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The paper edition minus one

  1. 1. THEPAPEREDITION MINUS 1February 2010 THE RIOT ACT HAS BEEN READIn this IssueHow to Make a Collective NewspaperInside and Outside the KettleThey’re not on our side. We shouldn’t be on theirsHope Against Hope: a necessary betrayalWe are not going to be famousFrom Ivory-Tower to Debt-FactoryA Strike in Tower HamletsThe Art of Shoplifting
  2. 2. 2 THE PAPER | FEBRUARY 2011 THE PAPER | FEBRUARY 2011 The Paper becomes a planning tool for future 3 action, intricately connected to its actorsEDITORIAL How To Make A Collective NewspaperW e’ve felt it in the streets, in occupations, in walkouts, and practice of education in our society. This we can only do by positioning ourselves not and projects, co-ordinating committees and aroused political consciousnesses: a call out The Pedagogy* of Working Otherwise teach-ins and at Top Shop. In simply in the student movement, but also in for your contributions. The Paper is yours the many theories and practices of radical the assemblies, conferences the wider struggles that are emerging daily to seize, use and fertilise. education that have connected intellectualand meetings - every time we get together against the government’s brutality. and manual activity. It also produceswe discover that it’s broader than we divisions between people along class lines.thought. We are in the midst of the most The Paper as an object is strategic: not Contact us This division is replicated within structuresexciting student movement in Britain for only will it provide an important archive of education itself: poorer students are and record for struggle, but through its Email: emailthepaper@gmail.comdecades. In the past months there’s been trained to do manual labour (calleda joyous explosion of organising and distribution, it can strengthen networks. Send your letters to the editorial collective, work), middle and upper class studentscreativity against the ConDem’s plans Instead of living in the often anonymous, event listings, drawings, reports, articles, brief and fragmented discussions that to have careers (sold to them as thinkingfor austerity. And not just against the photos and other bits and pieces for the or creativity and not labour). Vocationalcuts to education, but increasingly for dominate the web, The Paper aims to foster next edition: by February 15th. We have an accountable forum for debate, and to training is pitted against thought. Canenvisioning and building better ways of a free subscribers postal service, so to a newspaper be a way of marking ourteaching, learning and creating knowledge. engage a wider range of participants. In receive the next edition email your contact providing a space for more sustained and refusal of this division, of replicating andUndergraduates, education workers, school details. We have regular editorial collective recording the way the education struggleand college students - people from many in-depth analysis, The Paper recognises that meetings and are always looking for writers, a great deal is at stake in this struggle - that brings people from different classes, agesdifferent areas - have mobilised and been designers, proofreaders, editors, artists and and backgrounds together?energised and now we need to establish we need to develop analyses and collective energetic folk to get involved.better channels of communication and start strategies that go beyond the immediate fight against cuts. By voicing, analysing 4. Making together: paying attentionlearning from each other. to the kinds of relationships we and imagining pasts, presents and futuresProducing a newspaper is a strategic different to those that are told or sold to us, Contributors make in a collective productionmove in developing this kind of solidarity. The Paper can provoke and inspire us to act Nelly Alfandari, Camille Barbagallo, Nic It would be easy to make a place for aWith The Paper we want to build a space in the now, transforming our present. Beuret, Sofie Buckland, Alice Corble, few people to control the analysis of theto reflect on, critique and learn from the Rachel Drummond, Mara Ferreri, Saskia movement, for people to make or elevatefrantic and inspiring actions we are all So here is edition minus 1 of The Paper. Fischer, Janna Graham, Kate Hardy, John Minus 1 because it is framed by questions academic careers, to become authors orinvolved in; to host a meeting place inprint for radical, considered analysis and for you: What would a paper for and by the Hutnyk, Ewa Jasiewicz, Jeanne Kay, Jason Francis Mc Gimsey, Eddie Molloy, Jeronimo In this edition of The Paper we ask ourselves: what are the leaders. What has been incredible so farcommentary on tactics and strategy. We movement look like? Is it possible to create Montero, Bue Rubner Hansen, Francisco lessons and what is to be learned from making a collective in this struggle has been the many people,need to develop a sense of ourselves as a a paper that school students and university lecturers, ESOL learners and library workers Salvini, Laura Schwartz newspaper? voices and organisational forms that have taken place. Thinking about the structures of Amovement: a collective imaginary. Thus all feel belongs to them? Can we create With thanks to the Centre for Ethics & Politics s many of us have experienced in 2. Producing an analysis for change collaborative production: rotating editorialwe need to know who we are, where we a forum for genuine engagement across at Queen Mary, University of London for these last months, the classroom teams, diffused and collective authorship,are, what we’re fighting for, what holds us networks, occupations, and autonomous financial support. is only one of many sites of Where the analysis of the classroom is fake names and having fun, are all forms oftogether and what keeps us apart. projects? This edition was produced by learning. Education does not only similarly focused on the production of learning how to be otherwise. The pedagogy Printed by Hato Press in support of The PaperUnderlying the spirit of The Paper is also an ad-hoc editorial board of activists, www.hatopress.net happen in places zoned for it but