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Students And Sparks And The Flame That Never Was

10 Nov

Yesterday’s day of action in London might not have been as much of a landmark as previous protests, but this does not mean it requires less analysis in the aftermath. Indeed, perhaps it requires more.

The 9th November, a year on from Millbank, was billed as the event to reinvigorate the student movement and with occupations still ongoing in the city as well as the Sparks electricians and RMT taxi drivers also calling a day of action, the day had the potential to be very exciting. However in the event, police numbers proved too much and the day passed quietly and largely unreported.

Police numbers were massive: 4,000 officers were on duty for the march, the Met claiming one of their biggest public order events ever. In the run up to the day it was announced that baton-rounds would be on stand-by and warnings were given to known activists and school students to stay away. Even as activists arrived in London they faced harassment with student coaches being searched and arrests made on ludicrous grounds. With so much happening on the day and so many potential “flashpoints”, the police tactic was clearly to keep everything separate.

The electricians’ day of action started with the Sparks marching around central London, blockading roads including Bishopsgate, after which they eventually joined with an “official” demonstration called by Unite. Once again putting pressure on the union to follow the rank-and-file movement’s example of radical action, several hundred electricians refused to follow the agreed Unite march and instead tried to join up with the students. This was quickly kettled by police and despite efforts from students outside to break it, the Sparks were kept back. Meanwhile in Trafalgar Square, members of OLSX had broken through police lines and set up tents in the square. Though it seemed at first that they had won yet another occupied space, victory was short-lived as police arrested them after an hour, with the march and potential reinforcements a safe distance away. The march itself was supposed to pass the occupation at St. Pauls but before it could reach the camp the route was diverted down heavily policed roads, not allowed even near St. Pauls, and into a semi-kettle at Moorgate. With only one exit and several units dotted along the road it led to, the police made sure that the marchers wouldn’t leave en masse for the Finsbury Square occupation or to any other part of the city.

This may not have been the headline-grabbing success we’d wanted but it does highlight some very important things about the state of play. Firstly, it’s been said before but deserves reiterating: everything has changed since Millbank. It seems almost inconceivable now that only a year ago police thought just a handful of officers would be enough for tens of thousands of student marching through London. The expectation from both sides that something can happen on any demonstration now is a massive shift in itself. Not that long ago “minor scuffles” and 60 arrests would have been enough to provoke upset and condemnation from newspapers, now they’re so par-for-the-course it’s hardly worth reporting. The fact that so many police and such a big operation are now needed for a relatively small protest is a victory in itself and it’s reasonable to question just how many demonstrations the resources of the Met can keep that level of policing up for.

More importantly though in being so successful on Wednesday the police have exposed their biggest fear: that all these apparently different issues and protests should collide with each other in an act of solidarity. We should remember then that whatever particular situation, organisation, struggle or action we might be involved in it is part of something bigger. OLSX, the students or the Sparks are not wholly the movement but just a part of the movement and get their strength from acting together. With the Occupy movement, the riots and student protests last year as well as the Sparks and other rank-and-file campaigns we’re seeing that spontaneity and new networks and forms of organisation are able to grow that we can mobilise around. In the run up to the strikes at the end of the month we need to organise despite divisions of union, industry, sector or workplace. We need to go further than the slogan “students and workers unite” and instead realise that we are all workers, even if some of us are workers-in-training.

Formalised methods of taking up disputes are designed to limit our actions, but the Sparks and the Occupy movement have shown that we can act around these limitations. If you’re not unionised or not out on the 30th book the day off or pull a sickey to strike informally, or find out from your union about support they might give you for not crossing another unions picket. We can support each other by meeting together to plan actions and in Leeds strike meetings are taking place between lecturers, support staff and students on both the University and the Met’s campuses (check out Leeds EAN for more details). The Sparks campaign will be coming to Leeds, holding their first meeting in November and this Friday Leeds will join in the Occupy movement. In The Space Project, being run by us at Really Open University, we will have meetings around issues that affect us all and inviting people to think about how we deal with them collectively.


