Category Archives: what’s on

Empty

We are aware that Richard Poulson has circulated a memo to staff at SOAS attempting to excuse the emptiness of 53 Gordon Square over the last few weeks. This is not surprising, as the management team have some embarrassing facts sitting side-by-side in their armoury.

Over a dozen bailiffs smashed their way into the building on the 22nd December under protestations of an urgent need to work on its fabric. This urgency, it is clear, gave management carte blanche to blithely lie to our faces during negotiations, and also apparently superseded the express desire of the students’ union, trade unionists and academics that SOAS management seek a negotiated exit. The building has been boarded up, empty and entirely disused since the eviction, with all sham urgency evaporating as soon as it proved no longer
useful.

Poulson’s solicitous concern for the building seems oddly misplaced. It is he, not we, who contracted bailiffs to use sledgehammers and electric saws to smash holes in the roof, break glass and batter through doors. Is it possible he thought these would have no adverse effect on the building’s fabric? It is also Poulson and the senior management team who lied to us throughout negotiations, while simultaneously contracting out the eviction to bailiffs, at extensive cost and substantial risk to those inside.

There has been no work done at 53 Gordon Square over the past month. The time we could have used to further organise and enrich ourselves and our communtiy, and to disassemble the forces in and around Bloomsbury inching us all needlessly towards oblivion, was violently taken from us. SOAS is entirely aware of the propaganda war in which it is engaged, and to which we have no right of reply beyond this blog. We cannot send all-staff emails to refute the erroneous implication that we stripped the building for its metal.

Though we do not greet Poulson’s bizarre assertions, we are glad he is aware of the work of Charles Holden, who restored the building. Holden, also the architect of Senate House and most of the buildings enclosing Torrington Square, described himself as an ‘anarchist communist’, and, in line with his politics, refused the knighthood to be granted in recognition of his work. He doubtless spins in his grave as the University blazons the names of dictators and despots above its doors, rushes to ruthlessly commercialise its every aspect, and shamelessly sells its students downriver. Charles Henry Holden is not on your side.

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Eviction


‘…would have thought you fuckers would have had a better resistance
“.

-Charles John Perry, SOAS Human Resources Manager (Employee Relations)

At about 7.00 a.m, a team of approximately 15 bailiffs entered 53 Gordon Square. The group smashed their way into the building by entrances at the basement and the roof of the fourth floor. Unable to pass through the barricaded hatch at the top floor, bailiffs used a sledge hammer to make a hole in the ceiling. They then used an electric saw to cut away the barricade beneath the hatch, providing themselves with a space large enough to make entry to the fourth floor. The double doors at the basement floor were also smashed in. Another group of bailiffs were attempting to batter through the ground floor front door until bailiffs in the building made it clear that access had already been gained.

Two members of SOAS management then arrived to take photographs and to extort from the occupiers assurances that they had not been maltreated.

For the last week the occupiers have been attempting to negotiate an exit with SOAS senior management. The first meeting between representatives of the Social Centre, the SOAS Student Union and SOAS Senior Management took place on Thursday 15 December. Immediately after the meeting, SOAS management sent an email to all staff misrepresenting the position of the Student Union. A letter to SOAS Management demanding a negotiated exit instead of an eviction has been signed by, among many others, the SOAS UCU president, the SOAS Unison Branch Chair, and the Student Union Postgraduate Students’ Officer. At subsequent meetings and in written correspondence with both the Student Union and the occupiers, SOAS management have repeatedly stressed their desire to negotiate and to avoid an eviction. At the last meeting between occupiers and management on Tuesday 20 December — two days before the eviction — SOAS Head of Secretariat Chris Ince implied that a negotiated exit date prior to 10 January would be acceptable to the School’s management.

The large group of highly trained and well equipped men who smashed and sawed their way into the building at 7 a.m this morning were not called up at a moment’s notice. The “negotiations” in which SOAS management have for the last week been pretending to engage have been nothing but a smokescreen. Their function has been to mollify SOAS Student Union and trade unions. Despite its weasel words about negotiation, the School’s management has been planning in earnest for an eviction.