in the very abstract assignments for grades, just as the of The Paper is in its production. Also, thea commitment to provoke debate and self- students, troublemakers and artists from ways we organise ourselves for change. research of teachers is oriented towards dissemination process has to have as itsreflection. To broaden the movement’s a broad radical political base. Take it as a scores on government assessments and the goal the alteration of traditional hierarchiesvision and enable a re-imagining of the role message in a bottle to existing networks There are many issues facing the education production of university brands, The Paper of privilege of those working both within movement today. In the urgency of the can be a place for analysis. Issues might and outside of the education frame. Could moment sometimes we forget to talk about be not only the recording of collective those networks that produce, but also thatLetters put people off activism). Perhaps a paper acting as a monthly journal would be a We welcome The Paper– a good initiative in these difficult yet exciting times. Over what is at the very heart of our struggle, that discussion and reflection, but also the pass the paper around, develop their own is, what kind of education are we fighting basis for moving it forward. Dialogue in its processes for collective discussion aroundVarious letters The Paper received and good idea, otherwise I think a more regular a period of thirty or forty years, the for? This paper allows us to explore what production will be important and time will its contents?discussions that people started in response to paper should also include news articles, not university student has been reduced in we want: what pedagogies, what processes need to be taken for this. In undertakingthe call for a first editorial meeting. just news comment. circumstances and privilege so as to now of learning and teaching we would like such a process, The Paper becomes a 5. Connecting the production of be quite a bit closer to the proletarianized to transform; what relations between planning tool for future action, intricately language to the production of anThe Paper is an interesting idea, but not I think it will take a lot of effort to produce worker, themselves increasingly digitized students and educators we desire; upon connected to its actors, rather than the space object in the worldwithout problems in my view. What is the a paper regularly (is it to be free?). I am as precarious labour, data input, call centre what histories of radical education can for professions of strategies disengagedbasis for this paper, for example? Has it not saying it is impossible. I do think more While we have many blogs and some workers or shopping till operators. This we draw, and what world our education from doing. The reason to read and writecome out of a defined group or movement, writings about the movement and how to amazing online platforms for connecting trajectory of concurrence is occurring while efforts support. here is not simply to receive a qualificationlike being agreed upon at a London Student work better is a good thing, however these our work, making and seeing something at the upper echelons an opposite pattern or to progress one’s career but to reflectAssembly (or produced by a political group are disseminated. that we can hold, keep and put on our walls ensures the non-convergence of previously Instructions upon a common struggle, generouslywith a certain aim)? There are a lot of papers helps to construct a collective imaginary Sean Rillo Raczka highly-privileged professionals with the and critically.around produced by various groups, some The Paper, a collection of 12-16 pages of our movement. Not imaginary in the Birbeck SU chair, Open Birkbeck wealthy and rich in business. Indeed, thethink these papers are vital, others are an of compositions of various voices of sense of non-existent, but in the sense of Professors look set to become little more 3. Thinking and doing togetheranachronistic blast from the past. I share some of Sean’s concerns and these participants in the struggles against something that helps us to understand and than petty bourgeois shopkeepers, andFrom your email I take it that this will be should be clarified in more detail and their departments more like merchandise austerity in education and beyond, printed While demonstrating at Trafalgar map the processes we are in. The deadlinesan intellectual paper for the movement revisited at Monday’s meeting. I know stores, while University heads, and no on A3 sheets with a Risograph, folded in Square during one of our many recent and discussions attached to collectiverather than one aimed at the public/ that at LSE many in the occupation were doubt in other service sectors the upper half, usually appears monthly. mobilisations, a passer by shouted at us: production create a sense of urgency andstudents generally. Is that right? I think that interested in a proper forum for larger managements as well, become robber “Get a job”. They were making a false necessity that is different in impact towe should have a serious discussion about debates and discussion. I don’t think that barons paid six figure sums with benefits. 1. Writing from experience though common division between those sending out an email or posting to a blog -the need for an in-movement paper, what there is an independent blog/paper/etc We are not talking social class here, since who study and those who work. In spite of often solitary activities experienced by the that is not tied to specific group/parties to While much of what we do in school and the fact that most students work and thatpeople want to do web wise, how will it the quality of the wine is still a marker, but body in a chair. which people feel they can contribute. It is university starts from the knowledge and many workers continue to study, manybe paid for, how distributed etc. There are we are talking class formation nonetheless. analysis formed by others, the making of aa lot of people with blogs, and there is a encouraging that The Paper will be free, and A glass has been raised to your success. of the regressive education reforms echo I don’t know