Home > activism, free hetherington, occupation, politics > Day 4 of the Free Hetherington

Day 4 of the Free Hetherington

So we’ve been occupying the former postgrad club at Glasgow University since Tuesday.  I just want to record how I’m feeling now about it, mostly for my own future reference!  For more details on the occupation try http://www.facebook.com/pages/Glasgow-Uni-Occupied/133691460021139

Please please note these are just my personal reflections – they are one viewpoint from just this one point in time and I hope there will be as many reflections written as their are individuals and therefore perspectives here.

Its a good mix of people, though I reckon I’m in the oldest 2 or 3.  Some people have been involved in leftist politics for years, some over a decade.  However there’s increasing numbers who are very new to activism.  Many of the newer folk don’t identify with a political label.  Of the rest of us, we are predominantly either SSY/SSP or Anarchist.  There are a few folk who are non aligned socialists, and a couple of really sound folk from Socialist Appeal (a Leninist party).  There’s even a Labour Party member around!

However I think the main way that these “divisions” express themselves is in familiarity and friendship groups.  There’s some cultural aspects to the groupings – the SSY lot seem to tend to be more likely to advocate partying, drinking etc and are obviously very used to socialising together.  There are different groupings amongst the Anarchists too – a social centre / vegan grouping, for instance who also work well together and very quickly became a solid kitchen crew ensuring we have delicious communal meals.  They provide a strong core which gives something to coalesce around for others who are interested in cooking.  They are used to using a consensus system for decision making.

I’m in the AF and again we have certain ways of working, certain understood conventions and a culture.

However there is an evolving “occupation culture” emerging.  Its not all been smooth, and there have been times when I’ve felt its been tense, with a nip in the air.  But increasingly its feeling really … posi. :)  There’s an awareness I think o how special this is.  We’re really fucking doing it here.  All coming together to create a space which is both political and politicising.  We’re teaching and learning collectively.  The different backgrounds, groupings, individuals bringing something unique to the mix.  We’re not just learning how each other work, but what each other’s strengths are.  In working and living and organising so closely 24/7 we are building up trust, comradeship, affection.  Sometimes I feel like I’m picking up on an underlying tension between individuals, or some dislike, because we’re talking about folks that have known each other from years of leftist activity in Glasgow and not everyone’s going to agree with each other or get on.  But that negative feeling is both well self-moderated, but also being replaced by the buildup of shared bonds.

So, what have we been up to in our beautiful space?  Let me describe my day here.  I arrived ust after 1pm to friendly welcomes.  Some of these people I’ve known weeks or just days, but the greeting wasn’t just that which a normal few days would bring, but came from those deeper feelings that an experience like this occupation brings.

A 2pm lecture by Ben Franks (a philosophy lecturer here) had been planned, but he was unable to come due to the weather.  So 12 of us decided to have the discussion ourselves anyway.  We had Anarchists, philosophy students and others in a really interesting, respectful, thought provoking discussion on “the ethics of private property”.

I did door duty for a couple of hours.  Far from a chore, this involved me sitting in the hall with several others coming and going, welcoming people in.  Meanwhile a “Good Sex. Good Consent” discussion looked well attended and engaging.

The kitchen crew came up top again with a Thai curry and salad.  And more folks arrived for a Baader Meinhof Complex screening.  The projector had been bought collectively by some Anarchists last year as collective infrastructure, and it will be useful here.

I stayed in the hallway, enjoying the relaxed atmosphere.  An impromptu jamming session developed between 3 musicians with us encouraging them.  A friend who happened to be a webmonkey for a charity arrived and ended up sorting out our blog and other web presense stuff.  Another friend was around as he’d run a rebel clown taster session.  In fact, there’s been lots of friends coming in and out of here. :)

A skipping crew consisting of at least 1 experienced skipdiver and several who had never been before went on a mission to Waitrose after closing time.  They seemd to totally enjoy it, especially as they found tons and tons of posh ice cream – mmmmmmm … Ben and Jerrys and Haagen Daas! :D

Our wishlist has been working really well – a bookcase set up with a sign saying “library” was overflowing with donated books!  So I decided to indulge my frustrated inner wannabe library and sorted it out.  Double Mmmmmm!  Its only an initial ordering but we now have labelled shelves with fiction, revolutionary political, non revolutionary political, other, gender/feminist, imperialism/globalisation/war and environment/climate change/food.

As I look around I’m seeing lots of smiley faces, relaxed friendly banter between people who didn’t know each other well, if at all until this week, colourful handmade signs saying “Stay Posi”, and advertising an open mic poetry night, and flags – Basque, Palestinian, SSY, Anarchist and SWP – though I haven’t seen the latter around much apart from for their own events.

Some of the conversations I’ve had today :

  • Someone from the international student society committee who was keen that they start using this space again – they’ve now got a meeting booked in here for this week and plans to organise events here in future.
  • A couple of folks who’d been members of the postgrad club for many years.  We talked about the culture of the club before and how it felt to be back in the building after the sad loss of it last year.
  • Lots of new people intrigue by what we’re doing and why we’re here.  I think that because we’re all so euphoric and welcoming they very quickly are disarmed, accept the tea or coffee that they’re offered and join in. :)

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