Inside the Egyptian Revolution,

25 Oct

Last night (23/10/11) the Space Project played host to Jano Charbell, journalist and anarchist activist from Cairo in Egypt. Jano spoke to an audience of about 30 in the newly decorated space, about the conditions in Egypt since the revolution began and Mubarak fell. He warned of the counter-revolutionary activities of the ruling military council in Egypt as being a threat to the energy and optimism of the millions who took part in the initial uprisings of 2011. The council has put thousands of civilians on trial, gagged the media and delayed promised elections. He also spoke, however, of the causes for optimism in Egypt where new civil society organisations, such as independent trade unions and neighbourhood assemblies continue to spring up.

For Jano the internationalism of the current wave of resistance is crucial. There is a real cross-fertilisation of struggle. Activists in Egypt are not only inspiring and inspired by other Arab popular revolts, but also inspired by the current global Occupy movement and other anti-capitalist protests. Building international links of solidarity and support is a key part of ensuring that the challenges to capitalism remain strong.

Jano’s talk is just one of the many events being organised in The Space Project. Other up and coming events include: ‘There was Struggle Before Us’: A programme of walks, talks rides and performances concerning radical history on the streets of Leeds; and in conjunction with Leeds International Film Festival, ‘Living With an Earthquake: a Week of Militant Cinema.

For a full programme of events check out:

The Fight for ‘Real Democracy’ at the Heart of Occupy Wall Street

22 Oct
The Encampment in Lower Manhattan Speaks to a Failure of Representation
By Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri

Demonstrations under the banner of Occupy Wall Street resonate with so many people not only because they give voice to a widespread sense of economic injustice but also, and perhaps more important, because they express political grievances and aspirations. As protests have spread from Lower Manhattan to cities and towns across the country, they have made clear that indignation against corporate greed and economic inequality is real and deep. But at least equally important is the protest against the lack — or failure — of political representation. It is not so much a question of whether this or that politician, or this or that party, is ineffective or corrupt (although that, too, is true) but whether the representational political system more generally is inadequate. This protest movement could, and perhaps must, transform into a genuine, democratic constituent process.

The political face of the Occupy Wall Street protests comes into view when we situate it alongside the other “encampments” of the past year. Together, they form an emerging cycle of struggles. In many cases, the lines of influence are explicit. Occupy Wall Street takes inspiration from the encampments of central squares in Spain, which began on May 15 and followed the occupation of Cairo’s Tahrir Square earlier last spring. To this succession of demonstrations, one should add a series of parallel events, such as the extended protests at the Wisconsin statehouse, the occupation of Syntagma Square in Athens, and the Israeli tent encampments for economic justice. The context of these various protests are very different, of course, and they are not simply iterations of what happened elsewhere. Rather each of these movements has managed to translate a few common elements into their own situation.

In Tahrir Square, the political nature of the encampment and the fact that the protesters could not be represented in any sense by the current regime was obvious. The demand that “Mubarak must go” proved powerful enough to encompass all other issues. In the subsequent encampments of Madrid’s Puerta del Sol and Barcelona’s Plaça Catalunya, the critique of political representation was more complex. The Spanish protests brought together a wide array of social and economic complaints — regarding debt, housing, and education, among others — but their “indignation,” which the Spanish press early on identified as their defining affect, was clearly directed at a political system incapable of addressing these issues. Against the pretense of democracy offered by the current representational system, the protesters posed as one of their central slogans, “Democracia real ya,” or “Real democracy now.”

Occupy Wall Street should be understood, then, as a further development or permutation of these political demands. One obvious and clear message of the protests, of course, is that the bankers and finance industries in no way represent us: What is good for Wall Street is certainly not good for the country (or the world). A more significant failure of representation, though, must be attributed to the politicians and political parties charged with representing the people’s interests but in fact more clearly represent the banks and the creditors. Such a recognition leads to a seemingly naive, basic question: Is democracy not supposed to be the rule of the people over the polis — that is, the entirety of social and economic life? Instead, it seems that politics has become subservient to economic and financial interests.

By insisting on the political nature of the Occupy Wall Street protests we do not mean to cast them merely in terms of the quarrels between Republicans and Democrats, or the fortunes of the Obama administration. If the movement does continue and grow, of course, it may force the White House or Congress to take new action, and it may even become a significant point of contention during the next presidential election cycle. But the Obama and the George W. Bush administrations are both authors of the bank bailouts; the lack of representation highlighted by the protests applies to both parties. In this context, the Spanish call for “real democracy now” sounds both urgent and challenging.

If together these different protest encampments — from Cairo and Tel Aviv to Athens, Madison, Madrid, and now New York — express a dissatisfaction with the existing structures of political representation, then what do they offer as an alternative? What is the “real democracy” they propose?

The clearest clues lie in the internal organization of the movements themselves — specifically, the way the encampments experiment with new democratic practices. These movements have all developed according to what we call a “multitude form” and are characterized by frequent assemblies and participatory decision-making structures. (And it is worth recognizing in this regard that Occupy Wall Street and many of these other demonstrations also have deep roots in the globalization protest movements that stretched at least from Seattle in 1999 to Genoa in 2001.)

Much has been made of the way social media such as Facebook and Twitter have been employed in these encampments. Such network instruments do not create the movements, of course, but they are convenient tools, because they correspond in some sense to the horizontal network structure and democratic experiments of the movements themselves. Twitter, in other words, is useful not only for announcing an event but for polling the views of a large assembly on a specific decision in real time.

Do not wait for the encampments, then, to develop leaders or political representatives. No Martin Luther King, Jr. will emerge from the occupations of Wall Street and beyond. For better or worse — and we are certainly among those who find this a promising development — this emerging cycle of movements will express itself through horizontal participatory structures, without representatives. Such small-scale experiments in democratic organizing would have to be developed much further, of course, before they could articulate effective models for a social alternative, but they are already powerfully expressing the aspiration for a “real democracy.”

Confronting the crisis and seeing clearly the way it is being managed by the current political system, young people populating the various encampments are, with an unexpected maturity, beginning to pose a challenging question: If democracy — that is, the democracy we have been given — is staggering under the blows of the economic crisis and is powerless to assert the will and interests of the multitude, then is now perhaps the moment to consider that form of democracy obsolete?

If the forces of wealth and finance have come to dominate supposedly democratic constitutions, including the U.S. Constitution, is it not possible and even necessary today to propose and construct new constitutional figures that can open avenues to again take up the project of the pursuit of collective happiness? With such reasoning and such demands, which were already very alive in the Mediterranean and European encampments, the protests spreading from Wall Street across the United States pose the need for a new democratic constituent process.

How can Occupy London Stock Exchange exceed its limits?

21 Oct

An ROU friend and comrade has written these reflections on the London Stock Exchange occupation. We are  publishing them here as the first in a series of reflections on the ‘occupation movement’ . #strike//occupy//transform

There is a starting point that is incredibly powerful to all this. It is a simple realisation, an acknowledgement that the government does not do what it claims. Democracy is a lie and we are not all in it together. It is the same powerful realisation that underpinned the riots. The multitude of attacks on our lives always had to produce something more than neat, well defined campaigns.

It is this lack of definement that gives the #occupy movement its power and potential. While lack of demands and clear message has been the chief criticism from the press and politicians it has not seemed to prevent its growth. What is vitally important is the lack of answers because this is also an acceptance that the answers will not be easy. They require coming together, listening to each other, and this takes time.

Above all else #occupy is a movement of people looking for answers, what is to be respected is that they did not turn to the media, our self selected leaders or celebrity for these answers but each other. When the list of grievances is as long and wide as the collected occupiers the solution has to be radical (especially when considered internationally). It has the potential to become a school in anti-capitalism, not where lessons are dictated but where learning takes place through a Freirian “collective investigation of reality” (however I cannot help but feel an influx of political theory is also needed). Will everyone’s grievance get its full airing? Will the time be set aside for us to discover genuine answers or, in fear out of the unknown, will it snap back and merely call for mild technical reform of the system that occupies our daily lives?

The question is can the occupy movement rise above the setting of its own limits? Already we can see how limits are being set, but they are not concrete yet. I wanted to outline 3 ways the movement threatens to limit itself and how it might rise above them.

Limits of privilege

Privilege is everywhere but it is never more obvious than when there is a guy telling everyone that “this is democratic and if you disagree with a decision it is because you did not make your voice heard”. I watched an open general assembly where, on the surface of it, anyone could stand up and speak their mind. Out of the 10-12 speakers I saw, one of them was a woman and one of them was not white.

Aside from who gets to speak at the camp there is also the problem of who attends it, the crowd is overwhelming middle class as I understand it was in Spain and is in New York. The 99% are not equal. The fact there is privilege and discrimination should be expected, after all the movement is built out of the world as it exists already. What is needed to prevent limitation by privilege is not pretence it doesn’t exist but recognition of it and active struggle against it both inside and outside the camp.  This can turn it from a limit into a catalyst. Including struggle against many forms of oppression will bring more people in, help build more chains of solidarity and gain a better understanding of the world now and the one we want.  Certainly there is awareness amongst some in the camp of this but how much time and energy the camp as whole dedicates to this is to be seen.

Limits of fetishisation of strategy

The guy mentioned earlier who claimed #OccupyLSX was perfectly democratic also fell into the trap of limiting by fetishiseing the strategy. This already exits to a large degree due to the memetic roots of the protest but often grows from participants not wanting to question what they have put so much effort into. What is at risk is that the strategy (mass public occupation, consensus, etc.) becomes like the Party, unquestionable and resistant to change. It seems unlikely the camps will survive the British winter and even in sunny Spain could not last forever. It is vital that the participants are able to evolve the strategy into many currently unknown forms that can take place after and alongside the occupation.

There is a threat the occupation comes to privilege itself over other forms of rebellion. #OccupyLSX should not be the centre of the movement any more (or less) than the TUC should be.  To do so would be to limit not only #OccupyLSX but rebellion more generally.

A particular fetishised strategy is so called ‘peaceful protest’. I’m not suggesting the occupation should attack the police, indeed at the current moment in time this would be a poor tactic. The problem is ‘peaceful protest’ has become a mantra, not a current tactic but an ideological way we should always be. I heard ‘the police are the 99% too’ a lot but not ‘the rioters are the 99% too’ and this ‘we are peaceful’ thing sounds a lot like ‘we are better than the rioters’ (and whiter, and richer). It limits #OccupyLSX not only to tactics but far more importantly to who it is in solidarity with and who is in solidarity with it.

Hunter S. Thompson once talked about the failure of the counter culture movement coming out of the colleges in the 60s being down to not recognising and linking with the Hell’s Angels and other working class rebellions of the time. Will this end up been the same for the #occupy movement with the looters who grabbed the nation’s attention earlier this year?

Limitation by definition

This is perhaps the most threatening limitation but also the one the author struggles with the most. As discussed earlier the current power of the #occupy movement is the existence of more questions than answers. The lack resistance to falling into a set piece protest is what gives the movement potential.

The politicians and the press are devastated by its lack of definition, they don’t know how to undermine and subvert it. They don’t know what it is so it is difficult to co-opt.  They would rather the occupations change so as they can be understood by those in power. When it does not do the things they expect it is derided as silly, illegitimate or even somehow immoral.