what the Centre for Ethics and paper allows us to draw from the questions, this polarised perspective: that educationkind of free-for-all out there of ideas, and Lal Salaam. problems and joys that we produce inresponses to them already. I also feel that Politics is exactly, but if the funding is truly should be practical, useful and oriented without strings, this makes the possibilities Theolonius Wiesengrund common struggle. Our experiences, stories towards producing good workers (evenmore academic debate is very important, and confusions are points of departure from * pedagogy | peda gäje ; - goje | of this project really exciting. University for Strategic Optimism in the face of mass unemployment). Thisbut it must be relevant and immediate to which we look to others: other texts, times noun ( pl. -gies)our struggle (as a lot I have read online has false separation between work and thought Ashok Kumar and parts of the world for inspiration. - the method and practice of learning andnot been, and in fact would bamboozle and enforces an active process of forgetting educating LSE sabbatical, LSE occupation, EAN NEC
  3. 3. 4 The state is not reasonable, THE PAPER | FEBRUARY 2011 THE PAPER | FEBRUARY 2011 5 it doesn’t give a shitInside and Outside the Kettle We are spectacle, the repressed rising. We embody the collective fantasy of smashing all the lies preached in double speak by the Big Society, or for that matter, representative democracy.SASKiA fiSCHER But it can also divide, this rage. light every small destruction. They choose them. We are a captive audience it is true. that’s already shaken part of the welfare factory, the rage and energy, the powerT to ignore the thousand or two late night As well as caged performers. out of the state. In this moment, with the and powerlessness of the kettle. And the here are many ways to read and There is the rage of the self-righteous: prisoners on the bridge. In the managed “crises” as shields, what’s left is being ideology that organises these spaces, right feel the kettle. The thing is to climb “we just came here to protest, we’ve done In the kettle feelings are made tangible either sold off cheap or simply abandoned. across the university. Not just as victim, but demonstration, we are all guilty, the crime out of it. Slippery as its walls may nothing wrong and it makes no sense, it’s that most in the world, and many in this The state is being re-shaped. No more will as a site of its articulation and diffusion. being association. be, find a grip, crack a hole, let the not reasonable to keep us here like this”. country, have long experienced. Now it compensate for unemployment, poverty The university, school or college, whererage pour out and the rest of you with it. And within the zone, some were also Only media have passes to move in and these start to circulate more widely in the wages and astronomical rents. As more and an already narrow definition of educationMake that rage a thing you can examine, raging as much against the fire crackering, out through these borders. Inside, police university. We may live in a representative more people lose their jobs, as wages drop is fast shrinking, commodified, quantified;learn from. Lest it swallow you, your window smashing youth as at the police. are invisible, though busy smashing system, but it’s not us it’s representing. and prices rise, as benefits are cut and more only what supports the system is worthfeelings half chewed. Then take a look They will never come back. Or not? and filming and note-taking. It is a zone The “rule of law” may apply to some wealth transferred up, a growing number learning. As we build our movement,around outside, talk with your friends and controlled, apparently by us. And no matter abstract elite, but not here. For us: chaos, of us will feel the grip of this logic shaping we need to reject this logic in its entiretyremember the energy and ideas that carried The state is not reasonable, it doesn’t give the caption, the voiceover, the images unpredictability, doubt. No right to gather, our daily lives. Neoliberalism severs and - refusing to be contained in our project,you into its belly, courtesy of the beast. Get a shit, it will blithely use force where it are clear: here, at the walls of the palace nor to be heard through the media filter. fragments, both at the ideological level - defending only our privileged patch in theback to talking, planning and organising sees fit. bursts energy, power, and no fear. We are In our pilgrimages around the perimeter, we are singular, self-seeking actors - and university as it now stands.a movement. spectacle, the repressed rising. We embody in pleading, shouting, shoving for an exit, in its policies which destroy communities, The language of the kettle is force. Inside it,What does the rage do? Well, hopefully drops of boiling rage fly through windows, the collective fantasy of smashing all the we are confronted with the helmets, boots infrastructures, the ability to act together.it radicalises, brings into sharp focus telephone boxes, eventually the Treasury. lies preached in double speak by the Big and batons of an authority that is totally The kettle is designed to boil and divide us.the lines. For most of those swimming in it, it sucks Society, or for that matter, representative unaccountable, distant. Appeals to rights, And to keep the streets clear for shopping and spits out our energy over long cold democracy. Of refusing the lonely path to the law or justice have no meaning here. and working, not thinking and acting andBecause it does make clear, yes, even hours, making sure we never have the cheek of individualised containment, with its They are part of the liberal arsenal. feeling together. As we did on Novemberwithout bullets, that there is risk. If not the exhortations to practise despair, quietism 30th, with simultaneous actions in many again. It’s boring, frustrating, maddening. Here, in this temporary zone, rules theviolence, loud and open, of baton cracking and abstinence - except of course, from locations, we’ll find other ways to politicise And for those outside watching, it is a same logic that operates in the benefitsskull, then