Higher Education in Libcom?

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Croy
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Oct 10 2011 17:00
duskflesh wrote:
Things like philosophy and literature should be things that all should study inside and outside of the universities. Humans need to develop their higher capacities....

When you say all should study them, is it fair to say then you support compulsory education in literature and philosophy ?

duskflesh
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Oct 10 2011 21:03
the croydonian anarchist wrote:
duskflesh wrote:
Things like philosophy and literature should be things that all should study inside and outside of the universities. Humans need to develop their higher capacities....

When you say all should study them, is it fair to say then you support compulsory education in literature and philosophy ?

No, I believe that a free society everyone should at least try to engage in intellectual pursuits....instead of being a semi-liberated consumer who dose nothing but pursuit lesser entertainment in all of their free time, which is how capitalism has molded all of us...actually back in the day the working class had intellectual/reading sentiments, as liberators we should try to revive that

instead of a compulsory education, we should encourage things like philosophy in the anarchist narrative/culture....people in communities should engage in things like literature and philosophy in daily gatherings, I like the model that anarchist free schools have alot

tastybrain
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Oct 11 2011 00:37
piter wrote:
Quote:
to "abolish hospitals" or "abolish sports"?

eh why not!

it would not means abolishing medical activities (well of course it needs some equipments, some teams etc, so having some places dedicated to it seems quite sensible that's right.)

So there is a place. With medical equipment. And "teams" (presumably of doctors/nurses) that do "medical activity". What's that again? There's a name for it... Oh yeah. It's a hospital roll eyes

piter wrote:
maybe abolishing sport would be more worth considering, I mean "sports" is heavily linked with leisure as something separated in time and space from the rest of life, and linked with competition and hierarchy, etc...

So no separation in time and space of sports and other things? So I take it it would be fine if you and I are moving a heavy object and all of a sudden I drop my end and start working on my golf swing? Or if I decide to play basketball in the hospital, excuse me, "place with medical equipment and teams"? Cause goodness me there can't be any separation in time and space of anything! If you do that we might as well just be living under capitalism wall As for the "hierarchy and competition" thing I think that's ridiculous. I know plenty of people who are excellent at sports but who aren't competitive or bossy off of the field. If anything, getting some of that competitive spirit out on the field will help us keep the rest of society cooperative and comradely. Btw, does the ban on "hierarchy and competition" mean I can't play video games where people are ranked on their scores? Cause that would suck and it seems pretty anti-anarchist.

Spikymike wrote:
these ideas it seems to me, amount to little more than the cutting edge radical reformism that capitalism itself seeks to encourage, not far removed from commonly debated themes such as 'life-long learning', 'on the job training' 'open universities', 'community schools resource sharing', 'democratic learning', 'student participation' etc etc.

Well it has been the anti-academic people in this thread who have been talking about "life-long learning" and "on the job training", although not in those terms.

Spikymike wrote:
Universities as capitalist institutions are no more 'neutral' than every other institution in this society and are, as every day goes by, ever more fundamentally reflective of and integrated into the functioning and reproduction of capitalist social relationships in their very being.

Yes and so are power stations, theaters, restaurants, and sports stadiums. It doesn't follow that we won't have any of these things after the revolution, depending on how you define these things. If you define a theater as a place where money is exchanged for entertainment, than no, we will not have theaters. If you define a theater as a place where art and entertainment of a theatrical nature takes place, and people watch (which I think is the more rational and common sense definition) then we will.

Spikymike wrote:
They form part of the separation and compartmentalisation of life under this system - a separation and compartmentalisation which must be broken down alltogether as part of any revolution worth it's name. In moving towards a breakdown of the current division of labour (not of skills, knowledge and abilities as such) 'teaching' as a distinct specialised role separate from 'doing' must surely be one of the first to be attacked.

It is not distinctive from doing, even in this society. Professors have to be practicing in their field. Anyway, I think there is somewhat of a fetishization for attacking "separation" in lib. communist circles. Separation can be a good thing as well as a bad thing.

