“Future of the Public School” : A GOS Proposal

I propose that we follow the syllabus set out for this class at the LA “public school”. They are a similar organization to our own, with different branches around the world. Check it out.

The Future of the Public School

http://la.thepublicschool.org/class/2715

“…their arguments go a long way toward revealing what’s at stake, both culturally and economically, in the current transformation of public universities. We could read them from a very specific perspective, asking not only whether they get it right, but what relevance their portrayals of contemporary society and its institutions might have for people trying to invent their own self-managed processes of education. By assessing the state of society’s major institutions of higher learning we could ask which directions should be taken by vanguard experiments seeking a dialectical relation to the mainstream. In this way the class would feed back into the current campus movements while pointing toward further horizons.”

Tom

Edit: Zizek in the New Left Review::

from A PERMANENT 
ECONOMIC EMERGENCY, New Left Review 64, July-August 2010, p.90-91

Economy as ideology

The state of permanent economic emergency does not mean that the  left should abandon patient intellectual work, with no immediate ‘practical  use’. On the contrary: today, more than ever, one should bear in  mind that communism begins with what Kant, in the famous passage  of his essay, ‘What is Enlightenment?’, called the ‘public use of reason’:  with the egalitarian universality of thought. Our struggle should thus  highlight those aspects of the current ‘re-structuring’ that pose a threat  to trans-national open space. One example would be the eu’s ongoing  ‘Bologna Process’, which aims to ‘harmonize the architecture of the  European higher education system’, and which is in fact a concerted  attack on the public use of reason.

Underlying these reforms is the urge to subordinate higher education to  the task of solving society’s concrete problems through the production  of expert opinions. What disappears here is the true task of thinking: not  only to offer solutions to problems posed by ‘society’—in reality, state  and capital—but to reflect on the very form of these problems; to discern  a problem in the very way we perceive a problem. The reduction of  higher education to the task of producing socially useful expert knowledge  is the paradigmatic form of Kant’s ‘private use of reason’—that is,  constrained by contingent, dogmatic presuppositions—within today’s  global capitalism. In Kantian terms, it involves our acting as ‘immature’  individuals, not as free human beings who dwell in the dimension of the  universality of reason.

It is crucial to link the push towards streamlining higher education—not  only in the guise of direct privatization or links with business, but also in  this more general sense of orienting education towards the production  of expert knowledge—to the process of enclosing the commons of  intellectual products, of privatizing general intellect. This process is  itself part of a global transformation in the mode of ideological interpellation.  It may be useful here to recall Althusser’s notion of ‘ideological  state apparatuses’. If, in the Middle Ages, the key ISA was the Church,  in the sense of religion as institution, the dawn of capitalist modernity  imposed the twin hegemony of the school system and legal ideology.  Individuals were formed into legal subjects through compulsory universal  education, while subjects were interpellated as patriotic free citizens  under the legal order. The gap was thus maintained between bourgeois  and citizen, between the egotist-utilitarian individual concerned with his  private interests and the citoyen dedicated to the universal domain of  the state. Insofar as, in spontaneous ideological perception, ideology is  limited to the universal sphere of citizenship, while the private sphere of  egotistical interests is considered ‘pre-ideological’, the very gap between  ideology and non-ideology is thus transposed into ideology.

What has happened in the latest stage of post-68 capitalism is that the  economy itself—the logic of market and competition—has progressively  imposed itself as the hegemonic ideology. In education, we are witnessing  the gradual dismantling of the classical-bourgeois school ISA: the  school system is less and less the compulsory network, elevated above  the market and organized directly by the state, bearer of enlightened  values—liberty, equality, fraternity. On behalf of the sacred formula of  ‘lower costs, higher efficiency’, it is progressively penetrated by different  forms of ppp, or public–private partnership. In the organization and  legitimization of power, too, the electoral system is increasingly conceived  on the model of market competition: elections are like a commercial  exchange where voters ‘buy’ the option that offers to do the job of maintaining  social order, prosecuting crime, and so on, most efficiently.  On behalf of the same formula of ‘lower costs, higher efficiency’, functions  once exclusive to the domain of state power, like running prisons,  can be privatized; the military is no longer based on universal conscription,  but composed of hired mercenaries. Even the state bureaucracy  is no

