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Goldsmiths and the Racist Attacks On Staff and Students

October 30, 2012

A meeting to organise against immigration controls on campus.

Wednesday 31st October // 1pm // Goldsmiths, outdoor square in the centre of Richard Hoggart Building (by the canteen) //

All welcome!

Goldsmiths Migration Solidarity

Following from the government’s election pledge, seeking to pander to racists and xenophobes, that immigration would be reduced by 90%, international students have been targeted as a way of implementing these reductions. These changes have happened alongside a privatization agenda that seeks to make education make money for those that already have the majority of it. The relationship between these twofold aims – reduction of immigration and privatization – is by no means clear or non-contradictory. The removal of state funding for higher Ed intensified the need for universities to recruit international students so that the shortfall in funding might be patched up by the premium paid by international students. However, the atrocious and exploitative treatment of international students has intensified despite the increased need for their money. The UKBA recently saw fit to remove London Metropolitan University’s ability to sponsor visas because of perceived faults in their surveillance of the international students enrolled there. Thousands of students were forced into the precarious position of awaiting the appeal against this decision, finding other universities who would allow them to continue, or terminating their studies and leaving the country. That this has occurred first at London Met is telling, both because it has more students of colour than the entirety of the Russell Group Universities, and also because it was being positioned at the forefront of experiments in the privatization of Higher Ed.

Three years ago, when the government announced its intention to make university professors act as border agents by forwarding attendance records to the UKBA, staff and students at Goldsmiths built a strong campaign and publicly refused to comply. Goldsmiths members of the UCU have reaffirmed this position of non-compliance with a recent statement. The removal of the London Met’s right to issue visas is designed to send a clear warning to other universities. Goldsmiths Senior Management, in response to this, have hired a UKBA compliance officer to ensure the university fulfills the racist and fear-mongering techniques of border building and classroom surveillance stipulated by the state. We refuse the false divisions between staff and students, or between international and home.

We will not be complicit. We will not comply.

Read more…

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Notes on What a Radical Pedagogy Might Feel Like

September 3, 2012

OT17 cover

In this month’s issue of the regular newspaper of Occupy London, the Occupied Times, esteemed UfSO professor Shelley Hydra considers what radical pedagogy might feel like.

Get hold of a copy, or read it online here: Occupied Times #17. Alternatively, we’ve made a PDF of the article itself available: notes on what a radical pedagogy might feel like.

 

 

Statement Concerning Events at London Met

August 31, 2012

As students of the UfSO, and as internationalists, we extend our solidarity to the unjustly-maligned students of London Metropolitan University.

These students, through no fault of their own, are having their lives potentially seriously damaged. Why? As a result of the pathetic attempt to scoop a racist headline on the part of an illegitimate government of rich. This governement of the rich, who toy with students’ lives in order to massage their arbitrary immigration targets, are the same rich who themselves are able to travel at will, and who have already bought their way into the ‘best’ universities. They deserve, and indeed receive, nothing but our utmost contempt.

Yet this is more than a heartless piece of figure-massaging. There is a real danger that this is a thinly-veiled attempt at pushing for the full privatisation – under the guise of rescue – of a university already betrothed to a host of the familiar outsourcing parasites we have come to know and loathe. Meanwhile it reeks of an opportunist attack on a university with one of the broadest intakes of students in the country, and some callous attempt to ram home the malicious, elitist dream of a two-tier higher education system.

Make no mistake, part of their class plan, when introducing, and then raising fees to exorbitant levels, was not only the marketisation of university, but also the degradation of critical thinking, and its enclosure in the hands of a few members of their trusted class. Now they are pushing an agenda that seeks to forcibly divide higher education – under-resourced, private training camps for the masses, ivory-white towers, with wet-dreaming spires for the few.

We say no! When they wanted to shift the burden of paying for education from society to the student, it was the international student they came for first. We did not resist and they came for the rest. Not only are they fully prepared to ruin several thousand people’s lives, simply in order to look tough to morons in thrall to the tabloid ballot-box fiction of pseudo-democratic piggy politics. If they succeed here, they will potentially use their bureaucratic horseshit over immigration to financially undermine any university they please, deploying it as a weapon to further their privatisation agenda. Having turned higher education into an international marketplace, they no doubt will seek to use the financial instability caused by this as cover for further marketisation. They seek to use the increasingly crisis-prone folly of an already over-marketised system to further the cause of marketisation – where have we heard that before? In this they see international students as nothing but cannon fodder in their class war. They want to make pawns of people’s lives for their pathetic, cowardly and racist agenda, an agenda they will inflict under the tattered, union jack umbrella of popular jingoism that so often characterises this jaded, spiteful country.

