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The Co-operative University as Anti-technocracy?


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My slides to accompany my talk on 31 October 2018 for the Contemporary Philosophy of Technology Research Group at the University of Birmingham. The talk posed the following questions:
1. What is the proposed Co-operative University for?
2. What is its relationship to hegemony, in its pedagogy, governance, regulation and funding?
3. Can it enable us to develop autonomous responses to the authoritarian, technocratic re-engineering of higher education?
There are more details here:
A recording of the talk will follow at this site.

Published in: Education
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The Co-operative University as Anti-technocracy?

  1. 1. The Co-operative University as Anti-technocracy? Richard Hall ¦ @hallymk1 ¦ ¦
  2. 2. The state we are in
  3. 3. Second-order mediations •authoritarian managerialism: autonomy and accountability; corporativism •human capital theory •markets and money: cognitive dissonance •discourses of productivity, excellence, entrepreneurship and impact Against self-mediation declining participation by mature learners, part-time study academic, professional service staff and student ill-being
  4. 4. •no exaggeration to say that our country’s future depends more than ever on the success of our HEIs; •we will not forget the underlying values of HE… joy and value of knowledge pursued for its own sake; pursuit of the good, the true and the beautiful; •uncompromising in our protection of students’ interests… insist on value for money for the student [and] also for the taxpayer; •we will embrace both collaboration and competition. Barber, Foreward, in DfE, 2017, pp. 8-9.
  5. 5. Effective competition compels providers to focus on students’ needs and aspirations, drives up outcomes that students care about, puts downward pressure on costs, leads to more efficient allocation of resources between providers, and catalyses innovation. The higher education sector in England is well suited to market mechanisms driving continuous improvement. DfE, 2017, pp. 43-5.
  6. 6. The political economics of co-operatives
  7. 7. A co-operative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically-controlled enterprise. International Co-operative Alliance (n.d.). Cooperative identity, values & principles.
  8. 8. A long and emergent, international, pedagogical history of alternatives. •Experiments: Mondragon; FLOK; Procomuns; Plebs League; Lucas Plan; National Council of Labour Colleges; International Co- operative University; Anti-University; Free University of New York; SSC; ROU; Reggio Emillia… •Writing: Birchall; Boden, Ciancanelli and Wright; Bookchin; Cook; Develtere; Egan; Facer; Jossa; Kasmir; Lenin; Luxembourg; Marx; Moss and Fielding; Newton; Orizet; Somerville; Winn and Neary; Woodhouse; Woodin; Zygmuntowski…
  9. 9. Ridley-Duff and Bull, 2014
  10. 10. Ridley-Duff and Bull, 2014
  11. 11. Co-operation presents to the individual workers the unity and the will of the whole body of social labour, developed in manufacture ‘which mutilates the worker, turning [her] into a fragment of himself.’ In manufacture, the social productive power of the collective worker, hence of capital, is enriched through the impoverishment of the worker in individual productive power. Marx, 2004, 482-83 All our invention and progress seem to result in endowing material forces with intellectual life, and in stultifying human life into a material force. All this antagonism between modern industry and science on the one hand, modern misery and dissolution on the other hand. Marx, 1969, 501
  12. 12. • Concrete moments in the development of social co- operation in labour and appropriation. • Access to the material, positive achievements of capitalism, in order to underpin communal organisation. • The political practice of co-operative production confronts and undermines subsumption. • Working class for-itself is a moment of ‘auto- determination’ (Negri, Marx beyond Marx, 162).
  13. 13. This is not possible without the community. Only within the community has each individual the means of cultivating [her] gifts in all directions; hence personal freedom becomes possible only within the community. (Marx and Engels, 1998, 86)   when the worker cooperates in a planned way with others, [she] strips off the fetters of [her] individuality, and develops the capabilities of [her] species. (Marx, 2004, 447)   Against alienated socialisation; alienation of producers from conditions of production; exploitation.
  14. 14. (c) We recommend to the working men to embark in co- operative production rather than in co-operative stores. The latter touch but the surface of the present economical system, the former attacks its groundwork. Marx, 1866. Instructions for the Delegates of the Provisional General Council (4) In my expression of my life I would have fashioned your expression of your life, and thus in my own activity have realized my own essence, my human, my communal essence. In that case our products would be like so many mirrors, out of which our essence shone... Marx, 1844. Comments on James Mill, Éléments D’économie Politique.
  15. 15. Marx: praxis in the prevailing system; form and content of social production; self-mediation. Newton, Bookchin: revolutionary intercommunalism or communalism, as a process: “liberatory technology” is only possible within a “liberatory society”. Dunayevskaya, Holloway: beyond value – a new centre of gravity of a new social order (c.f. Jossa and labour-managed firms). Lenin: to organize the population in cooperative societies; relationship to the State. Luxemburg: competition/degeneration - the capitalist controlled contradictions between the mode of production and the mode of exchange.
  16. 16. Against the alienated labour of the peloton
  17. 17. • academia reproduced in relation to its leading performer(s) and their cultures of performance management; • governed by cultures of omertà, or silence, against exploitation, domination and oppression; • Omertà embedded inside a performative culture that enables co- operation, giving certain individuals access to resources so that they can compete; • enforcing silence about the reality of that toxic, high pressured existence; • demand cultures of dietrologia, or the desperate search for hidden dimensions to surface reality, which can border on paranoia, especially in terms of the maintenance of status.
