First we want to show our apologies for being unable to attend to the meeting we made in Paris. We say we made it, even without being present, we consider the European student movement like ours, as the expression that connects us to the current global conflict in the field of education. Despite not being with you we wanted to provide our views on the lines of action in which we have been working and that we already shared in Barcelona and Bologna.
Don’t think this paper will be very innovative as we still follow the same lines of work we presented in Barcelona, as we assume that we all do. Our lines remain: The dispute over the rights against precariousness, the common ownership of education and research, as well as the self training issues. To meet colleagues from around the world helped us to analyze in another way the reality presented to us locally, it has given us new ideas and new lens through which observe the daily events that we have to face as activists.
For this article we wanted to focus on two sets of events which we believe that are the most important struggles that are taking place nowadays. These sets of events, between the global and local, are those which give us rise to more discussions, debates, reflections and time for public action. At first they could look like unrelated, but we must understand them as expressions of a latent conflict in our reality, and for many of your experiences of struggle they already are obvious conflicts.
The first thing we talk about is the international example that these days is shown in the Arab world (mainly Tunisia and Egypt), which we complement with Latin American models of Ecuador, Venezuela and Bolivia. In such remote regions of the planet we observe the keys that are opening up possibilities for the social change which we aspire to.
In these examples, which emerge from the first line of conflict and politics we see some subjects which had been considered secondary in social change until now. Define whether these subjects constitute classes or multitude is not the purpose of this brief analysis, by studying this situations we intend to unravel the guidelines that led students, neighborhood movements, unemployed youth, women groups and so on…, to become key elements in this process which were reserved only for formal workers until recently. Our practical reading about this is that in all the cases it was possible to generate a common identity that binds, but does not unify. The subjects get involved but they continue to defend their own peculiarities, sharing the necessity to act together against Ben Ali or in favor of the bolivian constitutent.
At this moment, we can say that all these societies are at a more advanced level than European and North American are in the sense. They have managed to subvert the discipline of late capitalism, which imposes anomic social relations based on isolation and individual solutions. These societies have created a common identity that allows them to stand as a political subject capable of generating constituent events in history.
The second element of analysis for this societies in change is the ability to create constituent moments. We see that is in these moments when the subjects involved are more innovative in their political action, when the formal way of making politics go bankrupt and new experiments of collective action are generated. For us this is the moment in which we can talkabout the emergence of the common, new organizational and decision-making structures that attempt to overcome the obstacles imposed by the power. But we are also very critical of this kind of moments because we see that they are insufficient from a transformative perspective: They have to crystallize the protest in real changes, and it’s in this stage where we place the Tunisian and Egyptian riots.
We therefore think that we need a process of institutionalization of “change”, a moment when the changes turn analyzed and ensured. To achieve this goal we don’t believe in a completely new way of doing politics, it’s not necessary to paint on a canvas. The goal can be none other than taking positions on the field of public and private in order to create political institutions of the common, without forgetting that they should have to regard and respect the great needs of those involved. At this point, we can keep the statement made by Antonio Negri in his “letter to a Tunisian friend”, recommending the common control of the financial system (determining that the banks should be nationalized).
These are, broadly speaking, our readings on social change. We understand that today we are far from this scenario and therefore the next set of events described are entirely local, that is our attempt to move the capacity of social change to our close reality.
As we already discussed in previous meetings, our fundamental point of observation is the answer given in Europe to the economic crisis, specially after the beginning of bailouts to states made by speculative markets. For us, these bailouts have not been aimed at the restoration of a productive economy, but have served as a coercive tool of social discipline, which in countries like Portugal and Spain have not even been required due to the Pavlovian reaction of their governments.
In this disciplinary operation what the forces of neoliberalism have done is to outline their latest attack on the public ownership. We see that all the proposed cuts, following the trend of behavior of the IMF, have been directed against public institutions and particularly on those having a social function. Therefore, we can’t ignore, as activists, that the field of “the public” is now a key battleground.
In our case, the conflict of education isn’t just one more, but it’s a conflict concerning a real institution. So, it’s time to reinvent the way we act and our words because it can’t no longer be accepted neither the position of a strong state guarantor of the public institution, nor the vision of education as a value not linked to any institution.
Furthermore, in the disciplinization process that we observe nowadays there is a clear and incisive orientation against income capabilities and time availability. In this sense, some of the most harmful measures that we are suffering in the Spanish State include the reduction of severance pay and the increment in the retirement age ( needing to work, without a single free moment, since you have 26 years if you want to have a pension at the age of 65.).
For students, the debt is shown as the main element of the disciplinization process, as it is a way of reducing the individual’s time and income, forcing us to time our life artificially and to give back more money than such received. But even in the “latin solution”, that identifies in the family a way for solving this problem, this is a double reduction: It prevents the access to
income and infantilizes the time, making the access to an independent living experience almost impossible for us.
It is therefore time to initiate movements that seek the taking back of income and time. We need movements that demand the right to bankruptcy, study, housing and decent work… We, the precarious, globally, we hope to be able to resume the reins of our lives. For this, we require new models of political organization, enabling us to manage the conflict and propose new ways for the re-appropriation of income and time.
Our reading of the winds of change in some states and the capitalist solution to the crisis has made us to think the autonomy as an area. Nowadays we identify on it the core of our local political action.
For us the autonomism is no longer a desire and has become a necessity. A neccesity of a stable organization to do politics in the broadest sense as possible while maintaining the speech over time. It is necessary to create structures that cover the anomic situations that occur in society and build an identity associated with the collective material needs of income and time.
Our role as activists is to influence where the life forms that make up the youth precariousness take place, this is the study and precarious work centers. We must be able to act on the axiom study, work and leisure in a comprehensive manner, as capitalism works simultaneously disciplining these policy areas and subsuming them to the dynamics of exploitation and accumulation.
We need autonomy to determine ourselves as a subject capable of establishing constituent moments, which can only come out by an own and collective agenda. An agenda open to the conflict with the public and private but which accepts these areas as the space of transformative intervention. It must also be an agenda open to strategic pacts, to the alliance with the classical public issues, ready to receive the synergies of collective struggles that are generated around us. We need, in short, make the autonomy real in order to bring social change into reality. A reality in which we see how the malaise of society is the general trend and there are few times when this feeling becomes politicized in favor of social movements. In this sense, from Madrid we propose the unification of a global student action day, in which each reality chooses its way of political action. We think that this action should be placed in the end pf March, allowing all groups that have time to organize a joint response.
AU Contrapoder: http://aucontrapoder.blogspot.com/
Colectivo Rise up: http://colectivoriseup.blogspot.com/
Translated by Segundo González (firstname.lastname@example.org)