There has been desperate desire to define itself amongst much of the camp, to give itself identity. This is why the, frankly confusing, draft statement was rushed out. There are various reasons for this desire. Partly it is to please those in power as if by playing their game they will give concessions, as if 5 simple demands will put #OccupyLSX on all the front pages with universal good coverage. The other reason some call for definition is security, a list of demands or a defined cause would explain would answer the question ‘what the fuck are we doing here?’. It would provide an anchor so we can avoid the rough seas of the unknown but it also prevents us going far. My fear is that technical demands of the system are proposed (e.g. regulatory independence) that, aside from been unlikely to be achieve and making little difference if achieved, ends up constricting #OccupyLSX to that rather than helping on the path to the creation of a new world. #OccupyLSX must ask the questions: Who are they trying to look respectful to? and Do we want to be considered legitimate in a world where everything we are against is legitimate? To the Leninist who claims we will never get mass support until simple demands are levelled we must ask: How did we get here without these demands?

This is not to say #OccupyLSX should not have demands or goals. Indeed the process to come up with these demands could be incredibly powerful. But it should not do this to seem respectful or legitimate but because they are tactically advantageous. Yes, we need a radical politics to erupt out of the vagueness that surrounds these gatherings. Yes, we need to understand why we are here and what we are fighting for. And of course we should aim to be able to articulate this to ourselves and each other. But this will take time and we do not need to define ourselves in the eyes of the 1%, they do not need to understand us other than as a menacing threat.

But above all else the movement should not allow itself be defined by the demands it uses. Any understanding of why we are here should instead be drawn from the generalised fluid purpose that comes from the discussions held with each other, the sharing of grievances, the collective education. What should be sought in the #occupy movement is not a well defined single campaign or campaigns, but more like the early labour movement, a space in which demands can be articulated and campaigns fought (alongside many other functions). The movement must always remain bigger than these short term goals, happy to leave them in its wake, an ever-changing, glorious beast.

Overcoming our fears

This all boils down to fear. It is how the police operate from the bark of the dog to the roboticness of the riot cop and the threat of the kettle. And it is scary realise that privilege is everywhere, and overcoming decimation is not simple. It is scary to accept the tactics are not perfect and we cannot be in control of it all. It is scary to take part in something that has unlimited aims, that is venturing into the unknown. For those ‘radicals’ who has criticise from the sideline it might be scary to take part in something that does not match our expectation that we have philosophised about so much. It is scary to venture beyond our limits. But if we desire real change we must be brave and find those things that make us ecstatic, move us forward and defy expectations.

The Space Project

14 Sep

We would like to invite you to an open meeting to help us shape a new vibrant venue for discussions, film showings, seminars, talks,workshops, reading groups, archives, enquiries and other creative projects.

The space will be close to Leeds City Centre hosting events that explore social change (broadly defined) in an engaged and participatory way. Facilitated by the Really Open University, we’re seeking other groups and individuals who would like to contribute to the life of the space by hosting events and contributing to building a non-commercial, self-managed space in Leeds.

Do you have something you think you would like to do? Come along to our open meeting or please get in touch with us at

Where: The Space Project, 37-38 Mabgate green, Leeds
When: Tuesday October 4th 7:30pm

The ‘space project’ will be run as a not-for-profit venture, with no paid staff and events being free or donations-only.

‘Creative’ Functionalism and Continental Philosophy at Middlesex

1 Aug
By Paula Gilligan
On May 10th, 2010, the management of Middlesex University in England shut down its Philosophy Department. This act provoked a spate of letters in the newspapers. Now, while the general attack on the Humanities in the United Kingdom has been going on for some time, –for a good many years before the credit crunch, as any lecturer in non-English languages will testify– the events in Middlesex are interesting because of what they tell us about the current state of the academy, and about what the Government and the elite classes regard as its purpose.

The man behind the closure, one Ed Esche, the Dean of the School of Arts and Humanities, said that this department made no ‘measurable’ contribution to the University. As the Department and its students mounted their defence online, more details emerged as to what the management regarded as a ‘measurable contribution’. The University’s financial statements are its charter and they tell us that the institution’s aim is making money. Middlesex operates like a feudal shire–each Department is required to pay a tithe of 55% of their ‘income’ to the ‘Centre’–the Department of Philosophy’s sin was that it only managed 53%. Humanities academics, foolishly harbouring the hope that success on the Research Assessment Exercise will keep them safe, can get cold comfort from this event. The department’s significant ‘esteem’ (‘impact’s’ precursor in the RAE) in the fields of continental and radical philosophy has undoubtedly delivered a tidy return in research income in the past for the University. [1]

On the surface, the Middlesex management’s actions suggest a functionalism, which appears to offer a dose of hard realism to the ‘sherry-sipping’ denizens of this ivory-tower of humanities scholarship. The management said that the number of BA philosophy students the Department attracts is ‘unsustainably low’.  There were two types of arguments against Middlesex’s apparent utilitarianism in the letters and articles on the subject. The main defence, and, I believe, the most dangerous one for the Humanities, pits this type of functionalism, represented as hard and austere (and associated with science, technology, and business), against the soft and yielding human arts, who are, it would appear, in need of protection. The defence of arts and humanities enquiry has traditionally been driven by a defence of culture itself–or at least the prevailing understanding of culture. This is, apparently, done in the public interest, in order to contribute to a ‘civilized’ (but oddly not civil) society. This other function of ‘public culture’, as it is constructed by the knowledge economy, leads us to the role of the arts and the humanities in the generation of capital and in the generation of spaces for social elites. This economy is constructed as somehow separate but equal to the knowledge economy: this is the ‘creative economy’. [2]
We can see this creative economy in action when we look at what Middlesex offers. Middlesex University does not do science–it embraces the arts–or at least the ‘creative’ arts. The University website is full of images of creative activity, and boasts of a new arts observatory.  Its news includes numerous listings of awards given for artistic endeavour. Not a trace of the old polytechnic commitment to small to medium enterprise education and to the regional and social remit is left. Its business programs are laced with modules specialising in ‘creativity’ and ‘innovation’.The creative economy positions Humanities scholars in three ways. The first is to act as an advocate of the arts as public goods and for the public good–but this is based on particular understandings of culture as an ‘antidote’ to the uncouth tendencies of untrammeled capitalism.  The second is to ‘educate’ students, rearticulated as consumers/clients for cultural consumption, by exposing them to ‘culture’.  Thirdly, the humanities scholar offers a form of quality assurance for the arts consumer. A lot of the polemic around ‘the arts and the humanities’ are saturated with elite Eurocentric understandings of culture as ‘the best that is thought and said’, and a return to aestheticism and formalism. The words ‘soul’ and civilisation’ crop up a lot. The defence of the Humanities is invariably linked to the defence of the ‘Arts’. We are seen to have common cause, united against the scientists, who are ‘winning’. We need to start questioning this assumption.
Although grateful for the intervention of arts academics outside their own university, the staff and students of the Department of Philosophy, we can guess, were perhaps more aware of this problematic relationship with the ‘creative’ arts than the blogs reveal. They made no attempt to defend the Department on these grounds. Rather they used hard facts, an arsenal which includes data, figures, projections, to expose the lies embedded in such managerial ‘functionalism’–the biggest lie being that ‘income-generating activities’ bring in income to the University where teaching does not. [3]  Still the Department remains closed. Such functionalism, when not openly exposed as the sham it is, eventually reveals its own shortcomings when qualifications and degree programs are no longer fit for purpose, just as functionalist buildings are not fit to live in-but that is not important. As Henri Lefebvre comments, ‘the real purpose of ‘functionalism’ is that it eliminates critical thought’. [4]
In the articles and the blogs, some commentators make oblique reference to the possibility that the Middlesex Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy’s left-leaning views may have led to the Department’s closure. [5]  The students say that the decision is ideological, but do not say more. Following the suspension of a number of student protestors and of three members of staff in June 2010, there are more open references to the issue of the future of critical thought in the blogs. A quick look at the EU calls for submissions tells us that the type of philosophy taught in this Department represents one European tradition that the EU super-state is not anxious to fund. The creative economy (to paraphrase Lefebvre), is a domain without limits but equally the domain of (free) critical thought is without limits. While we can concern ourselves (and do) with art which is truly free, we can, and must, critique the functionalism masquerading under the umbrella of ‘creative’. The aesthetic of this new functionalism is limitless, as it appropriates all ‘creativity’ into itself. The choice presented is stark–either we embrace the creative and knowledge economies with all that entails, and make a ‘measurable contribution’ or we leave the University to the creative classes and their managers. [6]  In the world of the creative economy, critique has become split off from ‘creativity’-arts research has become ‘practice-based’. Humanities-type research serves to quality enhance the conceptual and technological art preferred by the global art markets and to create a further barrier to access to this elite creative class. De Certeau’s famous question: ‘who is allowed to create?’ is forgotten. [7]  Critical theory is either fetishised or banished.
It is very tempting for Humanities Scholars to join the ‘creative classes’ as the EU research funding bodies understand them, but it is dishonest, and its advantages are short-lived, as the creative economy invariably calls on us to renounce free critical thought, which is seen to be negative and not ‘creative’. One of the suspended lecturers at the heart of the Middlesex protests, Christian Kerslake, has made a strong, unpopular, and brave stand in defence of an open, equal, and accessible quality undergraduate education in the humanities-a commitment to public education which requires real sacrifice from academics. If the field of the Humanities is to survive at all, it must start here, with the defence of our public remit–even if it means pulling away from our old relationships, painful as that will be, and finding new allies among the marginalized and the disenfranchised inside, and outside, the academy.Paula Gilligan is the Head of the  Department of Humanities at the Institute of Art, Design and Technology, in Ireland, and co-ordinator of its Centre for Public Cultures. She teaches cultural theory, popular culture studies, the cinema and right-wing cultures in France, Ireland, and the US. Forthcoming publications include Ireland and French Cinema 1937-1977 (with Irish Academic Press).


  • [1] Building on its grade of 5 in the 2001 Research Assessment Exercise, in the 2008 RAE Middlesex was rated first in philosophy among post-1992 universities, with 65% of its research activity judged ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’.
  • [2] ‘Even in narrow economic terms it must be wrong to neglect the importance of the creative economy and the importance of a rich and vibrant museums, galleries and cultural sector for tourism’. Letter to the The Observer, 28th of February 2010, signed by Prof Geoffrey Crossick, warden of Goldsmiths, University of London, and a number of other academics.
  • [3] The argument that they had only 12 students in the honours undergrad stream does not wash when you look at the numbers of postgraduate and fee-paying MA students in the Department’s Centre Research in Modern European Philosophy, not to mention the Department’s contribution to the undergrad programs of the rest of the School. There are currently 63 postgraduate students in the Centre: 48 MA students and 15 PhD students. 5 PhDs were awarded in 2009. See
  • [4] Henri Lefevbre, The Critique of Everyday Life, Vol. 2, Translated by John Moore, London: Verso, 2002, pp. 189-195.
  • [6] In fact four of the lecturers have decamped to Kingston University, bringing the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP) with them, and leaving two of their colleagues behind them.
  • [7] Michel De Certeau, Culture in the Plural, (Translated Tom Conley), Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1994, p.33.

Free Frank Fernie

1 Aug

In recent weeks a number of prison sentences have been handed out to some of those arrested during the student protests of late last year and also the ‘March for the Alternative’ demonstration of this year, of which Frank fernie is just one and Charlie Gilour perhaps the most well known. There are a number of people still going through the legal system.

As the state attacks and imprisons us it is vital that we show solidarity with those inside.

Francis Fernie a York (UK) based student was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment for fighting a cause he believed in.

Frank was involved in the student protests that took place earlier this year and when the police turned aggressive to protesters Frank decided to fight back.  Frank’s offences were minor. The most of severe of which was, “throwing two sticks at police officers”, (police officers that were protected for a full riot).

Frank should not be in prison.

It is easy to see that Frank’s sentence is disproportionate to the crimes he has commited and his background is one of lifelong kindness.

Frank’s has a campaign group fighting to quash his disproportionate sentence and to highlight and put a stop to politically motivated verdicts. For more info of how you can help visit: