Yet another anonymous letter

5 Dec

The Really Open University is hosting commentaries on the occupation at Leeds university, these are the products of individuals in the occupied building and not of the Really Open University itself. (SWP=Socialist Workers Party)-

I am not your fucking comrade!

The start of the Leeds occupation looked promising, several hundred students sat in Rupert Beckett lecture theatre, many with huge smiles on their faces at the excitement of taking over a university building. People from all sorts of political backgrounds were there; Socialists, Feminists, Drug reformers, Liberal Democrats, Liberals, Anarchists, even the odd Conservative, etc. All united behind one cause, the fight against education cuts.

The first meeting started quickly to organise everything that needed getting out of the way quickly. The dominant groups were the SWP and the Feminists, a combination of militant action with a passion for fairness (somewhat like the coalition) was the way forward to fight the cuts. However, the SWP quickly made it so any meeting would last up to 4 hours, having caucused before hand for their stance on any one issue, and would shout down any argument made against their stance calling it “defeatist”.

The SWP went about in their usual alienating fashion slowly pushing everyone either outside the occupation, or to the outskirts of the building. The student’s fight against the education cuts has been turned into an anti-capitalist worker’s struggle against all cuts the government wants to impose. Now after alienating the feminists, the only group powerful enough to have any ability to keep the occupation on task, the SWP have made it so any action which “threatens” the occupation must now be brought to and agreed upon at the General Meetings, which will inevitably lead to members of the SWP organising and controlling any direct action taken by the members of the occupation.

The SWP has destroyed any agency that was in the hearts of the members of the occupation. They claim to have democracy, as anyone can attend a meeting and have their say, but you need to be willing to spend 4 hours in a cold lecture theatre having numerous people echoing the same point several fucking times, and the real risk of being shouted at and being called defeatist for disagreeing with the caucused views of the SWP.

The occupation of the Ziff building was a fantastic example of what can be achieved by autonomous action. One person made a shout out to the occupation, forty people joined together to storm the building, and after much hesitation whilst everyone waited for someone to tell them all what to do, the group as a whole decided to just go straight in, the young school students choosing to lead the way. After spending roughly 30 minutes inside, there was a discussion and vote about what to do, and everyone agreed to leave as a unified body. It was an act of real democracy, we made a decision in a short amount of time and everyone was happy with it. The action was a massive success, people involved enjoyed themselves, it disrupted the management of the university, and not a single person was hurt or arrested (there was also £1000 worth of damage which happened as a result, but no occupier was responsible).

We are the occupation, we are making the stand, we are the movement, I urge everyone to fight for what they believe and not wait for anyone to tell you want to do, we are powerful, we are strong, and together we can take our struggle to the people.



3 Responses to “Yet another anonymous letter”

  1. occupiedleeds December 5, 2010 at 10:54 pm #

    I share that anger, that emotion, but I’m not sure it’s all that helpful to do these kinds of foaming-at-the-mouth attacks… I know how hurtful things have been but I really want to be doing something that helps things and offers opportunity to change them.

    Our occupation really has not been as great as I wanted it to be, and I identify all those problems and that the SWP members are primarily in approval of the ideas that I view to be so problematic and harmful here.

    I don’t know who “the feminists” are personally, because the satellite community around the feminist society are varied and some of us have serious issues with the SWP’s methods… some of us seemingly don’t!

    And that’s the crux of it… We, society are not something that is made up by the distinctly separate groups that we’re told to be… within which we are told there are singular aims, actions, and beliefs. There are not.

    The belief that we are irreconcilable distinct homogeneous masses, and that the only way to harness the differences between us is opposition, defamation of the opponent and to win an argument, selling the ideal to a confused audience… is the very basis for the politics of the occupation’s general meetings and as is apparent, the SWP.

    It is the basis of the very thing we criticise.

    Unfortunately what I would have liked to have seen in the space is the chance to build a collaborative community, but the cynicism and paranoia of oppositional preventative politics jumped in far too soon, and it seems to me we now spend all our time, trying to justify and curb our thoughts rather than confidently sharing thought and ideas… it’s incredibly infectious too.

    But we must keep trying. We must keep putting our thoughts out there… not to restrict threat or even to respond, but to understand. We should continue to try to share and enjoy space with people, that’s when we really discover each other… not necessarily in the occupation, just generally.

    • reallyopenuniversity December 6, 2010 at 10:18 am #

      Thanks very much for the comment. Also, a reminder that these are anonymous letters/emails that ROU have received from people involved with the occupation, not the position of ROU. If we have time to pen a collective response, and it makes sense to do so, we will make it clear that it is from ROU. Thanks.

      • occupiedleeds December 6, 2010 at 11:09 am #

        Yeah yeah I know… was responding to anonymous as author, not ROU

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