Tag Archives: education

David McLellan’s para on Marx’s Workers Inquiry

From page 413 of McLellan, David 1973/2006 Karl Marx: A Biography, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan

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Capital lectures in Spring term at Goldsmiths starting January 14

Marx Capital lecture course at Goldsmiths ✪

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Lecture course on Marx’s “Capital” at Goldsmiths: everybody is welcome

Capitalism and Cultural Studies – Prof John Hutnyk:

tuesday evenings from january 14, 2014 – 5pm-8pm Goldsmiths Room RHB 309. Free – all welcome.

No fee (unless, sorry, you are doing this for award) – and that, friends, is Willetts’ fault – though the Labour Party have a share of the blame too).

This course involves a close reading of Karl Marx’s Capital (Volume One).
90 minute lectures, 60 minutes discussion
The connections between cultural studies and critiques of capitalism are considered in an interdisciplinary context (cinema studies, anthropology, musicology, international relations, and philosophy) which reaches from Marx through to Film Studies, from ethnographic approaches to Heidegger, from anarchism and surrealism to German critical theory and poststructuralism/post-colonialism/post-early-for-christmas. Topics covered include: alienation, commodification, production, technology, education, subsumption, anti-imperialism, anti-war movement and complicity. Using a series of illustrative films (documentary and fiction) and key theoretical texts (read alongside the text of Capital), we examine contemporary capitalism as it shifts, changes, lurches through its very late 20th and early 21st century manifestations – we will look at how cultural studies copes with (or does not cope with) class struggle, anti-colonialism, new subjectivities, cultural politics, media, virtual and corporate worlds.
********** The weekly course reading guide is here: Cap and cult studs outline013 *************

The lectures/seminars begin on Tuesday 14th January 2014 between 5 and 8pm and will run for 11 weeks (with a week off in the middle) in the Richard Hoggart Building (Room 309), Goldsmiths College. You are required to bring their own copy of the Penguin, International Publishers/Progress Press of German editions of Karl Marx Capital Vol I. We are reading about 100 pages a week. (Please don’t get tricked into buying the abridged English edition/nonsense!)

Note: The Centre for Cultual Studies at Goldsmiths took a decision to make as many as possible of its lecture series open to the public without fee. Seminars, essays, library access etc remain for sale. Still, here is a chance to explore cultural studies without getting into debt. The classes are MA level, mostly in the day – though in spring the Capital course is early tuesday evening. We usually run 10 week courses. Reading required will be announced in class, but preliminary reading suggestions can also be found by following the links. RHB means main building of Goldsmiths – Richard Hoggart Building. More info on other free events from CCS here: http://hutnyk.wordpress.com/what-is-to-be-done/

Teach out talk crib notes

Notes for talk at Goldsmiths strike UCU ‘teach out’. 31.10.2013
.

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UCU strike at Goldsmiths includes public teach out at Library picket.

Strike 31.10.2013

9.30am ‘Banking on Food Poverty’, Tom Henri (STACS)

9.50am ‘Pantomime of Terror’, John Hutnyk (CCS)

10.10am ‘What is education for?’ John Wadsworth, Clare Kelly and Maggie Pitfield (Education)

10.30am ‘The internet, security and London Crypto Festival’, Matt Fuller (CCS)

10.50am ‘Digital capitalism and activism’, Veronica Barassi (Media & Comms)

11.10am ‘The militant image’, Ros Gray (Visual Cultures)

11.30am ‘Exclusion and higher education’, Claudia Bernard (STACS)

11.30am ‘Where now for Occupy?’ David Graeber (ex-Anthropology)

11.50am ‘Pedagogy/Practice/Protest’, Irit Rogoff (Visual Cultures)

 

http://www.goldsmithsucu.org/

Participation in Museums: Trinketizing the Audience.

Notes for Museum ‘debate’ in Liverpool on November 11.

There is much talk of participation and much effort to remodel foyers, and to an extent interiors, plus toilets, cafes, bookshops and websites, to enable easy access. Asked to be curmudgeon-esque, it seems clear to me that this participation-talk is pseudo-participation. Every participation seems the same, everything alike, repeated patterns, even colour schemes – so many pastels, and fluorescent red plastic chairs. Some of the chairs are little, for kids, or for breaking dad’s back.

How did it get to be that pseudo-participation rules? The dominant culture has no anxiety about having people walk past the exhibits, but do not let them touch you. File on by, stop perhaps for a second, for an hour, but only in a standardized way. Check the visit off on a list. Culture 101.

Nothing without regulation – aims and outcomes carefully calibrated on a planning form that no-one reads, inside a system dominated by the same malignant and parasitic bureaucracy that has overtaken health and education in the hyper-administration. The bureaucracy does not even administer anything today, just keeps the forms in circulation, and the school groups filing through the doors.

And it is this pseudo-routine that must be thoroughly tested. We must know our audience, using the very latest in dumbed-down questionnaires that even newspaper-selling leftist street-vendors would disavow except as props. This is not even market research – so long as the school groups keep on marching past in tight formation. Participation in the most bland formal sameness – Adorno pointed to a sexual lozenge at the heart of the culture industry, and for sure he also meant the museum as pseudo-education. Where everything should be clean. ‘Nothing should be moist’.

We are so far from education here except education as reinforced class privilege. Education is not a two-hour visit – give them 20 hours, even 20 weeks – and they must read in advance. Here cultural exposure is not instruction but packaged ‘culture’ – and education is not a social good, but ‘education’ as national programming. An articulated system for inculcating national ideology and the flat flat flat dissemination of British identity and imaginary pasts. Books in the bookshop on popular themes – tea, crockery, swords. The empty materials that can be rearranged for some groups to dominate others.

Because commodification is the new rule, just like the old one. Different levels according to price, knick-knacks or bespoke jewelry, a café and a bistro, a members room. The collection is sacrificed to the expansion of the foyer, the t-shirts and tote bags carry the branded museum like a picture on a mug. There is no room for the collection, but room aplenty for postcard reproductions. The collection is not a collection, not a research effort, not a scholarly project, but a beauty contest.

_______________

Three props – a toy wooden horse, my gilt-edged copy of Arabian Nights, and a carved wooden Ganesh idol.

Participation cannot be a Trojan Horse, smuggling the old kings of the elite cloister into the pockets of a population plundered and left to rue the day. Participation is not a flash mob.

Neither should we rest with the admirable storytelling device of Scheherazade from the epic One Thousand and One Nights. She tells stories every night – Sinbad, Ali Baba, Aladdin – to ward off the threat of the despotic ruler Shahryar, and through her stories eventually she turns him to good. But insofar as this leaves the storyteller as the one with power, and the king in place, the population remains a distant audience, titillated, but fundamentally untouched. Great stories they are, but the structure of interrogation remains, she could be telling her stories to the despotic king, or in Guantanamo today to the CIA interrogators, or the national press. What she needs to do is teach others to tell stories, and this also takes time – perhaps 1001 nights, sometimes more, different in each case and not a blanket solution. Democracy is not an occasionally vote.

What if it were Ganesh that ran the museum. Tasked with writing down the epic Mahabharata – 100 thousand verses – as it was told by the sage Vyasa, Ganesh’s pencil wears down and in order to keep transcribing he snaps off his tusk and dips it in ink to continue. He is the patron of all studious soles, dedicated to a popular scholarship, unending. He is not an occasional visitor on a joy ride.

What we need perhaps is the best of all three of these figures. Enticement into the museum, by horse if need be, then good stories that undo the games of dominant power, and a celebration of scholarship that is not just a two-hour visit, but a lifelong commitment. Museums might be this. With these patrons.

_______________

VC Gherao Kolkata

On the day that I received a copy of my chapter in the book, Television at Large in South Asia (see here) this news from Kolkata seemed highly apposite.

 

After Jadavpur, Calcutta University students gherao VC

Last Updated: Monday, September 23, 2013, 23:48

Kolkata: Close on the heels of gherao of the Jadavpur University vice chancellor by students for 51-hours, B-Tech students of a college of Calcutta University on Monday gheroed the varsity’s VC and pro-VC alleging that the authorities were not taking any steps for their placement. Calcutta University VC Suranjan Das and Pro-VC (academic) Dhrubajyoti Chatterjee continue to remain gheraoed at the Raja Bazar Science College campus of the university by B-Tech students till late in the night, university sources said. The B-Tech students first gheraoed the principal of the Raja Bazar Science College at 2.30 pm, the sources said.

Hearing the news of the gherao of the principal, Das sent the pro-vc (academic) to talk to the students but they gheraoed him as well. The VC, who reached the campus around 7 pm, was gheraoed too and gates were locked from outside. “Gherao is a democratic right. But this locking of door and gates from outside is not acceptable because if there is fire of any such incident then there may be serious loss,” the VC said over the phone from inside the college. The VC said “that there is a placement cell in the Raja Bazar Science College. However, there is no placement officer at present but a professor of the college is officiating additionally as the placement officer.” “If companies reject the candidates (send for placement) then why should the college authorities be blamed,” he added. The gherao of the VC, pro-VC (academic) and principal of the college was still continuing till 11 pm, the sources said. On September 20, engineering students of Jadavpur University lifted their 51-hour gherao of the vice- chancellor, pro vice-chancellor and registrar, demanding the revocation of the suspensions of two fourth-year students on ragging charges. PTI

First Published: Monday, September 23, 2013, 23:48

Marx Capital lecture course at Goldsmiths ✪

#Marx #Capital #lecture #course at #Goldsmiths #GoldsmithsUni ✪

✪✪✪✪✪✪✪✪✪✪✪✪✪✪✪✪✪✪✪✪
Public Lecture course on Marx’s “Capital” at Goldsmiths: everybody is welcome

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Capitalism and Cultural Studies – Prof John Hutnyk:

tuesday evenings from january 14, 2014 – 5pm-8pm Goldsmiths Room RHB 309. Free – all welcome.

No fee (unless, sorry, you are doing this for award) – and that, friends, is Willetts’ fault – though the Labour Party have a share of the blame too.

This course involves a close reading of Karl Marx’s Capital (Volume One).
90 minute lectures, 60 minutes discussion.

The connections between cultural studies and critiques of capitalism are considered in an interdisciplinary context (cinema studies, anthropology, musicology, international relations, and philosophy) which reaches from Marx through to Film Studies, from ethnographic approaches to Heidegger, from anarchism and surrealism to German critical theory and poststructuralism/post-colonialism/post-early-for-christmas. Topics covered include: alienation, commodification, production, technology, education, subsumption, anti-imperialism, anti-war movement and complicity. Using a series of illustrative films (documentary and fiction) and key theoretical texts (read alongside the text of Capital), we examine contemporary capitalism as it shifts, changes, lurches through its very late 20th and early 21st century manifestations – we will look at how cultural studies copes with (or does not cope with) class struggle, anti-colonialism, new subjectivities, cultural politics, media, virtual and corporate worlds.

The lectures/seminars begin on Tuesday 14th January 2014 between 5 and 8pm and will run for 11 weeks (with a week off in the middle) in the Richard Hoggart Building (Room 309), Goldsmiths College. You are required to bring their own copy of the Penguin, International Publishers/Progress Press or German editions of Karl Marx Capital Vol I. We are reading about 100 pages a week. (Please don’t get tricked into buying the abridged English edition/nonsense!)

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Vanguard Australia on the election

For an Independent Australia and Socialism

Volume 50 Number 8, Vanguard expresses the viewpoint of the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist – Leninist)

The only choice is strugglepage1image1748 page1image1832

by Alice M.

What can the working people expect when the dust settles after the 7th September Federal parliamentary elections?

Will the casualisation, insecure work and loss of jobs be stopped?

Will the offshoring of jobs out of Australia be stopped?

Will the offensive by big business and monopoly corporations on workers’ hard won wages, working conditions and union rights cease, or even be rolled back?

http://vanguard.net.au/2008/pdf%20files/sept13/Page%201.pdf

read more here

From Sydney Uni (as reported in the CPA paper)

Issue #1609      September 4, 2013

University of Sydney strike.

Staff at the University of Sydney took the extraordinary measure of striking last Saturday on the university’s Open Day. It’s the 7th day of strike action since March over stalled collective agreement negotiations.

University staff gathered at the main gates on campus to explain to prospective students – and their families – the reasons for their collective bargaining campaign and how deteriorating staff working conditions will affect the quality of education and the conditions of learning.

National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) branch president Michael Thomson said it was a serious issue but the union action at Open Day was also fun and informative, with barbeques, balloons, and music laid on.

“We’re reclaiming Open Day and the University of Sydney from the marketeers and spin doctors.”

Staff were on the main gates from 8am and leafleted at public transport hubs during the morning. Thomson said that management’s current pay offer to staff was a real wage cut of 0.5 percent a year.

“The paltry pay offer is part of a concerted effort by Vice Chancellors across the country to force down the wages of staff in the higher education sector, even as they ask us to work harder for longer,” he said.

“At Sydney, student load increased by more than 5 percent in 2012 alone, yet staff numbers have remained unchanged. Management simply expects us to meet increased demand through increases in our workload and work intensification.

“Management’s claim that anything more than their offer is unaffordable is an attempt to suggest staff are being greedy. However, our pay claim aligns closely with community standards and expectations.

“Figures released by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations show national system public sector employees received average enterprise agreement wage increases of 3.9% a year in the March quarter 2013. Across the whole national system, wages in enterprise agreements increased 3.7%.

“We deserve a fair pay rise that recognises both our hard work and broader community wage outcomes. The University of Sydney is a wealthy institution and can afford it.”

Next article – Life under an Abbott government

Back to index page

Rosalind Davis

NYU Diso-Crazy

Screen shot 2013-08-29 at 11.47.20Click on the cover to get the PDf, or here: disocrazy-20131

Here is a student handbook prepared for NYU. I am reliably informed that the Goldsmiths Handjob (here) was an influence on their tone.

MA Postcolonial Culture and Global Policy in the Centre for Cultural Studies at #Goldsmiths

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Adorno Marcuse correspondence on the student left, dialectics, left fascism, Institute, distortions, travel, recuperation and more

Screen shot 2013-06-12 at 11.47.45

Continue reading by clicking on the screenshot or here: adornomarcuse_germannewleft

 

The essay Resignation should also be read alongside this: adorno_resignation1969

Privatisation of the Intellect

So, are comments on student work also notes to self?

I wonder if there is a not a deeper impasse here in the idea that university ideal might still be construed as an institutionalised vehicle for more or less organised social mobility – intentional or not. Does the class composition of the, globally distributed, production processes of capital indicate significant success for this mobility model, or is the density of this composition to be evaluated differently now – with vast sections of the international theatre of production shrouded still (unless a building collapse of a sweated labour venue directs a frisson of attention for a brief spell). Social Centres in Bologna, but grunt level proletarianisation from Naples through to Nanking. This matches up with the claim that we can acknowledge a tendency for the imbrication of intellectuals and power to replace the perception/fantasy of some separate, prophylactic, independence for intellectual life. Such an acknowledgment can be called privatisation too.

