Organising the Autonomous University Manifestation: "Youth Undertake Realtime Training"
In this ambitious experiment, a number of people at Lancaster University, and loosely associated with the AUL, have volunteered to try to create a 24-hour learning zone for an entire week. The experiment will coincide with the official university's "One World Week".
Historical approach: "One World Week" has grown from an awareness-raising exercise organised by the now defunct Green @ction group and people from the Chaplaincy Centre (raising awareness of faith, social justice, environmental issues), to a Student Union and University administration coordinated, bureaucratised and corporately-sponsored celebration of 'diversity' (Read, spectacularisation of different nationalities? Greek disco, African disco, Latino disco? Who knows, but Pr1ceWaterh0useC00pers are rumoured to be getting their names on all the bumph). the official one world week committee this year decided not to have corporate funding, however the focus of the week is not political issues affecting everyone, such as nuclear power, the criminalisation of protest etc, instead the focus is cultural diversity (mainly in the form of nation states), charities and fair trade. the sentiments are comendable, but the content will be more than complemented by the presence of the yurt, which will be a space where all these issues can be discussed, instead of assuminng that hanging a national flag and buying fair trade chocolate is enough.
This year: We do not know so much about the activties and spirit of the official oneworld week, yet. But we (AUL and associates) want to ensure that the oneworld week includes a recognisable moment of questioning, thinking and experimenting: we hope to offer students an alternative, 24-hr, on-line, real-time, interactive, learning space.
The following is a timetable of when different people are available to keep the experiment running during the week:
|MONDAY||name 1||name 2||3||4|
Please edit and add/subtract according to the following conventions: CAPITALS=definitely present, Normal=Definite maybe/more than likely, Questioned?=Possible.
If enough people fill all the places, the experiment can go ahead! Remember the place to set a username and pass word is the Mainpage, then click 'edit' on this page, and alter in the text box, before hitting 'save page' after checking the preview. Easy.
Sessions within the Youth Undertaking Realtime Training-Week
|MORNING||AFTERNOON 1||AFTERNOON 2||EVE||NIGHT||STAYING OVERNIGHT|
|MONDAY||Put up the thing||Put up further things|
|WEDNESDAY||...||...||People&Planet meeting 6pm?|
Alternative Texts for Youth Undertaking Realtime Training-Week - LEAFLET MAKING
feedback from meeting yesterday re making properganda:
we thought it would be a good idea to give out a little flyer in and around, a very simple little thing with short ramblings from us all about why we're helping with the project/what we hope to achieve/what our current thoughts on the world in general/on specific issues are. the idea was for people to write stuff on this page, and if they can't then to email the list with their snippet. i'm happy to take the responsibility of putting them all together and making a booklet and doing the first round of photocopies. PLEASE CAN YOU WRITE SOMETHING NOW! ABSOLUTE LATEST IS SATURDAY EVENING! i'll fiddle with it on sunday and make copies on monday.
to start with, here's my contribution (it's a rant i wrote yesterday, will try to shorten it!):
Contribution 1: this is a call for solidarity between everyone who cares about the freedom of all to protest and to be involved with popular education!
the George Fox Six are on trial next week. they peacefully protested at a corporate venturing conference on campus in September 2004, where BAE Systems, Shell, GlaxoSmithKline, Rolls Royce, The Carlyle Group, Du Pont, Uniliver and other violators of people and the earth were discussing how to feed off uni research.
the uni decided to prosecute and the six were found guilty of aggravated trespass. the six are now challenging the uni over their blatant violation of freedom of speech. the NUS, the AUT, and other unions and groups are supporting them. this case is going to set a precedent for the future of protest in this country. civil liberties are being eroded, it is now illegal to protest within 1km of parliament. Ruth Kelly (the secretary of state for education) tells Vice Chancellors to root out unacceptable behaviour on campuses' and at the same time promotes venture capitalists clustering around... universities and feeding off their research."
what exactly is the unacceptable behaviour? this case highlights the absurdity that if something is legal, it is therefore ethical. the six disrupted a legal meeting, but they have the right to protest against those who facilitate murder and destruction. such legal facilitation is the unacceptable, immoral behaviour.
come and support the six at Lancaster Crown Court (behind the Castle) next week! the trial starts at 10am monday morning. see website: http://www.free-webspace.biz/GeorgeFox/
however, this legal battle is not the whole story. it merely symbolises the underlying problems. the legal system itself is hardly a democratic, ethical institution. but we try to use it to push things like the Human Rights Act, which can to some degree be used to support dissent. however, human rights, animal rights and the environment are violated at will by those in power regardless of any legislation.
