Voice of Revolutionary Students

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Spring Thunder Supports UK and US Student Occupations

The new generation of students in the United Kingdom and the USA have given birth to a new activism which we have no seen since the 1960's and 1970's. We salute the students leading the occupations and the victories they have achieved.

It gives us confidence that the greater battles ahead which have to raise onto the agenda the question of systemic level solutions to systemic level problems be they economic or ecological is now becoming possible.

A new agenda is in the process of formation and barbarism is not the only future for mankind and Socialism of the Second Wave also known as Marxism Leninism Maoism is returning which will consign capitalism to its long overdue place in history.

Read Professor Minqi Li's article on the Historical Possiblities of the Twenty First Century and you will understand what Marxism Leninism Maoism is today and not the caricature in the bourgeois and trotskyist left press.

Minqi Li, “Historical Possibilities of the Twenty-First Century” (2008).

P.S. If you have problems downloading this Microsft Word document go to Minqi Li's site - it is on my Blog List on Right of this page.

Councilman Charles Barron speaks at NYU occupation

Restating Class

For Marxists, class is not an arbitrary or abstract concept. Rather, it is a verifiable feature of certain human life processes. According to The German Ideology, written by Marx and Engels in 1845-6, human society passed through different productive epochs and in each there were opposing groups of people defined according to the objectively different relationships they had to the means and products of material production. That is, in every epoch, economic practices structure human society into “classes” with diametrically opposed interests rooted in relations of ownership to the means of production..

These relations of ownership to the means of production constitute what Marx calls the “relations of production” and this is an arena of perpetual tension and struggle (1977, p. 179). When the relations of production are combined with the “forces of production” (factories, workplaces, plant, equipment and tools, and knowledge of their use) we arrive at a “mode of production” or “economic base” (Marx, 1977, p. 161; 168). This productive “infrastructure” forms the organizational rationale and dynamic for society in general and these are reflected in the social institutions (e.g., the state) that spring up and become established in accordance with the needs of productive relations.

However, the techniques and technologies of production under capitalism always dictate new working practices which exert pressure for change. The institutions which attempt to guard the existing relations of production from crises (principally the state) then begin, precisely and contradictorily by attempting to guard those relations from crises to obstruct the further development of the forces of production and eventually the pressure of contradictions rooted in the class contradiction becomes too great and the established institutions are transformed by revolution. At that point, new social and political institutions, appropriate to new relations of production, are developed, and these must accord with the further free development of the material forces of production. The German Ideology constitutes Marx’s attempt to depart from the metaphysical abstraction of the Hegelian idealist method and locate the motor of historical change in living, human society and its sensuous processes.

For later thinkers, such as Lenin, the significance of Marx’s transformation of dialectics is the identification of the concept of ‘class struggle’ as the essential historical dynamic. In any era, and most certainly in the capitalist, society is locked in conflict; since the needs of a certain group in the productive process are always subordinated to another. Marxists hold that this social conflict cannot be truly reconciled with the source of its economic causation, and this perpetual tension is the seedbed of revolution.

The capitalist era is both typical of human history and at the same time unique. It is typical in that its production techniques involve the exploitation of one human being by another, but it is unique in history in terms of its advancing this principle to unprecedented levels of efficiency and ruthlessness. For Marx, writing in the Preface to A Critique of Political Economy of 1859 (known simply as the “Preface”), the capitalist era marks the zenith of class struggle in history and human exploitation cannot be taken further (1977, p. 390). The only redeeming feature of capitalism is its assembling its own social antithesis in the “proletariat” or “working class” which is destined to rise up against the bourgeoisie (profiteering or “ruling class”) and abolish class and exploitation and thus bring “the prehistory of human society to a close” (1977, p. 390).

What, though, do Marxists mean by capitalist “exploitation”? In the first volume of Capital, Marx argues that workers are the primary producers of wealth due to the expenditure of their labor in the production of commodities. However, the relationship between the owners of the means of production (the employers) and the workers is fundamentally exploitative since the full value of the workers’ labor power is never reflected in the wages they receive. The difference between the value of the labor expenditure and the sum the worker receives for it is known as “surplus value,” and this is pocketed by the employer as profit.

Marx saw surplus value as the distinguishing characteristic and ultimate source of class and class conflict within the capitalist system (Cuneo, 1982, p. 378). However, for Marx, surplus value is not merely an undesirable side-effect of the capitalist economy; it is its motive force and the entire system would readily collapse without it. Technically, while surplus value extraction is not wholly unique, historically, to capitalist systems, all capitalist systems are characterised by it. Marx is thus able to offer a “scientific” and objective definition of class in the capitalist epoch based on which side of the social equation of surplus value one stands and to show, moreover, that this economic arrangement is the fundamental source of all human inequality.

