. It demonstrates the historical failures of working with UC administration, dating as far back as the 1970s. We do not want to make the same mistakes!
Week 2: Welcome to the Neoliberal Era
In 2009, UC saw the first waves of building occupations statewide in over a decade. A few of us participated in these at various campuses throughout the state, although there was not an occupation at UCSD. These were the initial struggles against tuition hikes (tuition went up 32% in 2009, then again 14% in 2010). The slogan was, “Demand nothing, occupy everything!”
Below is an article written by a faculty member of the sociology department in response to repression against Occupy encampments across the UCs. This article of revealing how repression operates within the neoliberal university.
There have been various recent building occupations at UCSD (i.e. Galbraith Hall for four months when it was called CLICS in 2010, and Peterson Hall two day long occupation in 2014). We participated in the actions as supporters/activists, but did not organize them as a collective. These occupations have been instrumental in forming some of the organizer relationships that still exist today throughout campus. The occupations did not accomplish their demand goals, but were very important for meeting people and forming bonds. They serve as a reminder that the struggle will be long - even if an action or an occupation doesn’t result in an immediate victory that the mere act of rising up is often a powerful tool for organization in and of itself. Because of its capacity to form meaningful lasting relationships that are essential to sustaining a prolonged struggle.
Week 3: The Neoliberal-Multicultural-Militarized-Corporatized University, and all of its contradictions
These two articles discuss the Compton Cookout and its legacy. The Compton Cookout was a watershed moment in which the idea of the university as a multicultural space was dealt a serious blow by the reality of a white supremacist climate on campus. The first article is just a description of the events, and the second is an analysis of the events four years later. The Compton Cookout was important because administration’s response was to establish the diversity offices and spaces we see on campus today, which have been by and large a failure in dealing with the systemic racism (ie. exclusion) on this campus.
Robin G Kelley’s “Black Study, Black Struggle” offers a critique of the neoliberal multicultural university. What does that mean?!
This 2016 article was authored by two UCSD graduate students in response to the anti-Mexican/pro-Trump chalkings on campus. It offers a structural analysis and critique of the chalkings. It takes the ideas of Robin Kelley (above) and applies them to the context of UCSD. If you are a student at UCSD, you are located within a neoliberal multicultural structure, although it has now come to an end with the election of Donald Trump. For the past 8 years, universities such as our own have dedicated themselves to the “diversity project.” The university embraced multiculturalism in rhetoric, meaning administrators manufactured an illusion of racial justice by hiring administrators of color, establishing bureaucratized “safe spaces” on campus, adopting a PC discourse, and individualizing structural oppression via racialized psychological services. All the while, the university still maintains a corporatized, profit-seeking model that has excluded students from historically underrepresented backgrounds (ie. poor, Black, Native, Chicanx/Latinx) from attending the university in proportions that accurately represent their demographic makeup in the national and regional populations. UC San Diego is not a diverse campus when Black, Native, and Chicanx/Latinx students make up less than 20% of the student body while making up over 50% of the California state population.
Week 4: The formation of the Lumumba Zapata Collective
This statement was the first public document produced by the Lumumba Zapata Collective (LUMZAP), a coalition of students, workers, and faculty who joined together to develop a critique of the neoliberal multicultural project. Produced in Spring 2016, it offers UCSD-specific numbers to enhance the argument about exclusion presented above.
LUMZAP evolved out of AWDU, a network of dissident student-workers who had been organizing for a few years within our UC-wide TA union, UAW 2865. A lot of the main organizers are plugged into a statewide network of graduate students who all have experiences organizing strikes within the framework of our TA union, and outside of it. This document reflects the work that was done around that, specifically its social justice focus. The AWDU waged a two year long struggle with the university and won every single demand made.
In this piece, Cornell West talks a bit about the 2014 UC-wide graduate student strikes.
This is a petition sent around last year that represents another ongoing struggle in the Literature Department, where there is a cancer cluster and has been for over a decade now. The cancer cases have are primarily among women – there have been like one a year for the past decade in that department, a rate five times higher national average or something. A LUMZAP organizer was diagnosed with breast cancer last year and is undergoing chemo currently. They are still mobilizing around this issue in their department, but we used our networks to circulate this initial petition.
Section 2: Now
Week 5: Why our university still sucks: Renewed administrative attacks on POC campus spaces.
In recent years the university has renewed its attacks on the student run cooperatives. In the Spring of 2014 the administration, who had for months (perhaps even years) been working to co-opt the graduate student association (GSA), and other student orgs, acted to evict the CHE Café by giving the principal members a one week notice that their historical building would be cut from the maintenance budget, and that they would be evicted. This space is one of the few that is consistently inhabited by community members, especially from communities of color in South/Southeast San Diego, who attend concerts there on a regular basis.
Administration had been relying on manufacturing consent in student government to attack the CHE. This was turned on its head when graduate students circulated a petition in support of the building and collective, essentially crippling the university’s argument that students do not attend events at CHE Café.
Week 6: Why our university still sucks: The role of military production on our campus.
This is an article that gives a historical overview of the relationship between neoliberalism, military funding, and the university.
Military production plays such an important role at UCSD, but still it is so mysterious! Thankfully, one graduate student in the Visual Arts Department made an interactive map of military production sites in the La Jolla region.
A group of artists affiliated with the Visual Arts Department also simulated a drone crash on campus in order to challenge the uncritical ubiquity of drone research and production at UCSD.
Week 7: Why our university still sucks: Half-assed official responses to campus Fascism as tacit consent.
In the wake of chalkings at the end of the previous schools year, and the posting of neo-fascist posters from the group Identity Europa this year we have been disappointed at the University’s response. This is an article that reflects the initial response moved forward regarding the Trump chalkings on campus last year. It offers a structural analysis and critique of the chalkings. It provides a lot of the backbone for the critique of neoliberal multiculturalism.
Week 8: Building a new organizational framework, and moving towards a new analysis of the Trump Era University
This article thinks about how the national-level political climate (i.e. neoliberal multicultural project) enabled the rise of Donald Trump, and how the Democratic Party ignored the reality economic grievances held by whites and POCs alike in favor of winning on multicultural rhetoric alone.
This article offers a people of color critique of respectability politics under a neo-fascist government, such as that of Donald Trump.
Week 9: #Wutiz2bdone2017
What is a Strike? Can it really impact politics? This speech by IWW’s Bill Haywood wrestled with those questions in 1911. The IWW was the first US-based union to allow non-white members among its ranks, and has organized some of the most monumental strikes in US history. Many of the current members of LUMZAP are also members of the IWW.
Bifo Berardi’s What is the meaning of Autonomy Today? offers a very useful analysis for thinking about intellectual labor and its power, should it compose itself as a class and organize against the neoliberal status quo model. Skip to the section Rise and Fall of the Alliance of Cognitive Labour and Recombinant Capital. Berardi was an organizer with the Autonomia movement in Italy in the 1970s and remains one of Europe’s top philosophers today. The autonomists helped organize some of the largest strikes in the twentieth century, having crippled the entire cities of Turin, Bologna, Padua, and Rome through organizing between university students and industrial workers.
But our resistance is not limited to a strike. Anti-fascism and militant unionism go hand in hand. We must be prepared to defend ourselves and our communities against attacks by neo-fascist goon squads, such as the anti-Mexican chalking incidents, or various physical abuses that have taken place at college campuses across the country. Any organization struggling for working class emancipation will inevitably have to confront fascism, and those organizations must be prepared for attacks ahead of time in order to 1) survive as an organization itself and 2) provide real solutions to those vulnerable members of the community who may be targetted.
Finally, although street protests are far less strategic than work, study, and class stoppages, knowledge of Street tactics may come in handy at some point during the Donald Trump era. Police will surely be more heavy handed, so it is important to know how Americans have mounted successful resistance through street tactics historically, as well as the logic of police tactics themselves. This zine offers a powerful account of the 1999 Seattle protests and their street tactics. For tactics, start at page 12ish.
We are under no illusion. Donald Trump is President of the United States for the next four years. His policies will bring an unfathomable level of violence to people all over the world, including to friends and relatives whom we love dearly. We must develop a culture of non-compliance within the university. We refuse to produce! We refuse to labor for an openly racist, sexist, ableist, and homophobic head of state. We will not contribute to producing the weaponry that is now pointed against us.
WE REFUSE TO WORK
JANUARY 20, 2017 -