Much has been written about the ‘crisis of capitalism’ and the associated events known, for short, as the Arab Spring, student protests, Occupy and the August riots. Yet to what extent does our contemporary situation also pose a challenge to those of us who work ‘in’ the university – a challenge that would encourage us to go further than merely endeavouring to ‘just say “no”’ to the idea of universities operating as for-profit business in order to serve the economy, and demanding a return to the kind of publicly financed mass education policy that prevailed in the Keynesian era? What if we, too, in our capacity as academics, authors, writers, thinkers and scholars want to resist the continued imposition of a neoliberal political rationality that may appear dead on its feet but, zombie-like, is still managing to blunder on? How can we act, not so much for or with the anti-austerity protesters, ‘graduates without a future’, ‘digital natives’ and ‘remainder of capital’ (protesting alongside them, accepting invitations to speak to and write about them and so on), but in terms of them, thus refusing to simply submit critical thought to ‘existing political discourses and the formulation of political needs those discourses articulate’, and so ‘defusing’ what Merleau-Ponty called ‘the trap of the event’? What if we desire a very different university to the one we have, but have no wish to retain or restore the paternalistic, class-bound model associated with the writings of Arnold, Leavis and Newman? While appreciating the idea that there is an outside to the university is itself a university idea, and that attempts to move beyond the institution too often leave it in place and uncontested, is it possible to take some impetus nonetheless from the emergence of autonomous, self-organised learning communities such as The Public School, and free text-sharing networks such as AAAAARG.ORG (to name but two)? Does the struggle against the ‘becoming business’ of the university not require us, too, to have the courage to try out and put to the test new economic, legal and political systems and models for the production, publication, sharing and discussion of knowledge and ideas; and thus to open ourselves to transforming radically the material practices and social relations of our academic labour?
This is an extract from an article on the open access debate and 'pirate philosophy' published in the journal Radical Philosophy, 173, May/June, 2012. The full text of this article is available as a FREE download from the Radical Philosophy website: http://fb.me/1DZmgrmNV
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Access to Radical Philosophy: Principles and Policy
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