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Portia Kensington Hogg’s Speech

[UfSO spokesperson:]
Hi, we’re form a group called the University for Strategic Optimism, which is a University based upon the principals of a free and open education, a return of politics to the public, and the politicisation of public space.  We have carried out several performative actions in public spaces, drawing attention to the hypocrisy and perverse ideology that underlies the current political climate and as a university without premises, we’ve been targeting various banks and corporations as potential locations for our wandering lecture theatre.  If anyone is interested in our previous activities or in taking part in future actions then check out our website www.universityforstrategicoptimism.wordpress.com or come and have a chat to us here today, we’ll be over there at our mobile lecture booth where you can also come and record a message to send to those who think that cutting vital public services is a legitimate way to run this country.

However, instead of performing one of our lecture interventions today we’ve instead decided, in the interests of a balanced, democratic debate, to give our slot over to one of the proponent’s of those ‘new goverence’ models Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has been so enthusiastically championing for our public libraries. So it is that we’ve invited corporate think-tank, Policy Ex-cess and we welcome Policy Ex-cess Director Ms. Portia Kensington-Hogg here today.

[Policy Ex-cess Spokesperson:]

Boys and girls, are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.
I’m here in order to tell you what you need according to my interests as representative of New Cross Library’s possible non-future. I work writing gruesome fairy tales for the thinktank Policy Ex-cess which has been lauded as the most influential thinktank today in continuing to shape a complete contempt for anyone who hasn’t been educated at Eton.
Our vision is that Library services can be rationalised and made profitable for us through ‘enabling’ you to volunteer your livelihoods, i.e. take redundancy. Thereby allowing the library to be housed in other local businesses per an ethos of ‘outreach’, a vision your valiant community-minded councillors have advocated. Indeed under Ed Vaizey’s astounding, almost absurdly brilliant, scheme ‘The Future Libraries Programme’, Lewisham is one of the hand-picked areas of England to be educated, in Big Society fashion, as to how to dismantle its libraries for the benefit of supermarkets, and various private companies. Indeed every time you may visit a ‘library’ in our Big Society, henceforth you will be doing a charitable deed, since books can now be liberated from the shelves and the wage-labour of the librarian- surely the kind of sacrifice you should be making in order to allow for the total ineptitude of government?
You may be wondering why a councillor is not stood here offering you their vision of the future. Well, to be frank, even though councillor’s are cushioned by a management cabal who are payed in total roughly the same amount that will be saved by their pogrom of cuts, we cannot expect Cllr Bell to go out of his way beyond simply making speeches that are blatantly hypocritical and void of substance, can we?
Indeed if you refer to this table showing the salaries of some of the most significant puppets in the council <detail from Lewisham against cuts website> you can see quite clearly why even more taxpayer’s money must be wasted on thinktanks, and any lingering beliefs you had in the usefulness of having councillors at all is summed up very neatly in cllr Paul Bell’s recent speech delivered at the vote for cuts taken by Lewisham council this November, to quote:
‘To the public I say this: we are not the resistance that our community needs as we are bound by rules, regulations and laws. Democracy does not end and begin with elected politicians but within the heart and soul of every member of the community.’
Hear, hear. Indeed, when we at Policy Ex-cess hear words such as these we wring our hands in joy knowing our vision for the public will not be called to account by any kind of truly democratic process. Furthermore, such aspirational addresses to the people enable the prioritising of the interests of organisations such as Lewisham Homes, who in actually owning the building within which the library is housed, should really shoulder responsibility for its survival, (since one of the excuses for ridding ourselves of the library is that the building is not suitable). But, in our opinion, this is not the best use of community assets as will become ever more clear for example, when the government begins liquidating universities to the toxic benefit of the equity market after the model of that towering and untainted democracy; the United States.
Community libraries and further education are obviously both incredibly important for any healthy society. But currently they are not quite doing what we at the core of government ideology want. That is, they are not allowing private wealth to run totally rampant. Of course the first step is to ensure a network of local councils that help government continue to ‘partner’ public institutions with private wealth. Lewisham council has of course been applauded for its welcoming of various PFI’s in order to maintain the heinous standards of housing for residents of Lewisham. Keeping their ‘duties’ in mind they are making sure to cut other surplus social services such as foster care, Social workers, Road cleaining, the Auditing and Corruption office, and early childhood services. A sound and realistic business decision I think you’ll agree- keeping the location of democracy firmly and intangibly in the hearts of the constituents, where we at Policy Ex-cess believe it should remain.
So, how is this relevant to New Cross library? Well, Public-private partnerships are the visionary methodology with which we enable private cos to exploit the inherent and heretofor largely unexchangeable value of education as kernel of the institutions that exist for it. As you may be aware thinktanks love using neologisms and management speak in order to make sense of the messy, inadequate and lowly social realm we have taken upon ourselves to govern, so please now turn to this easy-to-understand flow chart showing how privitisation and the cuts will work together to allow for the vision we have for our Big Society.

 

<flow chart showing:

? Ppp work like this- cuts by central gov, no resistance from cowardly councillors, private interests move in, public services are squeezed to the point that they can no longer provide for those who cannot pay, councillors remain well paid, consultant groups profit, communities subsidise more and more the loss of what is rightfully theirs while the rich walk away richer…>
Thank you so much for being here today, as has been repeatedly stated by David Cameron we support the right to protest especially if it is done quietly and to no affect, so I would finish by cautioning you not to make too much of a spectacle of yourselves.

 

[UfSO:] Now hold on a minute, we need to stand up now and show these septic thinktanks that we are not going to allow this kind of ‘restructuring’ to proceed, Libraries are one of the few places left where people can come together, unmediated through the lubricating flow of money, to meet, to read and interact, regardless of their private wealth, class or ethnicity. The local library is one of the last free services on the ‘High Street’ that is accessible for everyone, rich or poor, to use.  It can be the first port of call for any new resident – home owner or refugee, to discover essential information, or simply as a place to come for respite from the tumultuous marketplace of the world outside.

If we are to continue this liquidisation of the public realm, the infantilisation of the population by the corporate media and the privatisation of space for the sole purpose of generating profit then very soon what will we have left? What will we leave for the younger generations even now seeing their futures snatched away from them by an aggressive assault of exploitative greed. Will all human interaction come to be reduced to the flow of cash?  When you come to think of it the mass closing of libraries is not such a huge jump from burning the books that they contain and we all know where that can lead.  Being as we are in a library today I’d like to leave you with a few rather bookish quotes.  As Raoul Vaneigem and Attilia Kotanyi wrote in their Basic Program of the Bureau of Unitary Urbanism: ‘Modern capitalism, which organises the reduction of all social life to a spectacle, is incapable of presenting any spectacle other than that of our own alienation’, and as Michel Foucault said, in a lecture in which he brilliantly compared libraries to boats amongst other specific spaces: ‘In civilizations without boats…” by which we might also say, without libraries… “In civilizations without boats, dreams dry up, espionage takes the place of adventure, and the police take the place of pirates’.

 

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