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Sunday, September 19, 2021

Column: Victory against power

The Anarchist

Somehow, it’s hard to remember that UC Davis students successfully kicked U.S. Bank off of our campus last March. Somehow, it’s just so hard to remember so many things — things like victories against power. It’s hard to recall what tactics succeeded in undermining unjust authority.

Obviously there is a reason. Ideological manipulation is not subtle. I want to try to illustrate this lack of subtlety.

UC Davis students won. They sent a clear message: They don’t want privatization (they sent a few messages, and I will not pretend to speak for them, but “anti-privatization” seemed to be the central theme). Furthermore, the administration had to use completely different tactics against the Davis Dozen than in previous protests –– a much more subtle, yet dissent-stopping approach. Why did they do that? They did it because the protesters have power.

Protesters have power.

The administration did not want to stir up more dissent by removing those students. More dissent means more protests. More protests mean more challenges to these systems, these systems that operate in their own self-interests.

They operate, insofar as they can, solely in their self-interests, and the only reason that any hierarchy ever functions to serve the interests of anyone beside those at the top of the institution is that they are forced to do so.

Basically, the administration was afraid. And they should have been. Their ability to run the institution in their own interests was threatened. The people who are at the top of the administration are there because they uphold that system. If they did not act in that way, then they would have never been selected for by that system.

Of course, they think of themselves, most likely, as noble upholders of public education, and they may be, to some degree. It is not plausible to think that these people are consciously undermining the goals of the California Master Plan for Higher Education. The evidence that their actions are not in the interests of students, though, is overwhelming enough that there is no need to list it.

Clearly, administration members are selected by the system to uphold the power of the system and the power of the interest groups that have control over things that the administration need (such as the corporate investors in the university, who have power because they can cancel or move their contracts).

The administration was forced to yield to the students so that the students would not take further action that would threaten the power of those at the top of the hierarchy. That is the only reason that they did not forcibly remove the Davis Dozen, which would have been a more attractive option if it were available. But they instead sneakily tried to nullify them with a lawsuit.

So, in this case, a hierarchical institution was forced to act in ways contrary to its power interests in order to keep further threats to its power at bay.

This should tell us something, something that institutions of power try to suppress. We won, and this is how we win.

The fact that we are constantly bombarded with information that is filtered through these self-interested systems ensures that we will see our victories, and how they happened, far less frequently.

That is why it is so easy to forget. When there is an ocean of corporate media, it is easy to get lost, adrift in it. When something gets reported extremely infrequently, we are likely to think of it as less significant. This is a myth that power groups use to their advantage to an extreme degree.

The administration did not send out an email telling us how effective protest was and how we really put them in a tough spot. They want to play that down. They do not want more of that. They want to keep operating in their own interests.

This is what all power groups do. As Gil Scott-Heron put it, the revolution will not be televised. The elites own and run the systems of information dissemination, and they are certainly not going to jubilantly announce the weapon of their own destruction.

We have won this way before so many times, and we can only win this way. So many people have fallen for the false notion of progress that is presented in the corporate media: Progress happened because some small group of wise men at the top had some good ideas. It was never that. It was protest and direct action every time.

This is not going to change soon. We have to protest and take direct action against these self-interested hierarchies in order to force them to operate in our interests. As much as we take action against the system, it will play down our effectiveness.

UC Davis students kicked out U.S. Bank. UC Davis students limited fee hikes. This is how we can win. Don’t forget.

BRIAN MOEN wants to see hella protests all the time, like, a lot … seriously. He can be reached at bkmoen@ucdavis.edu.

1 COMMENT

  1. If you, as many others do, see the kicking out of US Bank as a victory, you are missing a lot of information or refuse to see it.

    If you think the school is still not largely privatized, if you think that the school does not delve heavily into corporate dealings, you don’t realize that the DC’s and the Silo are both partnerships with Sodexho, not to mention Gunrock Pub. IM Championship jerseys were made by…Champion. The vending machines profit those companies that put their products in them. These are only the obvious ones as well. Yet, students frequent them and never protest about them.

    So why is that US Bank came under a lot of hate? It was due to the fact that student loans were killing students as usual, fees were rising in regards to tuition while the quality either deteriorated or stagnated, and this was largely due to lack of funding from the state as well as poor leadership from the Governor and the Regents of the UC system.

    US Bank is a private corporation, and their presence on campus merely added more bank services on campus, none of which were required of students. It did not intrude the lives of students, and it did not affect our tuition.

    If you wish to look at the bigger picture, in terms of bank bailouts and the housing market crash of the late 2000’s (ie around 2008), US Bank was not guilty either. They were one of the first, if not the first, to completely repay any aid they received from the government. This is not even to mention that US Bank was not even one of the entities that was involved in the crash in the first place. If you wish to place blame, see Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac, etc. However, if you really understand what happened at that time, go all the way back to the invention of CDO’s and what other stupid things the Federal Reserve was doing. Only then do you understand the connections and ramifications of each action leading to another, ultimately resulting in the crash of that time, ruining the economy and then directly affecting students.

    In short, US Bank, from my experience is a financial institution with unusually good customer service, rates, and programs, at least in comparison to other options that are currently available. More importantly, they have been able to be responsible in managing their business.

    As such, the blockade and subsequent shutting down of US Bank cost the University and hence potentially students of revenue and more conveniently located financial options, and to perceive that event as a victory is the greatest loss, the fall into misunderstanding reality, and worse, possibly even into stupidity.

    The protest was only ever purposeful when it was directed at the mismanagement of the University, and the protest against US Bank that followed was only a shame upon the students.

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