Most social scientists will agree that education is not likely to change social inequalities. Indeed it is part of an unjust system and serves its purpose, that is, to create docile citizens. Nevertheless, universities traditionally have been focuses of protest and change. At least they were until the widespread depoliticisation that affects the western world as a bonus to neoliberalism. European campuses are peaceful places with busy students, but there are two features that should make a difference in Britain. The first one is the NUS; while students in other countries haven't got means to organise themselves in a fast and reliable way, here the infrastructure is already created. The second is the worst attack ever seen on the students. The substitution of grants for loans means forced work for those brave enough to mortgage their future, for the rest it simply means good-bye.
This has been done without opposition from the NUS, in fact with their help. As in trade unions the NUS leaders are too worried about budgets and their political careers to defend the most basic of students' rights: the right to be a student. Against this there are two possible propositions. Those that trust enough in the system could try to take over the NUS; this may take many years, if they don't become like the current leaders. A shorter and more realistic way is organising outside the NUS. In this sense the Campaign for Free Education seems to go in the right direction; although the most important work has to be done at a local level. This can be hard, given the Union's monopoly and prerogatives for censuring information, but it's worth trying. Equally important is linking this struggle with those taking place in workplaces, forests and streets as we are all fighting the same enemy: those that put money before people.
Anarcho - autonomist students who wish to get in touch with each other can do so through Contraflow or the Education Workers Network Box 1681 London N8 7LE
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