UCU strike – quick updates

Two quick pieces of news from the current UCU dispute:

The latest edition of the University Worker rank-and-file bulletin, with updates on the situation now the stitch-up deal’s been beaten, is out now, ready for the rest of this week’s picket lines.

The current list of student occupations in support of the strike now stands at Exeter, Bath, Dundee, Aberdeen, Cambridge, Queen Mary, York, Stirling, Sheffield, Reading, Edinburgh, Kings College London, and Surrey, with unconfirmed rumours about Queens in Belfast – see Occupations Hub to keep up with that angle.

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About nothingiseverlost

"The impulse to fight against work and management is immediately collective. As we fight against the conditions of our own lives, we see that other people are doing the same. To get anywhere we have to fight side by side. We begin to break down the divisions between us and prejudices, hierarchies, and nationalisms begin to be undermined. As we build trust and solidarity, we grow more daring and combative. More becomes possible. We get more organized, more confident, more disruptive and more powerful."
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4 Responses to UCU strike – quick updates

  1. SamFanto says:

    I’d be interested in any reflections about the following, which I’ve just written about these occupations here – http://dialectical-delinquents.com/news-of-opposition-5/2018-2/march-2018/
    “Depressingly there doesn’t seem to be any critique of the form and content of what passes for “education” at all, the goal of which is to support, in a vast variety of ways, the totality of hierarchical power, class society, the commodity economy and the roles necessary to merely survive, producing and consuming our alienation. Is it that all the marxists, libertarian communists, anarchists and whateverists involved in these events feel the need to uncritically support some vaguely radical action in order to later win people over to their more radical critique or have they long repressed this critique? Are they cowards or have they adopted a political mentality that sees struggles in terms of stages and feel fearful of “alienating” those who merely want a temporarily easier adaptation to their alienation. Of course, the attacks of capital on pensions etc. and its constant creation of financial insecurity for those not at the top of the shitheap has to be resisted, but it’s obvious that it’s not enough. How can one expect anything to advance if you don’t contribute to this advancement? How come there’s no critique of the lecturer role, the intensification of reification by “science”, the distortion of creativity by the arts, the use of leftist “critical” sociology by the powers-that-be, etc. etc. Sure, everyone has to find a way of surviving, of making money, but reducing struggle – particularly in the university – to just that ignores a million questions. “

    • I’m trying to think of any examples, and one of the things that really strikes me is that I genuinely don’t know where to look for such critiques – I imagine that there must be some interesting conversations happening in at least some of the occupations, but I don’t know where such conversations or their outcomes would be recorded for outsiders to see, without doing a vast amount of trawling through twitter/facebook. I did notice that Plan C have just published a piece called “Professionalism and alienation: How to maintain capitalist relations” – but that then turns out to be a piece written by a domestic violence worker, which while interesting in itself is not directly related to the topic of academia.
      One of the more interesting elements of the strike has been the organising of alternative “teach-out” type events, which, while pretty variable in content, at least point to some desire to experiment and imagine how things could be done differently, but again there’s no kind of a central hub (which I think is not entirely a bad thing), so you have to go digging through various local accounts to find out what’s on – so for instance I’ve found a few things from Sheffield: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DYUZq3vXUAEJKhM.jpg:large
      https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DXvwhGvWkAIFmKB.jpg:large
      which range from discussions of “how can we liberate our curriculum?”, “who’s subsiding who? A naive melody on higher education and ‘lifelong learning'”, and “self-harm: cutting overdosing and neoliberalism”, all of which sound potentially quite interesting… to a session presented by Paul Blomfield MP.
      Similarly, here’s the Leeds programme, which sounds like it might have some worthwhile content: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1_JVAZ4bTBSeGQ096f7NGm39n6Fh0Ve4GU6EqQUhK_EU/edit#gid=0
      Not sure how many other places these things happened in or whether there’s any sort of national-level guide to them. From a brief look, here’s the programme for KCL: https://www.kclsu.org/asset/News/6015/KCL-Teach-Out-Programme.pdf and Cambridge: https://cambridgeucuaction.wordpress.com/teach-outs/
      But again, those are mostly just titles and brief descriptions, so for those who can’t attend, it’s anyone’s guess as to what the content’s like, apart from sessions where you recognise the speaker’s name, for better or for worse.
      The USS strike solidarity blog also has a few posts that at least vaguely gesture towards a critique of the university, with titles like “The university is a factory”, “Universities, solidarity and my mental health”, and “Pensions strike hits the neoliberal university”… but then we also get “How Corbyn helps the strikes – and vice versa”, just to remind us that this is the British left in 2018 so everything always comes back to Labour.

  2. SamFanto says:

    Will probably say more next week – too busy this weekend – but for the moment there’s this, which I wrote over 5 years ago: http://dialectical-delinquents.com/academia-sociology-the-muddle-class/

    Obviously not sufficient but maybe some kind of framework for developing in relation to current struggles.

    • There’s also “Profession and Movement” from the German Wildcat, which touches on some related points: https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/wildcat-profession-and-movement
      I suppose a critique of the journalist or professional commentator role has to go along with this – something I’ve been thinking about recently is how do we get from the current situation, where there’s very little radical writing being produced in the UK, and barely anything in print form that’s worth circulating, without just relying on the creation of more “radical journos”, Patreon-funded personalities, and so on? I guess this line from the Wildcat article is a good start: “We need our own structures as a material alternative to the ‘profession’; we need commonly organised living arrangements, collectives and (social) centres which would allow as a different way to approach ‘work’…”

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