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Parliament as a dead parrot

The events in and around Parliament yesterday represent a watershed – not just for university students but for society at large. Higher education officially became a business and the present political process was shown to have less life in it than a dead parrot.

Years of emphasis on education as the way to success and overcoming accidents of birth are now associated with heavy debts which are impossible for many to contemplate. The hopes of a new generation are being dashed in front of their eyes.

The Tories, building on New Labour’s introduction of tuition fees, used the Lib Dems to impose a market model on universities, turning students into “customers” at a stroke. Ed Miliband, apparently the new leader of Labour, refused to commit himself to overturning the vote which transforms education into something for the wealthy.

No wonder students were driven to confront the state in the shape of the Coalition, the police and the monarchy. And the cracks are showing. Not only were the Lib Dems hopelessly split (leaving Nick Clegg’s position vulnerable), but the police were barely able to cope.

The use of intimidation by police – truncheons, riot gear, cameras, horses, kettling, etc –probably spurred on protests as students became angrier and saw it as a challenge. The hundreds who attacked the Treasury and the Supreme Court could not have sustained this without the thousands who came to demonstrate and felt frustrated when the vote went through.

Outwitted by a spontaneous movement independent of the official “leaders” of the
National Union of Students – who never opposed the original introduction of fees – the police lost control and landed the heir to the throne in the middle of it all. “Off with their heads” hadn’t been heard on London’s streets for some time – until last night.

Furthermore, the students have shamed the leaders of the trade union movement, apart from a minority like Bob Crow of the transport RMT who mobilised his members to join yesterday’s demonstrations. Leading bureaucrats from Unite and other unions are actually going round cities like Leeds telling Labour councillors they have to implement the cuts.

Their refusal to call members into actions against the cuts – and £9,000 tuition fees are a direct consequence of the savage reduction in state support for universities – left students vulnerable to police attacks on London’s streets.

Students, by contrast, are united by the sweeping nature of cuts which affect them all. Not just those already at university but those at colleges (who face the end of maintenance allowances) and schools. They are aware of what their parents had and are enjoying their support in opposing tuition fees.

A spirit of altruism prevails, embracing the common interests between poorer and better off students and wider interests of society. Students around the world, from Pakistan to France, are following the struggle in Britain because education is under attack in every country.

Global capitalism is in crisis, as we have tried to explain in our booklet Beyond Resistance (which you can download for free). The state, which props up the system, is transferring the cost of formerly public services like education entirely on to the backs of those who use and need them.

The social system – the government, the state, the corporations and the banks – has lost any moral authority to rule. Its mandate from the ruling elites is to restore capitalism, whatever the cost. Creating a sustainable alternative now becomes a practical necessity. Students have seized the initiative. They are in the best position of all too inspire the wider population to create People’s Assemblies (see tomorrow’s event) to challenge and defeat a state that is heading towards outright suppression of all dissent.

Corinna Lotz, AWTW secretary
Paul Feldman, communications editor
10 December 2010

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Jonathan says:

Not so much ‘used’ as it was to break them on the Alter of power. Laughing with contempt for their own form of democracy the Tories forced the LibDems to push through the cuts first on education. Would anyone do this for ideological reasons; me thinks not. And why first education, such small amounts for such a big hole. All this which the Tories were fully aware attacked the humanities etc, (I hear the word culture and I reach for my liberals) and research. They put all the work on Lib/Dems in some sniggering Machiavellian approach to get them to cut their teeth and become ensnared: to become the executioner. And didn’t Cable do well! But maybe more was there.

Cable, with links in the past in Shell, and Browne (their background already shows a messy form of multiple coalitions of super toadies) with links to British Petroleum; then the pushing through of the educational ‘reorganisation’ is a weird insight into the establishment. Only last week the ‘respected Judge’ waivered: now he delivered a death sentence with ease. Reduced it shows the needs of the Global Economy in desire mode: enforced they think by the ‘bodies of armed men’. His Parliament would never have reached the vote without them: Interesting. But any average student shows more intuitive insight into all the figures and plans for education and, now, the coming plans to break resistance-as-such, than research would. That is what was seen in reaction and resistance to state violence.