Economy as ideology
The state of permanent economic emergency does not mean that the
left should abandon patient intellectual work, with no immediate ‘practical
use’. On the contrary: today, more than ever, one should bear in
mind that communism begins with what Kant, in the famous passage
of his essay, ‘What is Enlightenment?’, called the ‘public use of reason’:
with the egalitarian universality of thought. Our struggle should thus
highlight those aspects of the current ‘re-structuring’ that pose a threat
to trans-national open space. One example would be the eu’s ongoing
‘Bologna Process’, which aims to ‘harmonize the architecture of the
European higher education system’, and which is in fact a concerted
attack on the public use of reason.
Underlying these reforms is the urge to subordinate higher education to
the task of solving society’s concrete problems through the production
of expert opinions. What disappears here is the true task of thinking: not
only to offer solutions to problems posed by ‘society’—in reality, state
and capital—but to reflect on the very form of these problems; to discern
a problem in the very way we perceive a problem. The reduction of
higher education to the task of producing socially useful expert knowledge
is the paradigmatic form of Kant’s ‘private use of reason’—that is,
constrained by contingent, dogmatic presuppositions—within today’s
global capitalism. In Kantian terms, it involves our acting as ‘immature’
individuals, not as free human beings who dwell in the dimension of the
universality of reason.
žižek: Eurozone 91
It is crucial to link the push towards streamlining higher education—not
only in the guise of direct privatization or links with business, but also in
this more general sense of orienting education towards the production
of expert knowledge—to the process of enclosing the commons of
intellectual products, of privatizing general intellect. This process is
itself part of a global transformation in the mode of ideological interpellation.
It may be useful here to recall Althusser’s notion of ‘ideological
state apparatuses’. If, in the Middle Ages, the key isa was the Church,
in the sense of religion as institution, the dawn of capitalist modernity
imposed the twin hegemony of the school system and legal ideology.
Individuals were formed into legal subjects through compulsory universal
education, while subjects were interpellated as patriotic free citizens
under the legal order. The gap was thus maintained between bourgeois
and citizen, between the egotist-utilitarian individual concerned with his
private interests and the citoyen dedicated to the universal domain of
the state. Insofar as, in spontaneous ideological perception, ideology is
limited to the universal sphere of citizenship, while the private sphere of
egotistical interests is considered ‘pre-ideological’, the very gap between
ideology and non-ideology is thus transposed into ideology.
What has happened in the latest stage of post-68 capitalism is that the
economy itself—the logic of market and competition—has progressively
imposed itself as the hegemonic ideology. In education, we are witnessing
the gradual dismantling of the classical-bourgeois school isa: the
school system is less and less the compulsory network, elevated above
the market and organized directly by the state, bearer of enlightened
values—liberty, equality, fraternity. On behalf of the sacred formula of
‘lower costs, higher efficiency’, it is progressively penetrated by different
forms of ppp, or public–private partnership. In the organization and
legitimization of power, too, the electoral system is increasingly conceived
on the model of market competition: elections are like a commercial
exchange where voters ‘buy’ the option that offers to do the job of maintaining
social order, prosecuting crime, and so on, most efficiently.
On behalf of the same formula of ‘lower costs, higher efficiency’, functions
once exclusive to the domain of state power, like running prisons,
can be privatized; the military is no longer based on universal conscription,
but composed of hired mercenaries. Even the state bureaucracy
is no
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2 Responses to “Future of the Public School” : A GOS Proposal

  1. liamcasey says:

    The Telic Art Exchange are pretty good, been trying to make email contact about some cross school dialogue so keep your eyes on the glasgowdiy inbox, they are also behind aaaaarg.org the online library of theory texts.

  2. liamcasey says:

    Joint wavelengths! i just posted a comment on their event asking them to live stream that to us, then i come here to post the event and you’ve already done it! good work.
    -There seems to be a fair bit of international pressure on them to set up some sort of video conference, otherwise we could just have the debate here ourselves…

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