Transnationalise revolt

The university doesn’t exist in isolation, and education doesn’t just happen inside its walls. The problems that confront the university – subordination to capital and the proliferation of bureaucratic control – are in fact processes that effect every institution with an egalitarian dimension (health, community development…).  At the same time, the difficulties in generating a consistent and meaningful resistance has been a common experience across the board.

This is why the events unfolding around us are of absolutely central importance to the university. They point the way to a new cycle of struggles within which student movements are playing a central role. These are also movements which are collectively generating new ideas and a critical understanding of austerity and financial discipline. While the university bends to the irrational drive for profit, these movements are spaces in which the genuine questions that confront us are being played out. As John Holloway said in a recent activist encounter in Seomra Spraoi, the principal scientific question that confronts us is how to free ourselves from the meaningless system in which we are submerged.

The student mobilizations in London late last year was perhaps the first clear signal that new possibilities were emerging. The speed of the movement, the multiplicity of the forms of resistance (occupation, civil disobedience, mass protest) projected a particular energy. But these have been quickly outstripped in vibrancy and potency by the Arab Spring. And the revolts across North Africa have not been stopped by the borders that block free movement between our continents. The Knowledge Liberation Front, a transnational network of university struggles, are currently visiting Tunisia meeting activists there. Collectively they have sent out the call for an activist gathering in the home of the Arab Spring, to bring together the struggles of precarious workers, migrans, students across North Africa and Europe.

                                                                          Tahrir Square

Meanwhile, testifying to the acceleration of this new cycle of struggles, Spain erupted as Real Democracy Now brought 150,000 to the streets. In Madrid demonstrators occupied the central Puerta del Sol square in a Tahrir Square-like development. They were evicted hours later. The next day they returned and reoccupied the square. A call for solidairty and mass participation went out and as I write 65 central squares are occupied across Spain.

A new cycle of struggles across Europe and the world is no longer a possibility: it is becoming reality.

This movement presents us with possibilities but also questions. Some features are significant: the weakness of traditional left organisations, parties and trade unions; the absence of the hackneyed and self-referential langauge we’ve come to associate with left organisations; and the prevalence of horizontal, non-heirarchical forms of organisation and participation.

                                                                           Puerta Del Sol, Madrid

These point the way beyond Ireland’s present inability to generate opposition, they point to a  movement of resistance within which new ideas and practices of revolt can be developed.

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