That most behind the students give not only passive support but even themselves; parents, Union members, activists (we can’t have that now can we mister Sky man – and please don’t swear, after hours of being kettled; we are on live TV) as active opposition to the Government who must know the whole spreads like a virus is clear; what though to lead it to? Unity is the order of the day; how to swap experience, individually, between generations, what is new? All of this is in discussion more than Scotland Yard Briefings, of all Intelligence studies now under way can be. Even with the traditional role of Universities in supplying data to the government and the state are well behind us. Their sources, and masters, are well known on campuses. But all this ‘experience’, plans, it seems to me is all too much scattered.

“A spirit of altruism prevails, embracing the common interests between poorer and better off students and wider interests of society. Students around the world, from Pakistan to France, are following the struggle in Britain because education is under attack in every country.” The quintessential and historical nature of education: from Galileo to me and you: from Padua to the UEA: from the Archimedean Screw to the Large Hadron Collider: from the cell to DNA, all captured in Science is Vital and to the expansion of society and therefore culture: known. ‘They’ certainly have ‘lost all moral authority to rule’ which certainly makes each utterance more provocative, each action more violent. Is this a ‘cunning plan?’ The central, essential issue, therefore, of how to organise and oppose is all the more glaring.

The attempted dashing of hopes, and how these generations respond, like the counting of the enemy being a proper gaol is now the content of these youth.

And the tens of thousands world wide who follow every twist and turn closer than the local team or musical group, closer than the favourite soap and even closer than the news buff would (so, well, outmanoeuvred), as a sensual reality that forces itself back from Valhalla to the mind. This is ME is what they feel and see, well I do, those I know tell me they do.

I see a ‘consumer’ not anything else, and Cable says it is done: (going as in then U.S. now as to the Tea Party with regard to property – who has the right to vote?) Parliament has spoken and what the police do is operational. Well said Rt. Hon. Secretary Cable. The violence, the violation, is undoubtedly from this government and not even by extension, from this state as its ever growing identity, and not even by extension by the needs of the crisis ridden ruling class. (Does sound like maggots does it not?) But it was, as was said, ring the bell of the end of the post-war-educational-settlement that is what happened last night is no different in that sense than to that on Health. Who will defend that settlement: who will take it further? One problem for the political class that represents them and the pundits that distort for them is that there are still living those that the ruling class had to concede this settlement too. Ah, add to this mix that up-from-13 year olds participated, and younger, and were represented, and then add to this that it says it all as to ‘representative democracy’. In fact a good point at which to show that any agreement, an agreement between aristocrats, royal families, property owners (note, again, the Tea-Party in the U.S. now arguing precisely this) is democratic. These are the youth who will be most affected by this measure: but also be the core of the social future crushed if this lot get their way for the ‘masters’. Charles Windsor probably took the University place of some Welsh miners son or daughter with better results in a place at that university. Can they do nothing that lacks either irony, transparancy or shallowness? It has moved on from the times when the argument was if they, these youth, can fight then they should vote. And the settlement, the crisis has swept the advantages and promises from, was to do with those that fought. Are those that inherited the construction to reap the destruction? The shifting of retirement would make it so. Are those who sneaked in dwindling, then growing profits to make a move? Oh move over, your time is gone: if not me thinks you are for the chop.

Dylan says:

The protest may not have stopped the bill from going through, but the HoP looked very nervous yesterday (Vince Cable for one!) and had the protesters not got out onto the streeta, neither Labour or those rebel Lib Dems would probably not have voted against the bill. A 20 odd majority is much closer than expected thanks to the students uprising. They must keep going.

Ed Milliband made me sick saying "A bad day for democracy.." Hello! Lord Browne Ed? Blair introduction of fees?

Yes - tragic the unions were not out in force to join with the students. Truly pathetic. (Good on Bob Crow and the RMT.)

We have to keep up the pressure and rebel everywhere. Wikileaks, Anonymous, Students, UK Uncut - all leading the way, but we have to keep on.

AWTW must set up some talks to students, we can help to inform them of past struggles and understand the financial background to this crisis.

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