UCL Students Against Students Fragment #1: We Are Trapped And Dying

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si
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Nov 13 2006 18:19
UCL Students Against Students Fragment #1: We Are Trapped And Dying

Students against students find themselves stuck in the cesspit of the modern academy, their limbs weighed down with the excrement of ages. They watch with a certain morbid delight, which shudders into a wild scorn, the goings-on of an institution they know is false, dislocated. Every time they step into the vomitorium and watch the puce bile spill seething out of the gaping mouths of those poor, alienated creatures called lecturers, sometimes they sit, demoralised and alone; sometimes they venture a question, and are rewarded for their precocious little minds; the most conscious stay at home, tired from one more nihilistic assault on the nearest cheapest bar.

The old days are gone if they ever existed. Soaring ivory towers raced unto heaven laden with the material production of the feudal peasantry, carrying the human intellect to phallic heights thence unknown. But today those towers are torn down and rebuilt into 60s tenements – and where thinkers once traced the outlines of heaven in gold-dust paid for with the blood of the noble poor, today their time is spent in the craven reproduction of stale and mouldering ideas, speaking with an authority they know is false on Marx, Lacan, Bataille; and speaking with a true authority on the false and deluded ideas of cretins from Nozick and Rawls to Winch.

The world around us is collapsing and the academy remains the ludicrous plaything of capital. The best of the worst are mired in charitable activity, naively exchanging their labour for a sense of moral well-being while the CEOs of those charities cream off the surplus; the worst of the worst cherish their imagined superiority, imagining that somehow attendance at these ludicrous knowledge factories makes them better people than those they see around them. In UCL Union there is a sign which says “this is a private member’s club […] workmen and contractors are not welcome.”

We stand outside that pathetic hologram of a world, where petty rivalries and networking for future career opportunities dominate social relations; we have not yet decided whether and how to stand against it.

Join us in spitting on the visage of our great leader Malcolm Grant; perchance the venom will eat away his cheap façade and reveal the hideous pulsating organ of capital that resides beneath.

We are waiting in the pub.

Solidarity is strength;
Death to academic separation

studentsagainststudentsucl@googlemail.com

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Tacks
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Nov 13 2006 18:34

fuck me grin

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jef costello
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Nov 13 2006 22:36

This is a joke right?

Thora
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Nov 13 2006 22:59

Very good cool

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jef costello
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Nov 13 2006 23:02

It's hard to tell, I used to work there and it's not far off some real stuff.

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Tacks
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Nov 13 2006 23:06

Course its real.

si
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Nov 14 2006 10:16

because real stuff can't joke? Or because it's //just not credible enough, man//? what - elitist? for fuck's sake - the fact is that it either will or will not bite, and if it doesn't then a new style and new content - but one has to start somewhere, and why not from where one is?

And tbh my experience of leafleting the Tumelty leaflet leads me to believe that it may well resonate - I wouldn't have thought of publishing it but for that heady night (6 pints & dinner bought for me by 5 groups of students).

What do you mean, jef?

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Nov 14 2006 10:41

Vomitoria were not special rooms where you went to vomit, but otherwise I like it. cool

si
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Nov 14 2006 11:06
Jack wrote:
It's like the poverty of student life for a whole new generation.

kind. tbh I'm not sure much has changed from the point of view of the student. The form of capitalist production has always dominated the bourgeois academy (alienation, domination, commodification etc). What makes the present particularly interesting is the ongoing imposition of the content. Today the academic mask slips: academic value ('standing', 'regard', 'truth' and so on, and for whatever it's worth) is increasingly pushed aside by the raw application of the profit motive - and the precondition for the application of that logic is the commodification of all pedagogical and research //mattter//, that is to say the proletarianisation of all teachers and researchers.

I want to write about it in more depth at some point but I'm convinced we are facing an historical moment comparable to the death of art at the turn of the century...

si
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Nov 14 2006 11:08

the provost(?) of oxford is trying to dissolve the government by dons and replace it with a 'financial committee'.

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Nov 14 2006 11:09
si wrote:
Today the academic mask slips: academic value ('standing', 'regard', 'truth' and so on, and for whatever it's worth) is increasingly pushed aside by the raw application of the profit motive - and the precondition for the application of that logic is the commodification of all pedagogical and research //mattter//, that is to say the proletarianisation of all teachers and researchers.

Another way of framing this (very good) point would be to look at how the different forms of capital, e.g. cultural are in a process of assimilation to "capital proper."

si
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Nov 14 2006 11:10
the button wrote:
Vomitoria were not special rooms where you went to vomit, but otherwise I like it. cool

bah. Tbh it wants a brisk rewrite before publishing and distro anyway - I'll change that among other things.

ftony
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Nov 14 2006 11:11
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the provost(?) of oxford is trying to dissolve the government by dons and replace it with a 'financial committee'.

i.e. transferring power from an outmoded oligarchy to a stifling bureaucracy?

doesn't sound like much of a big issue to me :?

si
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Nov 14 2006 11:12
the button wrote:
si wrote:
Today the academic mask slips: academic value ('standing', 'regard', 'truth' and so on, and for whatever it's worth) is increasingly pushed aside by the raw application of the profit motive - and the precondition for the application of that logic is the commodification of all pedagogical and research //mattter//, that is to say the proletarianisation of all teachers and researchers.

Another way of framing this (very good) point would be to look at how the different forms of capital, e.g. cultural are in a process of assimilation to "capital proper."

recommend some reading?

si
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Nov 14 2006 11:16
ftony wrote:
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the provost(?) of oxford is trying to dissolve the government by dons and replace it with a 'financial committee'.

i.e. transferring power from an outmoded oligarchy to a stifling bureaucracy?

doesn't sound like much of a big issue to me :?

it's significant of a paradigm shift, a poetic example of the shift from mere capitalist form to whole capitalist being.

