In, Against and Beyond the Edufactory

*Originally posted at Learning Exchanges on 15 October 2011

These are my notes from yesterday’s sessions on cognitive capitalism, the University as knowledge factory and alternatives to higher education, from Mobility Shifts. I’ve also posted my tweets from a student discussion of occupy wall street and the response of the University to the crisis.

  1. The University has been subsumed within the circuit of capital, so that it has become emblematic of capitalist social relations, driven by the abstracted power of money.
  2. The University is now a flagship public-private partnership, whose primary purpose is the generation of surplus value through cognitive capital. The exploitation of labour and new sites of struggle are results of the increasing sophistication of the social factory, through which all of social life reveals sites of profit accumulation and the reproduction of capital.
  3. Biopiracy, proletarianisation, routinisation, precarity and globalised culture are all outcomes of this process.
  4. Disciplines become sites of the production of cognitive capital, separated out from each other denying forms of critique that might underpin alternatives. Moreover, a hidden curriculum, focused upon separation, competition and debt, anchors study to capital. As a result we see the wasted potential of co-operation and association.
  5. The idea of the University, as a site of all of living knowledge, is undermined in the face of the endless and hopeless austerity. An exodus from the control systems of capital exhibited through formal education is seen in the autonomy of the internet and sites where general assemblies are developed.
  6. Defensive battles are being waged in generative hubs of radical activity, that sit against the neoliberal enclosure of extant structures and forms, like the University.
  7. Edufactory proposes three spaces for alternatives to emerge: firstly in new forms of general assembly based upon a new politics [see the Zagreb occupation of 2009; student-worker solidarity]; secondly in militant research strategies, which see research as a tool for political action and for widening the field of struggle; thirdly in wresting publication away from corporations-as-rentiers, which turn the cognitive labour of academics and students into private property. This act of violence attempts to remove the academic from revolutionary activity in public.
  8. In spite of this, the University remains a site of resistance in the circulation of capital, In the circulation of money into commodity into surplus value/profit/accumulation, then into money’, commodity” and so on, there are spaces for opposition to develop alternatives, notably at the points of transformation. Although capital will tend to use its biopower in order to maintain control over labour at these points. This also includes the use of technology for control in a transnational field of practices, where academic activity is increasingly measured. This has political consequences.
  9. Within higher education the social relations that lie outside of the University offer hope/spaces for developing webs of resistance – in a politics of community engagement and cross-disciplinary activity and in radical education collectives. These form cycle of struggle.
  10. The precarity of capital is problematised by the power of labour in forcing a reconception of the politics of production, rather than a politics of distribution [of resources, abundance, scarcity].
  11. Universities are becoming warehouses of young people, ensnared by hidden curricula, where activities are used to depoliticise and promote allegedly utilitarian outcomes.
  12. The idea of the University in the production of knowledge at the level of society, in co-producing the general intellect or the social brain, needs to be re-politicised in order to reappropriate knowledge and its means of production for society.
  13. In, against and beyond needs to be understood in terms of real subsumption, through which capital overcomes human sociability to appear naturalistic and pre-determined. It might be critiqued in terms of the social factory or biopower, but it also offers a vantage point for critique from within the social relationships that emerge from/reproduce it, namely the historical moment of labour-in-capitalism.
  14. In, against and beyond is a critique of the power of things or commodities over human sociability and producers. However, capital depends upon the power of labour in order to generate surplus-value and therefore needs principles of domination. A negation might be offered through practices of emancipation, where capital is seen to be in crisis and therefore as precarious. Thus, teh Californian communique offers us the hope that “we [labour] are the crisis [of capital]”.
  15. How is it possible to reconcile our institutional roles and revolutionary intent? What do examples like the School for Designing a Society offer us? What about this list of radical projects? What about upping the anti? What about human geography? Or Noel Castree’s work on academic activism? Or John Holloway’s work on the state as the legal form of capitalism?
  16. some student quotes:

One Response to In, Against and Beyond the Edufactory

  1. Pingback: For an education against dispossession: a note on visitors, residents and proletarianisation | Richard Hall's Space

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