Class is therefore absolutely central to Marxist ontology. Ultimately, it is economically induced and it conditions and permeates all social reality in capitalist systems. Marxists are therefore largely hostile toward postmodern and post-structural arguments that class is, or ever can be, ‘constructed extra-economically’, or equally that it can be ‘deconstructed politically’ – an epistemic position which has underwritten in the previous two decades numerous so-called ‘death of class’ theories - arguably the most significant of which are Laclau & Mouffe (1985) and Laclau .

Extract from Embourgeoisment, Immiseration, Commodification - Marxism Revisited: a Critique of Education in Capitalist Systems. Journal for Critical education Policy Studies, 5(1).(Greaves N, Hill D and Maisuria A 2007

Friday, February 27, 2009

Mark Bergfeld - Another Education is Possible Demonstration (London, UK) 25/02/09

Plymouth end occupations after scholarships are won

Plymouth ended their occupation late last night after discussions with the Vice Chancellor. They won 6 scholarships for students from the University of Gaza and a promise that the university will send aid and surplus materials to Gaza. None of the students involved with face repercussions and the campaign will continue as they students try to get an ethical investment policy established at the university.

They negotiated the following:

- The University of Plymouth will set up a humanitarian scholarships scheme, for students that for reasons of war, natural disaster or other calamity, are unable to continue to study at their home university. This will be a yearly recurring scheme, and the first 6 scholarships will be offered specifically to students of University of Gaza for the next academic year.
- The University of Plymouth will work with the other 30+ occupied universities to send aid and surplus materials to Gaza as a collective.
- Delegates from the occupation along with members of the Students’ Union will put forward their case for an ethical investment plan (something that the University of Plymouth currently does not have) in six weeks time. This will include ending links with BAE Systems and an on-campus boycott of Israeli goods.
- There will be no legal, financial, or academic measures taken against anyone involved in or supporting the occupation.

NYU reinstates suspended students

The 18 suspended students at NYU have been reinstated after a massive campaign. It is great to see that the administration realized its mistake - now all it needs to do is address the situation that led to an occupation in the first place. Meanwhile it’s a significant victory for the students - who thanked supporters saying:

‘You made calls, you wrote letters, you signed petitions, you made our cry heard across the globe, and it worked!!’

Another Education is Possible - Student Protest for Free Education London February 25 2009

Longest Student Occupation

Manchester who have been in occupation for 23 days show no sign of giving up.Join their demo on the 4th March at 2pm in the Quad to show your solidarity with the people in Gaza and the occupiers

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Victory for Cardiff Students


Cardiff Students Against War is ENDING OUR OCCUPATION of the Large Shandon lecture theatre, Cardiff University Main Building! We're about to leave, march around campus to declare our victory, and make our continued presence known to the university community. Banners and megaphones, BOOKS not BOMBS!

Following the open letter to Vice Chancellor David Grant, the BOOKS not BOMBS demonstration outside the Student Union and the subsequent occupation of the Large Shandon, Cardiff University has divested all shares from BAe Systems and the aerospace arm of General Electric! They have instructed their external fund managers to avoid future investments in the arms trade, and have promised to raise the issue of an ethical investment policy at the next Council Meeting on May 18th. They are also willing to discuss the provision of surplus computers and resources to institutions in Gaza.

The victory comes after three days of occupation which has been inundated with messages of support from all over the country, as well as further afield. This has included university staff, students and societies, local Plaid Cymru politicians and groups, activist groups such as CND Cymu, No Borders South Wales and South Wales Anarchists, and has had extensive press coverage, from the local papers and student publications to Indymedia and the BBC. We are extremely proud to have received a message of solidarity from Noam Chomsky!

We see this as the beginning, not the end. The occupation has attracted considerable interest and support from the Cardiff University community, and has succeeded in raising awareness of the effects of the arms trade and the horrific situation in Gaza. Cardiff Students Against War will continue to campaign on these issues, and to make sure that the university doesn't go back on its promises.

So well done to everyone who has been involved!!

But it's not over yet. The campaign will continue because we believe that Cardiff Uni should be doing more for Gaza, such as facilitating scholarships to Gazan students and boycotting Israeli products in protest at the treatment of Palestinians by the IDF, and the settlers occupying the West Bank.

