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Autonomous Student Network

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WorkersDreadnought
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Joined: 27-02-09
Oct 11 2009 21:20
Autonomous Student Network

Hey all,

The idea for an anarchist student network was brought up at the anarchist conference 09, and it has since then it has been slowly growing as a useful networking tool under the name Autonomous Student Network. There will be a stall at the anarchist bookfair at Queen Mary, and you can check it out here:

http://www.autonomous-students.net/index.html

Apologies if a similar message has already been posted.

Yorkie Bar
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Joined: 29-03-09
Oct 12 2009 14:31

I wondered what was happening about this. I do have a few doubts tho. I mean, wouldn't it make more sense to have a combined network of students together with university workers?

Plus, the website you link to here doesn't really say anything about the organisation, beyond a broad statement of principles. Is this information not online (why not?), or is it that you don't have any kind of formal structure?

Also, disablism? Really?

~J.

martinh
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Oct 12 2009 18:59
BigLittleJ wrote:
wouldn't it make more sense to have a combined network of students together with university workers?

Not sure that it would, J. Workers and students have different interests and while they will coincide, a lot hopefully, separate networks are a good idea.
This idea really only ever comes up with students and education workers. While people recognise a common interest between bus drivers and passengers or health workers and patients, no one advocates making a common network. And really, if you think about it, it's not all of education that this applies to. I mean, could my 3 year old join as he goes to nursery? Or my 8 year old who's at primary school?

I think the other thing to bear in mind is that workers have a lot less time than students, and being on the whole older, more commitments. So, something that is attractive to a student as a political activity might not fire the same emotions in a security guard doing a 48 hour week working nights.

Of course, student support for workers struggles is crucial, as happened recently at Tower Hamlets College. And student struggles will get further if they have the support of workers in their institution.

Regards,

Martin

Yorkie Bar
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Oct 12 2009 19:58
Quote:
Not sure that it would, J. Workers and students have different interests and while they will coincide, a lot hopefully, separate networks are a good idea.

Granted, students and university workers have different interests, but that doesn't mean we can't organise together. I mean, doctors and nurses have different interests but should clearly be in the same organisation. It seems to me that it's only common sense for militants who share the same workplace on a permanent basis, and have broadly similar ideas, to collaborate as closely as possible.

I just don't think that a 'Autonomous Student Network' is going to achieve anything that couldn't be done better by working alongside staff in the institutions where we study.

Quote:
And really, if you think about it, it's not all of education that this applies to. I mean, could my 3 year old join as he goes to nursery? Or my 8 year old who's at primary school?

Obviously that would be pretty silly, but then so would an eight year old joining the AF, or this Autonomous Student Network for that matter. smile

~J.

WorkersDreadnought
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Oct 15 2009 16:25
Quote:
wouldn't it make more sense to have a combined network of students together with university workers?

Well in the education sector, i agree, it would. In the Queen Mary Autonomous Group we have one member of staff and a PHD student who also teaches. But its difficult i guess. I mean, i would have thought it would be very dodgy for a member of staff to be found out by the management to be involved in an anarchist group. I think martinh makes some good points about the time constraints uni staff have compared to students. It would probably make sense to have seperate networks, but interact and act together in mutual support as often as possible.

Quote:
Plus, the website you link to here doesn't really say anything about the organisation, beyond a broad statement of principles. Is this information not online (why not?), or is it that you don't have any kind of formal structure?

We are just a network whose aim is to better communicate and co-ordinate between individual groups up and down the country. Currently, i personally would like to see a federation of anarchist students (or students and workers together like you say), but the Autonomous Student Network should remain a network.

Quote:
Also, disablism? Really?

Yes, really. It took a while of online discussion, but we eventually chose a few "isms" at random and put them down in no particular order. Im not sure exactly what is your issue with disablism here.

In general i dont normally go in for the "staff and students have different interests" kinda thing... Our vision of a libertarian education system involves both students and staff, so surely they should work together? Im sure there is some economic interest thing blah blah that i am currently ignorant of, but i dont agree the interests are opposed. Also, i think its just too determinist to reduce it to "staff" and "students". We are working people in general, or, in the case of many students, are soon going to be. We havnt just magically dropped out of the entire class system while we are at university. I was at one of the student talks at the Marxism 09 conference, and some SWP kid was quoting Lenin saying something like "students have no class, they are in a holding zone". Well, i and the other students in the ASN have chosen what side we are on in the class struggle. I know someone from Goldsmiths A&S took part in one of the factory occupations that happened. He may not have been a worker that stopped working, but he certainly went and joined them.

