Reports on Monday cite Berkeley police raiding the encampment of Occupy the Farm activists who have staked themselves out on U.C. Berkeley University owned property after ignoring a weekend deadline to vacate the premises.
Several dozen officers in riot gear arrived Monday at the Gill Tract in Albany, a 10-acre plot used for university agriculture research. KTVU-TV reports that at least nine people have been detained by police, according to news source.
No violence was immediately reported from the raid.
Protesters took over the plot a few weeks ago and began planting their own crops, saying they are entitled to access public land.
School officials had offered to share the property with the protesters, but talks broke down over the weekend.
Officials have said they need the property back by June for research to resume there.
How much land does a man need?
Activists in the last three centuries have demonstrated for social and economic doctrine that calls for public rather than private ownership or control of property and natural resources. According to the socialist view, individuals do not live or work in isolation but live in cooperation with one another. Furthermore, everything that people produce is in some sense a social product, and everyone who contributes to the production of a good is entitled to a share in it. Society as a whole, therefore, should own or at least control property for the benefit of all its members.
The People’s Park activists in the 1960s and the Occupy Movement today resurrected the call for an egalitarian government responsive to the needs of the majority and have been labeled Socialists as if this were a blight or challenge to American Democracy. In Capitalism this is interpreted as “push back” by the petulant masses, and the Capitalist’s response falsely characterizes the movement as anarchist. In reality it’s the people’s response to growing inequality, falling wages and stagnant incomes. People are outraged—and with just cause— the economy and economic policymakers are failing them.
In’s short story How much land does a man need, we learn prophetically at the end of the story it’s a grave in which to be buried. Indeed, property rights and speculation on who owns the land in an era of over consumption and greed are becoming as relevant today as it was in the 19th century. Tolstoy would have embraced the People’s Park occupiers in the 1960s and the current “Occupy Movement” with its emphasis on economic equality, but he would decry violent actions, as he was a lifelong pacifist. Without naming himself an anarchist, Leo Tolstoy took the anarchist position with regard to state and property rights. In The Kingdom of God is Within You, he concludes the teachings of are within the realm of reason, and criticized the church, i.e. formalized religion, and the state with its property laws as a wicked domination instigated by brutal force.
Tolstoy’s writings were a catalyst for Mohandas Gandhi’s initiation of passive resistance as a method of civil disobedience against the British occupation of India. In 1908, Tolstoy wrote A Letter to Hindu outlining his belief in non-violence as a means for India to gain independence from British colonial rule. In 1909, a copy of the letter fell into the hands of Gandhi who was working as a lawyer in South Africa at the time and becoming an activist.
People's Park in Berkeley became a piece of permanently-occupied University of California (UC) ground, originally occupied during a struggle over the threat by UC to build dorms and a parking lot in an area otherwise devoted to much smaller housing, apartments, and shops. In the demonstration that followed, the National Guard shot and killed James Rector and wounded 128 demonstrators. Over the next twenty five years, a standoff resulted, with UC eventually leasing it to the City of Berkeley for use as a park.
“Occupiers” of the farm in Berkeley currently are emulating their predecessors from People’s Park in the1960s, Tolstoy’s farm and Gandhi’s Ashram. Tolstoy’s farm from 1910 to 1913 initiated the ideals of sustainable living in which everyone participates constructively in the maintenance of a community in harmony with the land. Gandhi enhanced on Tolstoy’s concept and included in his Ashram vocational training for young people and a microcosmic vision of the future of the family. Inclusiveness, he was certain, was the only way to save humanity from self-destruction. The Ashram put more emphasis on psychological, social and moral well-being of an integrated community, rather than on physical labor.
Leo Tolstoy and Mahatma Gandhi were the first “occupiers” whose legacy of pacifism and non violence together with the social significance and value of creating integrated communities as enduring concepts are shared by many. Whether it’s Zuccotti Park in New York or Occupy the Farm in Berkeley, echoes of these great activists and thinkers of the past resonant in esprit de corps.