As the real bogus students of the UfSO, we extend our solidarity to the falsely decried students, suffering the life-ruining personal consequences of the risible, racist manipulations of a powerful clique intent on divide and rule. Fuck that, and fuck the nondescript camp-guards of the UKBA (the Bureaucratic Arsehole division of the Unaccountable Kingdom) who enforce this trash.

  • We demand the immediate removal of any threat of deportation for any London Met. students.
  • We call for the non-co-operation of all universities, their staff and students, in the enforcement of the government’s racist policing of international students. Are we here to learn and teach, or to act as the government’s proxy border police force?
  • We politely request that the NUS cease pretending to represent the interests of students and admit that their organisation is a hatchery for sycophants seeking to suck and lick their way into parliamentary politics. Or else prove us wrong. No? Didn’t think so.
  • We call for the abolition of the UKBA and the resignation, followed preferably by the jailing, of this entire illegitimate and dangerous government. It is not fit for purpose.

Love,

the interminable committee of The University for Strategic Optimism

xx

The Indigenous Commons // 26/06 5pm // Goldsmiths

June 16, 2012

EVENT: The Indigenous Commons

26th June // 5pm // RHB 251 // Goldsmiths, University of London

Dr. Stephen Turner (University of Auckland)

In association with Centre for Cultural Studies and Centre for Postcolonial Studies 

No registration necessary, Drinks to follow

 

The Indigenous Commons of Aoteroa New Zealand

In the context of the worldwide Occupy movement, what does it mean to occupy an already occupied country?  It suggests a recovery, however temporary, of common space, which in Aotearoa New Zealand is inseparable from a notion of an Indigenous commons. The basis of such a commons is the long history of Maori inhabitation of the country, which encompasses the short history of non-Maori (Pakeha) occupation.  The ontological substrate of long history, encompassing multiple lands, peoples and histories, asks everybody to consider the grounds on which they stand.  At base, these are grounds of Indigenous right which cannot be extended by the nation-state, whose authority is questioned on the still-existing grounds of long history.  Based in reciprocity rather than rights, relations not entities, attributes not properties, Maori sovereignty suggests a right way and right-of-way – tikanga. Tikanga (tika means ‘right) does not imply human rights but the right way to go about the place, in terms of which the ordinary people of the place (‘Maori’ means ordinary) consider that they flourish.  The idea of an existing law that would, and did in retrospect, secure that ‘right’ is what I call ‘first law’, following Maori commentators; its latter-day expression is the possibility of a ‘full law’, which binds material and spiritual worlds in the mind-heart of Maori community. The mind-heart of place-based community, and the host-guest relation that initiates strangers, is what non-Maori (Pakeha) are asked to subscribe to as second-comers.

 

Collective well-being, now inscribed in the Indigenous-minded constitutions of Bolivia and Equador, depends more deeply on a sense of injury and lack of care than a violation of more instrumental human rights. In New Zealand the deficits of settler ignorance are threefold: a constitutional deficit, due to an acknowledged but unenforceable nineteenth-century Treaty; an historiographical deficit, where long history is read in terms of short history of a nation-state coming-to-be; and an existential deficit, where majority Pakeha act out of dread and, more recently, terror, in the face of Indigenous claims to independence. As against an economistic political economy of settler identity, where property and individual rights follow the nation-state’s self-assertion, I pose the challenge of consubstantial sovereignty, and post-capital politics. Occupy in New Zealand recalls an already occupied country, an Indigenous commons, today shared by others, but rent by parliamentary enclosure and representative segregation. Granting Maori an ontological alterity is insufficiently attentive to this commonly shared place, and to the non-state grounds of its political constitution. Nor does collective well-being oppose capital as such, but rather opposes settler-centricity and claims to co-equal indigeneity. I thereby consider the political, cultural and economic implications of attribute- rather property-based Indigenous rights.  And because the constitution of the state refuses the ontological substrate of long history, which is its whole human inhabitation, I consider the possibility of constitutionalising non-state Indigenous relations, as a means of exit from the compulsory nationalism of settler-colonialism.

