taCity

A site about the ephemerality of the socio-urban world


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What needs to be done in the next 5 years…

The exit poll that the BBC announced at 10:00:01pm on Thursday started it. By midnight it wasn’t really sinking in. By 3am it was becoming increasingly apparent. By 6.30am, it was all but confirmed. By 7.30am, I was on my way to RHUL Towers with an overbearing sense of an impending macabre future. The 2015 general election result was one of the most surprising, but also most harrowing of my short voting life, not because of any party political allegiance I (don’t) have; but because of the knowledge that the preceding five years of feelings of injustice, frustration and disgust at the current state governance was going to carry on, and indeed intensify for the next five. The carcass of the political system is being picked over by the social media and op-ed commentariat, while no more than 5 days after the event, the harbingers of an evermore neoliberalised society are already in place (not least with some of today’s cabinet appointments).

For a few hours then over the weekend, I was giving some thought to emigrating, jacking it all in, giving up. But a series of conversations with colleagues, a few inspiring tweets (yes, they do exist) and a stiff drink or two later, it became clear that such a defeatist attitude went completely against the grain of my being becoming. In order to break the malaise and the lift the inner-pother that I certainly embodied over the last few days (and no doubt many other people from “across the political spectrum” (to use a horribly reductionist phrase)) – there needs to be a renewed vigour to encounter the oncoming deluge of marginalising and polarising policies and tests their limits of justice via empirical and theoretical contestation; there needs to be a groundswell of collective organising (of what Lefebvre has called autogestion) so that the formulation of predatory formations are not given the freedom to carry out their potentially domcidial tendencies; there needs to be unfettered rejection of the poisonous ideology of individualism; there needs to be a reclamation of civic life and the streets in which it is formed; there needs to be a realisation that it is those at the margins of society who most readily show us what future and progress looks and feels like, not those in the centre who champion more of the same; in sum, there needs to be a greater effort to enact radical democracy.

Easy to say of course, far more difficult to enact. Which is why, perhaps now, it is even more important to take that difficult decision to act, rather than to be passive. To go on that march, to join that collective, to help your neighbour, to question authoritarianism. So apologies if it all sounds a little preachy and ranty (maybe there’s an element of catharsis going on here), but ‘sticking your neck out’ is part and parcel of what needs to be done. So you may find me being slightly more vocal, active and yes, probably (even more) annoying in the next five years; and if you’re one my students reading this, I can only apologise…

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Students and their role in Critique

Occupied - Image used via Creative Commons. Taken from 'lusciousblopster' on flickr, URL: http://is.gd/j21AYs

“Occupied”- Image used via Creative Commons. Taken from ‘lusciousblopster‘ on Flickr

There is a current wave of student occupations across London. KCL, LSE, UAL, Goldsmiths  have all been targeted, and I’m sure more are brewing. The LSE occupation was the first (that I noticed anyway) and they are calling for a “Free University of London” and aiming to create an “open, creative and liberated space, where all are free to participate in the imagining of a new directly democratic, non-hierarchical and universally accessible education”. There has been plenty of coverage of these occupations in the relevant media outlets, not least UAL’s rather terse response in particular. Whatever the politics of these occupations and your views on the provisioning of higher education in this country (I happen to agree with their position), what I think is equally as important about these ‘events’ more broadly is that it is students as a cohort that are leading these protests.

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