It seems increasingly obvious and necessary that we define democracy less by the exercise of the right to vote than by the exercise of taking to the streets and making ourselves heard. The recent cases of Greece and Ireland, but generally all ‘responses’ to the ‘financial crisis’ in general, show the extent to which the political process has become detached from any sense of accountability, or any pretenses of representing ‘public opinion’, working in the ‘public interest’, or articulating a vision of the ‘public good’. Instead, the grip those very groups and interests that caused the crisis have on the state seems only to grow stronger, and their short-term self-preservation instinct appears to the rest of us like a death drive which, seeking to postpone the reckoning that the various present crises (finance, environment, energy, food) call for, can do nothing but prescribe more of the poison that got us where we are.
Right now, the UK is witnessing one such battle against this death drive: the barely-elected ConDem government, despite its lack of a clear mandate for anything, is trying to pass what is a huge threat to the accessibility, diversity and quality of education in the country as a valid ‘response’ to the crisis which (they’d like us to believe) will lead to greater fairness in the future. But it doesn’t take a graduate degree to see through the lie. After three decades in which income and opportunities have been syphoned towards the top of the social pyramid like never since the first half of the 20th century, all that ‘responses’ like this amount to is trying to ingrain inequalities even more.
Turbulence is encouraged to see a growing movement in the UK rise to the challenges that lie ahead. We fully support all actions taken against the cuts in education, in public services and the arts, including all the university occupations taking place around the UK, and oppose any attempts at criminalising these, as well the underhand tactics used by police to scare people off the streets.
Not because we think the university — or, for that matter, society — such as they are must be ‘preserved’. There’s a lot to change, and if there’s something everyone agrees upon is that right now is a good time to do it. The difference is, precisely, that much of the ‘change’ that governments and capital have to offer now is, in fact, more of the same.