intimidation, retribution. After consumption. It is a negative, destructive and be in public space. And as we do this,dark a group of us were divided from the spectacular, government-run sport. It hands office, or the courts, or the immigration energy, from inside a cage. It is also, at we need to build our own media, to speakrest and marched onto Westminster Bridge. the police control over what is supposed to detention centre. least partly, a collective energy. This is no with each other, on our own terms.There we were held in a dense, tense mass be a manifestation of popular, not police, will. Big media comply. Vultures, they solitary figure at the gates of the Treasury. Arbitrary, punitive and opaque. It is the And if we look, we’ll also see in thetill they felt we’d got their meaning. In that hover at the edge of the action, their flashes It is a group with cheering crowds around instrument of the neoliberal doctrine school, the call centre, the college andcage a we is born, reinforced. And a them.“They’re not on our side. We shouldn’t be on theirs” disrupt public order to even begin to the state operates, and how to effectively League for Penal Reform reports that 78% of unemployment, crime, mental healthAs the cuts begin to bite, what role can and do the police challenge the cuts, let alone the wider challenge it. of all people sentenced to custody were problems and addiction that condemnsplay in the movement? capitalist system and the state. For us, Some have argued, however, that it’s wrong convicted of non-violent crime. It’s a pretty thousands to misery. winning over individual police can only be much undisputed fact that the vast majority to see the police as our enemies outside of of crime is acquisitive – stealing stuff to In this context, ‘protecting working-SOfiE BUCKLANd by showing them some solidarity. We a case of persuading them not to be police protest days. After all, their day-to-day class communities’ looks rather like theO might win the cops round to an anti-cuts any more. make money (often in order to fund a drug n 11 January Paul McKeever, job is more concerned with solving crime. addiction), or, in the case of many women, opposite. The police defend the state against position that would benefit us on further Working class communities are hit hardest protestors challenging the very structure chair of the Police Federation, Marching alongside the cops in their shoplifting to support families: 54% of demonstrations. by crime, and report the highest levels of that produces crime. A better-funded, publicly hinted that police forces attempt to stop job cuts is hardly going women in prison in 2000 cited their lack of may demonstrate over job cuts. This argument, though well-meaning, is to achieve this. Joining in such a demo fear of crime. Being robbed is pretty shit, money as a reason, 38% the need to support more extensive welfare state, an end toDue to the same budget cuts the Coalition naïve. An individual police officer might explicitly suggests you don’t want a cut even more so when you have very little children and 33% having no job. the poverty pay of the minimum wage,government is pushing across public sympathise with the aims of the protest they in police numbers – that the police are just yourself. Living in fear of going outdoors, the abolition of the elite academy and freeservices, as many as 20,000 police force jobs are policing. But it is still their job to keep fine as they are. It’s hard to imagine many or having someone break in to your house, Simply regarding the police as defenders schools that sap money from state schoolsare under threat. This has prompted an public order – and that means following useful conversations on such a demo; after is debilitating. The police force plays a of working-class communities occludes in working-class areas, free education at allextensive internet debate between various orders when it comes to repressing protest. all, those marching are against the cuts in limited protective role in these cases - were all this, and the structural reasons behind levels and more - these are measures thatanti-cuts activists around the question: their jobs whilst being perfectly happy to it to be abolished tomorrow, life would be the majority of crime. Poverty, lack of would cut crime. And when we march for We might want to win some of them over physically, often violently, quash dissent more difficult for many people. opportunity, drugs, shit low-paid work – them, or to defend the limited welfare stateshould we march with the police? anyway, of course, but it’s important to against cuts to anyone else’s. Their role all these factors contribute to crime, and we have left, the police are on the other sideSome argue any job loss is a personal think about what that means in the situation The key word, however, is ‘limited’. none of them are anywhere near solved by of the barrier, defending privilege. They’re makes this a different question to organisingtragedy. Perhaps, even though these are we’re in. Being a copper is in direct conflict Anyone using this argument to back up the actions of police. Arresting, charging not on our side. We shouldn’t be on theirs. solidarity with other public sector workers,the very people trying to prevent our anti- with radical political activism. The police support for the police – and for, essentially, and imprisoning someone might stop them which can only strengthen any anti-cutscuts demonstrations from being effective form part of the armed wing of the state. maintaining or increasing police numbers breaking into your house or car for a few movement. By supporting the police, we’re(kettling and beating us in the process), Their reason for existence is to keep public – should dig a little further into crime, years, but it does nothing to resolve the excluding a huge chunk of analysis fromwe could claim the moral high ground order. We’re going to need to seriously and where it comes from. The Howard underlying problems; it often fuels a cycle our own anti-cuts agenda: that of how
