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Part of the officially-sanctioned ‘Graffiti...

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 03/05/2021 - 8:58am in

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Students

Part of the
officially-sanctioned ‘Graffiti Tunnel’. Where students at the
University of Sydney have been outdoing each other since the late 1960’s.
A shadow of its former self. Camperdown.

Rent Strikes: Organisation and Action

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 03/05/2021 - 7:41am in

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UK, Students, tenants

image/jpeg iconrent_strike_new_york_times_1919.jpg

Article about the Bristol University Rent Strike from a participant and member of Leeds SolFed.

The parasitic nature of landlordism means that once you withhold your rent en masse, they’re suddenly struggling to survive, so it gives you significant leverage over them. This is the power of a rent strike.

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Strike against Scomo to save our planet

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 28/04/2021 - 9:49pm in

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Students, Students

Solidarity student bulletin Sydney Uni

We are in the midst of an ecological crisis which is without precedent in human history. Warming locked will see the great barrier reef destroyed. Australia is already experiencing conditions expected of 1.5 degrees of warming – with frequent extreme weather events and deadly heatwaves, mass biodiversity loss and extinction. The earth is on track for at least 3 degrees of warming by the end of the century. This conservative estimate would see mass carnage – hundreds of millions displaced, hundreds of millions killed,  whole parts of the Earth – including on our own continent -becoming uninhabitable.

A tiny number of giant companies are responsible for this mess – 71 per cent of global emissions between 1988 and 2015 were caused by just 100 companies. These criminals have trillions of dollars worth of investment sunk in fossil fuels – they will not give these up unless we force them.

With the election of Joe Biden in the United States, many are hoping we are about to finally see genuine action. But despite committing to much higher emissions reductions than under Obama, his plan still relies on failed market mechanisms,  mythical carbon capture technology and is yet another ‘non binding pledge’ consistently undelivered by successive presidents.

In Australia, Morrison isn’t even pretending to be reducing emissions in line with keeping warming below 2 degrees, and his key economic policy following last year’s slump is support for a whole series of new gas projects.

It did not have to be this way. In 2019 millions of students struck around the globe for action on climate change. Climate change dominated newsfeeds and politics. The Federal election in Australia was dubbed ‘the climate election’. 

Yet it returned the Liberal government to power – despite promising only minuscule reductions in emissions with no plan to achieve them.

This is because of the way the Liberals divided ordinary people on the issue of climate. A study produced by the Australian National University found that while 80 per cent of voters think more action is required to tackle climate change, voters were more concerned with issues of economic security. The Liberals won the election by relentlessly posing climate action as a threat to jobs – and the climate movement had no serious response.

But genuine climate action – a rapid rollout of publicly owned renewable energy – could generate hundreds of thousands of good paying, union jobs. 

This is why we must insist that the climate movement put demands for public renewables and climate jobs front and centre. 

However, this is not simply to win the majority to vote left in the next election. It is to mobilise behind us the power to force genuine change – by winning over workers – who have the power to bring the fossil fuel addicted system to a halt. We saw a small glimpse of this when wharfies at Port Botany walked off the job to join the 2019 September 20 climate strike. To see this kind of action on a wide enough scale to force change, we will need to show workers across the country that climate action will also addressi the unemployment crisis, lower electricity prices, and come with a more secure future economically. 

Once again Morrison is touting fossil fuels as a solution to the real issues around jobs, electricity prices, and economic uncertainty – in the form of the Liberals’ so-called ‘Gas-led recovery’. This is unlikely to deliver either the cheaper gas prices or the jobs that Morrison is claiming. But unless the climate movement fights for its own solutions to these issues we will once again play into Morrison’s hands.

More importantly, this would help build real power behind our movement. We are facing down the most powerful corporations in the world. We need more than protest: we need to bring the system to a halt. This can only happen if workers strike across the economy.

As students we can shut down our university with a mass strike, showing in practice that mass strikes are possible, and that we can achieve a mass strike with demands that put workers first. This could provide the inspiration needed to spark strikes by workers, and build real strength on our side. 

This begins with mass organising in the here and now. We brought hundreds to the Student General Meeting by meeting students, doing announcements in every lecture we can, arguing, convincing, and persuading more students to become activists. We need this again on a much larger scale for the climate strike on Friday 21st of May. 

And we need every climate activist at the May 1 action this Saturday. Showing we support workers who are willing to fight is key to building the trust and solidarity we need to build workers’ power in the climate movement.

Mass strikes capable of winning jobs and government spending on the scale needed to deliver serious climate action could also lay the basis for the movement going further. Workers need to take control of production ourselves as part of a revolution that overturns the existing system which subordinates our very existence on this planet to profits.

Solidarity is a revolutionary organisation that has been at the heart of building the climate strikes at usyd and putting class politics at their centre. We need this kind of organisation at every university, and in every workplace, to gather momentum everywhere, until we build the power to rid ourselves of this system for good.

The post Strike against Scomo to save our planet appeared first on Solidarity Online.

What They’ve Lost

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 25/03/2021 - 11:16pm in

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Boston, Students

Students from Boston tell Have You Heard what they’ve lost during this year of pandemic learning. Spoiler: what you’ll hear bears little resemblance to the discussion of “learning loss” that’s atop the agenda of policy makers right now. Special guest Boston teacher Neema Avashia helps us make sense of the gap between how students are feeling and how adults with power are talking. Episode transcript is here.

The financial support of listeners like you keeps this podcast going. Subscribe on Patreon or donate on PayPal.