The eviction has now occurred. It took place at enormous cost and with considerable personal risk to student occupiers. SOAS Human Resource Manager Charles John Perry may smilingly demand of the evicted occupiers that they confirm their good treatment. But it makes no difference. Hammers, drills, saws and battering rams aside, eviction is always violent. The Bloomsbury Social Centre, which sought to highlight and (as far as possible) materially to address the violence of evictions, in the face of what inevitably will be a tidal wave of them, is thus brought momentarily to an end. By concerted application of falsehood and cash, SOAS Management have secured for 53 Gordon Square a few more weeks of the disuse in which the University of London has for the last three years maintained it.

With or without a space, the occupiers will continue unceasingly to oppose the managed impoverishment of Bloomsbury residents, students and workers. New space won’t be long coming.

Solidarity,
BSC

This week at the Bloomsbury Social Centre

Everyday
>> 11am Financial Times reading group
>> 8pm Dinner + Politics
>> 9.30pm Film (Usually communist, always beautiful)

Monday 19th
– 12noon-1pm: Writing Xmas cards to Camden residents
– 9.30pm: CINEMA: Salo (1975, Pasolini)

Tuesday 20th
– 12noon-2pm: Workers’ kitchen
– 6pm: Writing Xmas cards for protest prisoners
– 9.30pm: CINEMA: Germany in Autumn (1978; Fassbinder et al)

Wednesday 21st
– 12noon-2pm: Workers’ kitchen
– 6pm: Games night
– 7pm: Beating unlawful deduction of wages
– 9.30pm: CINEMA: Endgame (Beckett)

Thursday 22nd
– 12noon-2pm: Workers’ kitchen
– 6pm: Tenants’ rights workshop

– 7pm: Mervyn King Collective :: What would a communist party look like after 1989? Thinking about the Imaginary Party
– 9.30pm: CINEMA: tbc

Friday 23rd
– 6pm: Games night
– 9.30pm: CINEMA: tbc

If you want to organise an event in the building, please contact us at:
http://www.SocialBloom.org
twitter: @socialbloom
email: bloomsburysocialcentre@gmail.com

MEETING TONIGHT

MARX, THE MACHINES, THE SERVICE INDUSTRIES: a collective inquiry
Friday 16 Dec, 7 – 9 p.m
A two hour meeting to discuss the much mystified concept of “the service industry”. Politicians are always announcing that “services” are now essential to our economy. But what are services? The standard conceptual obfuscations of bourgeois occupational analysis makes it difficult to refine this question without resorting to inane discussion of incomes. This public inquiry will attempt a different approach. Firstly we’ll attempt to decompose the category of “services” into its class components. Once that process is begun, we’ll initiate a discussion about exploitation. As manufacturing flees abroad to cheaper labour, or remains in place but alters its technical composition, how does service industry employment profit from the labour which is freed up? To what extent can competition in the stagnation-sectors of the service industries lead to the same patterns of increasing structural unemployment? Or are labour-intensive services resistant to significant technical restructuring? What future for domestic exploitation?

What’s On: Mon 12th – Sat 17th

Everyday
11am – FT reading group
8pm – Dinner and political discussion

Calendar
Monday, 9.30pm –  CINEMA: La Terra Trema (Visconti)
Tuesday, 5pm-9pm –  Workers’ rights info evening
Tuesday 6pm – CINEMA: The Battle of Chile
Weds 1pm – How to claim benefits
Weds 5pm- Workers’ Rights Info Evening
Thurs 5pm – Workers Rights Info Evening
Fri 5pm – Tenants’ rights: how to beat your landlord
Saturday 9.3opm  – CINEMA: Bellissima (Visconti)

Find us at http://www.SocialBloom.org
twitter: @socialbloom
email: bloomsburysocialcentre@gmail.com

What’s On: Weds 7th – Sunday 11th

Everyday
11am – FT reading group
8pm – Dinner and political discussion
9.30pm – Italian films

Calender
Weds 2pm-3pm – Italian for beginners
Weds 5pm – post anarchism and post structuralism
Thursday 2pm – Film-makers’ meet up
Friday 2pm – letter writing to protest prisoners
Friday 7pm till midnight – Drinks and political chat
Saturday 5pm – Bloomsbury assembly
Sunday 3pm – Public debt and crisis in the eurozone

Also planned
Spanish classes, kids’ day, workers’ rights workshops, benefits info evenings, Bloomsbury utopias, collective drawing and more! All ideas welcome!

Find us at http://www.SocialBloom.org
twitter: @socialbloom
email: bloomsburysocialcentre@gmail.com