  4. 4. 6 We can see clearly that the University THE PAPER | FEBRUARY 2011 THE PAPER | FEBRUARY 2011 7 is a machine that creates social death.Hope Against Hope: A necessary betrayal Hope, the dominant form of hope, is to do better than your parents.What has been taken from them to make them so form and purpose to our actions; they give older forms of entitlement and ideals of fairness and social mobility. We are living they are. The right to an education means that if you perform well in standardized the coming scarcity of the future for many people is a betrayal that makes possibleangry? Hope, that’s what. Hope, and the fragile bubble our lives meaning. through the birth pangs of a truly neoliberal tests (helped by being well off, going to a different kind of hope – a hope againstof social aspiration that sustained us through decades There are competing versions of hope in a age where meaning, hope and the future the right school and having a stable family hope, violently against aspiration andof mounting inequality; hope and the belief that if we given society, but there is also a hegemonic form to hope. For us, living in a becoming- itself are scarce and out of reach for most of life) then you deserve to go to University cold conformity.worked hard and did as we were told and bought the neoliberal world, that hegemonic form is us. It is here, at the juncture of a new social and cement your place up near the top of The student revolts then are the fractureright things, some of us at least would get the good aspiration. Not aspiration in the sense to order and the collapse of the remaining entitlements of the welfare state, that the the social hierarchy (as long as you make it into a relatively decent university, though in the facade. Students sense that notjobs and safe places to live that we’d been promised. aspire to greatness in some heroic Greek restructuring of hope comes to be generally how many ‘bad’ ones will remain after the only are their lives changing, but that the- Laurie Penny, New Statesman sense, or something romantic and colourful. seen as a crisis of hope. We are entering an cuts is an open question). The betrayal of myth of mobility that has underpinned No, for us aspiration has a particular hue age of scarcity of the future. the right to education – by either there not the University in recent years is coming and tint – it means social mobility. It means being enough jobs for graduates (as is the undone. These protests are the first protestsNiC BEURET waged, people would fight, and winning a better job, more money, more things and It’s clear that the students are revolting case for a third of existing graduates), or in Britain to contest the changing meaningA was possible. a higher rung on the career ladder. Hope is against the loss of this hope and future. by the rising costs of ‘earning’ a degree, of hope, and the austerity of dreams that is single image from a day of Social mobility (as such actually exists) the coming neoliberal future. But beyond this, what support is there for individual in our world, never collective putting it out of reach for all but the very movement marks out competing is under attack. The ‘squeezed middle’ the ‘right to education’? For this was the – the hope of entrepreneurs dreaming wealthy – is the betrayal of the right to not visions of hope. A boot through a and their children will become, like the But to be honest and faithful to the riot and starting point for the riot and the thread of making it big. Not just climbing the being working class. Looking at it this way, Millbank window fed the dreams existing underclass, a footnote to the the promise of a different kind of hope, an that binds the demonstrations, the walkouts ladder but also winning out over all others. through the broken glass, we can see thatof resistance that many in the Left have been bigger and brighter stories of the well- act of betrayal is needed. A betrayal of the and the occupations. Cutting the Education We hope for social mobility. Which is the riot went beyond mere aspiration. Justcraving since talk of austerity started. The to-do professionals. The student revolt University and education as it stands. For Maintenance Allowance, shedding whole exactly how Penny frames it, as do most as the university occupations have gonesame boot posed a question that plays out speaks to us all as the first open revolt here we come full circle. university departments and countless of the placards on the streets. Hope, the beyond the simple question of the ‘rightin the university occupations that preceded against the expansion of social death and staff, and raising fees. The restructuring is dominant form of hope, is to do better than to education’. The joy to be found in revolt For if the protests and occupations speakit and have since blossomed in its wake: the collapse of the more general circulation an attack on ‘education’ as it exists in the your parents. overflows the boundaries of a pedestrian only of the importance of education, andwhat is it exactly that we are hoping for? of aspiration. So the loss of entitlement is University; a wholesale revision of who can desire to get ahead. the necessity to defend the University, Hope is not evenly distributed – what real, and the revolt is too. But we shouldThe question of how students have inspired access what. It is perhaps taken for granted people will quickly fall away. People can hopes there are and who has access to them stop here and ask if that is the end of the But here both we (both we who are studentspeople to act, engage and organize to that ‘we’ all support the right to education, see clearly what the University is now. depend on where you are located (be you tale told by the boot. Did that kid kicking in and we who are not) find ourselves in acombat the Government’s austerity plans and that we are all united in our defence of poor or black, disabled, a woman, young, the window really just want to be better off double bind. We need to defend mobility The window is broken. We can see clearlyis an important one. It is one that also the University. But what if we are not? living in the regions, etc). Neoliberal hope – than his parents? Did he really want to keep in the world as it stands – its defence is that the University is a machine that createspotentially contrasts with some of the views What if it