The Zapatista struggle continues … Subcomandante Marcos ceases to exist …Galeano lives.
– by Levi Gahman –
… from the mountains of the Mexican Southeast …
On Friday May 2, 2014 an Indigenous Zapatista teacher, Jose Luis Solís López – known by his name ‘in the struggle’ as ‘Compañero Galeano’ – was ambushed and murdered. He was beaten with rocks and clubs, hacked with a machete, shot in the leg and chest, and as he lay on the ground gasping for air – he was executed by a final bullet to the head. The reason he was subjected to this callous violence varies depending upon what account is heard or read. But in truth, he was assassinated because he was Indigenous, because he was a teacher, because he was humble, and more specifically – because he was a Zapatista. And in a contemporary global system of neoliberal production and colonial governance, people like Galeano are deemed to be threats – threats that need to be killed in cold blood and suffer brutal deaths.
The assault on Galeano was also an attempt to antagonize the EZLN (Zapatista Army of National Liberation) into reacting with violence themselves as retribution for the death of one of their promotores de educación (‘promoters of education’ – what teachers are called in the Zapatista system of horizontal education). The provocation was directly aimed at the EZLN in hopes of prompting them into engaging in armed conflict, which would thereby give the Mexican state reason to retaliate and attack Zapatista communities. However, despite the pain and rage that the Zapatistas are feeling, they continue to release statements calling for peace. And amidst the tears, sorrow, indignation, and sadness they now have due to one of their cherished teachers being slain in broad daylight, they have stated they are not seeking revenge, nor blood, nor vengeance, but rather, they seek justice.
Against the romanticizing of education, Leftists should recognize alternative regimes of study, as practiced in prison organizing and indigenous peoples’ movements, and participate with them toward dismantling the intertwined regimes of education and carcerality.
– an essay by Abraham Bolish –
Left movements in North America romanticize education in many ways. Calls to “defend public education” emanate from the most radical movements of students, like the ‘Maple Spring’ in Quebec, and teachers, like the social justice-oriented Chicago Teachers Union. In struggles against prisons, with images of the ‘school-to-prison pipeline’ and calls for ‘education not incarceration,’ we on the Left often criticize contemporary education as corrupted for disproportionately funneling poor youth of color into the penal regime. Conversely, in organizing around universities, the university has been framed as losing its educational mission and becoming like a prison, an “ivory cage,” which “incarcerates” potentially resistant young people behind walls of debt.
This fetishizing of education is a key obstacle to Left movements’ revolutionary goals. Seeing ‘revolution’ as an overturning of a dominant order, a revolutionary movement would need to radically transform all of the regimes composing that order—from the family and work to transportation and prisons. Such a movement is hindered if any one of these regimes is immunized from critique. That is precisely what has happened with the regime of education.
Summary: Stevphen speaks on militant research through collaborative, open process publishing, and on negotiating an ambivalent relationship to the university—appropriating resources while refusing to become the administrator of someone else’s precarity.
[This is Part 2, continued from Part 1 here.]
Summary: Stevphen Shukaitis, editor of Minor Compositions, talks about the possibilities for open publishing as an experiment and a provocation. Drawing on his book, Imaginal Machines, he reflects on the challenge of resisting the recuperation of radical energies in work. As a professor in a business school, he shares his approach to radical teaching: using traditional materials for subversive ends.
Printer and writer, Dan S. Wang, talks about his projects that intersect art, politics, and labor—from teaching and public art with college students to anti-war and anti-prison activism, the Mess Hall, and the Compass Group—as collective experiments against individualizing economies of attention. Continue reading
Nick Hengen Fox, a full-time faculty member at a community college, talks about the connections between successful union organizing and the classroom, radical teaching practice, and what “critical university studies” might look like outside of a university. Continue reading
Summary: Professor Mike Neary speaks on the origins, purposes, and tensions of The Social Science Centre, Lincoln in the UK, an alternative form of higher education provision run as a formally constituted co-operative. The Social Science Centre sets itself against the usual colonial relations between universities and communities, seeking to occupy and re-invent the ‘idea of the university’ by producing critical, practical knowledge grounded in the real lives of its members. Neary raises questions about how such projects can create new, sustainable forms of social wealth against and beyond capitalism.
Summary: The author of We Created Chávez, George Ciccariello-Maher, draws on his experiences in the “cauldron of resistance” of Oakland, CA to speak on the relations between education, organizing in universities, and struggles against police and prisons. Against academics’ use of alibis, such as ‘changing the world by teaching,’ to legitimize anything they do as a contribution to radical movements, he calls for academics to more clearly distinguish between their jobs and their political work.
Reflecting on the building occupations at UC Santa Cruz in 2009-2010 and cross-pollination between student and worker struggles, Don Kingsbury highlights the need to excavate and reanimate histories of radical movements. Under the conditions of academic precarity, and against the neoliberal privatization of the general intellect, Don calls for turning communities of necessity into communities of resistance.
Sangtin community mobilization (via)
Summary: Reflecting on her activist research with a people’s movement in India, Richa Nagar (Professor of Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies, co-author of Playing With Fire: Feminist Thought and Activism Through Seven Lives in India) shares stories about the importance of developing ethical relationships of trust and affect. Within and against the politics of NGOization and caste divisions, she highlights the roles of imagination, desiring, and translation in intersectional alliance work. From experiencing tensions between her positions as an activist and an academic, she notes common problems of institutionalization in both social movements and the university, and offers guidance for engaging with contradictions while maintaining some sense of security in the margins.