Stephen Turner

University of Auckland

 

Part of the Postgraduate Conference: Taking Up Space

Taking up Space  — Cultural Studies Postgraduate Event 
25th – 26th June 2012

Centre for Cultural Studies (CCS) / MA in Cultural Studies

A one/two day conference exploring the meaning and understanding of space in its physical manifestations as well as in its discursive forms; through which identity, meaning, value and authority can be mapped in particular ways.

http://takingupspace2012.blogspot.co.uk/

 

Goldsmiths location and campus map: http://www.gold.ac.uk/find-us/

Enquiries: john.hutnyk@gold.ac.uk

London Plan C: Support Night for CLASSE (Quebec)

June 10, 2012



An invitation to an evening in support of CLASSE (Quebec)

Event: Support Night for CLASSE Quebec
Date: Friday 22 June
Time: 7pm
Address: 21 Gloucester Place, London W1U 8HR (nearest tube: Marble Arch)

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:
http://www.edu-factory.org/wp/urgent-appeal-from-classe-in-quebec/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

—————————

Solidarity Letter to our comrades in Quebec,

Your defiance and rebellion is beautiful. We watch in awe as you take to the
streets night after night, day after day – filling it, making it yours. We
send you our thoughts and our warmest solidarity. Your courage and tenacity
ignites our resolve. We are, after all, like you.

Like you we suffer the relentless erosion of our livelihoods, like you we are
afflicted by an unending vandalism wrought upon even the vaguest dream for a
future not dictated by those who would keep us precarious. We too are facing a
brave new world of austerity, shock economics and class war. Living under the
militarised rule of capital, with ever-escalating police violence against
anyone who says Enough is Enough! and takes to our city streets and squares to
protest, rebel and reclaim their dignity.

Across much of the globe as here in the UK, the University is being ever-more
rationalised and managerialised. Key performance indicators, imposed not for
the pursuit of knowledge, but for the pursuit of profit and for hierarchies of
prestige, beholden to empty performance metrics and the enclosures of
privatisation. A barren training ground for individualised competition between
students vying to become the most employable in a labour market that can’t
keep its promise. A University these ‘visionaries’ are making unaffordable
for all but the privileged few, at the same time as they are depriving it of
the rich creativity and joy that learning together can bring. We listen and
know that this logic is intensifying everywhere: California to Quebec, Auckland
to Oakland, London and San Miguel.

Your mass defiance and outright refusal give us hope in this moment of fear and
frustration. We see you fight and remember that we too fought, and know that we
can, and will, fight again. We stand together, not only to defend what is being
taken away from us, but to create the kind of world we want to live in.

We are raising funds for your legal battles, hoping to contribute in some small
way to your struggle. Know that our thoughts and dreams are with you.

In solidarity,

Plan C London & Leeds

——————————

———-

What is Plan C?

We have come together to find a common ground to fight for the world we need
and for the world we want: to construct a space for political organisation, a
space where we can explore and experiment with different forms of political
practice, organisation and activity. A space for everyone who is interested not
just in what is possible, but in what is necessary.

Plan C is an open organisation. Not in the sense that it’s a free-for-all, or
that anything goes. Rather, Plan C is open to working with other groups and
individuals, we are open to trying new practices and new forms of struggle; we
are open in our analysis and in acknowledging mistakes. We take on a critical
stance to our involvement, whilst allowing space for experimentation; If we
fail, we hope to fail better.

At the heart of Plan C is a focus on ‘social reproduction’. By social
reproduction we mean two things. First, the ways in which we are produced and
reproduced as workers for capitalism (whether waged or unwaged), and at the
same time the ways in which we produce and reproduce ourselves as human beings
— creative, playful, attentive, loving, self-organising, and productive.
Second, a focus on all the things that are necessary for a good life, like
decent housing, health care, education, a sustainable environment, decent food
and access to networks of care and support. We think that orientating our
politics around social reproduction opens up important questions,
contradictions and perspectives already present in our day to day lives.

Concretely, Plan C is three things: it is an organisation, focused on building
our collective power. It is also a network, with local groups in Leeds,
Manchester and London (so far), all experimenting with new politics and new
practices in different ways and in conversation with one another. And finally
it is a perspective — experimental, antagonistic and open, yet rooted in the
question of social reproduction as the key question that we, as
revolutionaries, must address. We think that this perspective, which opens up a
multitude of plans against capitalism, is one that needs to be taken seriously
by all those interested in a life beyond capitalism.