Anyway ive blabbed for too long now. I look forward to your replies!

Yorkie Bar
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Oct 15 2009 16:48

Well, I think that we're all workers, but at the same time divisions between industries, between sectors and so on are real and should be reflected in our strategy. I totally agree though, that in the end we're all in the same boat and we need to work together. Actually, that was sort of my objection to this particular organisational tactic...

Quote:
We are just a network whose aim is to better communicate and co-ordinate between individual groups up and down the country. Currently, i personally would like to see a federation of anarchist students (or students and workers together like you say), but the Autonomous Student Network should remain a network.

Don't you think that this would work better with a formal, dues-paying organisation than an informal 'network' with pretty vague principles? It's just, I have a feeling this could end up like the AYN did, too much 'synthesis' leading to paralysis.

There's been a lot of talk on these forums recently (don't know if you've been following it) on the formation of industrial networks of anarchists in the UK, mainly members of SolFed and the AF, obviously organised on a federal basis and with anarchist communist politics. To me, that seems like a more promising proposal than just a network of students.

~J.

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jef costello
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Joined: 9-02-06
Oct 16 2009 00:39

The network is a starting point J not an end in itself (or at least it shouldn't be).
I'd guess the reason that it sounds a bit vague is because there arent many people involved and the group hasn't really done much so far. It takes at least a couple of meetings before a group has any idea on what it will actually be like, especially if the people don't know each other already.

Yorkie Bar
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Oct 16 2009 09:28

Fair nuff.

~J.

Yorkie Bar
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Oct 16 2009 09:42

So how do you think students should organise, independently, or not at all? It's just that I can't see a students-only anarchist network being a very functional organisation, really. Apart from anything else, students are obliged to have sh*t politics.

~J.

Yorkie Bar
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Oct 16 2009 11:52
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I don't really see any radical use for students as a group, unless they are campaigning around issues that directly affect them.

I dunno, students have been pretty important to a lot of struggles other than just 'student issues'. Just look at 1968.

The thing is, with fees being the obvious exception, most of the issues that do directly effect students also effect staff. I'm thinking mainly of cuts and privatisations, job losses, etc.

~J.

Caiman del Barrio
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Oct 16 2009 14:33
weeler wrote:
I don't really see any radical use for students as a group, unless they are campaigning around issues that directly affect them.

That'll be the day...

The way i see it, even though students and uni workers do have a worker-client relationship, the fact that you have a bunch of politically motivated people concentrated in the same arena means the formation of "political" groups pretty inevitable. Some of the stuff I got involved in last year was rightly criticised on here, but I don't really see what the alternative was, to ignore it?

At times, A&S was simply a bunch of anarchists who were active off campus and who used their registration as a student group in order to get cheap photocopying, access to rooms etc etc. That said, I don't really see why students - who are supposedly analytical creatures - can't figure out how improved conditions for lecturers means improved classes for them. There are precedents of education workers and the service users struggling together, look at Oaxaca.

Yorkie Bar
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Oct 16 2009 16:46

I think it's a little too neat to say that students are 'service users' just like any other customer or client or whatever. For a start, the line between student and lecturer/researcher is not always clear cut. Postgrads obviously do tutoring, supervisory work and so on; in some courses i.e. Medicine a lot of the teaching is actually done by older students teaching their juniors.

~J.

Boris Badenov
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Oct 16 2009 17:01

this is a good idea; the site still needs a lot of work though, obviously.

weeler wrote:
I don't really see any radical use for students as a group, unless they are campaigning around issues that directly affect them.

I actually agree with this somewhat, largely because student activism (the G20 type) is so rampant and completely counter-productive. That is not to say that students cannot actively support local workers' struggles.

WorkersDreadnought
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Dec 29 2009 17:29
Quote:
I actually agree with this somewhat, largely because student activism (the G20 type) is so rampant and completely counter-productive.

s'not all bad. It was students that were trying to save Ian Tomlinson.

But yeah students and workers working together is good. We gave out leaflets to some fellow workers the other day explaining we would support them in any workplace struggles they may have, and the response was overwhelmingly positive.