Goldsmiths UCU and SU Rally against Austerity 15.5.2013

Goldsmiths UCU and SU Rally against Austerity – (THURSDAY) 6pm

  • In the light of our 0.8% pay offer – well below the rate of inflation
  • In the light of today’s story about the impact of tuition fee rises (that many courses are not good ‘value for money’)
  • In the light of today’s OECD report warning that austerity policies ‘are widening the gulf between rich and poor’ in the UK

please come to the rally 6pm Thursday 16 May, RHB 137 to hear

Andrew McGettigan, author of The Great University Gamble (Pluto)
Aaron Kiely (NUS Black Students Officer)
Save Lewisham Hospital speaker
Romayne Phoenix (Green Party and CoR)
Lindsey German (Stop the War)
Rachael Maskell (Unite national officer)

Smirk or shambles.

Guardian May 13 2013

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The Malignancy – newspaper piece for The Citizen Artist News (below the fold on page 1).

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CitizenArtistNews3

Marxism for Beginners

blocksWhy when I look for trinkets for the kids can’t I find the things I assume would be best sellers in a certain bourgie corner of London?

For example, a set of building blocks with pictures of Marx, Engels, Mao…?

 

 

 

Update: And Giles is first with a design, though I had to get him to swap M.N Roy for his inclusion of Gandhi
http://bookleteer.com/publication.html?id=2808

block

Education at the Border – Edu Commission #2 #border #education

Here, the good oil… click image to download the report

Screen shot 2013-04-25 at 11.02.38

Education_at_the_Border_Report2

Course Guide for lectures on Marx’s Capital 2013

Lecture course on Marx’s “Capital” at Goldsmiths: everybody is welcome

Capitalism and Cultural Studies – Prof John Hutnyk:

tuesday evenings from january 8, 2013 – 5pm-8pm Goldsmiths Room RHB 309. Free – all welcome.

No fee (unless, sorry, you are doing this for award – and that, friends, is Willetts’ fault – though the Labour Party have a share of the blame too).

****** weekly course reading guide is here: Cap and cult studs outline013********

This course involves a close reading of Karl Marx’s Capital (Volume One).
90 minute lectures, 60 minutes discussion
The connections between cultural studies and critiques of capitalism are considered in an interdisciplinary context (cinema studies, anthropology, musicology, international relations, and philosophy) which reaches from Marx through to Film Studies, from ethnographic approaches to Heidegger, from anarchism and surrealism to German critical theory and poststructuralism/post-colonialism/post-early-for-christmas. Topics covered include: alienation, commodification, production, technology, education, subsumption, anti-imperialism, anti-war movement and complicity. Using a series of illustrative films (documentary and fiction) and key theoretical texts (read alongside the text of Capital), we examine contemporary capitalism as it shifts, changes, lurches through its very late 20th and early 21st century manifestations – we will look at how cultural studies copes with (or does not cope with) class struggle, anti-colonialism, new subjectivities, cultural politics, media, virtual and corporate worlds.
****** weekly course reading guide is here: Cap and cult studs outline013********

The lectures/seminars begin on Tuesday 8th January 2011 between 5 and 8pm and will run for 11 weeks (with a week off in the middle) in the Richard Hoggart Building (Room 309), Goldsmiths College. You are required to bring their own copy of the Penguin, International Publishers/Progress Press or German editions of Karl Marx Capital Vol I. We are reading about 100 pages a week. (Please don’t get tricked into buying the abridged English edition/nonsense!)

Education Commission Report No 1

Click on the boot to download and read the full report, or here EdCommReport1

Snitching about…

was sent this by the folk at V.I.S.A. (Victorious International Student Army):

 

Stop the Snitching: What We Mean By Non-compliance

 

The pastoral idyll is dead. It was bulldozed long ago only to be overlain with a grid of barbed wire. If it ever had any real existence, it is now best described as a border fence, an internment camp, an interrogation room at the dock or airport. What we mean by this, is that the argument that attendance records – from lectures, classes, tutorials – need to be kept for pastoral reasons is now untenable. It needs to be jettisoned, however much nostalgia or regret we may feel in doing so. It is no longer safe or strategic to record attendance, for whatever reason, now that the border crosses us in our places of work and learning.

 

If the border is a social relation and not a thing, then we must pay attention to the ways in which we are reproducing, enabling and enforcing that border in our day-to-day lives. The most obvious way we might do this is, of course, the demand that teaching staff act as border agents by forwarding attendance records to the UKBA. Three missing strikes and you’re a terrorist. Goldsmiths UCU were quick to adopt a position of non-compliance, and has re-affirmed this stance in a recent statement. We need to be clear, however, about exactly what we mean by non-compliance, and alert to those who might be in a weaker position, from which non-compliance becomes more difficult to uphold.

 

Regarding the latter, two groups immediately spring to mind: administrative staff, and international students themselves. Admin staff are easier for management to single out, scapegoat, and threaten with punitive measures. Even a well-meaning attendance record kept for pastoral purposes can become a border snitch if intercepted once in administrative hands. Alternatively, lying on attendance registers makes teaching staff liable. To co-opt a reasonably repugnant, and thankfully now redundant, phrase from the US military, the best policy with regard to non-compliance is: don’t ask, don’t tell. If the data is never recorded, it can’t be passed on. Simple.

 

Management will, however, undoubtedly try to fulfill the UKBA’s demands whilst at the same time seeking to sidestep hostilities from staff and students. ‘Light touch’ is management-speak for this covert-cavity-search-on-campus approach. If they are unable to get the information they need from teaching or admin staff, rest assured they will exploit the vulnerabilities inherent in the precarious status of international students directly. We need to make it clear – strikes, occupations, public refusal – that any requirement or request that demands international students act as their own border agent, or assumes them to be criminal or terrorist until proven otherwise, is in blatant contradiction of our position of non-compliance. We need to make sure our non-compliance doesn’t leak. Stop the snitching – solidarity across the board and the border.

 

Love and rage,

 

Goldsmiths Migration Solidarity

School for Study

See this (click on the pic to be taken to the website):

Welcome notes Goldsmiths CCS – JH #newterm

 

a million urgent fiddles to do on the blog, website, ordering of books or some such, then meetings, campaigns, the fucking UKBA, new students, information emails, a student shafted by MET/UKBA, colleagues in disciplinary hearings in need of support, general chaos, and marking, lets not forget the marking, and the plagiarism cases than need to be – well, second offence really should get more than a book thrown at them – but then there is the welcome drinks, the welcome party, the welcome seminar, tutorial and photo opportunity. I lay myself down on New Cross Road and wait…

The Education Commission. :: a militant inquiry into privatisation and immigration controls in education ::

Students, lecturers, admin workers and anybody else interested in education are invited to join a new group aiming to research and take action around the current conditions in the education sector.  In the wake of the UK Border Agency’s revocation of London Met’s Highly Trusted Sponsor Status and consequent plans to deport potentially thousands of international students along with further plans for privatisation across the sector, we propose to investigate and take action around the changing nature of the education in the UK since the abolition of the EMA and mass increase of university tuition fees in 2010. We aim to draw together student, parent, and education workers’ experiences as well as available data in order to produce and disseminate as accurate a picture as possible of the current state and trends in higher education in the UK.  We do so in support of and solidarity with current and future struggles in education. Our next meeting is on Wednesday 26th September at 6.30pm at London Met Holloway Road campus (the tower building next to Holloway Road tube station). Here is a link:http://www.londonmet.ac.uk/about/buildings/tower-building.cfm

Anybody interested in participating should contact: contact.edu.comm[at]gmail.com. This project has been initiated by Plan C London, it is however open to individuals and groups to get involved.

Spin Out!

This sure is a spin out invite. Free drinks! :) – Actuall;y, I think its a prank, put up by my ‘friends’…

Dear Professor Hutnyk

Just a few places remain at our inaugural Senior Higher Education Leaders’ Symposium which is taking place on Tuesday 30th October.

This is an ideal opportunity for you to meet leading experts in higher education, followed by dinner at Imperial College London with guest speaker Martin Bean, Vice-Chancellor of The Open University.

The Symposium commences at 1pm, with a drinks reception starting at 6pm. Presentations and seminars include:

‘The Emergence of the Skills Training Agenda in the UK’
Professor Peter McCaffery, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, London Metropolitan University

‘Researcher Development – A case study from Australia’s Go8 universities’
Professor Shelda Debowski, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of Notre Dame, Australia

‘International Trends in the Development of University Teaching’
Professor Graham Gibbs, Retired Director of the Oxford Learning Institute, University of Oxford

‘Modelling the Benefits and Costs of Blended Learning’
Professor Diana Laurillard, Professor of Learning & Digital Technologies, London Knowledge Laboratory, Institute of Education

‘Leadership and Management Training – Do we need to become more like corporates?’
Sir David Watson, Professor of Higher Education and Principal, Green Templeton College, University of Oxford and Professor Jill Jameson, Professor of Education, University of Greenwich

‘Future Strategies for Researcher Development and Training’
Dr Douglas Halliday, former Dean of the Graduate School, Durham University and Professor Shelda Debowski

If you are able to join us please confirm your attendance by registering via this link:

http://www.epigeum.com/downloads/conference.html

Please note there is no charge for attending the Symposium or dinner. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me, and I very much hope you are able to join us.

Kind regards

Wendy

Wendy Harbottle
Sales & Marketing Manager
<snip>
www.epigeum.com <http://www.epigeum.com/>

UK & Europe
1 Kensington Cloisters
5 Kensington Church Street
London, W8 4LD

USA
Cambridge, MA Office
One Broadway, 14th Floor
Kendall Square, Cambridge
MA 02142, USA

Epigeum Ltd is a spin-out company of Imperial College London,
www.imperial.ac.uk

London Met Demo Friday 28 Sept 2012

From London Met UCU:

London Met – Defend Our Students – London Demonstration Friday 28/9

Dear all,

London Met UCU, London Met Unison, and London Met SU have called a London-wide mobilisation and march from ULU (Malet Street) to the Home Office (Marsham Street, Victoria) for Friday 28th Sept. Assembling at Malet Street for 1pm. Under the banner: ‘Amnesty Now – Save London Met – No to Privatisation’. This initiative is supported by London Region UCU, and University of London Union (ULU).

This Friday (21/9) the High Court will consider granting an immediate injunction (an effective ‘stay’) in favour of London Met Uni and against the UK Border Agency (UKBA). Such an injunction should allow for a full Judicial Review of the UKBA’s decision to revoke London Met’s Highly Trusted Sponsor (HTS) Tier-4 licence – an action that has condemned over 2,500 of our students to either forced university transfer or deportation.

However, even if an injunction is granted it will only be a temporary reprieve until the outcome of the Judicial Review itself – which is expected to take at least several months to be heard. Meanwhile, our license to recruit international students is still suspended, our current international students are still in limbo – particularly if they have more than this academic year to complete, and our courses/jobs still threatened.

If an injunction is not granted then we will be in the fight of our lives – not only for all our international students against an immediate and very real deportation threat but for the very survival of London Met as a public university.

We are refusing to sit on the sidelines and by mere observers of our destiny as others shape it. We are therefore fighting as hard as we can for our students, our university, and for real justice. We will have much more chance of winning that fight with your support and solidarity – as wonderfully expressed during last Friday’s UK-wide solidarity events.

Last week’s TUC Congress in Brighton unanimously supported the call for an immediate amnesty for our students

We now need your support once more – particularly, if you are based in London. We want as many trade union banners as possible on next week’s march/demonstration – along with as many colleagues as you can bring. This is not just a fight for London Met – this is a fight for public education as a whole.

Please send messages of support to mark.campbell_home [at] btopenworld.com

In solidarity

Mark Campbell
London Metropolitan University UCU (Chair)
UCU National Executive Committee (London and the East HE)
SERTUC Public Services Committee (Vice-Chair)

H.Ed Horror Show (‘Exporting UK Higher Education’ – BIS)

If you were missing the Olympics, here is another bread and circuses event that may or may not have the G4S doing security.

(click the screenshot to go to the confluence website):

Anyone remember the Hotel Nikko in Sydney August 1991? (http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/740)

 

New Scanner for Student monitoring to be introduced (by your border-agent-tutor)

Trinketization must-have item of the week! this new electronic gadget from Opticon: website http://www.opticon.co.uk is a barcode scanner about to be rolled out at Queen Mary, to be used by seminar leaders to register attendance at seminars by scanning students’ ID cards.

[i am reliably informed from deep inside the administrative apparatus]

forget the new iphone five, this is the trinket you need for the proper management of scholarship in the knowledge economy

its sleek design makes it an oh so slick silver status object, with curved corners™

first an arm and a leg in fees, then electronic tagging as the staff are made agents of UKBA. FFS.

A reminder of the Centre for Cultural Studies position against being agents of the Border regime here.

Update:

—– Forwarded Message —–

MESSAGE FROM CCLS Director and Head of Dept, Laws

Dear all,

As a result of the tightening of immigration rules, from this academic year
onwards all universities must monitor students’ lecture attendance on an
ongoing basis. This encompasses students from all postgraduate taught
programmes. The attendance monitoring exercise will require the assistance
of academic staff members and guest speakers teaching postgraduate modules.
We have purchased scanners that read students ID cards. There is one scanner
per module. Each module convener must ensure that the person responsible
for the weekly lecture brings the scanner into the class, gives it to
students to record their attendance and brings it back to CCLS/Mile End
reception as appropriate.

It is VITAL that this is done every week as continuity is required when
checking for absence.

Scanner control

Modules taught at LIF OR CH SQ can collect and return scanners to LIF
reception.
Modules taught at Mile End OR at IALS by department staff can collect and
return scaners to Mile End Law Reception

We will start the monitoring exercise from week one, although for the first
two weeks it is trial run as class lists are not yet known. Your help in
implementing this is very important. As you know, foreign students are vital
for us and we must do what is required by the authorities to ensure our
right to sponsor student visas is not affected.

If you have any queries please contact Aqib (Ext. 8091 A.Khan@qmul.ac.uk or
Wendy Ext 8104 ccls-helpdesk@qmul.ac.uk).

There are some basic guidance notes attached -

Many thanks in advance for your collaboration with this task.

Kind regards,

Spyros and Valsamis

Malignancy Ed

20120913-144755.jpg

UKBA demo weds

URGENT
Come to the demo on Wednesday 5th Sept and protest against the UKBA– defend London Met students! 
Wednesday 1pm outside the Home Office’s headquarters in Marsham Street, SW1P4DF
Supported by: London Met’s UCU and Unison union branches

but:

“The National Union of Students are fully backing the demonstration on Wednesday and we’re asking people to bring to bring suitcase/bags so that we can use them build a massive pile in front of the Home Office and we are asking everyone to bring their national flags!”

I have to say I am dismayed that NUS and London Met SU are calling on people to bring their country’s flags to the demo on weds. As an internationalist, and for other reasons, I’d find it deeply discomforting to carry my own national flag for this. Let alone that some nations barely support their ‘internationals’ (surveillance etc) and when they do it is along the lines of getting them along to the grotesque celebration of Nations we have just endured under the 6 ring oilypigs circus. I’ll come for international solidarity, as a worker of the world etc… Not on behalf of some fake elitist nationalist ecumenium.

Surely the only way to pull this off is if you carry the flag UPSIDE down, as a signal for distress! Good grief, Nationalism is not the message here – the jingoism of the the #closingceremony teaches that at least. Money for parades, yet education is shafted.