Any questions, or more info, contact us at: london@weareplanc.org

Some preliminary notes on hope and radical pedagogy

June 4, 2012

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Hello again! Although you might think we have disappeared, another victim of excessive utopianism, “le petit mort” of the student/protest/occupy movement which failed to impregnate a Tory state with its pants hanging round its ankles and deliver a revolution…it’s not true! We were always a non-heirarchical, nomadic, copyright-free “meme” that we felt could be shared by all, and we shared an idea(l) of education with countless other ‘”free schools/universities” across the country. Yes, the energy of the movement has gone from boil to simmer, but it’s not over yet. There is a strange tension in the air, we are waiting for our opportunity again – a revolution needs the right material conditions, and strategy is still absolutely crucial. While we wait we prepare, and disappear back into society, watching, learning, reading, talking, working, arguing, experimenting…this isn’t a weakness, it’s a strength. As a part of the intellectual strata of this capitalist society, we must prepare the right ideas so that when the time comes, we have something to contribute, these ideas then become reality and exert a material force. Two quotes from two extreme ends of the left-right spectrum:

‘Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are around…our basic function [is therefore] to develop alternatives to existing policies…until the politically impossible becomes the politically inevitable.’ (Milton Friedman; in Stuart Hall, 2011: 707)

 ‘The weapon of criticism cannot, of course, supplant the criticism of weapons, material force must be overthrown by material force. But theory, too, will become a material force as soon as it seizes the masses.’ (Marx, in Perry 2002: 41)

The two quotes together remind us that on the one hand, ideas are very important, but on the other, the hard work of political struggle must be done as well, in order to get to the point when ideas become crucial. The problem that we “radical” intellectuals have is that we are full of anxiety about our class position. Are we radical if we have the luxury of a good education and the time to read, write and think? Are we middle class if we have a phd? Are lecturers “real workers”? At what point do we become bourgeois, when we become professors? And so on. This anxiety usually leads to one of two solutions: preaching to a working-class that never actually comes to your lectures on radical theory, or giving up real politics altogether and disappearing into theory (and the nice office with a locked door through which even one’s own students aren’t welcome).

To combat this political dead-end, we must return to Gramsci. (Yes, it’s hegemony again, sorry Scott Lash). Gramsci relentlessly explored the problem of intellectuals in capitalist society. He distinguished between traditional and organic intellectuals. The former are the kind that has decided they exist somewhere outside of class society, and they pursue knowledge for knowledge’s sake, free from political bias. Of course, we all know that the apolitical is still political in a capitalist society – it’s function is an extremely insipid reproduction of the status quo. Organic intellectuals are spontaneously produced out of definite class positions. This means that the capitalist class produces them (entrepreneurs, consultants, think-tanks, etc) and so does the working-class. The latter kind is personified in the history of British cultural studies and radical history, starting with Raymond Williams, E.P. Thompson, Richard Hoggart. In a very interesting article, Cultural Studies and its Theoretical Legacies, Stuart Hall describes the deeper, political intention of the CCS at Birmingham as trying to produce an organic intellectual:

‘There is no doubt in my mind that we were trying to find an institutional practice in cultural studies that might produce an organic intellectual. We didn’t know previously what that would mean, in the context of Britain in the 1970s, and we weren’t sure we would recognize him or her if we managed to produce it. The problem about the concept of an organic intellectual is that it appears to align intellectuals with an emerging historic movement and we couldn’t tell then, and can hardly tell now, where that emerging historical movement was to be found. We were organic intellectuals without any organic point of reference; organic intellectuals with a nostalgia or will or hope (to use Gramsci’s phrase from another context) that at some point we would be prepared in intellectual work for that kind of relationship, if such a conjuncture ever appeared. More truthfully, we were prepared to imagine or model or simulate such a relationship in its absence: “pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will.’ (Hall, 1992)

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The important thing to remember about the original “holy trinity” of British cultural studies (Williams, Hoggart, Thompson) is that they wrote their first books while teaching adult education in various parts of the country. They weren’t yet traditional intellectuals. And now I can come to the point of this post; as intellectuals, especially if we haven’t yet become absorbed, neutralised and ossified in the academy, we have an important political function above and in a sense below the production of theory. We can produce a network of real radical education, right now, which might have a chance of producing organic intellectuals and will certainly contribute to the creation and maintenance of a counter-hegemony.

And I’m not talking of some glamorous Occupy temporary tent in the middle of London or New York, which will only produce a temporary excitement and tourist feeling. I’m on about starting from scratch, in shitty areas, helping with literacy, numeracy, job applications, letters to the government, creative writing, etc. I know there is already an institutionalised version of this, with free classes supplied by local councils. But these have a function and a style tailored for the reproduction of existing social relations – more than anything, they style of teaching and bureaucratic apparatus behind this teaching disempowers people and (re-)trains them for obedience to the ruling-class hegemony and political apathy.

What I’m talking about is training. I have worked in a shit job for the year or so and hated it. But I have also been working my way into a teaching career. I love teaching. I still hate the fact that it is a job. I still hate the university as a racist and authoritarian elitist institution (that is leading the way in the exploitation of its mostly precarious work-force). I’m also terrified of becoming that which I hate. But I have also realised in the transition from one type of work to another that each type of work has its own radical possibilities. My office job just wasn’t my material reality, I am a member of the intellectual lower middle-class. I don’t need to be ashamed of this. What I shouldn’t do is either pretend I am working-class white collar, or now seize my opportunity for a safe and complacent academic career. I somehow feel that I have found my material conditions relative to my class, and have a renewed sense of political purpose. In the transition from being an unemployed graduate student in London to returning to the midlands and working, I didn’t know how to be radical anymore. Now I know.

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My plan now is to begin an apprenticeship in radical pedagogy. As part of my institutional training, I need to gain teaching qualifications. But as well as this, I am learning to teach English as a foreign language, and will soon hopefully do a DTLLS so that I can teach literacy and numeracy. You might ask, ‘why bother learning the methods of the Ideological State Apparatus’ – the answer is I’m not sure. On the one hand, this is my career path, but on the other it seems important that I don’t short sell people who really want and need this knowledge. I mean, I cannot bring my radical ideas to a group of people who desperately need a job, can’t write a CV or speak English, and need to tick a box in an application process.

But this institutional path will hopefully be counter-balanced by a totally de-institutionalised exploration of radical pedagogy. The two should compliment each other, but in a certain direction. I should take from the institution, never exploit students for the advancement of ideological education. This will be a very hard line to negotiate. This deinstitutionalised education would offer the same things if needed, but in a way that empowers the student, beings them to critical consciousness, teaches them to teach themselves. This way also allows the teacher to learn from the student, which is important to keep the direction radical, not exploitative.

This deinstitutionalised education comes from the experience and writings of people like Paulo Freire, John Dewey, Ivan Illich. But also the work we did early on in the UfSO, based on intuition and direct experience of bad education and the struggle for equality within our own version. I’m hopefully going to write about these ideas in more concrete detail on this blog. You might complain that these thinkers aren’t left-wing, or Marxist, or whatever. I might be wrong about this, but I currently believe that education is in a sense prior to politics and ideology. The aim of education is to produce critical consciousness, and I don’t think it’s necessarily good to teach an ideology, even if it is anti-capitalist, or even to teach from an ideological position. I think the future of radical politics lies in the achievement of a critical popular consciousness that will crystallise a new and powerful hegemony. This could lead to a true democracy, a socialist utopia, or just a much-needed improvement in the existing social relations. I don’t know. That kind of explicit political struggle and battle of ideas should take place along side these kinds of bottom-up long-term projects.

Why am I telling you all this? Because I’m excited. But also to try to fight this feeling of apathy after a another supposed failed revolution. Don’t believe the hype. That’s what the ruling classes want us to feel. We are actually all still involved somehow, somewhere, in some important way. We should all communicate more, outside existing channels, create new and better networks. This would really fight the apathy. We are all in this together, no matter which side of the fence. It is the responsibility of all of us to do what we think is right in a way that feels right. The transformation of society will come from all angles, maybe slowly, maybe all of a sudden (or maybe a combination of the tow, a growing surge that suddenly breaks the flood-banks). We all have a role to play, we should try to make sure it is a progressive one, based on passion, experience and hope, not on cynicism and disillusionment.

Grave Riddle

References and preliminary reading list:

Hall, Stuart. The Neo-liberal Revolution. Cultural Studies, 25:6, 705-728 (2011)

— Cultural Studies and its Theoretical Legacies, 1992: http://cultstud.blogspot.co.uk/2007/09/stuart-hall-cultural-studies-and-its.html

Perry, Matt. Marxism and History. Palgrave Macmillan: 2002

Gramsci, Antonio. Selected Writings 1916 -1935. Ed. David Forgacs. London, Lawrence and Wishart: 1988

Monk, Ray. Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Duty of Genius. London, Vintage: 1990

Wheen, Francis. Karl Marx. London, Fourth Estate: 1999

Friere, Paulo. Education: The Practice of Freedom. London, Writers and Readers Publishing Cooperative: 1973

The Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York, Continuum: 1993

Illich, Ivan. Deschooling Society. Harper Colophon Books: 1971

Dewey, John. Experience and Education. Pocket Books: 1977

The Alternative Art College presents; Education as Experiment.

April 30, 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/