Have You Heard · #109 What They’ve Lost

Book Review: The University and Social Justice: Struggles Across the Globe edited by Aziz Choudry and Salim Vally

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 13/03/2021 - 9:00pm in

In The University and Social Justice: Struggles Across the Globe, editors Aziz Choudry and Salim Vally offer a new collection exploring university-based activism and social justice movements around the world. With rich accounts that cover diverse repertoires of action and collective struggles, this book is essential reading for anyone interested in the state of Higher Education across the globe, finds Shreya … Continued

Complementing Defenses of Academic Freedom with Understanding & Advice

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 11/03/2021 - 4:14am in

As reported earlier this week, there’s a new organization, the Academic Freedom Alliance (AFA), that aims to defend faculty whose academic freedom is being threatened.

The AFA joins the ranks of other organizations also concerned in defending academic freedom, such as the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), as well as disciplinary organizations that have among their concerns the academic freedom of their members.

Despite disagreement over

  • the extent to which academic freedom is currently threatened
  • who the serious threats to academic freedom are, and
  • some hard cases in which it is unclear whether academic freedom is being invoked to deflect legitimate complaints of unprofessional behavior,

shoring up the defenses of academic freedom with organizations that aim to level the playing field between threatened faculty and their employers is a good idea. Ameliorating the worries (substantiated or not) that some people with unpopular views have about the bad consequences of publicly arguing for them is a good idea.

That said, it seems that something is missing from these efforts.


[Brett Weston, “Hand and Ear”, 1928]

Challenges to academic freedom often combine the voicing of a substantive moral or political complaint with a call for a procedural remedy (e.g., firing someone, retracting a paper). Defenses of academic freedom are aimed at combatting the remedy. I think there often are also reasons to both explicitly convey an understanding of the substantive complaint and to advise the students on alternatives to their proposed remedy.

It might be useful to work with an example. Suppose some group of students learn that a faculty member has been publishing opinion pieces online, perhaps related to her research, in which she expresses views they take to be disrespectful or demeaning to some types of students (that’s the substantive complaint), and they call for the faculty member to be fired (that’s their remedy). Academic freedom groups get wind of their efforts and launch their campaigns opposing the students. One concern is that the students see this opposition as opposition not just to their procedural remedy but also as opposition to, or at least a failure to take seriously, their substantive complaint.

If we’re interested in promoting and defending academic freedom, this is not a good result. First, people tend to not react cooperatively to not being taken seriously. If they feel dismissed, that may cause them to redouble their efforts. Provoking a bigger and louder threat to academic freedom, even if ultimately averted, is not a win for academic freedom. (And dismissing student concerns rather than engaging with them is to forgo an educational opportunity.) Second, there is the risk that people will come to identify academic freedom with the substantive views they’re opposing and treat it as the enemy (progressives may see academic freedom as anti-progressive; conservatives may see it as anti-conservative).

Were the efforts to defend academic freedom combined with a demonstration of an understanding of the students’ substantive complaint, maybe even a sympathetic understanding of it, that might counter their feelings of dismissal or disrespect. It might reduce the extent to which the students take those opposing their remedy to be ideological enemies, or ignorant, and might lower the risk that they come to see academic freedom as the problem. Perhaps a section of a brief an academic freedom organization submits to a university or shares with the press could contain a section which presents in as strong a way possible the substantive complaint of the students.

Defenders of academic freedom could also to include in their response information for the students about academic-freedom-friendly alternatives for putting forward their substantive concerns, advice on how to pursue those alternatives or on how to engage with their opponents, and perhaps even funding for the pursuit of some of those alternatives. These steps would aid the cause of academic freedom by providing education and support for students and promoting their participation in the “marketplace of ideas”, rather than by trying to shut them down.

Being able to adequately express understanding of students’ complaints and provide useful advice to them about how to push for their views in a university setting is also credibility-enhancing for an organization claiming to be “viewpoint neutral” and hoping to demonstrate a broad, cross-ideological commitment to academic freedom.

Admittedly, these suggestions may not be relevant to all kinds of threats to academic freedom. There may be cases in which a demonstration of understanding is possible, but those calling for a remedy incompatible with academic freedom are, say, a million people on Twitter to whom no substantive advice could realistically apply. And there may be threats to academic freedom based on complaints that are incomprehensible. But for many cases, the suggestions would be quite practical.

Perhaps, then, the AFA could consider adding an “Understanding & Advice” committee to its organization.

(cross-posted at Disagree)

Student Protests in Turkey: A Communist Critique

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 01/03/2021 - 11:49pm in

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Turkey, Students

image/jpeg iconbogazici.jpg

There is an urgent need to break out of the reformist, legalistic, and parliamentarian strait-jacket that these protests confine themselves to.

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No Future Without a Fight

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 30/01/2021 - 6:30am in

image/jpeg iconfreiheit_1919.jpg

Back in 2012 the concept of a "graduate without a future" briefly entered the zeitgeist. Paul Mason was among its key proponents, finding a commonality between the Arab Spring, the anti-austerity movement in Greece and the student protests in the UK: a social strata of young educated people with no prospects who became the driving force of opposition to the "system".

We internationalist communists can't promise you anything, except what the working class can win and consolidate through its own struggle.

CWO-ICT

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What’s the purpose of university? Your answer may depend on how much it costs you

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 21/01/2021 - 10:00pm in

Achala Gupta discusses findings from the Eurostudents project in this repost, detailing how student perceptions of the value and purpose of higher education reflect levels of marketisation in different European higher education systems. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the university sector under greater scrutiny. In some cases, this has prompted new conversations about the purpose … Continued

Alienation and Mass Organization

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 03/12/2020 - 9:36pm in

image/jpeg iconOn the Mass Organization Paradigm in Activism.jpg

A personal reflection on alienation experienced within National Democratic mass organizations.

There was a point that I was mechanically going through “activist” motions like attending rallies, not because I felt genuine solidarity with the movement, but because it was something the org prescribed for its members.

Sitsirya

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