Submitted on Tue, 03/23/2010 - 2:06pm
By John Reimann
When Ronald Reagan ran for re-election for president in
1984, he declared that it was “springtime for America”. He should have said it
was “springtime for Corporate America.” Under his administration and those that
followed, Corporate America and the world wide capitalist class increased its
domination of the world, seemingly without an equivalent resistance from the
working class, especially from the US working class. While this has
started to change in recent years, the movement in the US has been
lagging far behind.
Now that is starting to change.
a college and university student movement started over the last six months. The
attacks on college and university students that have generated this movement
are part of wider attacks on public education as well as on all public services
and on the working class in general. Almost immediately, the university
students grasped the slogan “defend free public education” – making the link
between their own situation and that of public education in general. At a California state-wide
student conference last October, it was agreed to organize a state-wide strike
for March 4.
Here in the working class town of Oakland,
an “Outreach Committee” was set up build the movement in this area. One key
issue was decided immediately: Our intent was to actually disrupt the workings
of the state, and we were going to try to do that through setting up a protest
starting at noon, rather than at the end of the work day. We also wanted this
to be an event of, by and for the youth of Oakland.
This contrasted to San
Francisco, where the union officialdom conspired with
the Board of Education to block a day-time rally. There, they organized a rally
for 5:00 p.m. to ensure that workers didn’t walk off work and students didn’t
walk out of school. Throughout the region, those forces who sought to tame the
movement pushed for attendance at this San Francisco
rally rather than the one in Oakland.
A key focus in Oakland
was to organize in the high schools. However, the size of our effort was
limited by the extreme constraints on our actual forces and resources. As a
result, in most schools we were unable to establish regular working groups to
organize a strike. Yet on March 4, by 7:30 in the morning, there were some 30
or 40 students standing outside the high school near my home, with home-made
picket signs in hand, shouting and cheering. With just the minimal outside help, these students had organized