is our rage and not our hopes that aspiration – is increasingly restricted to an the University as it stands? the defence of actual existing lives and social death. Eventually the inspiration ofof students themselves. For let’s be clear – it are united? What if we are together only for ever-smaller circle of people: those people the real possibility to have a meaningful the initial fight and victory will fade, andis not necessarily (or even principally) the doing well through the current crisis; those social existence. And we need to defend the content of the revolt will have to standUniversity or its defence that mobilizes the fight, but not the victory? people above the buffer of the ‘squeezed Aspiration and the right not the funding of education as it stands. To on its own. If the content of that struggle ispeople’s desires and dreams outside the middle’. For the rest, there’s the lottery. (To to be working class resist paying more for education is to only to restore that machine, to defend thestudent movement. Defending the ‘right to Hope becomes scarce be clear, there have been ‘no hopers’ for quite Let’s go back to the idea behind neoliberal defend the social gains made by previous freedom to be unequal, failure is all we caneducation’ may be what sparked student Laurie Penny nails the motivation behind some time – an underclass living a kind of aspiration – social mobility. Social mobility generations and to defend the social wage. hope for.revolts, but those of us who are not students the riot – hope. Or rather, the restructuring of social death of meaningless, pointless lives, means getting ahead, doing better than And defending it is exactly what manyhave been drawn in because we want, more But if the struggle calls into question the hope and its coming scarcity. A restructuring hidden away behind ASBOS on estates [1]. your parents and your peers: it means students (and many of their supporters) arethan anything, to resist and fight. And very existence of such a machine, and and scarcity because hope is not something But this is to become the norm for many, that while you move other people have to doing. But in merely defending it we are into resist and fight you need to know that reopens the question of learning as opposed eternal or ephemeral. Hope is a material many more people). stand still. Social mobility requires both fact defending the most sacred of neoliberalresistance is possible, that you will not to education – to self-development, the thing, produced and distributed through winners and losers. Hope – or aspiration freedoms – the freedom to be unequal.be alone, and that you can win. For the This in turn leads to a scarcity of hope and exploration of interest and inclination, and social channels and institutions. Institutions – confirms the unequal world in which we Defending this freedom means defendingmost part the resistance so far to the an increasing number of people subject to the University as a filtering device set up to to allow for the navigation of curiosityregime of austerity has been rote and like the University. a social death – a life defined as without live. And education – that formal process and desire; in short, learning as a way of of differentiation, where some end up segregate us into educated and not; thoseuninspiring – a betrayed strike here, a sacked What do we mean by a socially produced future and therefore without meaning. with access to a ‘professional career’ and creating new possibilities and meaning,workforce there. A life trapped with nowhere to go. This with degrees and contacts and others with new practices and forms of relating and hope? Different societies produce different those who do not. Those with meaningful generates a crisis of hope that can manifest jobs without a future – is essential to the organising – then the window may stayMinor victories and thousands of words kinds of hopes. In fact, every single society lives and those without. in a number of ways. The most obvious is creation and maintenance of that inequity. broken for a long time to come.spoken of an inevitable uprising, of an produces different kinds of hopes. Hope resentment against those who seem to still It reinforces the role of the Universityinsurgency against the restructuring. The is a mobilizing and organizing force that Hopes against hope have hope. It is also visible in the desperate in unequally distributing meaning,boot through the window took us beyond structures the direction and possibilities attempts to salvage some hope – through possibilities, wages and other forms of socialthe rhetoric and yearnings. It showed of our lives. As memory shapes our So we must go beyond mere defence. The the memories of privileges of nationality, wealth. Put this way, the right to educationrage and the will to fight. It showed cops understanding of the past and how we riot is as much about dreams that have yet [1] I am talking of the hegemonic form of hope race and gender (such as mobilized by the means the freedom to be unequal. The rightoverwhelmed and underprepared, Tory understand what we are now, hope shapes to become possible as they are over the loss here. Those devoid of hope in the conventional BNP). to education works to underpin the mythoffices ransacked and the beautiful excess our understanding of the future – what of existing entitlements. There are hopes normative sense often resist through the of meritocracy – the myth that it’s through production of alternative visionings and dreams;of an insurrectionary moment. It inspired there will be, what there could be, who and The current crisis marks a turn from a that lie dormant or hidden that speak of hard work and ability and not connections, other kinds of hopes and socialities, oftenbecause it was truly magical, and people how we will become something more than mixed economy of hope – where neoliberal different ways of being; of different kinds of rejecting outright the binds to convention and class and privilege, that people get to wheresaw for themselves that battles could be we are today. Both hope and memory give policies and subjectivities press up against dreams and futures. The crisis of hope and the ethics-of-aspiration.