Rob Owen - Stop the War - Student Activist Meeting

Reconnaissance of Marxist Education Theory

Marxist educational theory, research and writing reached its last peak in the late-1970s and early-1980s (Rikowski, 2006), building on the work of Althusser (1971), Bowles and Gintis (1976), Sarup (1978) and Willis (1977), and the Marxist inspired work of Bourdieu (1976). With a few historically significant exceptions (such as Callinicos, 1991, Morton and Zavarzadeh, 1991; Ahmad, 1992), the rest of the 1980s and the early-1990s witnessed a failure to develop this first wave of Marxist educational theory and research. Instead, Marxists and neo-Marxists interested in education typically found themselves shoring up and/ or critiquing the many problems and weaknesses inherent in the first wave work or giving a culturalist post-Gramscian spin on the earlier “reproductionist” analysis of Althusser, Bowles and Gintis, and Bourdieu . (Henry Giroux is an example, e.g. 1983).

However, by the mid-1990s Marxist educational theory and research re-emerged from a moribund period characterised by of internal degeneration and hyper-defensiveness in the face of external criticism (Rikowski, 1996, 1997, 2006). Works from Richard Brosio (1994) Kevin Harris (1994) Ebert (1996) and Michael Neary (1997) heralded a new period of development and experimentation in Marxist educational research and writing. In the last few years, Marxist educational theory and research and radical pedagogy have opened up a second wave of development following the mini-renaissance of the mid-1990s. Works by Paula Allman (1999, 2001), Richard Brosio (2000), Peter McLaren (2000, 2005a and 2005b); McLaren and Farahmandpur, (2005), Bertell Ollman (2001), Carmel Borg, John Buttigieg and Peter Mayo (2002), Dave Hill et al (2002) have gained international recognition Furthermore, many others are expanding Marxist analysis and encompassing an increasing range of education policy issues and theoretical concerns, such as lifelong learning, mentoring, the learning society, social justice, globalization, educational marketization, and many other areas.

The second wave has generated renewed interest in theorizing and researching issues of class, gender and race in education from within Marxism (see Hill, 1999; Hill and Cole, 2001; and Kelsh and Hill, 2006) and the business takeover of education (see Glenn Rikowski, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005; Kenneth Saltman and David Gabbard, 2003; and Saltman, 2005) and on public services related to education, such as libraries (Ruth Rikowski, 2005).

However, Marxists find themselves once more on the defensive and increasingly fighting today a rearguard action for the maintenance of Marxism (historical materialism) against the epistemological instability caused by the intrusion of pluralist, non-essentialist (such as postmodernist) and Weberian-type schemata into the leftist debate (Rikowski, 2001; Kelsh and Hill, 2006).

Kelsh and Hill (2006), Paraskeva (2006) and Farahmandpur (2004) take as an example of “revisionist left” writers, the prominent writer Michael W. Apple. Apple writes prolifically and influentially among left educators against neo-liberal and neo-conservative ideological and political hegemony in the USA. His analysis and political objective are that there is, and should be, an alliance of political interests in which the tryptych of social class, “race” and gender have equal importance as both explanatory and as organizing principles (e.g. Michael W. Apple, 2001). The introduction of extra-class determinants of social inequality follows a Weberian-derived notion of class as a tool of classification useful only to describe strata of people, as they appear at the level of culture and in terms of status derived from various possessions, economic, political, or cultural.

However, as a tool of class categorization, Weberian derived classifications of social strata cannot provide reliable knowledge to guide transformative praxis - that is, a guide to action that will result in the replacement of capitalism by socialism (a system whereby the means of production, distribution and exchange, are collectively, rather than privately, owned). In Weberian classifications, there is no capitalist class, and no working class; just myriad strata. Similar assumptions surface in anti-essentialist, post-modernist approaches (for a critique, see Hill, 2001, 2005a; Hill, Sanders and Hankin, 2002; Kelsh, 2006, McLaren and Scatamburlo D’Anibale, 2004). Such classification systems substituted for Marxist class theory fuel the ideological notion that “class is dead” (Pakulski & Waters, 1996).

It is interesting, and rarely remarked upon, that arguments about “the death of class” are not advanced regarding the capitalist class. Despite their horizontal and vertical cleavages (Dumenil and Levy, 2004), they appear to know very well who they are. Nobody is denying capitalist class consciousness. They are rich. They are powerful. And they are transnational as well as national. They exercise (contested) control over the lives of worker-laborers and worker-subjects.

Marxists agree that class is not the only form of oppression in contemporary society, yet it is also a fact that class is central to the social relations of production and essential for producing and reproducing the cultural and economic activities of humans under a capitalist modes of production. Whereas the abolition of racism and sexism does not guarantee the abolition of capitalist social relations of production, the abolition of class inequalities, by definition, denotes the abolition of capitalism.

