While ‘Occupy’ protests have taken place across the globe, Belfield has been anything but void of revolutionary action. Our resident insurgent Cormac Duffy gives an insight into UCD’s own rebellion
There is a spectre haunting the world. That spectre is people sitting in tents outside symbolic buildings. All across the globe, the intellectual left, having realised that the ninety-nine per cent they represent are too stupid to step out of a false consciousness and realise that we know what is best for them, are forming a very lazy vanguard. Having seen the Arab Spring spread across the Middle East, westerners felt that it was their time too. I don’t know about you, but I’m certainly happy that we’ll always have people who think that the plight of those living in horrendous dictatorships can be in any way compared to our lives.
Occupy Wall St. began as a legitimate protest about the socialisation of losses and the privatisation of gains, as well as the lack of a basic social infrastructure in the United States, but Occupy Everything has spiralled onto the global sphere. On the homefront, a commune in front of the Central Bank has been making its voice heard. By picking the building that represents an honest, if flawed, attempt to regulate the horrors of unfettered financial capitalism, they are clearly voicing their support for an extreme Laissez-Faire policy. Or their opposition to the financial intermediation that is the cornerstone of our civilisation. I’d say there’s something about the EU-IMF bailout there too. Or maybe they just like tents and signs. I’m really not sure actually. Either way, Otwo knew we wanted in on the action. Thus the seeds of the revolution were planted, and it soon grew into the ‘Occupy the SU’ campaign.
We had but one demand, the abolition of a hierarchically organised system of student government, and the establishment of a grassroots-based co-operative authority, run by the collaboration of representatives of all the strata of our institution, all bound to the principle of “from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs”. We realised quickly “The Man” (and one woman) would be unlikely to bring about their own demise, so we drafted a substitute list of mini-demands.
Included were that Pat de Brún must tell each of us that our hair looks really nice at least once a week. When we have a cold, Sam Geoghegan should do our exams for us, and not question how bad our cold actually is. Good government is all about trust and so Brendan Lacey’s duty to us is no less than making sure that our message reaches the state government. Thus we implored him to provide every UCD student with a tuxedo for the upcoming anti-fees march. That would make those fascist thugs on Kildare St. take us super seriously. And the most important issue fell on our humble Ents officer. LMFAO must be moved to O’Reilly Hall so that we can all attend, and any turnover made on the event must be funnelled back into shuffling lessons for the proletarian masses of Belfield.
Soon our preparation efforts were concentrated on the ancient art of sign-making. The purpose of sign-making is to condense the tenets of our movement’s philosophy into a phrase short enough to fit on an A4 placard. Our core belief that the alienating forces of a pseudo-democratic state founded on the base ideal of protection of the economic elites must be stopped was embodied by “No!”. The call for a global class struggle became “Moar!” Most intrinsically, the means by which the structure of the neo-liberal system sets the circumstances in which our ideas are formed meant that we could not but declare “I’m angry for some reason!”.
Searching for a tent to use as a headquarters was next on the agenda. I contacted an anarcho-syndicalist pavilion production company, but then realised that there was no such thing. So we went for the next best thing, a children’s pop-up tent from Argos. Even though the instructions said suitable for two children, we were using it to house 5 revolutionaries. Another blow to the prescriptive hegemony!
We struck when the guard was down, taking the SU corridor during lunch. The printer was occupied, as was the bathroom. Their anti-protest walls would not yield to the valiant efforts of our sellotape, but rations of blue tack provided by rogue elements of the Union soon left us in prime position. Posters covered the walls, and we raised our red flag, which was most definitely not a t-shirt on a curtain rod.
Occupy Wall St. got musical support from cult legend Jeff Mangum, and Billy Bragg graced Dame St.’s commune. Needless to say a similar musical backing was essential for us. We brought in a laptop that we were informed was manufactured in the best conditions by the Democratic East Laos Labour party, or DELL, and we constructed our playlist of revolutionary numbers; Public Enemy, Rage Against the Machine and a filthy dubstep remix of ‘The Internationale’.
We made space for your man, you know, your man that sang ‘War, what is it good for?’ It was a pressing question with an obvious answer: absolutely nothing, except assisting the popular overthrow of autocracies and humanitarian intervention when it is requested by those on the ground and not a pretence for regime-building. We obviously included ‘Do You Hear the People Sing?’ from Les Mis, because much like Emma Goldman’s revolution ‘required dancing’, and Gil Scott-Heron’s ‘would not be televised’, ours was going to be the teensiest bit camp.
Our standard, our anthem, the one tune to empower us above all else, however, was S Club N’s (Where N is a random variable that may or may not show up to Cheesefest) ‘Bring it All Back’. Why this particular ode? Because we would not stop, we would never give up. We would hold our heads high and reach the top. And all the oppression that the late-capitalist system of student government brought to us, we would bring it all back to them.
The occupation was going strong. How could it not start strong when it was really just sitting down holding paper? But our numbers were small. To claim to represent the ninety-nine per cent felt a bit disingenuous when we made up roughly a thousandth of a percent. We decided that a march was needed. Not wanting to leave our camp deserted, we folded it up and carried it with us. As we marched through the Student Centre, the response was bemused at best. The masses were not taking us seriously. In fact they all seem pretty content with the current functioning of the SU. Did we have it wrong? Was our movement deluded? Even after a dramatic raising of our flag over the Kiosk, the response was muted. I began to worry. But then I remembered that everyone was in a false consciousness. A true revolutionary knows to never to question his own opinions.
Despite my unwavering devotion to the cause, the movement became weakened. We had forgotten to bring food rations, and our members began to leave for the greasy glow of Café Brava. The SU functioned as normal, the occupation being too polite to get in their way. I lacked the upper body strength and the patience for armed insurrection, while the SU seemed all too willing to open pellet gun fire on us for their own amusement.
So we caved, leaving the premises with our tails between our legs. I like to believe that our revolutionary spirit will live on. Just as the Russian Revolution employed the spirit of the Paris Commune, or the student marches manage to pay tribute to ’68 without having a clue what ’68 was, maybe someone will follow in our footsteps. If they do, there is but one message I can pass on as fellow traveller; get a real tent. Viva la Revolution!