  18. 18. Academics locked within a culture of sublimated competition, conditional co-operation and desperation over position and status, which then shape a space in which overwork, precarity, hopelessness, ill-being are normalised. Hall 2018; Hall and Bowles 2016
  19. 19. The technology of co-operation
  20. 20. • Not the ‘public university’. • Exceed the idea of ‘public ownership’ with that of ‘common ownership’. • A social form of property that is the antithesis of the right of free alienability. • Compatible with an idea of the ‘public’ as a ‘commons’. • ‘social co-operatives’ ( ‘solidarity’ or ‘multi-stakeholder’ co-ops). How does technology enable co-operative vision, practices and organisational models to be implemented and remain flexible (in the face of value)?
  21. 21. Platform co-operativism: •to clone the “technological heart” of the new, digital platforms; •redesigning algorithms and the ownership structures as transparent, democratic, and revenue-redistributive; •technological sovereignty for citizens (Platform Cooperativism Consortium). •intersectional issues/epistemic privilege (boyd, 2015; Srnicek, 2017); •new forces and relations of production (Pasquale, 2016, 2018); Uberfication (Hall, 2016); •always-on task and always available (Huws, 2014); •evaluative infrastructure, internalised at the level of the individual and aggregated at the level of the platform (Kornberger et al., 2017).
  22. 22. • constant questioning of the governing principles of specific communities, in order to refuse marginalisation, privilege and power; • sharing narratives about the lived experience of co-operation as a continual form of praxis, constantly questioning assumptions about open knowledge and technologies; • sharing access to data such that their use can be defined collectively for the provision of services beyond value; • the open sharing of the full range of knowledge, skills and capabilities.
  23. 23. The aim is to challenge hegemonic forms of knowledge production, circulation and accumulation, which do not enable societies to engage with crises of social reproduction.
  24. 24. For a Co-operative University?
  25. 25. The Feral Art School
  26. 26. April 2018: Two weeks ago the College formally registered with the Office for Students and more recently, our CEO and Vice Principal both attended an Office for Students information event in Manchester. The plans for acquiring Degree Awarding Powers and developing a model for a future Co- operative University are on track.
  27. 27. Working towards a federation of autonomous co-operatives. •Governance (Board, members, sub-committees, co-ops, Academic Board, Principal, management team, delivery teams) •Access and participation •Outreach •Support mechanisms •Co-creation/open teaching, learning and research (TEF/REF) •Continuous improvement •Mature learners; BAME; carers; low income; SLDs; refugees. •Authentic, holistic and values-centred. •Public Interest Governance Principles (accountability, risk, VfM)
  28. 28. @VaughanCoop
  29. 29. • Leicester Vaughan College: a new kind of institution in an established tradition: Lower fees, no VCs; • civic-facing education to working people in Leicester (1862); • skills for leisure and interest, as well as work; • joins UoL in 20th Century; • Vaughan College closed; disestablishment of Centre as academic Department (2013/16); • re-founded as a Community Benefit Society (2017).
  30. 30. •LVC Community Benefit Society Objects •education as a public good •a broad range of students from diverse communities •fully-accredited, face-to-face, part-time learning open to anyone •benefits communities in addressing the challenges faced by society •support an equitable and sustainable working context •reflect local needs, and our local and economic context •an alternative model of HE pedagogy over profit.
  31. 31. Introductory Counselling Courses Humanities courses Interdisciplinary courses Counselling CPD HE Cert Counselling * HE Cert Human Culture and History HE Cert Social SciencesHE Cert Drug and Alcohol Counselling HE Cert Heritage and ConservationHE Cert Psychology and Counselling DIP Counselling DIP Human Culture and History DIP Social SciencesDIP Drug and Alcohol Counselling DIP Psychology and Counselling BA Counselling (top up) BA Human Culture and History BSc Social Sciences MA Counselling MA Society and Culture
  32. 32. Learning about (and practicing) the co-operative movement: • Studying co-operation explicitly across disciplines; • Co-operative studies within a discipline; • Embedding co-operative learning; • Co-operation-as-praxis. Co-operative pedagogy: student-as-producer The Co-operative as a site of pedagogic production
  33. 33. Against what the University has become democracy into/through the curriculum inter-disciplinarity/beyond the discipline uncover alienated-labour and its mediations less harmful conditions of production
  34. 34. Is another (co-operative) world possible?
  35. 35. the real intellectual wealth of the individual depends entirely on the wealth of [her] real connections. Only this will liberate the separate individuals… Bring them into practical connection with the production (including intellectual production) of the whole world and make it possible for them to acquire the capacity to enjoy this all-sided production of the whole earth Marx and Engels (1846/1998). The German Ideology, p. 59.
  36. 36. • An alternative set of relations, predicated upon co-operation: the realm of necessity, and the realm of freedom. • Abolition of academic labour through ‘the experience of the combined worker… in putting the theory into practice’ through co-operation (Marx 1991, pp. 198-99). • Possibilities of democratic regulation of transnational worker co-operatives and solidarity economies, as pedagogic moments. • Self-mediation: the abolition of second-order mediations, and the reinforcement of the springs of cooperative wealth (Marx, 1875). • The material conditions of production are the co-operative property of the workers, then there likewise results a distribution of the means of consumption different from the present one (Marx, 1875).
  37. 37. a little more of a politicised relation to truth in affairs of education, knowledge and academic practice Amsler, 2013, The Fearless University
  38. 38. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.