Hickey, for example, points to the functionality of various oppressions in dividing the working class and securing the reproduction of capital; constructing social conflict between men and women, or black and white, or skilled and unskilled, thereby tending to dissolve the conflict between capital and labor (Hickey, 2006:196). While Apple’s “parallellist,” or equivalence model of exploitation (equivalence of exploitation based on “race,” class and gender, his “tryptarch” (or tripartite) model of inequality produces valuable data and insights into aspects of gender oppression and “race” oppression in capitalist USA, such analyses serve, as Hickey (2006), Gimenez (2001) and Kelsh and Hill (2006) suggest, to occlude the class-capital relation, the class struggle, and to obscure the essential and defining nature of capitalism, the labor-capital relation and its attendant class conflict. With respect to one aspect of structural inequalities reproduced within the education system in England and Wales, that is, educational attainment, Gillborn and Mirza (2000), themselves using the “official” (British government census classificastion) Weberian derived categorizations of social strata, show very clearly that it is the difference between social strata that is the fundamental and stark feature of the education system, rather than “race” or gender.

In sum, there is a recognised need amongst Marxists, firstly, to restate the epistemic foundation of Marxism; and, in so doing, secondly, to reclaim the authentic voice of the left-wing critique of capitalist education practices and their ideological justification though a class-based ontology (Kelsh and Hill, 2006

Chris Nineham at Stop the War - Student Activist Meeting

Viva Palestina Aid Convoy now in Tunisia

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Spring Thunder in Prospect

Student occupations bring prospect of Spring Thunder to United Kingdom

A wave of student occupations in solidarity with the people of Gaza is continuing to spread across Britain like a prairie fire.

The spark lit in Greece in 2008 has found it way to the United kingdom. A new round of occupations has been inspired by successful protests and occupations at Soas and LSE in London and Essex University. The first three occupations have all ended now, as their main demands have been met.The demands put forward by individual universities are similar, but vary depending on the specific circumstances of each institution.

Ongoing occupations

Manchester University - 4th February - . Occupied space - John Owen Building (4th-6th February) and central sorting office (5th-6th February) - later moved to the Simon building (6th February -)
Byam Shaw - 18th February - . Occupied space - the main building at the Byam Shaw School of Art, 2 Elthorne Road.UEL - 18th February - . Occupied space - a lecture theatre
St Andrews- 18th February - . Occupied space - Lower College Hall
Plymouth - 5pm 23rd February 2009 - . Occupied space - Room 202 in the Smeaton building.UAL - (late in the evening) 23rd February 2009 - . Occupied space - A lecture theater on the LCC campus.
Cardiff - 12pm 24th February 2009 - . Occupied space - Shandon Large Lecture in the Main Building

UPDATE ! UPDATE Finished Occupations

SOAS 13th - 14th January. Occupied space - Brunei Gallery Suite.
LSE - 15th - 23rd January. Occupied space - LTB 04.
Essex - Friday 16th - Sunday 18th January. Occupied space - LTB.
King’s College - 20th January - 1st February. Occupied space - lecture theatre at Strand campus.
Birmingham - 20th January - 20th January. Occupied space - Arts LR4.
Sussex - 20th January - 28th January. Occupied space - Arts A2 lecture theatre.
Warwick - 22nd January - 30th January. Occupied space - room S0.21 of Social Studies.
Manchester Met 22nd January - 23rd Janaury. Occupied space - the Geoffrey Manton building.
Oxford- 23rd January - 23rd Janaury. Occupied space - Bodleian building.
Leeds - 22nd January - 31st Janaury. Occupied space - the Botany House building.
Cambridge - 23rd January - 1st February. Occupied space - the Law Faculty.
Sheffield Hallam- 28th January - 1st February. Occupied space - tenth floor of the Owen building.
Bradford - 27th January - 28th Janaury. Occupied space - university board room, adjacent to the vice chancellor’s office.
Nottingham - 28th January - 1st February. Occupied space - lecture theatre B62
Queen Mary- 27th January - 4th February. Occupied space - Room 1.13 of the Frances Bancroft building.
Strathclyde- 4th February - 5th February. Occupied space - the McCance Building.
The University of Rochester - 6th February - 7th February. Occupied space - Goergen BME Building.
Glasgow - 8th February - 11th February. Occupied space - the top floor of the Computer Science building.
Goldsmiths - 11th February - 13th February. Occupied space - Deptford Town Hall (university owned).
Edinburgh - 11th February - 16th February. Occupied space - George Square Lecture Theatre.
UEA - 11th February - 12th February . Occupied space - the Arts building.
NYU- 18th February 2009 - 2pm 21st February 2009. Occupied space - The Marketplace - 3rd floor of the Kimmel Center.
UWE - 18th February 2009 - 20th February 2009 . Occupied space - at first lecture theatre 2B25 until they were locked out and then they occupied the atrium area outside of lecture theatres 2B25 and 2B20