December 6, 2011
This is an article from the New School Free Press detailing an outsider’s perspective to the fall of the recent All City Student Occupation of the New School. While The Free Press has been a typically shoddy newspaper when it comes to covering radical events, it presents a fascinating timeline, nonetheless.
The Glorious Rise and Ignominious Fall of a Student Occupation
On Tuesday, November 22, Kellen Auditorium was filled to capacity as members of the New School community turned up for a public forum, organized by President David Van Zandt, regarding the student occupation at 90 Fifth Ave. Before the meeting had even begun, security guards were ushering attendees into an overflow room next door, where they could watch the forum on a live video feed. Tensions were high as Van Zandt prepared to address the crowded room, facing his most difficult test yet as president of The New School.
Since November 17, students from universities throughout New York City had been occupying The New School’s Student Study Center, influenced by the Occupy Wall Street movement that has swept across the country. As part of a student-organized “Day of Action,” thousands had converged on Union Square before marching over to Fifth Avenue, where dozens of students entered the New School building at 90 Fifth Ave. There, they took control of the study center’s second floor and announced the third occupation of a New School building in three years. Optimistic and energized, the occupiers hoped to transform the Student Study Center into a space where people could openly discuss economic issues pertaining to students, organize political actions, and launch a national student movement.
But five days into the occupation, as Van Zandt stood in front of more than a hundred people in Kellen Auditorium, it was clear that the occupation of 90 Fifth Ave. had divided the university. An overwhelming majority of the students who spoke at the public forum were opposed to the occupation, and many expressed anger at the administration for allowing it to continue. While a number of the students there said that they supported OWS and had initially supported the occupation, they were dismayed by the turn of events at the Student Study Center.
What had begun as a widely-supported and inclusive movement had, somehow, devolved into a tense, convoluted, and unpopular situation. Read the rest of this entry »
December 17, 2010
From Anarchist News:
“you maniacs! you blew it up! ah, damn you! god damn you all to hell!”
- george taylor, planet of the apes
today marks the second anniversary of the new school occupation of december 2008. yesterday, after years of concerted effort, the university finally succeeded in reducing the formerly occupied building, 65 5th avenue, into an ethereal crater. “let the dead bury the dead,” we said, this year; nobody has gone near the building since a shamefully aborted banner drop one year ago. our supposed arch-nemesis, the illustrious senator, clocks out next tuesday for the last time. they succeeded in erasing all memory of what was, for more than a half a century, the most significant focal point of continental critical theory in the us, in closing what is perhaps the last real library New School students will ever have. we succeeded in causing the architect of the iraq war, financial deregulation and so-called homeland security a great deal of embarrassment, possibly prompting him to lose his job. to which you respond, “cool story, bro.” we’re not particularly syked either.
the phrase ‘occupy everything’ might have came out of the second occupation, or the first. It probably came from somewhere else entirely; perhaps the comunero revolt or the battle of dorylaeum. we don’t particularly know, or care; a journalist asked once, and was told “the phrase originates from the contradictions a society at war with itself.” sounds about right; in the recent months it has become a linguistic slur written on the text of posthistory. schools, factories, centers of consumption and reproduction have been taken over and recalibrated for the festival mode. the participation in joyous activities is unprecedented and collectively we comprise the only insurrectionary moment. 1968 is like a four letter word, but with numbers; insurrection is always already having become in the present.
for this reason, the complete absence of candlelight vigils is encouraging given the ridiculous nature of what was, effectively, a reactionary battle over the signifier. old buildings, older gentlemen. all of these mean nothing to us. possession of space or time is as ridiculous to some of us as possession of property is to those anarchists. ‘occupy everything’ is seen to invoke the immediate consolidation of property under the hegemonic construct of the so-called left. cool. but ‘occupy’ actually derives from the latin ‘capere’, meaning ‘to sieze or hold’, and also the prefix ‘ob’; this short addition is usually translated as ‘to’, and in this case is used, in its most progressive interpretation, to denote the concept of new space. but ‘ob’ can also serve as a prefix or suffix denoting life itself, as shown most prominently in the english word ‘microbe’. a reevaluated conception of ‘occupy’ might be in order.
‘everything’ is also problematic, as it is normally understood to mean space. yet space is increasingly fragmented, fractalized even. many of us no longer have fixed workplaces, some of us no longer even have fixed homes. what spaces are we meant to take over? and, further, what happens if the authorities simply cede control of said section of decaying society to us, while moving resources elsewhere or setting up holding pens. hamburg squatters found that they were granted spaces as a means to build cultural capital, whatever the fuck that means. and the prison strike in the us just ended; try telling them to hold space when they would much rather escape from it. yet even that shamefully abused scholar marx could envisualize how, thanks to the triumph of capital, things could now include people. reification as a process didn’t just mean we didn’t get all the sparkly stuff we made. rather, reification mystically subjugated people to technology, social structures and products they themselves had produced, or at the very least passively endorsed.
occupy everything is a magical incantation that brings life to the puppet multitude. ob-capere means to sieze control of life, and not just the naked, depraved life of neoliberal servitute, but the mythical bios, the political life of the first networked thinking-machines. everything means all things that have been subjected to the process of alienation, banished into the disgusting mutated world we now have the privilege of inhabiting. the battle over one particular signifier will hopefully have ended a long time ago. yet the signified and its corollary dimension are collapsing at this very moment. sources high up within governmental institutions are reporting that the preliminary tests of the large hadron collidor were a failure; the multi billion dollar machine failed to show the particles proving string theory and the existence of other dimensions. the alchemists of the empire are weak, while the precarious war machine only grows in strength. some tests of our own, it must be said, threaten to open a significant concatenation of portals.