  5. 5. 8 Struggles when fronted by the same individuals THE PAPER | FEBRUARY 2011 THE PAPER | FEBRUARY 2011 ‘forget university, i can’t even afford college 9 lose their authenticity any more. Where’s my future?’We’re not going to be famous From Ivory Tower to Debt FactoryWho will be ‘the voice of the movement?’, ‘the voice An analysis of the long-term funding situation of theof a generation?’ - a chorus of activists could shout ‘none British university system and how costs have continuallyof us’ – ‘all of us’ – ‘anyone’. What about the few that been transferred to students, who are forced to becomesay, ‘Me’? workers and debtorsANyONE or activist group participation within a BUE RüBNER HANSEN it changed the understanding of education expropriating classes. Students at British Look into theT A movement. Through fame, this acquires as a public good and an individual right to universities are already amongst the he recent struggles for free lmost three months after Millbank education have empowered further currency and can pay for political mergers (coalitions and joint campaigns), mirror. Say it. it seems clear that something a narrow understanding of education as a good to be seized by the individual. The two most indebted in the world. With the introduction of higher fees debt levels will ‘ordinary’ people to feel as if their actions might count for something. acquisitions (taking over campaigns and other groups) and an increased market Look into the significant happened on the 10 November 2010. For all involved main vectors of this process have been the gradual defunding of universities (dropping be pushed above £30,000 for a three year degree costing £6,000. Those paying £9,000But they have also seen the emergence of share (TV appearances and multi-platform blogosphere it seems there is a before and after Millbank, 36% per student from 1989 to 1997) and and living in London will face debt levelsa new host of celebrity activists basking innew found media attention. appearances) within a given movement based on the marketability of an individual and say it. it marks a break that sparked off something that we are still living. The university that the introduction of student contributions in 1998 by the Blair government. Since far higher than £40,000, even if they work part-time throughout their studies. or campaign as a brand. has for a decade practically been a site of then, the state has continued its steadyMainstream UK campaigns and currents non-struggle has been turned into a focal Fees and debt are not only ways to pay forcould take a leaf out of the playbooks withdrawal of funding. In 2004, £3000 top- It is true that not everyone views point of discontent. education, but forms by which student lifeof radical libertarian movements. up tuition fees were introduced. Overall, spokepersonship as the sale of the self, becomes different, tendentially in all itsClandestinity, no-names, a rotation of So why this sudden resurgence of activism the UCU has calculated that the costs of but in the context of social peace, these aspects. Hence the system casts studentspublic representatives and a culture market dynamics don’t prepare us well for amongst the supposedly ‘apathetic’ studying for a degree have risen 312% since 1988, while they are set to rise another 101% as consumers of their own education.that respects and honours expansion, generalising struggle or for a time when students? The immediate reason is of Lecturers complain that students becomeinclusion, delegation and skills-sharing the ante may be upped and social peace course the Con-Dem coalition government’s by 2012. demanding and spoiled, students that theiras opposed to a marketisation of political implodes. Compared to many majority decision to make the greatest cuts in In the future, universities will have to lecturers don’t ‘deliver’. The system is set uppersonalities and leaders, single issues world movements and also armed political public spending since the 1930s. What operate as corporations to survive; under to make us into stupid consumers. But notand compartmentalised goals, differentiate struggles, such as in Lebanon or Palestine, we are paying to avoid, they say, is the the growing competitive pressures they only that. We are expected to be calculatingsome of the political currents in the UK at many ‘leaders’ are marked for death, go bankruptcy of the British economy, while will have an interest in offering as poor and investors, thinking strategically about ourpresent. But the reproduction of capitalist underground, cells remain clandestine, carefully avoiding mentioning the costs of little training as possible for the highest future employability and earning capacities,dynamics within our very own scenes – while above ground activism is so the bank bailouts and of the wars in Iraq possible price, and in focusing exclusively instead of our desires to live and learn. Inwhere we think we are being anti-capitalist generalised as to become a many-headed and Afghanistan. on profitable research. This process will this, as in our edu-consumerism, studentsat every turn and phrase – are evident. hydra that drone-plane assassinations force most universities to fundamentally are cheered on by NUS leader Aaron Porter, cannot decapitate, or ego-oligarchs cannot Within the perverse horizon of capitalistThe anti-war and Palestine Solidarity realism and its imperative of reducing restructure their activities (programme who calls for ‘a consumer revolution co-opt, where there is no need to market closures, redundancies and ‘efficiency in education’.scene, for example, relied upon a rotation or promote. The generalised struggle is the deficit by cutting universities (‘if weof high-profile NGO and established peace don’t cut universities we will have to cut savings’), while many will have to close intimate, intergenerational, felt on the body altogether. Meanwhile, the existing multi- However, the truth is that we face shoddycampaign organisation directors, MPs and and close to death; conditions we do not health – people will die!’) higher fees have and humiliating ‘student experiences’.journalists cyclically put out on platforms been seen as a panacea. Higher education tier system will be entrenched, as student have here, but which nevertheless have Meanwhile the future – for those who canto become recognisable draws for audiences (HE) can expect a cut of 40% in funding fees soar and ‘bring about a much closer meaning for how struggle can be organised. afford to be ‘consumers and investors