access to a decent education, in terms of being able to afford it and in terms of its content being as open as possible (i.e. not taylored to the needs of big business) is an essential element in the necessary fight against capitalism.
given the increasing corporatisation of education at all levels, such as Nike sponsoring school sports kits and the commercialisation of research, and the divisions this process creates between students and staff (the AUT/NATFHE strike yesterday being a good example - we pay fees, part of the rhetorical argument for which was that some of the money would go towards increasing staff pay, but now that fees have gone ahead, those in power don't help the workers as they emptily promised - but the situation is often pitched as staff vs students i.e. students forced to pay, staff don't deliver, so students blame staff for not giving them enough of a product), students and staff must fight together against the situation of decreasing freedom and democracy imposed on education by those in power and fight for accessible, meaningful education. this is not achieved through 'managing' departments (e.g. the lack of democracy in I(E)PPP), dividing students up (like graduates having their own college - fair enough, they need facilities, they have special requirements etc, but i spend all my time in furness, why can i not be part of that college? this fragmentation is not conducive to the solidarity required to fight the battle for people learning from each other, both formally and informally), stressful working conditions for teachers/lecturers and facilitating the efficient dominance of companies, like BAE, who make a profit from killing people and the earth (BAE and The Management School are in constant mutual aid, as the school offers the BCIM 'BAE Systems Certificate in Management': http://www.lums.lancs.ac.uk/Executive/CustomCourses/BCIM/, BAE have a constant presence on campus, which it seems sometimes violates uni regulations.)
so how do we fight? where is our voice? LUSU? the NUS? and unions for lecturers, like the AUT and NATFHE? we have to question the current state of such student unions when the president of LUSU forgets to submit our contributions to the NUS national conference and when the political news round up in SCAN is biased towards the views of those in Conservative Future. the NUS itself is problematic, because on the one hand it works with NGOs, while on the other NUSSL refuses to disengage with its reformist, corporate social responsibility dialogue with Coca-Cola, who supply the majority of soft drinks to students unions whilst violating human rights and the environment, especially in India. the work with NGOs is also highly problematic. NUS and Oxfam have a close relationship. Oxfam is another example of a hierarchical charity, giving lots of money to its CEOs and refusing to criticise the Live8 concert that was organised by millionaires to ask the G8 to alleviate poverty. an interesting extract from Oxford Indymedia: (http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/regions/oxford/2005/06/315273.html)
In recent years Western governments have invested heavily in their relationships with popular NGOs. The majority of them are sustained by government subsidies and controlled by the political elite. In Great Britain this recently led to strong criticism of Oxfam (part of 'Make Poverty History'), whose list of demands on poverty issues closely resembles the policies proposed by New Labour. This is not surprising when you consider that the leadership of Oxfam is mainly made up of former advisors of Tony Blair and New Labour peers . The differences between the standpoints of influential NGOs such as Oxfam and the political establishment are a matter of gradation rather than fundamental. This does not detract from the fact that there are plenty of people within these organisations who have the purest of intentions. In any event, the alter-globalisation protests provide a perfect framework for the NGOs to bring in new donors and lobby for the increase of their government funding.  Why Oxfam is failing Africa http://www.newstatesman.com/200505300004
we have to fight locally and independently. many unions and NGOs are hierarchical and embody similar power structures to those we're trying to fight. there is some scope to work within them AND be part of democratic, horizontal groups on a smaller scale. NGOs can achieve things, such as local Greenpeace groups, but campaigns are often dropped because the central committee decides so, without any democratic decision making processes from the grassroots activists. these groups are hierarchical and mostly work alongside the system which is the cause of the problems. charity legitimates the system which makes necessary some of its concrete activities.
some positive suggestions for empowering, effective action:
1)support the George Fox Six next week (email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the Supporters Group on 383012 with details of when you are free and how many mornings and afternoons you can do, along with contact details. the trial could last anything from one -four days, depending on the judge)
2)get involved with One World Week on campus next week (see http://www.lusu.co.uk/oneworld/)
3)read Subtext, a nice alternative to SCAN, see http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/subtext/. recently, a brilliant new uni logo has been designed to reflect the love affair between corporations and uni management.
4)get involved with People & Planet, meetings every Wedsnesday at 6pm, Fylde LT2. the group is basically an open activist group, organised horizontally, not really a P&P group as such.