The bring a suitcase idea appeals. I even may have one with a Qantas flying kangaroo sticker on it :). Upside down of course.
See you there. Red salute.

more notes on educationium

…the pressure for academics, and by extension students, at least student activists, the SU and postgrads, to themselves become the malignant and parasitic managerial class is operative here. Becoming self-regulating means complicity in several modes. The university now demands managers to present as petty bourgeois shop keepers, marketing specious wares; or as entrepreneurial visionary explorers tasked with terra-firming new vistas of corporate training, consultancy and product placement; as public brand-uni sprukers of tele-genic ‘ideas’ and Verso-controversy coffee chat radical publishing… Etc. The malignancy here is an emergent but hollow expertise of those who are not just measurers – if all they did was bean-counting we might more readily discount their dodgy deals.

Alternative Art College Questions Answered.

Hi Paul

Dear John
 
I recently contacted you about talking at the Alternative Art College event in May and now i am currently writing my MA diss on the ‘Autonomous education/learning space.I was wondering if you had time to answer briefly a few questions written below, It would be great to have your input.
 
The questions below are broad and provoking.
 
These questions require much longer answers than I can give. If you want to be involved with Higher Education Quality Assurance you must find a way to format these as multiple choice tick box questionnaires – only this kind of practice counts in the metrics-regime HE sector today.
 
I wish i had time to do this in person as it would have been a very
interesting conversation.Questions:

1. How do you feel you function within the institution? Is it possible  to function autonomously within an institution?

 
I joined the University system in order to maim it. OF course even this position is now totally in complicity with its afterlife – ie, a life after its already tragic-yet-welcomed demise.
 
2. When it comes to  the element of an art input do you feel it  enhances the production of ‘alternative’ learning or education
spaces?
 
Art input is the path to complicity made palatable to those who think radical activity lies in the pretense of form and formlessness. The only thing radical in art is that it continually gets co-opted into Institutions, suggesting that there is perhaps – ever so maybe – something worth co-opting. This of course is its value, to capital, and it is a facade. No, worse, a charade. Perhaps a puppet show. Answer A.
 
3. If situated outside of the institution does it have a increased
autonomous position?
 
What is outside? Do you mean art? The autonomy of art is a faded inversion of its former subservience to power. Now it is mere decoration. The only radical artists are part time landscape gardeners working in the suburbs, never likely to be nominated for the Turner Prize. Is this what art can be. I think its best we have another look at Adorno’s great book ‘Aesthetic Theory’ – the question is still unresolved as to whether art remains the place of ‘a secret omnipresence of resistance’. Probably not.
 
4. In regards to the relationship an individual can have with the institution, it is possible to see
contradictions, I see this as positives as it is a corner stone of how to function when creating work in an art practice, do you feel the
role of the contradiction is important when creating ‘alternative’ learning spaces?
 
See Mao – On Contradiction. This is the essay that must be brought to class. Its not so much that there are contradictions to be understood, but there are only contradictions, to be managed – which is why the quality assurance people offer their inane questionnaires – they produce these things to justify their own contradictory non-practice as a malignant and parasitic growth that fosters bureaucracy within a zero-degree blast zone of what once was education and thinking.
 
5. DO you feel that there is a definitive model for which
education should proceed?
 
 
There is a definitive model of how to resist education. Education is not a social good insofar as it reproduces class hierarchy. This of course is not news. See chapter 16 of Capital.
 
6. when it comes to suggest that either are a blueprint for a ‘better’
HE structure do they then become what they once were opposing? or are
neither of them opposing the institution but merley reflection on its
current form?
 
When were they oppositional? The opposition here is an integrated structure. It thrives on complicity and the fiction that greater thinking and critique can have some autonomy outside of the very contradictions that make it possible. All else – and this is a very big else – is training for the alpha, beta and theta drones required by the market system. Tragically, the old university (heaven forbid if we were to save that battered carcass of privilege) is no longer even the preferred mode of preparation for the military-entertainment complex of contemporary capital. Hence McDonalds degrees for graduates of the McDonalds Olympics… etc…
 
 

Thank you again i hope these questions make senseBest Paul


* The Alternative Art College *
*
*
*www.alternativeartcollege.co.uk*

 

Yup, all good. Write well. J

Tommy Smith, Peter Norman and John Carlos.

Let the Olympiss games begin – remember Tommy Smith and John Carlos showing support for Muhammed Ali’s anti-Vietnam war stance, against poverty and lynching, for Black power, part of the Olympic Project for Human Rights – see http://www.good.is/post/fists-of-freedom-an-olympic-story-not-taught-in-schools/ – which also brings to light a little known factoid making it worth remembering that the white guy who came second in the 200 metres that day was a runner from Melbourne named Peter Norman. Norman supported the protest, citing Australia’s mistreatment of indigenous people, by ‘pinning an OPHR patch onto his chest to show his solidarity on the medal stand’.

I like this because solidarity is not showboating, its standing alongside in support. Smith, Norman, Carlos: 1,2,3.

Remember Peter Norman:

http://blackathlete.net/artman2/publish/Cubefour_3/Remembering_Peter_Norman_2426.shtml

Plan C and Quebec solidarity actions

An invitation to an evening in support of CLASSE (Quebec) // 7pm Friday 22nd June // Centre for Possible Studies

7pm Friday June 22nd, 2012 

Centre for Possible Studies
21 Gloucester Place
Marble Arch
London
W1U 8HR

In response to an urgent appeal for support from CLASSE in Quebec – due to
mounting legal costs because of the massive student strike and rebellion -
Plan C London is hosting an evening of support and solidarity with films and
discussion.  The urgent appeal from CLASSE can be found here:

—————————————————————————————-
Solidarity with Quebec students on strike
Called by: Education Activist Network & Defend the Right to Protest Supported by: Disabled People Against the Cuts, Plan C London
4pm Sunday June 24th, 2012
Canada House,
Trafalgar Square
London
Following the call-out for international solidarity with Quebec students on strike, we have decided to call a demonstration in London, UK.

The last solidarity demonstration brought more than 300 people into the streets. Let’s make sure that this demonstration strengthens the determination fof students in Quebec to continue the fightback against the Charest government.

We invite all organisations and individuals to sign the call to support the solidarity demonstration on Sunday June 24:

http://educationactivistnetwork.wordpress.com/

http://www.facebook.com/events/153410228127030/

‘Earth Shattering Fact’ – you cannot measure education…

Via Marcus and the SMH.

I like journalists whose three word sentences do not hide their contempt for bean counters. Even if the comparison with mining flies in the face of the actual convergence of schools and industry, still…:

For a start, schools are complex environments. They are full of people. They aren’t mines. This might be seen to be stating the bleeding obvious but you can’t measure schools and the people in them in the same way you measure iron ore. The human variable affects everything that happens in a school. Good teaching is impossible to measure. Examination results might be easy to measure. They tell us that students at well-resourced schools will do better in examinations than students at poorly resourced schools. Isn’t that incredible? Examination results will also suggest that students from comfortable middle-class backgrounds will get better marks than students from less privileged backgrounds. Another earth shattering fact.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/baillieu-has-no-idea-how-teachers-work-20120605-1zu5x.html#ixzz1wzy3dgnR

Research Trends

Pretty interesting trends identified in stats from the ESRC on what topics our best and brightest choose to write their PhDs (we will need an algorithm correcting for nerdiness of course).

Seems there has been a big drop in these areas:

a number of disciplines fell below the target to a greater or lesser extent. These disciplines were: anthropology, area and development studies, education, human geography, science and technology studies, social policy, social work and sociology.

While there were massive increases in the areas of Economic and Social History, Environmental Planning, and Politics and International Relations.

Just saying – sign o the times.

See the general breakdown here.

Against Blind Faith in Learning

Mao on Professors in 1958 (22 March) talks at Chengtu (p116-7 Talks and letters):

 … of entering into the spirit of it, or really understanding it’ (p117).

 

best bit:

… ‘Naturally, we cannot go out tomorrow and beat them up … we have to make friends with them’

 

“We didn’t know it was impossible, so we did it!” The Quebec Student Strike celebrates its 100th day

Origins of an unlimited general strike (“grève générale illimitée”)

Students in Quebec are marking their 100th day of an unlimited general strike on Tuesday, May 22nd, the culmination of the most stunning mass protest movements of recent months and North America’s largest student movement in years. In fact, the mobilizations in Quebec might just be Canada’s Arab Spring.

Students have been organizing against tuition hikes for nearly one and a half years, when the Quebec government first proposed to raise tuition fees by 75% over five years (amended to 82% over seven years by the government at the end of April). Before the general strike began in February, protests, demos, trainings, letter writing campaigns and attempts to negotiate in good faith with the government were consistently met with obstinate silence from the Charest administration. For the students there has been a growing sense of urgency and a shared recognition that increased tuition means a heavier student debt burden, hundreds of more hours a year spent working instead of studying, less access for working class and lower class students, and a shift in university culture toward the market, the commodification of education, the financialization of student life, and the privatization of the university.
Even if fees increase, Quebec students would be paying less than other provinces in Canada, a gap the provincial government has been aiming to close. But so far every time the administration has proposed to do so, students have gone on strike. Deep in the Quebec struggle is a culture of solidarity and security, a social fabric, a sense of community that endures and mobilizes a powerful defense of their commonwealth. Call it what you will, it is precisely this that Margaret Thatcher declared war upon on May 1st 1981 when she said that the project of neoliberalism is to change the heart and soul of a ‘collectivist’ spirit, and its means is economics. Indeed, the Finance Minister of the Quebec Liberal government recently called its austerity policies “a cultural revolution” and they are not shy about their plan to reorganize Quebecois life through fiscal discipline. The Modèle québécois of social collectivism (in its traditional social democratic sensibility, but also, and more importantly, its directly democratic ethic that has emerged in the course of the last 14 weeks of strike) is the target of these policies, specifically through education and health. This is what explains the Charest government’s attempts to break the strike and destroy the student unions.

Student unionism is particularly strong in Quebec, and for a reason: they are inherently political, engaging, and participatory, using principles of direct democracy in weekly general assemblies. A dispersal of power, where students have a direct role in shaping the culture of university life through the policies and activities of the unions has been the backbone of the growing movement against tuition hikes, and the secret to why it has been able to mobilize such a broad and popular base. Yet, while a rejection of political parties and emphasis on direct democracy and militancy infuse the movement, there are in reality a range of unions—from the combative wing of the movement, such as the Association pour une Solidarité Syndicale Étudiante (ASSÉ) that demands free education, to more corporatist and mainstream student unions that integrate with bourgeois political parties.

But this struggle represents more than students. It represents an attack on the middle class and lower income families, their sense of social cohesion, and the social entitlement and equality of access to public services amid rising cost of living. The strikes register across these domains of everyday life, in the university, in the family home, the workplace, and the hospital, where increasingly the same growing resentment of the imposition of austerity measures in Quebec emerge, as the tuition increases coincide with the first ever “health tax,” alongside a 20% increase in hydro rates, the raising of the federal retirement age to 67, as well as mass layoffs.

A chronology of the last weeks of the movement

On November 10th, over 200,000 students went on a one-day strike, and 30,000 took to the streets. 20,000 of which marched directly to Charest’s Montreal office to demonstrate against rising fees.  Hundreds, including the Quebec Women’s Federation, shut down the Montreal Stock Exchange in mid-February, a site dear to the 1%, and where the Charest government, who had so far been ignoring the budding movement, would certainly devote its rapt attention.

By February 23rd, forty thousand post-secondary students across the province joined the unlimited general strike. Thousands of students occupied the Jacques Cartier Bridge. If the tactical approaches of the movement had been ignored by university administrations and the provincial government in its first weeks, by March 22nd, student unions such as CLASSE (The Coalition large de l’Association pour une Solidarite Syndaicale Etudiante), whose 80,000 members have been leading the strike, couldn’t be missed. Since then, they have shifted focus toward targeting governmental offices, ministries, and crown corporations, placing strategic emphasis on economic disruption, an approach to direct action that has had precedence in many earlier urban protest movements in the last decade or so.

On March 22nd, as over 300,000 students had been on strike, a massive march in the streets inaugurated the Maple Spring (“Printemps Érable,” a play on words in French), with university after university, and college after college, going on strike. Two months later, on Tuesday, May 22nd, the Quebec students’ unlimited strike will celebrate its 100th day, already one of the largest student mobilizations in recent history. During 100 days of strike, contempt, and resistance, students have mobilized against steep tuition increases, austerity and debt, and the criminalization of the right to education.

On Friday, a friend Lilian Radovac, who has been active in the student mobilizations in Montreal, described a cultural shift expanding in the cracks of everyday austerity:

“For years, May ’68 was a dry, dusty thing other people theorized about in poor translations, but these last months, something like it has been happening in the crevices of our viequotidienne.  How strange that it is just there, between bus rides and doctor’s appointments and trips to the grocery store, a thing that is so extraordinary and so bizarrely normal at the same time.  The metro has been shut down by smoke bombs?  Oh well, I feel like a walk anyway.

Did it feel like this when OWS started?  It must have.”

Each week, in local general assemblies of student associations, students have voted to sustain the ‘renewable general strike’. With over 180 different unions representing some 170,000 students, university departments and the government can no longer hope the movement will dwindle on its own, and are increasingly forced to repress the movement actively. Indeed, days after the Education Minister Line Beauchamp resigned on May 14th over failed negotiations with student leaders, the Quebec Government enacted a special emergency law.

Bill 78 specifically targets the massive student assemblies and mobilizations in order to break the growing strike and destroy the power of the student union. One member of the Quebec political opposition used the term “Loi Fuck” to refer to the blunt and draconian tool that outlaws public assembly, imposes harsh fines for strike activity (even tacit support), and effectively makes organizing an arrestable offense. The bill also gives more power to the police in enforcing student protest. Indeed, during the last many weeks of escalating street demos, police have repeatedly preempted demonstrations with CS gas, sound grenades, ‘blast disperser’ grenades, and rubber bullets. Nevertheless, it is not clear how this law will be used in the coming days and weeks, or whether it will be successful in intimidating students.

An emergency law announced on the previous Wednesday “suspended” the semester for many CEGEP (academic and vocational college) and university students, with provisions for classes to be postponed until August. Provisions of Bill 78 that followed include:

  • Fines of between $1,000 and $5,000 for anyone who prevents someone from entering an educational institution.
  • Steep penalties of  $7,000 and $35,000 for anyone deemed a ‘student leader’ and between $25,000 and $125,000 for unions or student associations. Fines double after the first offense.
  • Plans for public demonstrations involving more than 50 people (originally 8) must be submitted to the police eight hours in advance, and must detail itinerary, duration and time at which they are being held.
  • Offering encouragement, tacitly supporting, or promoting protest at a school, either is subject to punishment.

In Montreal, specifically, a new municipal anti-mask law accompanies Bill 78, and another has been proposed at the federal level. With Charest’s attempts to legislate the end of the student movement, the struggle has deepened and is now at a turning point. Yet, on its 100th day of an unlimited general strike, the movement does not show any signs of slowing down or veering from its median tactic of general assemblies, its preferred direct action orientation, and its culture of horizontal democracy.

The return of the red square and our right to assembly

Students in Quebec have popularized the symbol of the “red square” to signify being financially “squarely in the red” amid tuition hikes, cuts in social entitlements, and the specter of spiraling student and consumer debt. As their movement has powerfully reminded us, we are all ‘in the red’ as long as the 1% imposes upon us austerity, debt, and repression.

The politics of austerity and the increased policing of everyday life reveal themselves in these instances to be inseparably linked. We can see the direct link between tuition hikes and the criminalization of assembly in Quebec, just as we can see Bloomberg’s management through “free speech zones” of political protest, the silencing of media, and the increased police aggression in suppressing the Occupy Wall Street movement. Thus, solidarity with Quebec students is also important work in defense of our right to demonstrate here and everywhere. When times of crisis provoke ramped up police power and allow desperate politicians to pass “emergency laws” that target unquiet sectors of the population, we are certain that the class balance of present society is threatened. But it is a cautious joy we should preach, along with the sober insight that without powerful international solidarity and coordination, as James Baldwin once wrote to Angela Davis, “if they take you in the morning, they will be coming for us that night.”

The police backlash—through intimidation, repression, and wanton brutality—we have faced in NYC for trying to assemble is enormous. On May 2nd, students at Brooklyn College were met with police hostility as they demonstrated against policies that restrict access to education for lower-income students. Wherever the site of struggle, the very idea of opening up space for collective imagination is policed. But we are not battling on the plane of the imaginary. An attack in Quebec on the right to assemble, if unchallenged through coordinated international solidarity, will have real and chilling effects on our movements here.

Solidarity in NYC

Speaking about the Quebec students’ strike in New York, there is often enthusiasm and support, if not bewilderment upon learning of the size and power of their movement, something that the media blackout in the U.S. has successfully eclipsed. But there is also a bit of shoulder shrugging. “Are they really on strike for $250 dollars?” one unmoved passerby queried as we were wrapping up an assembly in the park on Sunday. Indeed more popular education needs to be done here on the plight of students in the climate of this crisis. But the student struggle, here in NYC as in Quebec, is not only a struggle for the student: it is about access to education for all regardless of economic circumstance, a challenge to the very economic and political planning that has been transforming our cities into spaces for the elite over the last three decades.
This past weekend, several groups from Occupy Wall Street and other organizations held an assembly to address these “emergency laws” and discuss solidarity with Quebec on Tuesday. Immediately a robust day was in the works: At 2PM on Tuesday, the time marches are slated to begin in Montreal, demonstrators in NYC will gather at the Quebec Government Offices at 1 Rockefeller Plaza. The Free University, which organized a day of free education in Madison Square Park on May Day, is hosting a pop-up occupation open to all students, educators, and community members.  At 5PM, there will be a gathering on the north side of the fountain in Washington Square Park, where people will paint banners, make ‘book bloc’ shields, and cut red squares for the evening march. At 6PM, there will be a teach in/speak out assembly about the Quebec student strike, the emergency laws, and the criminalization of dissent, followed by a number of self-organized lectures, workshops, skill-shares, and discussions.
In coordination with Quebec students who have been holding nightly assemblies, there will also be an assembly and march originating from Washington Square Park at 8PM to celebrate the successes of the student movement and to march against repressive anti-protest laws worldwide.

On this day, in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in Quebec, we will paint the town red.

Malav Kanuga is a doctoral student in Anthropology at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York, NY and editor of the publishing imprint Common Notions.

Montreal feeds

and twitter
And mainstream headlines discussed:
(thanks Nirmala)

edu-fac.tory needs edu-alt.ernatives needs edu-alt.infrastructrue

I assume people are reading edu-factory. If not, the archives are here:

http://listcultures.org/pipermail/edufactory_listcultures.org/

A recent comment by Saed seemed really useful to me, deserves repetition, even out of context, and in part says:

But how will we set up autonomous universities? Running research labs 
requires quite a bit of very expensive equipment and infrastructure. 
This is a matter that is left largely implicit, but if we set up and run 
universities that can do nothing more than cover humanities and social 
sciences then we will get nowhere. Should we continue to leave the 
know-how, knowledge production about medicines, building structures, 
cropping systems, water management, etc. (basically the knowledge 
systems that subtend our everyday survival in industrialised contexts) 
to the usual capitalist institutions? In this respect, we are extremely 
far from building much of an alternartive. And this is not about 
"science" as defined in the mainstream, but science as actually 
practised and as involving systematic observation, knowledge production, 
understanding, carework, etc. about nonhuman beings and environmental 
processes. So, to prevent any misunderstandings, I am not talking about 
the scientific canon, which is largely self-congratulatory dross that 
reflects little more than self-serving ideologies. I refer to anyone 
that studies nonhuman beings and physical environments in a systematic 
and systematised way, which is really wuite different from studying 
social processes, for example. There is still hardly any interest in 
that on the left, which is unfortunate. But unless we get at least half 
among us to take the rest of the universe seriously as to be studied and 
as a source of knowledge for our survival, then I am afraid any 
autonomous anything will be easily brushed aside and eaten up. All it 
takes is having no one to repair autonomous university buildings, not 
knowing how to fix plumbing or electrical problems, not knowing how to 
grow food or use soils properly, and the list could go on. And then 
there is the not very small matter of needing land, water, and all basic 
necessities for survival off of the hands of the bourgeoisie, which is 
why we even need a wage in the first place. There is a lot more to think 
about and work to do, I reckon, and setting up autonomous universities, 
in my view, should be done with those aspects also in mind. for in the 
end it is a mode of production that has to be changed, not one cog of 
its machinery.

This is not to say at all that free/autonomous universities are not a 
worthile pursuit. Quite the ocntrary. We should just think beyond 
universities when engaging in disrupting, undermining, setting up 
alternatives to universities as they are now.

									

Notes for Talk for Goldsmiths Learning Enhancement Unit

I am not sure which word in the above slogan I find most difficult – Goldsmiths, learning, enhancement, or unit. I guess I have problems with the idea of unit most of all. I like that a unit here is not singular, that it is a number of people who work in the institution ostensibly to enhance learning, and so this collective endeavour at Goldsmiths is better than the other meaning of unit which is singular – a single unit of measure, or a kitchen appliance or cupboard. The trouble however with the collective unit here is that it belongs to the bureaucratic structure and any containment of collectivity seems in dire need to be turned and released from this alienated institutionalized normative form. When it comes to learning enhancement though, the unit of assessment is still more worrying.

And we are here to talk about research. On this I simply want to say that any investigation teaches us that things are never so simple.

Are we even sure we know what research directed learning is? Or if it is such a good thing that we have whole units of the university dedicated to it? This belongs to another concern I have with learning as it goes on in educational institutions. There are many ways in which learning is assessed. Indeed, assessment is core to the way in which we seem sure about this thing we call education. It will not surprise anyone to hear me question the old credo that education is not always a social good.

Let me tell an educational anecdote. This is in fact true. Last year, in the wake of the first period of the Arab uprisings of 2011, I helped organize a conference in Gothenburg as part of the music festival Clandestino (a progressive music festival which rendered world music as global sweatbox, not just global jukebox). One evening, activists from a political faction from Tunisia joined in a comradely discussion about their intent to include the ‘right to education for all’ in the new constitution they were helping write in the post-Ben Ali era. Late into the night we argued about what sort of education. My one real chance at what the research councils like to call impact happened over beer at 3am outside a music festival under and almost midnight sun in Sweden. I cannot find the form on which to report this back to the research excellence framework people.

The point is that this tells us something about the place of education. Reading the recent work of Gayatri Spivak (An Aesthetic Education in the Era of Globalization 2012) has suggested to me that we might consider how education can be thought of as an institutionally organized framework for class mobility and/or class reproduction. This is something that should be investigated. And the investigation itself – modeled as criticism-self-criticism – can be a teaching tool.

After all, the closer you look, the more complicated things are. If there is one lesson of research it is this one – despite the requirements of formal report back, and the absurd process of condensing lessons learned from research into formulaic aims and outcomes for program specification for teaching courses that have to be approved by … before I concede to this contemplative ever more stupid verbosity which wails on and on about the predicament in which a malignant and parasitical bureaucracy saps all subtlety and nuance from ideas… I would like to just offer the formulas as guidance:

-       Generalise and interrupt

-       dialectic – theory-praxis

-       from individual towards collective

The tendential effort of the corporate university is towards team teaching and research groups, which itself may seem happily collective, but in an alienated form governed by the policy outcomes straightjacket. Can this alienation be transmuted nevertheless? We have seen this dynamic somewhere before, and we have a theoretical and theatrical text about it – what’s new sausage factory?

As Eyal Weizman shows in his book The Least of all Possible Evils: Humanitarian Violence from Arent to Gaza, research too can become a lethal and ‘misanthropic’ instrument of governance. Israeli use of statistics and other research methods operates ‘by calibrating the level of electronic current, calories and other necessities to the minimum possible level in an attempt to govern people by reducing them to the limit of bare physical existence’ (Weizman 2012:5)

No-one will be surprised to hear me say this has echoes of what Marx had already said about capital in the factory, maintaining the worker at the minimum that ensures a return for surplus labour extraction the next day, and the next. Marx even condemns the practices of nutritional research where a certain ‘wonderful philosopher’ and American ‘humbug’ baronised Yankee Benjamin Thompson, alias Count Rumford is taken to task for proposing a specific recipe for soup for factory workers (Marx 1867/1970:601). The subsequent career of research in the pay of exploitation is itself written in annals of blood and fire – from the symbiotic embrace of anthropology and colonialism through to the neoliberal interventions of the IMF and austerity, not forgetting psy-ops, differential association deviance sociology and Co-Intel-Pro, and most recently the human terrain research of the U.S. Army Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual, written compiled, plagiarized, assembled from the detritus of outdated social research by a team of army anthropologists (2007).

At what point does the imbrication of research and control – today quite readily digitized and networked by brand-name recognition search engines – at what point does the appellation ‘researcher’ tip over the line in the sand that separates Mengele or a Pentagon weapons analyst from our apprentice sorcerer of knowledge systems commonly known as the PhD candidate?

Workplace Inquiry

There is another tradition of research, or another rendering of the research project as redeemable model, perhaps. I want to explore this as it has become popular among certain activist circles and even seems to offer practical and engaged solutions for pressing problems of organization, knowledge and purpose, even if there are also serious criticisms to be taken on board as well. What follows is a truncated or potted history of an idea that could be again renewed.

This idea has a venerable back-story. The figure of the Factory Inspector is set out by Marx in ‘The Working Day’ chapter of Capital, volume one, not as an uncritically approved person of unassailable credentials, but as an advocate of investigation that does a service for the working class ‘that should never be forgotten’. The Factory Inspector is Leonard Horner, his work appeared in the Blue Books, which were parliamentary reports, appearing at least annually, and read by Marx as key sources for his examinations of conditions in the industrial factories of 19th Century capitalism and of the struggles over wages, hours, child labour and education that surround the introduction of the Factory Acts (ensuring a modicum of education for children, and limits on the number of consecutive hours they may be forced to work).

‘Leonard Horner was one of the Factory Inquiry Commissioners of 1833, and Inspector, or rather Censor of Factories until 1859. He rendered undying service to the English working-class. He carried on a life-long contest [Kampf – struggle], not only with the embittered manufacturers, but also with the Cabinet, to whom the number of votes given by the masters in the lower house, was a matter of far greater importance that the number of hours worked by the “hands” in the mills’ (Marx 334P, 225LW)

We might attend to the blue books so as to work out the importance of Horner’s reports for the class struggle – if nothing else, offered as tribute to his memory – but also because the performative work of doing research, and showing how research – factory inspections and the like – might be done, is also the demonstrative and illustrative effort of Marx in this chapter. It is as if Marx wants to conjure a worker-reader that will take on the task of making both analysis and description themselves, in the midst of struggle, and to ensure there is a structural or institutionally supported habit of research – factory inspections as routine – that would then support organized worker use of this research. To make use of the reports though, Marx needs the worker to be a reader, a reader in his own image perhaps, and what a reader.

Of course there will have been many readers. We can wonder who else reads the blue book reports? Marx read many of them – throughout the three volumes he quotes large sections from Leonard, for example MEGa2 II/15:97-100 a letter on the speed of steam engines and their improvement. We also know that there were a number of inspectors, so Marx reads these, including a certain sub-inspector Baker (Capital vol 3 MEGA2 II/15:126). Marx quotes the half year reports from 1846 through 1864. He also quotes Engels, The Condition of the Working Class in England, which came out the year before the first of the blue books. eg Vol 3:485

Engels had introduced Marx to this kind of documentation, and indeed provided – as we can see from the correspondence – much detail from experience. If we consider Marx’s ‘ethnographic’ gleanings from the factory inspectors and the like, and agree these are an update on what Engels produced in the Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844 – as Engels in effect accepts in not updating this work on its reissue in 1892, saying Marx already achieved more (and added a more urgent sense of the class struggle), then we can see from where the imperative of research as workplace inquiry is inaugurated.

I want to stress a central Marxist trajectory for workplace research. First of all the reference is to Engels The Condition of the Working Class in Manchester, written when Engels was 24, then the huge chapter ‘The Working Day’ in Marx’s Capital, volume one, which details the conditions in factories when skilled labourers were being replaced by machines and cheaper labour, mostly women and children. This initial formation of workplace inquiry takes explicit form when very late in Marx’s life when he penned 100 questions for a ‘Workers Inquiry’ wanting to generalize the Factory Inspections of England to France, and beyond? We might perhaps trace this next to the Bolsheviks, and Lenin of 1902, the so-called Factory Exposures of the Iskra newspaper, and many other similar examples. This can be called a parallel sociology, and even owes debts to Adorno as well as Kracauer’s 1920s work on the Salaried Masses, through to the Italian post-war Marxist Operaist tradition starting with Panzieri in the journal Quaderni Rossi (Wright 2002:21) and the Workerism of Italian autonomia, on up to Negri and Hardt (though of course with reservations (Hutnyk 2004). I am also tempted to explore, alongside this, from outside the labour movement, how the collection of oral histories and questionnaires of the ‘poverty-stricken’ came to be known as co-research, and how the term Inquiry has much wider appeal among contemporary activists. Journals like Ephemera, The Commune, Common Sense, Capital and Class, Aufheben, Riff Raff, all have interesting things to say about Workers Inquiries.

If it is in fact standard to say, as I think it is, that everyone can trace this work back to the figure of the Factory Inspector Leonard Horner as described by Marx in his chapter on ‘The Working Day’ in Capital, we also owe it top Marx to note his criticisms of Horner, but also his recognition that the factory inspectors were an innovation on the part of capital.

Marx declared as much in a short notice in La Revue Socialiste April, 20, 1980, four years before his death, where he called for a official Inquiry:

The blackguardly features of capitalist exploitation which were exposed by the official investigation organized by the English government and the legislation which was necessitated there as a result of these revelations (legal limitation of the working day to 10 hours, the law concerning female and child labor, etc.), have forced the French bourgeoisie to tremble even more before the dangers which an impartial and systematic investigation might represent. In the hope that maybe we shall induce a republican government to follow the example of the monarchical government of England by likewise organizing a far reaching investigation into facts and crimes of capitalist exploitation, we shall attempt to initiate an inquiry of this kind with those poor resources which are at our disposal. We hope to meet in this work with the support of all workers in town and country who understand that they alone can describe with full knowledge the misfortunes form which they suffer and that only they, and not saviors sent by providence, can energetically apply the healing remedies for the social ills which they are prey. We also rely upon socialists of all schools who, being wishful for social reform, must wish for an exact and positive knowledge of the conditions in which the working class — the class to whom the future belongs -works and moves.[1]

The 100 questions Marx then deploys are questions we might usefully answer today, or even better adapt to the new conditions of work in which we presently find ourselves, as workers or workers in waiting – stagnant, latent, floating, units of reproduction, training, precarious or lumpenised, rendered more or less always in relation to surplus value extraction, even when ‘resting’. The social factory being the workplace expanded to take in the entire domain of life as we know it. The investigators the normative statisticians and record keepers of this alienated sociality, such that even the inquiry, and ‘research’ is subject now to questions of intent. An workplace inquiry cannot be one which provides better information for better management – by now even the figure of the inspector is compromised, and anyway in bourgois form always had a checkered history – the detective is a case in point where we could think of Sherlock Holmes through to Inspector Clouseau, or think of how the romantic Fleet Street fantasy of the campaigning journalist and the historical-materialist sociology professor of the campus novel have now each been bought off for television serialisation.

Workers Inquiry in Italy.

‘Nobody has discovered anything more about the working class after Marx; it still remains an unknown continent. One knows for certain that it exists, because everyone has heard it speak, and anyone can hear fables about it. But no one can say: I have seen and understood’ (Tronti 1971: 18 in Wright 2002:76)

By the early 1960s the question of changes to class composition had been raised in Quaderni Rossi. The old model of class, almost intact from the times of Marx (later on, formulated in the question ‘what has happened to the working class since Marx?’ – Tronti 1971:263 in Wright 202:86) was no longer readily apparent in the new conditions of production, alongside the emergent new social movements (feminism, anti-racism, sexual politics).

May 68 changes all this by forcing new subjectivites centre stage. It was the expression of something that had been brewing in the decomposition and recomposition of the ratio of living to dead labour (Wright 2002:36) as ‘new labour processes and new workers foreign to the traditions of the labour movement’ (Wright 2002:35) joined workplace struggles.

What is the foremost question for early Italian workerism should be carefully identified as coming directly out of a close reading of Marx, especially the passages on the technical composition of capital. The task of understanding its specificities today, is considered crucial.

The technical composition of Capital is an evaluation of the relative magnitude of the components of the production process – fixed, or constant capital in the form of tools, machinery, given levels of know-how, methods of working, distribution, communication, technology and knowledge all relative to variable capital, that labour which is hired because it adds value through its particular capacity as super-adequacy – it is able to produce more value than is needed for its own reproduction.

The relative magnitude, or ration, of constant to variable capital profoundly impacts upon the character of profits that can be expropriated from the production process. The magnitude of that ration are expressions of the cultural or social as such, but of course alienated under capitalism into a system of justifications and legitimations of class rule, hierarchy and the division of labour. This is why cultural inquiry has to be something more than research into culture.

Today, the mass of constant capital, not only but certainly very much in the west, is considerable. Machinery, plant, stock, assets – call it whatever – this mass considerably dwarfs value in labour unless significant global scale is considered.

Proletarianisation is key here. The question is of the degree to which labour deskilling has meant the machine works the worker, but it is also a matter of political consciousness and struggle/a culture of struggle by the class that came to be affected by this deskilling. Atomised workers organize less. The laptop warrior is not of the same order. The dialectic governs the circumstances into which an inquiry succeeds or fails, and the effort of capital is of course to make it fail, the criteria of success however may not be as expected. Inquiry perhaps succeeds to the degree to which the contradictions of the scene of deskilling are brought to awareness, more or less, and turned into antagonisms, to be acted upon.

No surprise then that this is also found in Marx, and exactly where he introduces the term ‘prekärer’:

As soon, therefore, as the labourers learn the secret, how it comes to pass that in the same measure as they work more, as they produce more wealth for others, and as the productive power of their labour increases, so in the same measure even their function as a means of the self-expansion of capital becomes more and more precarious for them; as soon as they discover that the degree of intensity of the competition among themselves depends wholly on the pressure of the relative surplus population; as soon as, by Trades’ Unions, &c., they try to organise a regular co-operation between employed and unemployed in order to destroy or to weaken the ruinous effects of this natural law of capitalistic production on their class, so soon capital and its sycophant, Political Economy, cry out at the infringement of the “eternal” and so to say “sacred” law of supply and demand. Every combination of employed and unemployed disturbs the “harmonious” action of this law. (Marx 1867/1970:641 L&W P793, D669)

What distinguishes the autonomists is the working through of this precarious emergence of class consciousness in new times. The post-war period, through to the 1960s and beyond brings new subjects – feminism, sexuality, environmentalism, migration etc.

The issue of the composition (decomposition) and recomposition of classes under changing conditions does presume an ‘updated’ notion of class struggle. Negri’s schematic tracking of the key labouring subject through professional worker (skilled trades), the mass worker (unskilled) to the socialized worker (communication, flexible) is of course also abstraction just as much as was Marx’s capitalist and proletarian (see Eighteenth Brumaire for the nuanced historical antidote to the theoretical binary). Yet still the idea that a proletariat exists, inflected across an ongoing history of slavery, reconfigured as anti-racism, disaggregated into foreign workers and migrancy etc etc., is where there is something of great importance for deciding who does research, why, and who for. Is a progressive intellectual and pedagogical research project necessarily only a tracking surveillance, or can it be constitutive of something more.

Today, workers inquiry in the autonomy tradition works at that field where the socialized worker may recognize themselves and their work – immaterial labour, affective labour, attention, virtual, precarious, productive consumption, communications, symbolic play, shit work mixed with temporary, flexible, diversified, collaborative, remote, transitory and itinerant labour – as subject to, and thereby organized against, capital and capitalists. The bourgeoisie can only recognize itself through the state, as orthodox Marxism would have it, and needs institutionalized sociologists and anthropologists to articulate its self-image (this is another trap of the teaching factory) but workers inquiry is necessary collective, participatory and self-organized. Here a responsibility to oneself as part of a project offers a different outlook than does the control orders of disciplinary knowledge. Breaking with the order words and hierarchy of knowledges where cultural studies might sidestep the requirement of working for the man (in order to work for the human).

Workplace Inquiry in the University?

So we might perhaps like to consider an inquiry of this sort for our own conditions in the university. In the Learning enhancement sausage factory where the famous and over-used Marx quote cannot be avoided: ‘a schoolmaster is a productive labourer when, in addition to belabouring the heads of his pupils, he works himself into the ground to enrich the owner of the school. That the latter has laid out his capital in a teaching factory, instead of a sausage factory, makes no difference to the relation’ (Marx 1867/1967:644).

‘they have something of which they are very proud’ – Nietzsche

Is it that we are fighting to preserve the University or the education ideal? Or is this fading image not also one of the tricks and mystifications, deceits and evasions of a neoliberal terra forming that has remade all values as money. Monetisation of the research agenda, blink, course development, blink, quality assurance, blink, corporate sponsor, excellence award, commercial start-up, blink. The fee regime, the estate redevelopment, the porters, security, blink, the brand, the font, the ‘I study at …’ blink, relocate the bookshop, redesign the forecourt, rename the Green, summer school, conference services, champagne Lasalle, the international recruits, the UKBA, Santander Bank, blink, information retention, 2015, Goldsmiths Online, podcast and blink, community liaison, gallery extension, honourary award, blink blink kerching.

The time is ripe for a far more public inquiry into the character and composition of the educational institution today. Not because the privatisation and operationalisation of research is a new danger – that alignment with corporate and national interest was long underway. No, because the engagement of investigators, detectives, citizen journalists, factory inspectors, co-researchers, amateur historians, activist hunter-seekers, is itself an organizing tool that must turn research from its somnambulant sleepwalk into its ideal commercial form as market intelligence. Providing instead the militant forums for thinking and critique that will be part of a sabotage from within of the myth of neutrality of research may be the only justification for the institution of the University today.

The ‘white man got a god-complex’ said the Last Poets, and any idea that research with impact isn’t open to wholesale subservience to the false deification of money-theism really does not know what blasphemy could be. Money-theism in the university takes the spectral form of supposing that knowledge is valuable to the extent that it secures research council approval as funds. Money begets money.

Teaching and learning by-the-numbers means the imbrication of slogan versions of ideas with accreditation – the lesser of the two oldest professions. To demean teaching by both demanding money for it and refusing any substantive critical thinking, including self-criticism, is the aggravation of incoherence. This is not to say that there should be no funding for higher education – the point is that the provision of well-educated pliable automatons for industry is not something for which I think we should charge parents, or even students. Corporate employers benefit from free training when they find labour power available for hire already equipped and ready for waged employment. Ipso facto, corporate taxation and university funding through an at least seemingly impartial state mechanism, would only be a transitional phase while we inculcate in our students those habits of criticism that will necessarily be dysfunctional for capital, would build another world, and prevail against the inevitable counter-insurgent forces that will attend its birth pangs.

The question for now has to do with the technical composition of university work.

  • What part for labour power in teaching, research, training, being a student, being a student activist?
  • Is it that teaching adds value to a students labour capacity?
  • Is the monetization of teaching the key site of expropriation today?
  • Is the orientation of research to industry nationalist or global, or both?
  • Is the research council rewriting the very idea of a PhD a last-ditch defense of ideas or retooling for commerce?

There are many more questions to be devised. And there are already considerable resources and documents on the functioning of the university as workplace to read. Indeed, it would be a part of any inquiry to take heed of all the talk of productivity and quality assurance and see this as a resource of investigation. The bureaucracy is, in a way, verbose and confessional – a massive stream of documents that serve usually to obfuscate the workings of the sausage machine. Could these latter-day Blue Books be read as a way into the inquiry? If we ask about the role of all this red tape, committees and visionary parallel committee structures, we might also wonder at the dysfunctions of the institutional composition

Of quality assurance, Periodic Review, Course scrutiny committee, performance evaluation. While none of these are the kind of inquiry I am talking about, could then be turned into documentary evidence? A forensic architecture that deconstructs the corporate university (to borrow Eyal Weizman’s terminology).

Workplace inquiry is not a social science reporting to the institution for the better management of the accumulation process. It is rather a tool for organizing. More elaborate than a clipboard activist who will stop you in the street and engage in inane conversation before asking for a subscription. More than a newspaper-seller-from-hell outside the high street market on a Saturday morning. An inquiry mobilizes an engagement with class interests. It is about demystifying the ways class struggle manifests as institutional power, market ‘norms; bourgeois ideology etc., as a system of exploitation and destructive – finally counter productive of life.

Technical composition

Political composition

Organizational questions

Subject – agency – collective agency

Individual – multiple

Marx wants to make a self aware agent of the worker, not as worker, but as a class. The collective transmutation of the administrative operation as a site for intervention seems at least worthy as a terrain of struggle. The investigation may at least learn something, together, about how we can work the university. Or, die trying, and watch the dysfunction rot the sinking ship before it settles into its own malignant swamp.

Must class mobility be mediated through the state and its institutional machines of compromise? We cannot credit the new academics, the reassertion of the tiered tertiary sector, or the tooling of the research councils towards national productivity as anything other than a reinforced architecture of the class system. Against this, a mobilization of research as constant critique, as internal agitation. Let us then investigate education as an institution based formula for class mobility often hamstrung by stasis, a dilapidated and parasitic bureaucracy and entrenched, unexamined, privilege, including especially race privilege. A great complicity and recuperation undermines all attempts to negotiate the blockages.

Education in Context (draft notes for talk today at 10am RHB 306)

Context.

Maybe it makes sense to reflect, in the quiet aftermath of a period of activity, in order to gear up again for more, necessarily thinking this never stops, that the to and fro alternation of theory and praxis is never only rhetorical.

The protest at Millbank in 2010 was both organised and a surprise because it exceeded an official NUS-declared ‘end’ of the rally. The surprise was the palpable shared and active demonstration of intent that contagiously and somewhat spontaneously led thousands of protesters to the same end. Even if the Police also wanted to make a point about the erosion of their conditions under austerity, and so stepped back so as to underline by that withdrawal, the significance of their potential service as protectors of Capital.

Subsequent arrests were not as significant as the events – a raid on the headquarters of the ruling class party offices of course gathered world-wide attention – but less than ideal was the lack of support given to those arrested, and that as a response to austerity and education policy changes underway, this was all rather late.

In the December 2010 rallies, a massive success of mobilization and catching the mood of the nation. Significant positive media reportage in the run up to the rallies, though this turned towards a search for sensational images and descending into farce as the tactics of Police kettle and the staged sacrifice of a Police Van on Whitehall, and perhaps the Prince Consort and his ride in Regent Street were simply front page ‘splash’ journalism. On the one hand protesters learnt that a passive response to kettling at the beginning of the kettle was a trap, on the other hand multiple separate actions – University for Strategic Optimism, Precarious Workers Brigade etc – and groups leaving the rally to roam central London provoking multiple encounters did symbolically threaten and frighten those in charge of the Capital.

In the context of Tunisia and Egypt and the so-called Arab Spring, the March 2011 trades union called rally was too long in coming, and followed a predicted route, also for too long. That the anarcho bloc followed a visibly different route and tactic was impressive, and the proliferation of multiple groups and actions, despite co-ordination problems and sometimes lack of leadership or direction, including a foolhardy self-kettling media grab high-end shopping trip (Fortnum and Masons), meant that enthusiasm and attention were high. Much of this energy then took organisational form and coincided with a resurgence of zine and samizdat publications, citizen journalism and blog posts, public meetings and the like. The anti-cuts groups and the plethora of other campaigns and issues – libraries, interns, pensions – indicated a visible left culture ascending.

August 2011 – the culmination of the proceding year and undoubtedly London’s response to the counter-revolutionary machinations in Egypt, Libya,  etc., and a co-ordination of concerns about policing, deaths in police custody (the death of Smiley Culture was also part of the story, as well as the immediate catalyst of the Tottenham uprising, the killing of Mark Duggan), bank bail-outs, austerity, youth unemployment, ruling class privilege, and the arid cultural alienation not mitigated by endless television talent shows and vacuous celebrity tittle-tattle. The media sensation of burning buses and police vehicles, followed by ‘opportunistic forms of aggressive late-night shopping, leading to a heavy-handed and last-ditch severe law and order crackdown, especially after the protests moved towards slightly more affluent suburbs on the third day, like Ealing, still requires discussion. Three days in August showed how fragile the bourgeois social compact was, and the clean-up broom teams in Clapham and the subsequent hand-writing of press pundits, as well as the excessively harsh sentencing of offenders for very minor crimes, have not eroded expectations that this fragile compact will crack again. Considerable effort by researchers (the Guardian/LSE) and institutional programmes, youth, social care, police liaison, council (inner city cleansing) and local government does not, with the evidence of a double-dip recession and ongoing austerity still in place, mitigate the expectation that things will kick of again soon.

Subsequent rallies saw the mobile kettle tactic keep apart the Occupy movement, the Sparks, and the Trades Union rally. An aggressive campaign of overpolicing and militarisation of London in the lead up to the Olympiss, means public dissent takes different forms. This builds upon the need for organisation and the effervescence of new political thinking and critical experiments, in the groups that formed around Arts Against Cuts, UfSO, Precarious/Carrot Workers collective, The Paper, Anonymous, The Indignatios, the flourishing zine and samizdat culture, and the significant inter-relation between the Occupy movement and critiques of its neglect of race in its 99% slogan. The efforts of astute protesters to plan in an alternative and longer frame – rejecting the lesser austerity of the Labour Party, the merely reactive anti-cuts tailism of the Trotskyite Left or the rejectionist grunge-fashion posturing of the Anarchists there is a renewed will to build a communist future for London, Britain or Europe. More than Occupy, more than Uncut, more than a defence of the now corporatized University, more than an anarchist t-shirt slogan, more than a newspaper-seller from hell, more than a conference on ideas or a guest-speaker series, more than the talking heads of Marx Reloaded, more than a moan about the precariousness of all wage labour, more than this rotten system and its corrupt leaders, its greedy pampered bankers, its degenerate and deviously biased newspaper magnates, its criminal tax-avoiding luxury-yacht, racehorse owning ‘captains’ of industry, its mining industry-funded pompous bastard monarchy, its endless dull spectacle of Beckham and Circuses, its broken, abject, pointless routine of surplus and the wrong sort of excess. Everyone agrees Another world must be built, and in the last years its architecture has been put in place – the political events of the last two years point the way.

Pre-text.

The still slower work of reading to prepare and analysis is not to be dismissed as indulgence. There is no time for this now, the need to act is greater. Urgency, however, breeds contempt, half-cocked adventures that seem useful but end in recuperation, at best, reinforcing the repressive apparatus and defeat more often. A salutary reading of the Eighteenth Brumaire or Herr Vogt should temper any expectation that things were easy. If that were the case, by now word will have gotten round. It is no surprise that the ruling classes find organisation and mobilisation of their defences a matter of slow but deliberate decision. They have long practiced the forms at which their defence will proceed – from the manuals for counter insurgency – COIN – written to aid the military with ethnographic and sociological data, to the officer training schools that teach a total war against Islam scenario that entails the bombing of Mecca (May 10, 2012, Wired[1]). In the institutions that replicate the class hierarchy, through to the military budgets that approve tanks, warships, ground-to-air missiles and global weapons sales, the platitudes of humanitarian tolerance pale into comedy when we consider just how far Capital will go to defend the privilege of its best of all possible worlds.

It is important to take analysis and organisation together, asking what are the current conditions and what are the possibilities? the composition of the class forces and their relations? What are the tactically vulnerable points at which the analysis of forces might open up potentials. An assessment of conditions is necessarily framed alongside questions of capacity – of what is, and what is needed.

Conditions:

Repressive state apparatus and global militarism

-       police power, terror war

-       security state, governmental/control society

-       global crisis, constant anxiety, volatility

Media Corral

-       infotainment as news, reality TV, celebrity, comedy, talent shows, sports

-       social network, capture of new media by corporates, privatisation

-       alternative low budget and low impact blogosphere, zine, samizdat Lefts

Corruption

-       weapons industry, lords of death

-       mining, climate, sweatshops,

-       border control, labour flow management, ethnic cleansing

Privatised Institutions

-       education geared to national industry

-       health in the lab-coat pocket of Big Pharma

-       transport and communications infrastructure automatised, digitised.

The repressive Police power and terror anxiety maintained by constant station announcements, overt Police presence, anniversary security scares – another underpants bomb, May 2012 – requires channelling hostility to cuts and austerity measures to protect banks and capital. Focus upon salaries of executives and shareholder meetings as if these were forums of democracy. Those who don’t have shares vote by remote for Britain’s Got Talent. Meanwhile, deportations, institutional racism, general racism, anti-Muslim and reinforced blanched hierarchies of opportunity, despite, or even reinforced by, liberal sentimentality.

Media narrowcasting under threat by new platforms and possibilities engenders a massive effort to monetise and control, and corral, the social network, itself already at the start a military asset. The prospect of critical journalism undermined by the appearance of even-handed reportage. A focus on excessive bonuses or expenses obscures the inequity of any bonuses or expenses for millionaire entrepreneurs at all – the creation of a climate of unfocussed public disapproval carefully managed so as to avoid focus upon war, mining, pollution, class, race or violent crimes. Privatisation as a system wide strategy is not examined by the episodic and sectoral focus of both mainstream investigators – Offcom, Offstead etc are not the investigators we need, trades union sectoralism is insufficient unless and until it calls for a general strike.

University

‘they have something of which they are very proud’ – Nietzsche

Is it that we are fighting to preserve the University or the education ideal? Or is this fading image not also one of the tricks and mystifications, deceits and evasions of a neoliberal terra forming that has remade all values as money. Monetisation of the research agenda, blink, course development, blink, quality assurance, blink, corporate sponsor, excellence award, commercial start-up, blink. The fee regime, the estate redevelopment, the porters, security, blink, the brand, the font, the ‘I study at …’ blink, relocate the bookshop, redesign the forecourt, rename the Green, summer school, conference services, champagne Lasalle, the international recruits, the UKBA, Santander Bank, blink, information retention, 2015, Goldsmiths Online, podcast and blink, community liaison, gallery extension, honourary award, blink blink kerching.

The time is ripe for a far more public inquiry into the character and composition of the educational institution today. Not because the privatisation and operationalisation of research is a new danger – that alignment with corporate and national interest was long underway. No, because the engagement of investigators, detectives, citizen journalists, factory inspectors, co-researchers, amateur historians, activist hunter-seekers, is itself an organizing tool that must turn research from its somnambulant sleepwalk into its ideal commercial form as market intelligence. Providing instead the militant forums for thinking and critique that will be part of a sabotage from within of the myth of neutrality of research may be the only justification for the institution of the University today.

The ‘white man got a god-complex’ said the Last Poets, and any idea that research with impact isn’t open to wholesale subservience to the false deification of money-theism really does not know what blasphemy could be. Money-theism in the university takes the spectral form of supposing that knowledge is valuable to the extent that it secures research council approval as funds. Money begets money.

Teaching and learning by-the-numbers means the imbrication of slogan versions of ideas with accreditation – the lesser of the two oldest professions. To demean teaching by both demanding money for it and refusing any substantive critical thinking, including self-criticism, is the aggravation of incoherence. This is not to say that there should be no funding for higher education – the point is that the provision of well-educated pliable automatons for industry is not something for which I think we should charge parents, or even students. Corporate employers benefit from free training when they find labour power available for hire already equipped and ready for waged employment and so corporate taxation and university funding through an at least seemingly impartial state mechanism, would only be a transitional phase while we inculcate in our students those habits of criticism that will necessarily be dysfunctional for capital, would build another world, and prevail against the inevitable counter-insurgent forces that will attend its birth pangs.

Inquiries

The model of the Factory Inspector is set out by Marx in ‘The Working Day’ chapter of Capital, volume one, not as an uncritically approved figure of unassailable credentials, but as an advocate of investigation that does a service for the working class ‘that should never be forgotten’ (Capital). The Factory Inspector is Leonard Horner, his work appeared in the Blue Books, which were parliamentary reports, appearing at least annually, and read by Marx as key sources for his examinations of conditions in the industrial factories of 19th Century capitalism and of the struggles over wages, hours, child labour and education that surround the introduction of the Factory Acts (ensuring a modicum of education for children, and limits on the number of consecutive hours they may be forced to work).

Awww, Depp.comms

http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/339678/20120510/italy-depp-johnny-communist-manifesto-newspaper.htm

 

Its a long way from the filthy undercover school cop he played in 21 Jump St.

The Alternative Art College presents; Education as Experiment 17.5.2012

Date: 17th May

Time: 10am – 6pm

Location: 47 Lewisham Way, Goldsmiths College.

The Alternative Art College is a non-profit education facility;

The AAC’s reason for being is to challenge the notion of knowledge consumers, to question the socio-economic role of education and activate a response. The AAC was a direct reply to the crisis in the higher education field of 2011/12. One year on, the College’s aim is still to engage participants in the process of education, to create the alternative now.

The ‘retrospective’ is a reflective event/symposium addressing how non-profit education is produced. Located inside the walls of the education factory that is Goldsmiths college, we explore the alternative to consumer culture. This offers the ability to redirect the conversation within the HE education field, addressing everything from teaching methods to the UCAS point scoring system. The event will include a selection of lectures, seminars and a common assembly to discuss pedagogy, art, politics and all things related to education. The outcome of this day long event will be an open source archive, as well as, a publication and touring exhibition.

The Alternative Art College presents; Education as Experiment.

Line up includes: All subject to change and more to be announced.

Mike Neary – Social Science Centre/ Student As Producer.

John Plowman – Beacon Art Project

Andre Pusey – Really Open University

Evan Ifekoya/Yasmin Lorentz  – Politicised Space & Accountability: Addressing Race in the Art School

The Knitted Jungle Collective –  Macho Versus the Feminine

Mel Donohoe – Art vs Art Education

James Ellison –  Nomadic Infrastructure

Rebecca Hartley/Kate Wiggs – International Relations Theory in a prohibition-themed party

Anna-Maria Amato – The Fibonacci Code.


www.alternativeartcollege.co.uk  aacretrospective.edu@gmail.com

www.facebook.com/events/446720075355054/

Education

[wrote this in January and it got set aside - I wasn't as angry then I guess]

They have something of which they are proud. What do they call that which makes them proud? Education they call it; it distinguishes them from goatherds’ – Nietzsche.

I do not want a life as a last ditch manager of depressed casualisation, directing coal-face grunt teaching, organising free labour placements for narrow option celebrity-culture-industry hopefuls who were taught x, y and beta-tested open source contrition at the nether end of abstract short-term extortion with sub-cost-of-living remuneration. That ghost of past, present and future does not appeal at all.

And I say this with me settled into a permanent job. True, I was for many years what Emma Jackson has called a ‘peripatetic academic’,[i] moving house for work, with multiple short-term and fractional appointments in 6 different cities in 3 countries over 12 years. In the mid 1990s I did not assume having a PhD would secure me employment, and was not sure I wanted it in place of the political career at which many student activists naively aimed. But I had become adept at survival by stitching teaching appointments together like some serial offender. Plenty of the kind of low-pay grind that Marx compared to a sausage factory, where it does not matter if the worker is making sausages or teaching so long as we enrich the proprietor.[ii] I did more than my share of mass processing of essays, stand-in seminars, back-to-back tutorials and one-year replacements that meant starting to apply for new sausage-line work from the first month in any post. Time passed. I applied for 35 jobs in the year before Goldsmiths hired me, and I’m thankful for the chance and still love the College. I even had some luck with the three key indicators that, as I will discuss later in this text, shape the parameters of academia and also, now, are sites of conflict, reaction and recidivation of conditions – harming higher education and contradicting its raison d’être. Teaching, Research and Governance are my topics here, but I want to think these in a wider context, and acknowledge, as far as I can make it clear to myself, that others also tread a difficult path through the institutions.[iii]

*

 I agree with Emma that the situation for what the Research Councils call, with no intended irony, ‘early career researchers’ is precarious. Post-doctoral appointments which allow time to research are few and far between. More common is the exhausting high-contact teaching replacement post, which candidates are assured over and over, will be an important step forward, a line on a CV, crucial experience; ‘Learning and Teaching’ as cultural capital. I see up close what sessional-rate work at three separate institutions in the same term does to a neglected PhD project. I am continually amazed at the capacity of such ECR’s to endure. I also see these researchers, and a great many other students, and some colleagues, engaged in debates over conditions in ways that have not been prominent for 20 years: discussions of ‘Really Free Schools’, of teaching ‘free at the point of delivery’, of reconfiguring academia to allow access for all, of occupations which include public lectures, of interventions in teaching formats that involve relocating into public spaces; and more acutely of refusing the imperative to teach as part of the war machine, the immigration restriction, the culture industry, the administered society, the police state. What I see is that something impressive is emerging to confront the Conservatives with another plan for education, another potential, a re-imagination.

There is a cautious optimism that defies circumstances here, and an awareness of the need to deflect any rhetorical compact with austerity too. The ‘Free Schools’ are not simply a progressive twist on the Big Society, nor a realpolitik compromise with career path that prepares ‘apprentices’ for later gainful employ, calibrated with economic requirements and self-serving need. There is enthusiasm in occupations where ‘teach-in’s include ‘teaching-out’ by touring local schools, pickets, other occupations and activist sites and there is a welcome challenge to the hierarchical formats of academic conferences, publishing and writing in the renewed demand of students to have a say in their (paid for) degrees. Yes, there is a sense in which all this still adds to cultural capital for the self-styled ‘activists-academics’ and there is an aspirant careerism in the very idea of going to university or even wanting to run an ‘alternative university’ – perhaps in a tent. There is always some ego investment here. But the conditions do need to be challenged, and apprentice or no, the path towards institutionalisation is a kind of benighted gift. Some of its conditions include:

-       Few scholarships, hard to get

-       trainee academic, on piece rates

-       marking, sessional pay, no preparation fee

-       low union representation, part-timer issues overlooked

-       no holiday pay, no sickness leave,

-       learning and teaching certificates (a paid-for license to perform)

-       PhD, postdoc, initial teaching year, junior faculty, hierarchy

-       probation and discipline, hierarchy entrenched

-       demand to publish early (and often)

-       research Assessment-driven conformism

-       diminution of approved places to publish

-       limit on research funds, travel budget, conference budget

-       less responsibility, less access to committees, promotion

-       no access to the mysteries of management’s grey world

-       cuts, anticipated cuts and more cuts anyway.

This precarity is not lost on me. But I am concerned that this turns into active denial when that elusive ‘secure’ job finally becomes a reality, and the institutionalised scholar finds an ongoing precariousness which enforces complicity with the reaction. This seems most evident when well-meaning established scholars must constantly innovate new projects, albeit under duress. Quite unlike the ‘Free School University’ and Tent-based teach-in’s of #occupy, a massive growth in new programmes, often Masters degrees geared to overseas students from China and East Asia, has been underway for several years. This inevitably now extends to all levels of teaching. Budgeting for fiscal constraint saw a relentless commercial drive to refit education as export earner in overseas markets, with product delivery to short-term visa, high tariff students here, client-seeking degree-fair 5-star accreditation junkets there. No doubt some of these programmes are excellent and of course benefit the students that come, but there are significant problems. On the one hand we can often hear a shallow and largely unsubstantiated lament for the loss of education standards that these international programmes might effect (as if it’s somehow the international students’ fault, or that they have not themselves excellent reasons to come[iv]). On the other hand, the rarely examined and not even guilt-ridden alacrity among those few academics prepared to defend higher education from neo-liberal austerity assaults, to willingly, and more or less efficiently, set up yet more courses for overseas students and hastily renovate undergraduate home offers so as to appeal to market demand and the full-fee terrain. Certainly opening education to wider participation, locally and globally, remains a goal, but these programmes are often referred to as ‘cash cows’ and this opportunist criteria overrides any suggestion that incoming students might have a say in how things are run and why. As it happens the new ‘full-fees’ have not yet hit MA and PhD programmes for home students, but we are several years into charging extortionate level fees for overseas candidates, with detrimental results in terms of debt load and ongoing stress. In these circumstances we must always ask what it is that these programmes do? The aim of course is to preserve the income stream in the face of austerity. Here to enrich the proprietor is the only criteria, though just renovating the buildings seems more than enough for which many hope. On the other hand, these courses have an often under-examined relation to class recomposition, both locally and globally. Globally, where different constituencies see education as a ticket to reconfigure options and constraints via migration and accreditation (as cultural capital), locally as a creeping credentialism and cretinization where a demand for an ever more qualified employee pool is matched with an ever more routinized and uncritical employment sector. Plenty demand for jobs that aren’t there, jobs a-plenty for those who are not too demanding – the stick and carrot of neoliberalism that the Precarious and Carrot Workers Collective so rightly skewers.[v]

Over a period of thirty or forty years, the university student has been reduced in circumstances and privilege so as to now be quite a bit closer to the proletarianised worker, themselves increasingly digitised as precarious labour, data input, call centre workers or shopping-till operators. This foreshortened trajectory of worker-student concurrence occurs while at the upper echelons an administrative demarcation ensures the non-convergence of previously highly-privileged professionals with the non-productive wealthy and rich in business. Indeed, the Professors look set to become little more than petty-bourgeois shopkeepers, and their departments more like merchandise stores, while University management heads, and no doubt in other service sectors the upper managements as well, become robber barons paid six figure sums with benefits. We are not talking social class here, since cultural aspirations in each fraction are shared, but we are talking class formation nonetheless. And a vast gulf in circumstances and understanding or attitude to the coming changes opens up. While it is true the services that universities provide are so much more than this too-easy polarisation into proprietors and sales clerks, it repays consideration to look to the injunctions under which we work. The social battle to retain privilege and hierarchy on the part of the petit-bourgeois professor is belied by actual diminution in economic resource, conditions of work and disarticulation from power and authority. Good riddance to all that. But to add value to another’s labour capacity is one thing, to provide fodder for commerce and profit for the bosses of all the other sectors is quite another.

Theodor Adorno wanted university education to be a constant vigilance that insured against any resurgence of authoritarian thinking in Europe after World War II. He meant a teaching that worked against genocide and related this not just to Auschwitz, but also to the atomic bomb. Research would be undertaken into the authoritarian subject and the ‘tendencies towards disintegration’ that lurk beneath the surface of an ordered and ‘civilized’ life.[vi] Elsewhere, he said to speak of education is also to speak of administration and warned of research that models it’s training on administrative categories,[vii] even though in the difference between reified institutions and the complicity of ‘critique’ there remained a chance to realize something different – a hope.[viii] Ten years after September 11, this seems all the more an implausible lament now: in the context of current cuts, commercialisation of research, privatisation of university services, marketisation of teaching delivery, alignment of pastoral care with UKBA border surveillance and decay of infrastructure, the opportunist retooling of programme content towards vocation runs alongside a reconfiguration of education as a resource utility rather than a promise. Critical thinking has become merely a course option, not an alternative. It is even productively a part of the kind of education encouraged by perceived ‘national’ needs, now focused on the gamble of vocational programmes and contract research for corporate ends. In this context a reified ‘criticality’ offers a limited acclimatisation training that prepares students to wait in line for ever-fewer jobs. This is not education but rather a dormitory holding system, unable able to fend off the cuts and constraints that keep us ducking and diving for survival.

*

 So let me come to the meat of this rant and try to set out the parameters of this reaction under the three headings that are usually used to evaluate academic appointments and promotion: Teaching, Research and Governance. This survey is of course not exhaustive.

Everybody knows teaching is under threat in the UK, with departmental closures, uncertainty and constant counter-productive time-wasting, rarely instructive ‘quality’ reviews, overworked lecturing staff, underpaid adjunct staff, commercial drive to commodify teaching infrastructure (Google deals to outsource course-packs, library collections digitised). A scramble to place bums on seats and still take teaching seriously sees a tireless quest by a few quixotic souls to face down a phalanx of dedicated entrepreneurial zealots who would sell their own mothers for recognition by the Senior Management prefecture. The proliferation of short courses and team teaching by necessity hastens the routine of instruction, and concedes a ‘sanctioned ignorance’[ix] that no longer rewards the time taken to learn and write. The merits of team-teaching are not the problem, it is rather the imperative to team-teach that ensures that a kind of mass-market stupidity prevails.[x] Survey courses and one-session-one-thinker introductions are the easiest options for mass-market education with diminished resource – longer, slower rhythms of learning are unsuited to a market-profit model. In the face of resource clawback, alongside managerialist ‘quality’ control hardly worth the name, the formularisation of teaching (aims, outcomes, course templates) means we become ever more learnedly dumb ever more quickly (two year degrees from McDonalds for example, BBC 25 November 2010[xi]).

Research is now driven by a commercial imperative and the prospects of innovation are barely disguised as impact. Research is ruled by evaluation and quantity of publication in ‘quality’ first-rate journals. These are largely owned and managed by private publishing houses taking large profits for work done without fee by college scholars. Manuscript review, proposal evaluation, cover citations and procurement all done without remuneration is free labour; a tax-payer funded subsidy for commercial press (there are still some progressive publishers, but a way forward via small-scale and independent seems only a bulwark that will soon be acquired by the larger houses). Alongside this, not unrelated, the Research Councils continually flip their funding calls into the language of Security and Intervention: community cohesion as a code for profiling; care for the future and heritage as gentrification; value performance as a deployment to work on the geo-political outcomes of crisis, credit and debt; translating cultures and global responsibility as cipher for neo-colonial interference and intrigue (see the RCUK ‘delivery plan’ 2011[xii]). There is some opposition, for example from anthropologists concerned that a £2million Engineering and Physical Science Research Council-led programme for research on ‘counter terrorism in public spaces’ by studying ‘radicalisation’ in faith groups amounted to a compromise with civil liberties,[xiii] or from Arts and Humanities researchers when the Conservative Government’s ‘Big Society’ was touted as a priority.[xiv] But the RCUK strategy still looks shaky and its language perpetrates a systemic social delusion along the same lines as the false coin of quantitative easing so quickly adopted to manipulate both money markets and cultural-national propaganda during the ‘crisis’.

Governance. The quality assurance and blue-skies, white paper, options taskforce world of weirdness mints obscure new terminologies. Renaming collegial forums and replacing accountability and transparency with an opaque ‘Corporate Governance and Information Management’ miasma as cover for the ongoing putsch to refashion all university decision-making into a proliferating middle management. At the same time, the individualising-isolation of those who might critique this – ‘it’s all bad, but if I keep my head down and get on with my research I’ll be ok’ – is both a futile aggrandisement of self, and a failure of co-operative responsibility. There is a contradiction here which sees a radical ‘new times’ sensation seeking managerialism prospect about for a guarantee of future placement at the table reserved for the select ‘old-school’ few. An arid landscape throws up super-power mandarins, but with no support base, or at best an exhausted one. We are doomed if the few small examples of collective action (mostly led by students) are not generalised. The defence of pensions or critique of fees is a tip-of-the-iceberg strategy that cedes too much to Trades Union consciousness and head office directive. No-one in the demonstrations of 2010 said it was only about the tariff-hike; it was also about betrayal, by Clegg, by Labour, limited opportunities, perceived and real decline, privatisation, vocationalisation. A mobilisation of hundreds of thousands of workers is impressive, and there are signs that more is to come as the financial forecasters back-track and prevaricate in confusion (a promised ten years of austerity, with super profits!), but a one-day strike and a walk from A-to-B does not yet a revolution make.

The fancy that there can still be something like an education that would be separate from a system of objects, a vast network of gadgets, devices, protocols, items and orders of communication is a dream. Product placement is not the be all and end all of instrumentalism, but its sway extends deep into the heart of the school. Bringing all this together in the new media, high profile, digital humanities, rapid response, surveillance and security agenda should come as no surprise at a time of commodity glut and innovation slump. A stagflation of ideas, an immobilisation of creativity. By which I mean that the rhetoric of innovation is high, but the outcomes and – yes – impact of thinking is constrained such that the coming together of people through the facilitation of gadgets remains only a latent co-operation. This is a general intellect in abstraction, and education is displaced by untapped potential because caught in a trap, students are led into a servitude of gifting thought for rent or mortgage, ready and willing to work, but for inconsequential gain.

Underlying all this, as Marx pointed out in Capital, there is the expectation by Capital that it has the right to tap a resource of already trained-up labour power without charge to itself. Indeed, user pays, except where the key words of university – teaching, research, administration – condition inmates of the sheltered workshop to the imbrication of knowledge with a more or less stratified corporate need. Infrastructure costs, preparatory materials, regulatory oversight, and reproduction of the workforce have never been more readily conscripted so cheaply for the employers. We even arrange unpaid internships so as to proffer up our graduates for free to the market. Voluntarily gifted labour where there once was a wage, and of course that wage did not adequately calculate the necessary costs of reproducing labour: the home, domestic support, snotty noses wiped, basic skills learned, language, community, general health, compliance, national allegiance.

Is this resource that we call education a social good? If it reproduces the class relation, returns no gain to those it cracks on the wheel of capital, if it subjects all to a cretinisation and a lowest-common denominator extortion, then there is little reason to still call this education. Rather, it is not hard to see, it is training, and control. The reduction of education to training, skills, vocation and business – the sausage/teaching factory – is readily denounced. But if the institution remains a place for a rampant intelligence[xv] as a place where a critical consciousness still chances to contradict the system, there could be a reason to side with Marx, Adorno et al., and imagine another education. One that tries to transmute value extraction into some collective and collaborative sharing of knowledge, with a utopian ideal of the future fulsome development of each and all, even if we are not there yet, if at all. In this there might be something worth fighting for, as the University.

Critique, rebellion, a rampant intelligence, mass participation, everyone must write, poetry, aesthetics – the refuge of romantic ideals can be extended, even while on the run. The family resemblance between education and training does not make the latter illegitimate, only a danger if it holds sway and cedes ground to elitism, and the alpha-class specialists that receive a ‘good’ teaching, as opposed to the beta-through-delta models that prevail for the rest. Rote-learning, historical amnesia, political myopia and a State-sponsored apathy are simply not suited to the circumstances that led us to teaching. The calls to reassert teaching as critical thinking are an indication that a merely corporate-feeder education will no longer be tolerated. Who will hear these calls? There is a groundswell resurgence and disaffection, yet with no significant recognition from the senior staffers or the management. Not one administrator seems ready to acknowledge the coming change. The self-protection of unexamined complicity cannot secure the monastic scholar forever, there must and needs be a time when the isolated walks out into the open to join with others: I nominate that we all become peripatetic, even, and especially (while) in secure jobs.

How do we convince our comrades to look up from their desks and step out and turn up, marching towards a new university compact, with optimism? My college, Goldsmiths, with half a glint in its opportunist eye, and half a lack of nerve, rebrands itself as ‘radical’ (there are badges) and critical; despite an advertising campaign that traduces ideas into cheap slogans there is little sense that management ‘gets’ that they are out of step. There is a massive allegiance on the part of teaching staff to the college, even while a relentless attack on conditions and process erodes possibilities. Escalating corporatisation sees decision making side-tracked into specialist finance-led commissions; Academic Board is reduced to a toothless talking shop; the Senior Management Team an ensemble unable to respond to fast-changing circumstances, and a process barely fit-for-purpose. Yet at a time when there seems to be ever more cogent student and ECR recognition of the weighty cultural capital that exists at Goldsmiths, and indeed across the sector, the possibility of building a platform for revolutionary transformation is beleaguered. The support of the students for UCU strike actions has been impressive, but it sometimes appears to be the ambition of management to undermine and contain any enthusiasm for something outside of the market – the antiphrasic suggestion that student occupiers be offered a designated space for ‘occupations’ is only the most absurd of the developments.

On campuses across the world, the proliferation of activist groups, small zines, alternative publications, blogs, discussion groups, collaborations on research, cross-departmental alliances, drinking games and general conviviality suggests that the fight is not lost to the mandarins just yet. Over the last year the University for Strategic Optimism, to name just one local example, has run a series of samizdat lectures in banks, supermarkets, inside the police kettle and outside the Department of Business Innovation and Skills (responsible for ‘universities’, go figure). The UfSO[xvi] is another form of precarious peripatetic academy, and it is not without its problems, and its tactics are hotly contested within the collective. The classroom of course is also not something to be abandoned to the vocational-privatised alpha-beta and drone streaming system. In the occupation at Goldsmiths in November/December teaching continued in the occupied space, adjacent to the finance offices, with the quite reasonable proviso that any lecture be open to the public and a brief statement to this effect be made at the start of each hour. Sadly, some colleagues could not abide by this small condition – as if they were not already operating under many others. Still, many classes went ahead as scheduled, and only the finance office was forced to relocate, with some scabbing management figures getting overly excited and trying to barge their way through picket lines on the strike day.

Sure, the movement to re-imagine education remains embryonic, slandered as obstreperous by some, hysterical by others. The slow work of building a radical critical alternative is of course hindered and delayed by those with much to lose. But no-one doubts that a battle for space and ideas is underway, nor that an alternative to business-as-usual is at least on the table for discussion. This text itself was written in close contact with the #occupy movements’ Bank of Ideas in central London and the Goldsmiths occupiers. Asking there, alongside enthusiastic ECR readers of Capital, how long it takes to sweep aside the blockages to a new kind of university seems like a live question. I continue to seek signs of life and find them in class, never in committee. Walk around and take a look at the peripatetic academy as it generalises struggles globally: there is something to learn here if you look up from the paperwork.

- John Hutnyk (1/2012)


[i] Emma Jackson announced her departure from London to take up an appointment to a post in Glasgow in a recent article in the Huffington post: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/emma-jackson/peripatetic-teachers-rise-of_b_1174064.html – accessed 31.12.2011

[ii]  ‘A schoolmaster is a productive labourer, when, in addition to belabouring the heads of his scholars, he works like a horse to enrich the school proprietor. That the latter has laid out his capital in a teaching factory, instead of a sausage factory, does not alter the relation’ – Marx, Capital Vol 1,Ch 16

[iii] for example, in Australia: http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/News/2011/October/06101104.asp – accessed 3.1.2012

[iv] see Liz Thompson and Ben Rosenzweig, 2012 ‘Guest Consumer, Multicultural Patriotism and International Economy in Australia’ in John Hutnyk (ed) Beyond Borders, London: Pavement Books (forthcoming).

[vi] Theodor Adorno, 1969/1998 Critical Models, Interventions and Catchwords, New York: Columbia University Press. P.192-3.

[vii] Theodor Adorno 1991 The Culture Industry Reconsidered: Selected Essays on Mass Culture. London: Routledge. p105.

[viii] Ibid. p113.

[ix] Gayatri Chakravory Spivak, 1999 Critique of Postcolonial Reason: Towards a History of the Vanishing Present. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.

[x] Avital Ronell, 2002 Stupidity. Chicago: University of Illinois Press.

[xiii] http://wp.me/pcKI3-6c – last accessed 2.1.2012

[xv] Peter Sloterdijk, 1988 Critique of Cynical Reason. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Policy Documents

Exasperated by the proliferation of strategy documents and committee creep(s) here at college, I bothered to comment on one that hit my desktop today… here it is, just for the record (well, here is my comment, I presume the strategy itself is still only a draft, so i can’t post it):

Preamble. Learning and teaching! there is a huge disjunct between the preamble and the second and third parts. It is as if these were written by two different committees. The first part is from the corporate sector, the second a Goldsmiths person.

On the first part: At an institution like ours we have to link the distinctive research Goldsmiths’ academics do clearly with our teaching. This linkage should be a core value – we are different, we do things differently. That is why we are not SOAS or LSE/UCL etc, but it is also why we can compete with them – and its why we are the destination of choice for cultural studies – and for media, sociology, arts etc – because we do it differently and radically. Where is that in the statement? I would not exactly start with the so-called ‘values’ phrase ‘Radical and innov­at­ive thinking’ but I would search for a way to foreground this, and link this explicitly to teaching.
The place to really be sharp I think is in relation to the government imperative to get more bang for NO bucks – ‘Higher rates of annual participation accompanied by changing funding environments have placed new imperatives on the importance of demonstrating value for money — both in teaching and research’ – this sentence only mildly and implicitly questions the outrageous fraud of defunding higher education and turning it into a free gift of training for industry. The national education policy should be even more roundly criticised by a place like Goldsmiths and this must be a core value of our teaching, as it is in research. In an environment like this, it behoves us to speak out explicitly against these imperatives, not concede to them and restate them.
OK, I know that a T&L strategy is not going to be able to explicitly step up to this, but an angular take on ‘value for money’ might be more proactive about producing critical thinking, capable, ethically alert, educated students. Not just fodder for the sausage factory. Conceding the ground to a discussion of employability is faulty.
Two parts of the preamble also mention research. It might be good to get in some comment about responsible and critical research here too. The collaborative research might be read as working with industry, this must be tempered with responsibility, and it is something that deserves to be said much more often here. To simply give a free reign to any collaboration goes the way of corporate tie-ins, or worse.

“build on our record of world-leading and high impact research;
increase collaborative research, knowledge exchange and consultancy”

I find the second clause troubling if it does not come with a health warning vis a vis corporate opportunism. This also matters for teaching in a fundamental way. In the sciences companies like Riotinto have used ‘collaborative research’ and consultancy as a way in to having a say on curriculum, for example.
.
AIMS
Then we get to the meat section. This part is wholly different. Supportive statements and sensible, encouraging concerns for the student experience and so on. Here I have much less trouble with the wording – though sometimes things like ‘enterprise’ slip in (is this the starship enterprise, or something else?).
.
Focussing our aims
SA4 – employability speak starts to creep in a little, but it is largely OK. What is Synapse (link?) Who gets these gold Awards? [It may be that communication is really a missing link in all Goldsmiths does]
SA5 – global open access. This is great. For example, providing subsidised access to our electronic library holdings for students trapped in Gaza would be a way forward. I have tried n the past to get this on the SMT agenda. Maybe it is something GLUE could take up.
.
What is missing?
What I think is crucial for a L&T strategy is not at all a centralised resource. What is missing is an up-front commitment to deploy resource to departments. This no doubt is a common complaint from academics, but it is now beyond absurd that centralised administrative fiefdoms are in the business of mass dissemination of strategy documents that, if some meta-cognitive criticism might be warranted, seem only to allocate more and more work to departments, and more and more ‘meta-document writing’ to the self-perpetuating central admin sections. Among the things I can think of immediately that might be an alternative to all this would be that we need more resource within departments to teach PhD students – the calculation of staff time is insufficient for these students who require intensive attention. I mean, that is, if we are to teach them, say, to write. I think in the University we do a good job still of teaching to listen, teaching to repeat arguments, even to discuss and critique, but teaching to write takes time and one to one development of writing as an exchange between supervisor and student, as well as adequate time between supervisor and groups of students – say a writing seminar or the development of academic publications. I think we have had enough of the massive centralised effort to produce a glossy award-winning but alienated college-wide prospectus and centralised webpages always tightly controlled by design protocol. We should instead release funds to departments to free up staff time for increased writing supervisor-student sessions and for in-house scholarly publications which might also carry the prospectus, making the whole thing more attractive, critical and intellectually challenging.
So…
OK, so, I’ll stop, I know this is probably just typing in the wind. I won’t even correct the typos. Just needed to say this after a day of meetings that were fairly underwhelming.

Future Tense 18.5.2012

Goldsmiths Learning and Teaching Conference 2012

Date: Friday 18th May 2012, 9.00-4.30
Venue: Goldsmiths, University of London (find us)
Cost: Free – registration necessary

Goldsmiths Learning Enhancement Unit is hosting a conference to explore some of the key issues currently shaping higher education today. The event interrogates what familiar concepts such as ‘interdisciplinarity’ and ‘research-based teaching’ really mean in current practice, as well as contemplating technology-enabled futures for learning.

You will hear from individuals whose work in university departments is shaping, shifting or challenging existing learning and teaching activities. In an exciting collaboration, Martin Conreen, from Goldsmiths’ Design Department, and Mark Miodownik, the materials scientist from University College, London who gave the 2010 Royal Institute Christmas Lectures, will give a keynote presentation. Presenters include Melissa Benn, Linda Drew, John Hutnyk, Andrew Middleton and Richard Wingate.

The conference is open to all and we look forward to seeing you.
As tickets are limited, please only register if you intend to attend!

Register for Future Tense: Learning and Teaching Conference at Goldsmiths in London, United Kingdom  on Eventbrite

Register for Future Tense

More information on speakers and panels

Keynote  

Mark Miodownik (University College London) and Martin Conreen (Goldsmiths, Department of Design): The Importance of Stuff

Plenary

Richard Wingate (Kings College, London): Researcher-Led Teaching

Debate

Melissa Benn and Fiona Millar: Education and Equality?
Chaired by Francis Gilbert ( Goldsmiths, Department of English and Comparative Literature)

Panels

Free Learning – Web 2.0 and the Challenge to Higher Education
Andrew Middleton (Quality Enhancement and Student Success, Sheffield Hallam): Extending Learning Environments in Audio and Video
Mira Vogel (Goldsmiths Learning Enhancement Unit): Learning for Free? – The World of MOOCs
Crossing Borders – Interdisciplinarity in Action
Michael Dutton and John Reardon (Goldsmiths, Department of Politics): Politics/Art: Multi-Genre Learning and Teaching
Deirdre Osborne (Goldsmiths, Department of Theatre and Performance): Crossing Many Roots: the Notion of the Cross-Disciplinary MA
Squaring the Circle – Research/Teaching in Practice
Anna Carlile (Goldsmiths, Department of Educational Studies): The Illuminate Student-Researcher Programme
Michael Young and Anna Furse (Goldsmiths): Goldsmiths Perceptions of Research-Based Teaching
Pedagogics – Conceptual Approaches to Learning and Teaching
Linda Drew (Dean of Academic Development, Glasgow School of Art): Relational Pedagogy for Practice: Practical Pumps to Platforms
Kevin Molin (Goldsmiths, Department of Educational Studies): (Un)planned Talk
Student Consumers/Student Producers? The Student as Subject in Higher Education
Mary Karpel (Head of Work-based Learning, University of East London): Student-Centred Curriculum Development
Lucy Renton (Faculty Blended Learning Leader, Faculty Of Art, Design & Architecture, Kingston): Opening Out: Edgeless Virtual Learning Environments and Student Producers
Universities and the Real World — ‘Experience’ and Learning and Teaching
Adam Dinham ( Goldsmiths, Faiths & Civil Society Unit): A Role for Religion in Higher Education?
John Hutnyk (Goldsmiths, Centre for Cultural Studies): ‘Workers Inquiry’ and the Teaching Factory – A Cultural Studies Position
Slides Rules and Realist Novels: Continuities in Learning and Teaching
Rory Allen (Goldsmiths, Department of Psychology): Like the Slide Rule: Teaching Statistics
Christine Eastman (Institute for Work Based Learning, Middlesex): Charles Dickens and Work-Based Learning – a Case Study
Assessment and Learning
Marco Gillies (Goldsmiths, Department of Computing):  Between the real and the virtual: assessment and feedback in Computing
Vanessa King (Goldsmiths, Department of History): Assessment in History

Workshops

Deb Astell and Brigitte Parusel (Capture Arts): The Capture System – Creative Thinking, Learning and Teaching
Caroline Frizell (Goldsmiths, Dance Movement Psychotherapy, in the Department of Professional and Community Education): Body-Based Experiential Learning

Find out more

Please address queries to gleu@gold.ac.uk.

More information on speakers and panels 

 includes my bit, in the panel with Adam:
John Hutnyk (Goldsmiths, Centre for Cultural Studies)
‘Workers Inquiry’ and the Teaching Factory – A Cultural Studies Position
I want to focus primarily on the development of workers inquiry or co-research. First called a parallel sociology, which owes debts to Adorno, via the work of Panzieri in the journal Quaderni Rossi (Wright 2002:21). Alongside this, from outside the labour movement, the collection of oral histories and questionnaires of the ‘poverty-stricken’ came to be known as co-research. I think we can trace this work back to the figure of the Factory Inspector Leonard Horner as described by Marx in his chapter on ‘The Working Day’ in Capital.
Today, workers inquiry in the autonomy tradition works at that field where the socialized worker may recognize themselves and their work – immaterial labour, affective labour, attention, virtual, precarious, productive consumption, communications, symbolic play, shit work mixed with temporary, flexible, diversified, collaborative, remote, transitory and itinerant labour –as subject to, and thereby organized against, capital and capitalists. The bourgeoisie can only recognize itself through the state, as orthodox Marxism would have it, and needs institutionalized sociologists and anthropologists to articulate its self-image (this is another trap of the teaching factory) but workers inquiry is necessary collective, participatory and self-organized. Here a responsibility to oneself as part of a project offers a different outlook on social research than does the control orders of disciplinary knowledge. So maybe we can explore the idea of breaking with the order words and hierarchy of knowledges where cultural studies might sidestep the requirement of working for the man (in order to work for the human).
Reading: 
Steve Wright Storming Heaven Pluto Press. 2002 – chapter 2
Marx ‘The Working Day’ – chapter 10 of Capital. 1867
Additional Reading: 
Wright, 2000 Storming Heaven, London: Pluto. Ch 2.
Kolinko 1999 Hotlines: Call Centre Communism – http://www.nadir.org/nadir/initiativ/kolinko/lebuk/e_lebuk.htm
Dowling, Emma, R. Nunes & B. Trott (eds) special issue on Affective Labour in Ephemera http://www.ephemeraweb.org/journal/7-1/7-1index.htm
Shukaitus, Stevphen and David Graeber 2007 Constituent Imagination: Militant Investigations, Collective Theorization AK Press.
Kracauer, Siegfried 1930 The Salaried Masses London: Verso 1998

Austerity, what austerity?

I am trying to keep my disapproval of this polite. Did Goldsmiths win the Grand Prix? There is no other excuse for the G-brand magnums these good ol boys are pumping.

[the photo is the publicity shot to announce a partnership agreement with Lasalle in Singapore: http://www.gold.ac.uk/news/pressrelease/?releaseID=932]

Leonard Horner Hall

Since one of the first (positive) mentions of a really existing individual in Marx’s Capital is Leonard Horner, we should find out a little about this fellow who will not be forgotten…: ‘Leonard Horner was one of the Factory Inquiry Commissioners in 1833, and Inspector, or rather Censor of Factories till 1859. He rendered undying service to the English working class. He carried on a life-long contest, not only with the embittered manufacturers, but also with the Cabinet’ (Marx)

Patrick Corbett (Heriot-Watt University) recently took part in the Society’s Chartership programme as a scrutineer. Interestingly, the Society had chosen to host the meeting in the Leonard Horner Hall at Heriot-Watt University ….

Geoscientist 20.4 April 2010

Leonard Horner entered Edinburgh in 1799 at the age of 14 and learned, among other subjects, mineralogy – which stimulated a lifetime interest in geology. After leaving university he spent a quarter of a century as a linen merchant, travelling extensively and keeping up his intellectual interests. During this time became a fellow of the Geological Society (in the second year of its existence, 1808), was Secretary (1810-14) and twice President (1845-46, 1860-61). His first paper to the society was “On the mineralogy of the Malvern Hills”. In 1835 he helped initiate the Geological Survey of Great Britain. In his obituary W.J Hamilton, then President, recorded that Horner possessed a “cautious manner in which he avoids a too hasty generalisation” and concluded that he had laid the foundation of the principles that Murchison and Sedgwick subsequently applied to understanding the Palaeozoic rocks. Charles Lyell was obviously influenced by Horner, as the former married the latter’s daughter, Mary. He did much to promote a wider public interest in geology. After he retired as “the Inspector General of Factories” at age 74 in 1859, in the five years before his death, he spent time rearranging and cataloguing the Society’s museum collection.

In 1821, Horner founded the Edinburgh School of Arts (the first ever Mechanics’ Institute – for training skilled artisans) to promote high academic standards for the élite while extending useful knowledge to the labouring classes. Its prospectus stated the objectives “for the purpose of enabling industrious Tradesman to become acquainted with such principles of mechanics, chemistry and other branches of science as are of practical application in several trades”. Classes were held in the evening and included mineralogy for tradesmen working in the textiles industry for use in dye-making.

Karl Marx admired the work of Horner as a reforming factory inspector and eulogised that “his services to the English working classes will never be forgotten. He carried on a life-long contest, not only with the embittered manufacturers, but also with the cabinet”. In 1827, Horner was also invited to be the warden of the new University of London. He was effectively both Vice-chancellor (Principal) and Secretary of the new University. From this position of patronage, he was able to invite Charles Lyell to the chair of mineralogy at King’s College London in 1828.

The Edinburgh College of Arts was the progenitor institution from which Heriot-Watt University was created in 1966. Today the University retains the ethos of teaching practical subjects in a way that people in industry can participate, through international distance learning programmes – very much in the style of Leonard Horner – one of the founding fathers. I suspect Leonard Horner would have approved of the idea of professionalism (which is now embedded in Chartership and rather more evidence-based than in his day!) and the need for Continuing Professional Development .

Further reading

O’Farrell, P.N., 2004 Heriot-Watt University, An Illustrated History, Pearson Education, 511pp. Watch out for Patrick’s next book, a biography of Leonard Horner, the research for which has involved him in many happy hours in the Burlington House Library.

http://www.geolsoc.org.uk/gsl/pid/7349;jsessionid=3990B0009259ABF0F9F646D2EB19AC74
If the past is the key to your present interests, why not join the History of Geology Group (HOGG)? For more information and to read the latest HOGG newsletter, visit the HOGG website at: www.geolsoc.org.uk/hogg.]

Horeners letters – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Memoir-Leonard-Horner-F-R-S-Paperback/dp/1108072844/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1327674881&sr=8-2

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