Notes on academic labour and co-operative struggles for subjectivity


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My presentation for Governing Academic Life on 25 June 2014.

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Notes on academic labour and co-operative struggles for subjectivity

  1. 1. Professor Richard Hall @hallymk1 Governing Academic Life. 25 June 2014. Notes on academic labour and co- operative struggles for subjectivity
  2. 2. Our labour and our society are folded inside a systemic, historical crisis of capitalism. This secular crisis demands a political return. Historical, socialised value is being accumulated by associations of capitals through commodification and coercion. There is no alternative. The University is a central site of struggle over our past, in our present, and for our future. What is to be done?
  3. 3. it is impossible to understand the role of the University without developing a critique of its relationships to a transnational capitalist class restructuring the University for hegemony (pace Robinson, W.I. 2004. A Theory of Global Capitalism: Production, Class, and State in a Transnational World. Johns Hopkins UP) sities were financed however it was going to be difficult to change their behaviour. Now there is an opportunity to use our funding changes to push a real cultural
  4. 4. 1. Networks of power and affinity, that enable the re-production of ‘geographies of social relationships’. 2. Networks form shifting assemblages of activity and relationships that reinforce hegemonic power. 3. Transnational activist networks consisting of: i. academics and think tanks; ii. policy-makers and administrators; iii. finance capital and private equity funds; iv. media corporations and publishers; v. philanthropists/hedge-funds interested in corporate social responsibility etc.; aim to regulate the state for enterprise and the market. Ball, S. 2011. Global Education Inc. BUT c.f. Neary, 2012 and Davies, 2011, critique network governance.
  5. 5. neither the cyclical business downturns nor the upturns, nor a whole series of capitalist counter-measures (local and international), have resolved the underlying problems of the system... to lay the basis for a renewal of stable accumulation. the continuing threat to the existence of capitalism posed by antagonistic forces and trends which are inherent in its social structure and which persist through short term fluctuations and major restructurings. Cleaver, H. 1993. Theses on Secular Crisis in Capitalism: The Insurpassability of Class Antagonisms.
  6. 6. 1. Organisational change is the result of social forces in struggle and the need to overcome the temporal and spatial barriers to accumulation 2. Secular control: the power of transnational capitalism over the objective material reality of life, and which is reinforced technologically and pedagogically 3. To argue for emancipation through organisational innovation is to fetishise externalities, and to misunderstand how innovation is shaped by the clash of social forces and the desire of capital to escape the barriers imposed by labour
  7. 7. Without radical changes to how universities were financed however it was going to be difficult to change their behaviour. Now there is an opportunity to use our funding changes to push a real cultural change back towards teaching (p. 47) Willetts, D. 2013. Robbins Revisited: Bigger and Better Higher Education. London: Social Market Foundation. Available online: See also: the use of secondary legislation; student debt and university funding; leveraging finance capital and the bond markets; student number controls; core and marginal numbers; deregulation; monetisation of the student loan book; internationalisation; MOOC-boosterism; learning analytics/data; lean/MSP methods; zero-hour contracts, casualization and outsourcing; the entrepreneurial turn; corporate partnerships;etc..
  8. 8. because labor is determined as a necessary means of individual reproduction in capitalist society, wage laborers remain dependent on capital’s “growth,” even when the consequences of their labor, ecological and otherwise, are detrimental to themselves and to others. The tension between the exigencies of the commodity form and ecological requirements becomes more severe as productivity increases and, particularly during economic crises and periods of high unemployment, poses a severe dilemma. This dilemma and the tension in which it is rooted are immanent to capitalism: their ultimate resolution will be hindered so long as value remains the determining form of social wealth. Postone, M. 1996. Time, Labor and Social Domination: A Reinterpretation of Marx's Critical Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 313.
  9. 9. we’re looking at both a gigantic wealth transfer from the poor towards the rich and a huge bubble that allows that to happen, and that will make the poor even poorer when it bursts. Which seems inevitable, because debt by itself cannot create value. And if I’m right, what we’re seeing is not the incredible resiliency of the markets, and no real increase in asset value, but an increase in the threat to the social cohesion of our communities, cities and nations. Ilargi. 2013. How do we define value? The Automatic Earth.
  10. 10. the possibility of struggle and emancipation lies in the autonomous organisations that exist within and between both the factory and the community, with a focus on the forms of labour and the exertion of “working class power… at the level of the social factory, politically recomposing the division between factory and community.” Cleaver, H. 1979. Reading Capital Politically, University of Texas Press: Austin, TX, p. 161. Available at: reading_capital_politically.pdf
  11. 11.
  12. 12. Collective work is one of the cements of autonomy, whose fruits usually spill into hospitals, clinics, primary and secondary education, in strengthening the municipalities and the good government juntas. Not much that has been constructed would be possible without the collective work, of men, women, boys, girls and the elderly. Zibechi, R. 2013. Autonomous Zapatista Education: The Little Schools of Below.
  13. 13. Good Living The five revolutions: democratic; ethical; economic; social; Latin American dignity To build a fraternal and co-operative coexistence. The transformation of higher education and the transfer of knowledge in science, technology and innovation. The Republic of Ecuador. National Development Plan: National Plan for Good Living 2009-2013: Building a Plurinational and Intercultural State.
  14. 14. Education is crucial to reinforce and diversify individual and social capabilities and potentialities, and to foster participative and critical citizens. Education remains one of the best ways of consolidating a democratic society that contributes to the eradication of economic, political, social and cultural inequalities. From a strategic perspective, it is essential to develop various forms of knowledge with high added value, as well as technical and technological research and innovation. The combination of ancestral forms of knowledge with state-of-the-art technology can reverse the current development model and contribute to the transition towards a model of accumulation based on bio-knowledge. The Republic of Ecuador. National Development Plan: National Plan for Good Living 2009- 2013: Building a Plurinational and Intercultural State.
  15. 15. We need a new global alliance between the new “open” movements, the ecological movements, and the traditional social justice and emancipatory movements, in order to create “a grand alliance of the commons.” Bauwens, M., and Iacomella, F. 2013. Peer-to-Peer Economy and New Civilization Centred Around the Sustenance of the Commons.
  16. 16. the ‘possibilities for associational networks’ ‘a little more of a politicised relation to truth in affairs of education, knowledge and academic practice’
  17. 17. Mass intellectuality is based on our common ability to do, based on our needs and capacities and what needs to be done. What needs to be done raises doing from the level of the individual to the level of society. Pace Willetts, “a real cultural change back towards teaching”.
  18. 18. What is to be done?
  19. 19. Licensing This presentation is licensed under a Creative Commons, Attribution-Non- Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales license See: