Building Education for the Commons
I remember writing a paper for Fred Jameson as a grad student at Duke University in the late 90s. My paper was about student revolts and uprisings. Fred’s response to my paper was simple: “Your paper relies too much on epistemological methodology and not enough on the Marxist concept of ‘praxis'”. In a later meeting he told me to read Lukacs’ History of Class Consciousness. This started my journey into understanding the revolutionary potential not only of Marxist analysis but of the very truth in the act of revolt.
Today there are forces afoot that are structurally undermining the very ability to voice dissent, to propose a different way, to ask for basic things in life: “Bread, Education, Freedom.”
More than ever students hold the ability to stand-up, to revolt against the reigning order of financial dictatorship that has gutted education turning it into a profit making machine without giving students the freedom to think and the courage to stand-up to anti-democratic corporate logics. The world is quickly turning into a country club for the rich, a new colonialism destroying everything in it’s brutal and kitschy path.
After starting GCAS it was clear that it meant nothing without being involved in the concrete struggle of the younger generation that has a chance to fight for a better future for all and not just the Wall-Street fat-cats. After participating in a critical pedagogy conference in LA in Paulo Freire, my comrade, Prof. Maria Nikolakaki asked me to come to Athens to see what it was like for Greece to be colonized via the austerity measures exacted on her country by the financial global elite.
What I have seen in Greece is that there is a massive resistance coming from the students, writers, play writes, artists and professors who understand that the logic of austerity is the new colonialism in which public education is at the beginning stages of being privatized. This began to happen in the USA under Reagan and now it has arrived in Greece.
Tomorrow is a national holiday in Greece that began with the student uprisings on November 14, 1973 at the Polytechnic University in Athens. These uprisings emerged in light of the dictatorship that had gripped the country under the regime of Georgios Papadopoulos from 1967-1973. Tomorrow, November 17th is the anniversary of several students being killed when a tank rammed through the gate at the university. This is now a national holiday.
With students protesting in Mexico after 40+ students were murdered it is clear that the current neoliberal regime is targeting their weakest link, education. In the USA it may already be too late as many universities have already sold-out. But around the rest of the world there is hope that students have the power to change the course of history. It is time to be in solidarity with them. It is time to create a unified front from the position of students so that democracy may live, so that we all may live.