into consume. My focus here is on the format (excluding research funding), down from correlation between the reputational There are millions that make up movements; education’ in the first place – is increasinglyand focus of these political encounters as £7.1 to £4.2bn, while further education (FE) hierarchy of institutions and the social class unnamed cooks, medics, lawyers, families, uncertain. Selling the fruits of our futurethe problematic issue, not the achievements is to be cut by 25%, 1.1bn down from 4.3bn of their student body’ (S.Collini). funders, trainers, builders, gardeners, labour to the state might not be a sweetor commitment of those concerned. farmers, drivers. Struggles when fronted by by 2014-15. More concretely, this will mean The gap between tuition fees for home deal at all. Higher education still makesIn creating celebrity activists that gain the same individuals lose their authenticity, the disappearance of between 75% and 95% and non-EU students (now paying around employment more likely, but with youthcurrency on the market of struggle - that is their plurality, actually reproduce of all teaching funding. In practice this will £10,000) is likely to narrow. As home student unemployment for adults under 25 soaringalienation-maintained social peace within alienation and mystify the collectivity of mean the total or near total withdrawal of demand for HE falls as costs rise, more at 20.3% (making the total of unemployedthe UK – and creating an interface which change-making. state funding from the social sciences, the foreign students will have to be recruited. youths 951,000), it is no longer a guarantee.is personality driven, the agency of those humanities and arts. The University and Increasingly they will be needed to bankrollengaged is limited to a form of campaigning In abdication of the ‘I’ in the cause College Union (UCU) has warned that a Of the few of us who will be lucky enough of furthering the ‘we’, collectives co- the system, while the Government is likelywhich markets political candidates and third of all English universities could close. to push on trying to reduce migration. to find employment relevant to our degrees producing theory and action as an immediately upon graduation most will beadvertises mass mobilisations. Looking back, the present cuts to British Effectively thousands will be caught in the alternative to the single voice. The freedom enrolled into the stress inducing machineThere is a fine line between writers who that can come with anonymity, the space universities are like a sudden acceleration double squeeze of Britain’s state racism and of self-realisation and overwork. Moreuse their skills to promote movements for radical movement that can be created (of the kind that will give you a whiplash) the inflated reputation of its universities. likely, however, we face shitty jobs at Topand struggles, by name or anonymously in the shade beyond the limelight, actions of a process that has been going on since In the UK, students - at least those of us who Shop or long periods of precarity – movingor within collectives, and those who seek speaking louder than words, abrupt and Thatcher. The process however, can be are not part of the large migrant student between overwork and unemployment,recognition, status and primacy through open platforms that create space before seen as carried by university managers population - enter university at a young age, often initiated or interrupted by thetheir engagement with struggles. I’m not disappearing and reappearing elsewhere, themselves, starting with the 1985 Jarratt straight from a dreary system dominated mostly unpaid and fiercely exploitativearguing for a moralistic negation of ego, allow for a political agility that can adapt Report, commissioned by the vice- by standardized tests and an early focus labour of internships.nor condemning the understandable need to moves from authoritarian powers above. chancellors association. This document on future employability. But while collegefor recognition. I do not wish to censor The creativity that inspires creativity in analysed universities as enterprises along students have hitherto not been forced to As in Tunisia, Greece and France, ourindividual agency, but am interested others, without copyright, un-privatises the factory-model, and viewed academics work prior to university, many will as they movement of students, young graduatesrather in how to create communication and creativity. Generalising struggle depends on as workers producing services (teaching loose the EMA. As a banner on the 10th of and unemployed workers is rebellingmovement and trust building. What is the generalising representation, democratising and marking) and products (books and November said, ‘Forget university, I can’t against the attacks on our presents anduse of writing – a commodity or a rumour? ‘voice’, and encouraging groups and articles). This allowed managers to subject even afford college any more. Where’s futures. However, to be successful we senseGuided by the market and editorial movements where the many yeses are their employees to performance reviews, my future?’ that our struggle must be something moreagendas or freestyle, uncompromising and heard for their substance and direction, while making universities competitive than that: One not defending the dreams rather than status and individualised A great many of us who make it to university and institutions of the present that breedundoctored? A dominating voice or a voice bodies (competing first, serving wider ends profit. Look into the mirror. Say it. Look have to work to sustain ourselves through this crisis uncritically. We must be readythat gives voice to the voiceless? second, if at all). into the blogosphere and say it. Look into our studies. But not only work is required: to imagine, demand and create a newClass, privilege, group affiliation and the crowds hurling paint and bricks at cops; In economic terms this process entailed since the introduction of top up fees it future based on our new-found andposition in an organisational hierarchy put on a mask and say it: We’re not going to students becoming consumers; the gradual has become impossible to ‘work yourself undiscovered powers.can fund the social capital of activist be famous. transferral of the cost of education from the through university’ – debt must be incurred state to students. On the level of discourse unless you belong to the exploiting and

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