No apologies. No regrets.
The actions of the last few weeks shocked some people. They went beyond the polite pattern of protest in the university. Many people wanted an argument coherent to their liberal sensibilities of freedom of choice promoted in the neo-liberal orthodoxy. We are expected to maintain a polite relativism but there is nothing polite about the impositions of management and the effects they have on the lives of people that work with us everyday.
If we are as critical and intelligent as we suppose ourselves to be, why do students and staff gain their ideas about what is happening in the university out of the bullshit, misrepresentations and glib summaries from the privileged, self-interested and those completely removed from what they’re talking about? Yes, this includes Honi, the emails from USYD management, student commentators and any other organization or individual that claims to understand or represent the whole or ‘true’ situation. We are not some homogenous mass – we aren’t only students, staff, socialists, anarchists or ‘fly-ins’. And even if we do identify with these labels, we are more than them. We are diverse and complex and we disagree amongst ourselves.
If we don’t have the time to think or talk about this shit, without all these mediators, classifications and generalisations, how are we going to change things?
I am not at university to make an ‘investment’ in my ‘me first’ future prospect, to make an economic transaction. I am here to learn some theory, yes, but also to create social relations upon which I can realize my existence to the fullest of my ability and to conceive with others a future beyond the pressing limitations of contemporary society.
I don’t care if you’re completing your PhD, if you study medicine, or if you get upset and write an angry article for the next edition, you are not above other students and staff that care and take part in the conflicts of the university. Nor can you choose to be neutral in the debate and ‘just want to learn’. Your actions have power and you either undermine workers by crossing pickets or you don’t and if you do, you are a scab. People sacrificed their wages and time; they put their career and their freedom in jeopardy to guard the hard-won conditions fought for by others in the past; rights you enjoy today and will probably not complain about in the future. And if you did not know, you know now.
Wide participation in this debate is needed but it can’t be wrapped in some sexy-hipster-‘feel-good’ packaging for people to consume; it cannot be commodified with wristbands. It cannot be another product in the aisle of convictions, campaigns and causes if it is to be an honest process that sets the basis for a community that creates and liberates knowledge instead of being a space for the spectators and consumers of its marketisation.
Education is a process not a commodity.