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.
An interview with, Jennifer, a militant student-worker in Seattle on: revolutionary study groups with the Black Orchid Collective, organizing against union bureaucracy and non-profit recuperation, & creating a solidarity network across the university for worker, student, and community control.
by Abraham Bolish
The recent backlash against MOOCs has tended to romanticize an ideal of public higher education. Yet, education has always been tied up with systems of domination, and MOOCs present an opportunity to reveal the contradictions of higher education—to expose the emperor’s dirty secrets. Instead of ‘re-clothing the emperor’ with appeals to a lost ideal of public higher ed, through eight propositions I argue that we should seize the ‘MOOC moment’ as a start for breaking the capitalist, colonial chains of global higher education. Continue reading
Summary — This interview explores such questions as: How can leftist movements be built across social divisions on campuses? What can we do to break radical theory out of its capture in academia? Can we create institutions that are embedded in movements and that provide alternatives for radicals who get stuck in precarious academic life?
Would you like to be interviewed as part of a militant co-research project on anti-capitalist struggles in universities?
A primary goal of this project is to create tools for anti-capitalist, anti-authoritarian, anti-oppressive movements on the terrain of universities. Another goal is to gather the forces of our movements through having conversations and making media that connect us with each other and our resources, thereby expanding and strengthening our relationships. Toward these ends, we’d like to interview you, eliciting your experiences and reflections on your attempts at interweaving radical pedagogy and radical organizing within and outside your classes, including your goals, curriculum design, tactics, context, tensions, obstacles, limiting and enabling conditions, etc.
As we aspire for this project to be one of ‘militant co-research,’ we are creating it in collaboration with multiple participants—including, hopefully, yourself—and producing different forms of media from it for our multiple audiences. Our interviews’ outcomes could include:
- Publishing edited versions of the interviews on libcom.org, edu-factory.org, and any other websites and listserves with a receptive, anti-capitalist audience.
- Collecting them on this website, which we’re developing for the project (https://classwaru.wordpress.com)—as a knowledge base for others to draw on when composing their own classes and organizing strategies. This is part of a wider project that originated in the “Occupy the AAG” meeting at the 2012 American Association of Geographers conference, continuing conversations from previous organizing (such as the “Beneath the University, the Commons” conference).
- Using them as a basis for analysis in our academic writing, along with articles for publication in free, open access websites and journals (some written anonymously, depending on the level of militancy of the content). We could co-write such articles.
- Using them in other forms for your own purposes beyond these listed here (e.g., to write texts that are tailored to the local contexts of the movements and terrains of struggle in which you are involved or for the specific context of your academic work).
Aiming for another principle of ‘militant co-research,’ we see these interviews and the wider project as mutually transformative processes—opening up our subjectivities, collectivities, knowledge, theories, goals, pedagogies, and organizing practices to possibilities of critique and change.
Finally, a note on anonymity: considering that being open about your radical politics could threaten both your academic employment and your radical organizing, we welcome you to choose to remain anonymous in the public presentation of these interviews. If you want to do so, let us know and we will remove any identifying info from all public circulations of this project.
If this sounds exciting to you, would you like to participate in an interview, or rather, a facilitated conversation? Our interview would take about an hour, and we would do it over Skype (so that we can record it). If you are interested, could you please tell us your availability within the next month or so?
Thank you very much for considering this. Do let us know if you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions, and if you’d like further information about the project.
Class War U
classwaru [at] gmail [dot] com
 On militant co-research, see, e.g., Marta Malo’s “Common Notions, part 2” – http://eipcp.net/transversal/0707/malo/en, and Malav Kanuga’s reading list – http://www.thisisforever.org/fall-seminar/readings
Have you tried to integrate radical organizing approaches with your classes? Have you attempted to engage your students in activist research, or militant co-research, participatory action research, etc.? How can classrooms be better tools for anti-capitalist movements?
We’re working on a project to create tools for anti-capitalist, anti-authoritarian movements on the terrain of universities. To further this project we are seeking reflections on people’s experiences on using activist research in the classroom. If you are interested in participating, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send you follow-up questions to elicit your experiences and reflections on your attempts at integrating radical organizing with your classes, including your goals, curriculum design, tactics, obstacles, etc.
Contributions will be collected into a user-friendly website as a knowledge base for others to draw on when composing their own classes and organizing strategies. The impetus for this call came from a group that is already attempting to make such an activist research class—a group of folks from the “Occupy the AAG” meeting at the 2012 AAG (Geography) conference. Also, we will use your contributions to analyze the limiting and enabling conditions for anti-capitalist organizing in universities, and we will present the results and some thoughts on strategies in a freely circulated articles.
Finally, a note about ANONYMITY: Considering that being open about your radical politics could threaten your employment situation, we welcome you to choose to remain anonymous either in your submission or in the public presentation of your reflections. If you want to do so, please let us know and we will remove any identifying info from all public circulations of this project.