I went to the occupation last weekend. It was good to see such a mix of people, black, white, women and men. The atmosphere was good and people were quite friendly. However it was mostly students or ex-students there and it was mostly a middle class group of people. the events like Easter Egg Hunt and Poetry Jam reflect how it seems the NUS Ents officer is the most active part of the students there. I don't want to dismiss this however as doing what you love should be the basis of any revolution. However, reproducing our own alienation through bourgeois notions of leisure time or holiday, is not this by any means.
The absense of other workers - even the voice or representation - of the most exploited workers eg cleaners and other staff is a big problem and is reflected in the limitations of the demands of the occupation. The demands of the occupation are of course the main point of organisation and negotiation with the authorities. and also with discussions with other workers and people such as myself coming in from outside.
The main demand and point of negotiation is the foundation course not to be scrapped. this is the point of contention that has begun this occupation. we should first note that the scrapping of the foundation course is just one of the millions of ways in which the neoliberal so-called Global Educational Reform Movement. GERM is transforming education into a massive industry not just in universities but also from primary education upwards, not just in London but the whole world. fighting this one thing is not enough - GERM needs challenging in its totality in conjunction with other unions and workers internationally. To this end the occupation is making some links with other occupations and students movements, Montreal, in Italy... these links should be formalised. the demand to keep foundation therefore is just a starting point and may even be ditched as stronger positions are formulated.
The next demand i recall is for free education. this echos the National Union of Students - but also other parts of the workers union movements in education eg the National Union of Teachers demand for education as a human right. These demands of course are to the authorities and to the state to provide free education through fiscal ie governmental spending through taxation revenue. The exclusion of the other exploited workers of the university comes to be a big problem in relation to this demand.
Also, the question of education itself needs discussing. Another demand "No to Instituational racism" makes a more important point with regard to the demand to free education and that is the demand to "liberate the curriculum". To free the curriculum from white male bourgeois supremacism we cannot rely on the white male bourgeois authorities. For this we need to begin creating a Curriculum for Liberation. And this needs to be in conjunction with other workers and not limited by national unions.
Education - not just in the recent arc of GERM reforms - in the recent arc of privatisation - but education always has been just the production of the ideology of the ruling class. Education is just the reproduction of what is known. We must go beyond this. But it is no longer enough to abandon all efforts at pedagogical action and move toward experimental activity. Pedagogical experiments such as the famed Course A of 1969 in the Sculpture Department at St. Martins, do not inspire. We do not need middle class white men to experiment on us.
So what is valuable in education? What can be freed? If education is the removal of the worker from, or preparation for, the workplace then there is this time and space away from work which creates a valuable space in class. If we see education as indeed a form of work - as the production of ideology of psychic production - then it is the allocation of resources of money. In any case it is the access to resources that education provides. Time, space and the access to class - to the production of other workers. The occupation is a seizing of resources also - of space and time. It is this that serves not as a demand but as work, as production of something different.
one of the resources liberated by the occupation is the photocopier which when i visited was producing agit prop. A zine is in production. I hope this will continue the development of the discussions and the demands we have -most importantly of each other - and i hope this report can also be part of that. Agitprop should be addressed to other workers - not just other students.
The digital presence of the occupation, maintained through liberated equipment also must develop on from social networks of facebook and twitter. To this end I suggest Wikiversity and Wikimedia Commons. These are established frameworks which have an explicit mission to provide free access to educational resources. If we are to go beyond education as a factory of ideology as being brainwashed and reproducing bourgeois propaganda - then we need to use existing frameworks and create new associations, occupations, commons, psychic workers unions, free universities such as the Free Universities of the 60s, which centre on and go beyond the space time and class of the current occupation, to be able to make constant connections with other workers - other spaces, times and classes in a collaborative production of psychic space, the general intellect.
dx <at> antisystemic.org
Free education/My visit to Occupy UAL
- Written by DAMTP