5)get involved with Indymedia (a global independent media initiative), locally and nationally www.indymedia.org.uk, http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/regions/lancs/, http://chris.dev.indymedia.org.uk/en/regions/lancaster/ - the local group needs to get going!!
6)get involved with the Autonomous University of Lancaster (AUL) a group of folk arranging weekly discussions/workshops/radical films in the community - see http://knowledgelab.org.uk/wiki/AUL/Main_Page.
i could go on and on, but must eat a hearty vegan breakfast now or else i'll have no energy to fight.
Contribution 2: Development, Environmentalism and Contemporary Capitalism Historically two concepts of 'development' exist: The modernisation approach assumes that peoples are less developed than the western world, because they do not use their capital and abilities fully. Thus, the western world is seen as a role model and the cause of under-development is located in the global south. Lateron several dependency theories (Frank, Carsado, 1960s) were created. They pointed out that the state of development of countries in the global south and its peoples is not to only caused by internal problems, but by the country's situation in the worldwide globalised economy (Wallerstein's world-system approach). Thus, the depdency theories critique the modernisation approach. More recent approaches to critique 'development' come from postdevelopment, anti-capitalist theorists (Escobar, Gibson-Graham) and from feminst critics (Mohanty, Spivak, Parpand, Ang, Amos & Parmar). A powerful, though mostly academic, critique of the idea of 'development' was also generated by post-colonial theory. A well-know book is Edward Said's 'Orientalism' - a deconstruction of the 'Orient' as a stereotypic image developed in the industrialized West (Said, 1978, for a more recent comment on that by Said, see http://www.counterpunch.org/said08052003.html).
While the two competing paradigms of 'modernisation' vs. 'dependency' exist(ed) since the 1960s, also the environmentalists were able to put their agenda more successfully in public discourse. if we take into account ecological restrictions on earth, we had to learn that unlimited growth is not possible, that the technico-scientific rationality creates many problems for humans, nature and development.
In the 1980s the environmentalist and the development discourse have been brought together; necessitated by their contradiction: both developmental approaches claimed industrialisation for development. However, environmentalists pointed out the problems of industrilisation to out needs for nature. Merging the discourses happened under the new name sustainable development.
Under this new discourse, however, the environmental and dependency critiques had been neglected soon: Today, sustainable developments serves to allow unrestricted capitalist activities in the name of 'ecology and social justice', incorporated by 'environmental management' and 'corporate social responsibility'. see http://www.corporatewatch.org/, http://www.eco.utexas.edu/Homepages/Faculty/Cleaver/port.html
A movement which connects a critique of capitalist development and environmentalism is the environmental justice movements, mainly in India, Brazil, Mexico, but growingly also other Latinamerican countries. This movement emphasizes the importance of 'indigenous' knowledges and non-capitalist ways of living.
Contribution 3: Solidarity with French Students and Youths
french students revive spirit of 68, or maybe they just have the spirit of 06!
Dominique de Villepin, the french prime minister, wants to force a measure through France's parliament designed to alleviate unemployment, paradoxically by making it easier to fire workers aged under 26 years. The measure would introduce a new form of work contract, le contrat de première embauche (first employment contract), which gives employers the right to let employees go after two years. The hope is it will spur employers to hire young people safe in the knowledge they are not obliged to retain them. (see: http://www.guardian.co.uk/france/story/0,,1727781,00.html).
Student protests all over France are the answer of the youths: 39 (out of 84) universities are on strike at the moment, students barricaded the entries to lecture theatres or whole university buildings and several universities were/are occupied. Last Thursday, the 9/3, the prestigious elite uni Le Sorbonne was occupied by 400 students. This is a symbolic action since Le Sorbonne was last occupied in 1968, which lead to the famous 'cultural revolution'. The french police used force on Saturday morning to empty the university, but the students continue protesting on the streets and plan a reoccupation ...
We want to express our solidarity with the french struggle against a raving neo-liberalist capitalism!!!
for more info see:
- oneworld&human rights. the case of lancaster university
- BAE systems
- the concept of 'one world week', a discussion
- oneworld & tution fees
- oneworld & alternative lifestyles: alternative dwellings and structures
- oneworld in lancaster: local alternative and radical political spaces, movements and groups
- Yurt stuff
- direct action
Official OneWorld Quotes
quote from LUSU: "The LUSU shop will be offering a 15% discount on hot drinks throughout One World Week to highlight the pay gap between men and women." (http://www.lusu.co.uk/oneworld/events/allweek)
has moved to legal stuff