Defend the Dons would be a ridiculous slogan, but on the other hand I think that contradictions are being posed now which have the potential to blow the university right open if they are capitalised upon. Obviously we have our critique of bourgeois academic value, just as we have our critique of religion - but it isn't by direct rhetorical assault we dissolve those false consciousnesses, but rather by the elaboration of a really communist critique.

This is not about a reactionary struggle for academic value - rather it seeks to use the emerging material reality (proletarianisation) as a launching pad for a struggle for the communisation of the university.

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Nov 14 2006 11:17

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre_Bourdieu#Symbolic_capital_and_symbol...

There you go -- even though generally I'm not a fan of Bourdieu, I do think "cultural capital" is a very powerful concept. The book of his you want to be looking at is Distinction (or is it Distinctions?). It's a biggy, but a lot of it is analysis of his empirical data, which you can skip if you like.

si
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Nov 14 2006 11:22

deal. got to write an essay on hegel's dialectic for wednesday (eep) but will get onto that in short order.

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Nov 14 2006 11:43
si wrote:
deal. got to write an essay on hegel's dialectic for wednesday (eep)

What? All of it? Fucking hell. eek

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Nov 14 2006 11:53

I like the picture and the speech bubble.

The text... well it looks kinda cool in that it's just in the situ style, but then I only really liked most situ stuff from an aesthetic value, i can't generally be bothered to read stuff that's very verbose. But i'd imagine arty/philosophy student types would probably like it.

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Nov 14 2006 12:29
revol68 wrote:
Surely death to academia is much more apt and communist?

"Death to the academy, now that I've got my degree, thanks very much"?

wink

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Nov 14 2006 13:22

Don't measn to be nasty, but i think it is pretentious crap.

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Nov 14 2006 13:23
pingtiao wrote:
Don't measn to be nasty, but i think it is pretentious crap.

given as it's in the style of the situs, i'd take that as a compliment wink

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Nov 14 2006 13:25
pingtiao wrote:
Don't measn to be nasty, but i think it is pretentious crap.

I think that would be the opinion of most med/science/eng type students yes.

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Nov 14 2006 13:31

Come on. If you can't spout pretentious crap when you're a student, when can you spout pretentious crap?

(Don't answer that, revol. tongue)

Vaneigemappreci...
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Nov 14 2006 13:34
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i just don't rate the situationists and the endless recurgetation of their shite pisses me off.

really? You should have let me know wink

i like the way its written, but as has been said its only likely to be of interest in its current style to arts/sociology students.

I'd also suggest that this proletarianisation happened a long time ago and the way you set out your argument it sounds like your expect the uni to be immune to such a process.

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Nov 14 2006 13:37

Really- you guys think that this would appealto arts students? I thought that this style was only something that people like us (i.e. politicos au fait with situationist-style over-verbose pretension) would appreciate. It reads to me like a thinly-disguised attempt to get girls into bed by appearing intellectual (sorry si!)

Vaneigemappreci...
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Nov 14 2006 13:45
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It reads to me like a thinly-disguised attempt to get girls into bed by appearing intellectual

works for me grin

but then i always was one for verbiage

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Nov 14 2006 13:59
revol68 wrote:
maybe even a joke about a football player (proletarians love that!).

That's as may be, but this is for students, remember.

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Nov 14 2006 14:04
pingtiao wrote:
It reads to me like a thinly-disguised attempt to get girls into bed by appearing intellectual (sorry si!)

that's what being an arts student is all about!

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Nov 14 2006 14:07
revol68 wrote:
Quickly comrades to the barricades, death to the proletarian condition! Long live the classical bourgeois education!

Damn right. cool

Ivory towers for all!

What do we want? The aorist tense! When do we want it? In the future incomplete!

si
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Nov 14 2006 14:08

The first thing to say is that this is very definitely a fragment of a broader systematic critique which my friends and I have failed to write in the past weeks. It seeks to pose questions and name certain tensions without resolving them; it seeks to find a constituency without first rigidly defining that constituency. The intention is to leaflet fragments like this on a regular basis, week to week, as a foil for conversation and also promoting some sort of weekly social as a preliminary to real action - the opening of a space in which a sort of organic unity might emerge.

On criticisms: first off I hope I've made clear it's nothing to do with defending anachronistic academic values. read the first page again if you think otherwise.

vaneigem: it strikes that something new is happening now. Obviously the bourgeois academy has always been capitalist, and its form has been relatively straightforwardly so. The capitalist content, however, has for the last few centuries been mediated by an anachronistic academic value (truth, regard, standing etc) which has to a certain extent acquired of retained a life partially autonomous from capital. Think maybe of art in the modernist period.

What I think we're seeing now is the sweeping aside of that ideological mystification and the rough patches it entailed - the direct assertion of capitalist value as the determining force in the academy.

The contradiction between academic consciousness and the emerging concrete reality of proletarianisation strikes me as potentially a very fertile ground for the communist critique.

People on style: This wasn't actually written to be published, it was a sketch written in frustration at failure to write a manifesto. It was only when I got a very positive response from a friend at uni that it occured to me to use it.

It could definitely benefit from a rewrite. The language certainly is self-indulgent from time to time esp. in its use of archaism.

But it's certainly not humourless and it's not the credulous regurgitation of situationism. The fact that the student mainly experiences the form of education (which has always been straightforwardly capitalist) in a way which precludes an engagement with the content means that the present changes have very little impact. The situ critique of the role of the student strikes me as essentially right and still relevant for that reason.

um. pingtiao: not sure how to respond, except to say that it is a fragment, and insofar as it fails in practice both the style and the content are prone to change. But we can but try eh?