Letter of support from Slavoj Žižek

Those among us who are old enough remember “specialized further education”, the last attempt of the Communist regime in the old Yugoslavia to streamline education to “social use” and narrow the space of dissent. Western Europe is now rediscovering it – it is called the “Bologna reform of the higher education,” a new attempt to subordinate higher education to the needs of social control and regulation. We need a cultural revolution to fight this dangerous tendency with all means available, violent civic disobedience included. You, students who occupy faculties, are doing not only the right thing, but the necessary thing. Go to the end, persist – no compromise!

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5 Responses to “Letter of support from Slavoj Žižek”

  1. Amy Mountcastle says:

    I’m not sure what is meant by “violent civic disobedience.” “Civil disobedience” was the non-violent practice of protesting wrong government policies, in spite of the risk of being put in jail or beaten by authorities. Henry David Thoreau, author of the essay “Civil Disobedience,” refused to pay the poll tax, viewing it as immoral because of its use to support American slavery as well as the Spanish American War. He was jailed for his troubles. Civil disobedience was the method of choice of Mohandas Gandhi in his struggle against British rule of South Asia and of course, Martin Luther King Jr. Protesters were sometimes beaten, jailed, and killed. Knowing these risks, they persisted. Civil disobedience is a method of struggle used by the oppressed and powerless, and we could say, is the other side of the same coin as terrorism. Its method incorporates the use of irony–it forces the mighty state or empire to act, or overreact and confront itself its own violence. Violence is not part of the formula of “classical” civil disobedience, as far as I know.

  2. Student unrests in 1968 were my eye opening to the corrupt one party regime in YU. Compulsory one year army service blew appart all the illusions. I was lucky to go to UK for 6 month in 1970 on computer training. However, I never expected the fall of Berlin wall and violent nationalistic break-up of YU. Iraq WMD lies by GWB followed by Guantanamo Gulag were recent blows. Fortunately Obama won and I visited WDC on March 27th, my 64. birthday. Antipode was Gracanica, Kosovo on Tuesday. Dull it isn’t in retirement!

    I am glad Croatian students are trying to make “lijepa nasa” better place ready for EU asap!

    Best regards from Jagodina, Serbia from Ljubljana resident, Varazdinec Marijan M. Miletic, MSc EE

  3. Peter Hulm says:

    I support the principle of free education for all. But that alone is not enough to solve education’s problems. Students still need money to live, and society should make that available to all. Access should not be restricted to the numbers that the Government is willing to support.

    In a time of economic crisis, and for the long-term development of society, I think everyone should be encouraged to enrol as a student or do anything rather than accept the stigma of being officially unemployed and unemployable. In some countries (such as the UK) an unemployed person receives less than the usual pittance if signing on as a student. In others, such as Switzerland, study opportunities for the unemployed are restrictive.

    Looking at developments in MIT and the UK’s Open University, where more and more courses are being available free online as imposed costs rise for students,I cannot see the bricks and mortar-board model of higher education as tenable for more than the next couple of decades, if it ever was. The European Graduate School, with which Zizek is associated (as I am in a small way), is also trying to revolutionize, peacefully, the arthritic structures of current higher education on both sides of the Atlantic.

    In other words, even if you win this campaign, a lot will remain to be reformed in the social and educational system, and not just for Croatia.

  4. Hello everybody. My name is Luccas; I am a gratuate student in the University of São Paulo, in Brazil. We occupied the administration building of this institution in 2007 for university authonomy.

    The Bologna reform is not just a EU project for education. It is a class project associated with the burgeoisie to reform higher education to the needs of the flexive production and modern capitalism whatsoever. It comes in different ways, in the forms of different projects, along the world: here in Brazil we currently have education reform projects similar to the Bologna one, that aim to achieve similar goals, although they are namely diferent. We have been fighting these projects and been associating than with the European proposed reform for some years now.

    That said, it is notable that we try to defend, against these projects, the popular education model that was proposed in the past in countries of the communist block, but not only, in wich public education has to been socialy referenced, meaning that research in universities would aim to solve popular demands, or the society’s needs, not the market’s needs as today, and that knwoledge is socialized, not a private good. We see this model as better than the traditional model of education we have in Brazil, and certainly better than this new evil, the Bologna reform or its analogue here.

    I don’t know about this Yougoslavian “specialized further education” but I would like to here from Zizek and you guys waht it has to do with the Bologna reform. Or, more than that, what does the popular education has to do wit it, in any ways?

    Thank you very much, and greetings from Brazil. May your struggle achieve victory.
    Luccas

  5. Michael says:

    @Amy Mountcastle. Civil disobedience is commonly, though not always, defined as nonviolent resistance.

    See for instance John Morreall, “The Justifiability of Violent Civil Disobedience”. (If you have a jstor account you can read it here, http://www.jstor.org/pss/40230600)

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