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.