Building Education for the Commons
The President of the Global Center for Advanced Studies (GCAS) Alain Badiou recently published a book entitled, The Rebirth of History: Times of Riots and Uprisings translated by Gregory Elliott. With clarity and decisiveness, this book delineates a compass for our time, an instrument by which our world can be properly navigated, and with courage, transformed.
It is not an easy journey that Professor Badiou maps out for us. Fundamental transformation of the world cannot be easy. To be sure the path is clear but the journey is full of challenges only made visible by “the first stirrings of a global popular uprising against” (5) global capitalism and it’s mechanisms. Global capitalism, according to Badiou marks out an “historical attempt at an unprecedented regression… [that] conforms to the norms of [its] birth: a dyed-in-the-wool liberalism of mid-nineteenth-century vintage, the unlimited power of a financial and imperial oligarchy, and a window-dressing of parliamentary government composed (as Marx put it) of ‘Capital’s executives’.” (4-5).
These “stirrings” remain “blind, naive, scattered and lacking a powerful concept or durable organization, it naturally resembles the first working-class insurrections of the nineteenth century.” And so, for Badiou we “find ourselves in a time of riots wherein a rebirth of History…is signalled and takes shape.” And what exactly is this “rebirth” of which Badiou speaks? The rebirth of History is the rebirth of an Idea! “The sole Idea capable of challenging the corrupt, lifeless version of ‘democracy’, which has become the banner of the legionaries of Capital, as well as the racial and national prophecies of a petty fascism given its opportunity locally by the crisis…” is the idea of the common good for everyone.
The creation of this possibility, of the event of the common good (a state-less communism) proceeds through “A political truth…organized on the condition of an Idea.” And it’s this “organization” (a truth procedure) that is the “discipline of the event.”
The shaping of a “discipline” an organization which is crucial for the transformation of the world as it is and in a way that allows for a fidelity to the Event, is crucial. This organization should not be reducible to a political party but remain “generic” and so not inscribed within a way that capitalism fractures the common into individualizations as a means of control.
We too know that education, at least in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and now spreading like wildfire elsewhere, has become a means by which the transmission of knowledge is commodified, privatized and controlled. This is why it is absolutely crucial for a school committed to the common good, the Idea! must remain faithful to the transformation of the world without submitting ourselves to a “profit” making model. This is also why Alain Badiou is our president and too why our leadership remains committed to this transformation. It is possible for the inexistence of what counts within the space of capitalism to be counted. For students who could not access education to be fundamental to it’s creation and procedure. GCAS is not the event, but it strives to be faithful to it.
Here is a video (produced by Andy Bowen) in which Badiou explains The Global Center for Advanced Studies.