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Anarchist students view the New Democracy intervention in Greek universities in the broader context of an EU-wide overhaul of education along neoliberal lines. This is the second in a two-part series: Part One, Greek Cops Are Coming Out of Our Universities! is here.
This article is an analysis of the restructuring of education, the violation and attempted abolition of asylum in universities and the installation of “campus cops”. Beyond the preventive counter-insurgency of the Greek state, we see an absolutely unified plan, at least for the European university system. Since the end of the 1990s, we have witnessed a concerted effort by European states to change the character of the university, the consequences of which we are witnessing today.
Supranational agreements and domination of the center in neoliberal universities
With participation in transnational organizations, the concept of borders begins to break down at the local level, undermined by the domination of the center over the periphery.
The process of capitalist reconstruction begins with the birth of neoliberalism, that is, the construction of the basic political and economic conditions that would lead to the deconstruction of the social-democratic consensus and the construction of neoliberal impositions.
The neoliberal process finds, at the most critical moment of its development, a temporary justification on the one hand, but also a great new perspective for exploitative deepening capitalism on the other hand, and a path of development that would lead to the irreversible – as we believe – global imposition of the capitalist system. The event that brings these guarantees to capitalism is none other than the dissolution of the USSR in 1991.
The justification for neoliberalism lies in the fact that it now sees itself as the only system of constitution and economic management, while the dissolution of the USSR is a good opportunity for the social democrats – who have been ready for a long time – to s identify politically with neoliberalism on the basis that the latter is inevitable, omnipotent. So much for the political sphere. But this is not enough to reduce neoliberalism to an imperial/universal doctrine. It is the exploitation of the void left by the dissolution of the USSR that will give it this title. The globalization of the capitalist world. We are of course talking about the ancient art of colonizing physical space and all the relationships, correlations and political-economic factors that formed within it (social needs, natural resources, people, etc.).
One of the consequences of the expansion of neoliberalism has been the geopolitical restructuring of education as another sphere of life, appropriated by international capital. This expansion constructs ‘territories’ and ‘zones’ in which there is more commodification and exchange of ‘educational units’ in the name of transnational market agendas. Modern educational structures are bases for the reproduction of capital and laboratories for the production of market knowledge. The consequences of this process are multiple and as intertwined as capital and the nation, exposing the two as common partners in the “knowledge economy” project.
The consequences of this structure reverberate globally with common problems – lack of access to education, loss of housing due to student debt, and even an increase in police forces on campuses to meet its repressive needs. Of course, these measures met with resistance. In Europe there have been protests against Bologna Process reforms, in the United States against high tuition fees and budget cuts. In Latin America, people fought against the exclusion of the poor from access to higher education and even stronger were the grandiose mobilizations in Quebec, with strikes for the repayment of student loans and the organization of leading student unions.
The common elements of these global problems are part of a complex system, the construction of a knowledge economy as a supposed solution to a failing capitalist world order.
On the way to Bologna… the EU’s first transnational agreements
Within the European Union, the tone was set by the Magna Charta Universitatum of Bologna in 1988. It brought together the rectors of European universities, now numbering 430, who plead for the need for student mobility and professors, general cooperation between universities and much more. for an exchange of documents, titles and examinations. It was followed by the Treaty of Maastricht in 1992, itself a precursor to the White Paper of 1993, promoting convergence between Member States and the need for greater participation of private capital in education and training systems. , in order to meet market needs. It represented the political organization of education and a strengthening of business cooperation with education systems. This was followed by a second white paper in 1995, which promoted “financial flexibility” for universities and encouraged research into new forms of funding education.
In 1998, 910 years after the birth of the University of Bologna in the historic civil registry office, the Sorbonne Declaration was published, following a meeting of French, British, German education ministers and Italian, to discuss the vision of a unified education system. . It introduced a series of ideas which, a year later, in 1999, saw the Bologna Declaration signed by education ministers from 29 European countries. The key points of this treatise were:
- “Adoption of a system which will be based on two courses, a first cycle (lasting at least three years) and a third cycle. The undergraduate degree will be recognized in the European labor market as a competent professional qualification, while the second cycle should lead to a postgraduate and/or doctoral degree
- Implementation of a credit system such as the European System of Transfer of Credits (ECTS = European Credit Transfer System), for the “promotion of the widest possible mobility of students” and the comparability of diplomas. According to this standard, a full year of academic study corresponds to 60 points in the ECTS system, these credits are distributed by course. Also, as indicated, the Credits can also be accumulated outside the framework of Higher Education.
- Promotion of the “necessary European dimensions” in higher education, mainly in terms of curriculum, cooperation between establishments, mobility, as well as “integrated curricula and training, training-teaching and research”.
In the ensuing decade 2000-2010 in a number of European Union countries, student movements erupted in opposition to the transformation of higher education systems that was being attempted in each country, separately but as agreed by mutual agreement through the Bologna declaration, then renewed with regular sessions and agreements. As a rule, in 2003, a meeting of ministers of education was held in Berlin with the intention of accelerating the implementation of the restructuring on the horizon, not in 2010, but in 2005.
Libertarian Education as an Imperative Value: Defending the Public Outside and Beyond the State.
“Education today is about taming, educating, taming. She has a very specific idea and desire to accustom children to obedience, to believe and to think in obedience to the social dogmas in force. He is not interested in fostering the spontaneous development of the child’s abilities, he does not let the child develop his natural, spiritual and moral needs. It is only to impose a different thought on them so that the current regime will be maintained forever; he wants to create a person closely adapted to the social mechanism.
~ F. Ferrer, anarchist pedagogue and founder of the “Modern School” of Barcelona
As anarchists, we are against private and public universities, because we seek a university free from outside interference, organized by society itself, reflecting its needs and desires. We want a public university that does not conform to labor market demands and does not serve the interests of the state.
It is important at this stage to redefine the notion of “public”, because today it is directly associated with the State. The public and social university we envision is one that is shaped by social need, one that provides objective and unbiased knowledge – knowledge that is not directed by someone superior but by those who acquire, who transmit it, who transform it. in action, who suffer the consequences. Knowledge, not fragmentary and specialized, but total and invigorating, capable of sharpening the critical spirit of people and not only of shaping it in a way suitable for integrating them into the labor market while blunting their potential aspirations to radicalization, thus perpetuating the dominant ideology.
We advocate a libertarian education based on mutual aid, solidarity, creativity and diversity. In the framework of the libertarian education that we advocate, the learner is projected as the subject of the educational process and can directly contribute to its reconfiguration in order to harmonize it with his interests. It is in fact a matter of self-management of learning and self-regulation of the curriculum, so that homogeneous sets of knowledge are not imposed on people and therefore individuals are not trained in the same perceptions. Thus, the individual learns something because he really wants to learn, and this learning is achieved through interaction with his teachers and peers. In conclusion, we propose a process of co-construction of educational content by those involved in it, and with respect to the educational process, we believe that it is achieved through interaction and practice rather than passive memorization. facts.
We take roads marked by the mass student mobilizations of the past, such as those of 1990-91 against the Kontagiannopoulou law [Nb: A piece of radical-right legislation submitted by former education minister Vassilis Kontogiannopoulos]who managed to prevent this law and forced the resignation of the minister, those of 2006-’07 with the revision of article 16, etc. Undoubtedly, we also keep as a legacy the struggle of last year with its occupation of the rectorate and the mass marches, and we continue to fight against the evangelization of a university system completely sterile and adapted to “European standards”.
We defend university asylum, we seek a libertarian education through occupations, strikes, forms, associations. We oppose corporatist logics and put forward more substantial and more comprehensive demands, with the primary objective of uprooting the capitalist system and the State, knowing that they determine, according to their interests, the content of education and the way which it is taught. , in order to seal their survival and further increase their strength.
Photo provided by the authors