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The Student Handjob

October 26, 2011
London police get an education

London police get an education

Download a Student Handjob here.

Do you despise your gods? Have you filled your mouth with gin and butter, howled like a mangy fool at the disappearing prospect of the future? Good, good times, best times these. Filled the right forms, pressed the right buttons, wearing the correct underpants? Cleaned your teeth, said the right prayers, sanitised your Facebook page, adopted a fashionable hairstyle like all the other good girls and boys?

Over the next however many years we assume that you’ll organise riots, explode information bombs, blackmail university managers, take real cool drugs, cheat the benefit system, barely work, steal prolifically, love manically, and learn to see a sorrowful new dawn with the grand, burnt retinas of highly deranged professors. The university, like the job market, like the economy, like too many things now is just a myth that most people consent to out of a combination of charming naivety and a grotesque lack of imagination. Learn to walk and talk with a nose-peg. We don’t claim to know anything whatsoever but this guide might teach you a few new tricks.

University is all about turning tricks, anyway. Isn’t it? Is it? Should it be? Partly? Is the knowledge brothel really safer than the street corner? Anyway, we don’t hate the university. In fact, we are some of its biggest fans, which is why we want it to stop being a dick. Or a pissing contest. Or a madame, a pimp. A prophylactic against wage slavery maybe. Anyway, anyway, welcome, welcome, friends, foes, strangers and even strangerers, to the radical – so radical it’s fucking bodacious – student handbook for students, etc….

About:

For several months the UfSO has been working on a top-secret project, in the form of an ‘alternative’, ‘radical’ student handbook. The text is divided up in classic handbook style – into sections dealing with a range of issues of direct concern to us as students: from racism to drugs, from plagiarism to internships, from debt and the political economy of student finance to pedagogy and the experience of finding oneself studying in a new place.

Each section can be read separately, or as part of a coherent and building whole. The text was collectively written and re-written in its entirety, with illustrations stolen from détourned university prospectuses and educational materials. The creation of the pamphlet itself is intended as a political intervention on three levels:

Firstly it is an attempt at propagating and passing on the struggles that we in the UfSO have undertaken over the course of our own university lives, informing those struggles that will unfold from within the following influxes of ‘students’, in the broadest possible sense. It is for this reason that the initial free release of the Handjob took place at university Fresher’s Fairs across London and beyond, from the 21st September 2011 – placing the knowledge of the last few years’ struggles in the hands of the very newest recruits to the knowledge factory. Simultaneously the text was released for free download online from a dedicated blog.

The precise form that the initial pamphlet took was of vital importance for this task. Our own input was consciously dissolved into the movement of which we were a part. It was for this reason that the texts were completely collectively written, so that no authorial voice, or sectarian persuasion could dominate. It was for this reason that the Handjob adopts a self-consciously practical, even didactic style, but also a belligerent irreverence, in an attempt to cut through stale speculations and the remote political prevarications as they currently exist on campuses everywhere. It was also for this reason that the initial pamphlet of the Handjob was completely self-produced and self-published – anonymously – for free circulation. This was intended as a communist text. It was felt that this would best reflect the fact that its analysis emerged organically from the practical activities of the movement itself, and was not in the first instance an attempt at mediating it, abstracting it, representing it, reifying it, or shaping it to conform with the imperatives of individualisation, equivalence and exchange that govern the elaboration of knowledge our current society. We did not want it to be seen as an attempt to garner social capital for ourselves, from the activities of a movement we sought to articulate but never to represent.

Clandestine hijacked launch party in Limehouse.

Clandestine hijacked launch party in Limehouse.

It keeping with this, it was decided that beyond the Freshers’ Fairs, the official launch should be a clandestine affair, thus a party of fellow travellers, the Space Hijackers on the 8th October was hijacked as a space in which to celebrate and disseminate, again anonymously, this collectively-elaborated text. Free copies were distributed amongst party guests, with free UfSO condoms attached – promoting one of the more enjoyable forms of practico-theoretical activity. Posters announcing the text, and a website where it could be downloaded for free were plastered around the party, Limehouse and London more widely.

studetnhandjob

Secondly, the text having infiltrated and circulated organically and anonymously amongst its intended constituency – those struggling within universities for a better society – for around a month, the time came for phase two of the plan. As of the 25th October the text is now released in a more ‘traditional’ book format as Undressing the Academy, or the Student Handjob (ISBN:2044-8589) , credited to the UfSO (both free online, or as a hard copy, through Autonomedia imprint Minor Compositions). This is both to facilitate greater international circulation of the text, but more importantly, to present a direct, practical critique of the form of knowledge production as it exists within the university model, contrasting this alienated appearance of our activities – its entry into systems of exchange, categorisation and ontological fixing – with that already produced in the autonomous production and circulation of the texts. It is intended an immanent antagonism of the academy and doubtless makes uncomfortable reading for a few. Needless to say, we will not profit from this venture.

Thirdly, and finally, the production process itself was a (we think successful) experiment in collective production – that it is to say, both collectively producing something, together, but also the production of a collective. It was an immanent practico-theoretical analysis of production and identity, examined through the conditions of possibility for collective subjectivation that occurred within this process. Polyphonic and hallucinatory, it was something that changed us in the process.

millbank

A few hundred copies of the initial pamphlet form of the text exist out there in circulation – if you can get your hands on one. Alternatively hard copies are available through Minor Compositions and at your local radical bookshop. Otherwise, of course, it can be downloaded for free here > The Student Handjob.

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