Spikymike wrote:
I worry, as did others on a similarly themed discussion thread here a while back, that for some 'pro-revolutionaries', particularly those actually embeded in the present educational institutions, that their concept of a communist society is little removed from the radical democratisation of, and continuation of, most of the current institutions of capitalism.

Please prove me wrong.

Well I do want there to be universities after the revolution; centers of learning and instruction that are free to all. If that means I'm not a "real" communist then fine. roll eyes In my opinion you are missing what is significant about capitalism if you just want to abolish everything we have now rather than transform it. What is significant about capitalist academia is that it is controlled by and dependent on value production, not that it is a distinct institution.

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Oct 11 2011 06:29

@tastybrain. I get your frustration with what people have been arguing but at the same time I think that you misunderstand. 'Sports', 'theatre', 'restaurants' and 'academia' are not the same thing as 'kicking a ball around for fun', 'playing', 'eating or cooking for other people' and 'learning'. These categories are historical and are inherently tied to a society based on commodity production. This is Marx's point about looking at things concretely and not in the abstract. i.e. look at them in terms of actual social praxis and how they developed historically. Football, for example, was originally not separated in time and space from the rest of life. It was a game that took place on the town high street and where everyone could have a go and the rules could change as people liked. But football as a 'sport' is a multibillion dollar business with institutions, rules not decided on by the players, it encourages nationalism, has a massive merchandising industry and is a largely passive experience done in front of the tv for most people. Even in terms of space, look how dead and nasty a stadium makes a city street. Moreover, 'football' is limited to a few star players who are also star commodity consumers and serve as examples to the rest of us. You could make similar critiques of theatres, restaurants and academia. The point is that we want to abolish these things so that the aspects we enjoy about them can be realised in new social forms that are free to develop and change according to our own concrete praxis.

Baronarchist
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Oct 11 2011 18:43
LBird wrote:

Have you ever seen the face of a 'teacher' stood at the front of the class when you ask them why they aren't learning from you?

"Anarchists don't think like that" is what I say to capitalists when they suggest we want this sort of...stuff.

Baronarchist
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Oct 11 2011 18:45

Fuck.

tastybrain
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Oct 11 2011 19:23
Malva wrote:
@tastybrain. I get your frustration with what people have been arguing but at the same time I think that you misunderstand. 'Sports', 'theatre', 'restaurants' and 'academia' are not the same thing as 'kicking a ball around for fun', 'playing', 'eating or cooking for other people' and 'learning'. These categories are historical and are inherently tied to a society based on commodity production. This is Marx's point about looking at things concretely and not in the abstract. i.e. look at them in terms of actual social praxis and how they developed historically. Football, for example, was originally not separated in time and space from the rest of life. It was a game that took place on the town high street and where everyone could have a go and the rules could change as people liked. But football as a 'sport' is a multibillion dollar business with institutions, rules not decided on by the players, it encourages nationalism, has a massive merchandising industry and is a largely passive experience done in front of the tv for most people. Even in terms of space, look how dead and nasty a stadium makes a city street. Moreover, 'football' is limited to a few star players who are also star commodity consumers and serve as examples to the rest of us. You could make similar critiques of theatres, restaurants and academia. The point is that we want to abolish these things so that the aspects we enjoy about them can be realised in new social forms that are free to develop and change according to our own concrete praxis.

I mean, there were theaters and sports (and sports stadiums) before capitalism...so I wouldn't say they are inherently tied together. Certainly the logic of capital and value production permeates every institution we now have.

I think a big part of this argument is about semantics. I am not defending academia as it is now. Capitalist academia produces mendacity, intellectual cowardice, hierarchy, and a lot of other negative affects. But when you say "abolish academia", "abolish hospitals", etc, it sounds as if you simply don't want these things to exist anymore rather than wanting to fundamentally change them, which IMO is what you actually want to do! I suppose it depends on what attributes of a given institution you view as central to that institution's essence.

Honestly, when communists say "abolish hospitals, academia, work," etc, I believe that most people think that a communist society, with the abolition of those things, would lack medical care, learning, and productive activity. A university without wage labor and hierarchy, with free access to all, without value production or mystification, is still a university! It has simply been fundamentally transformed. I think the hyperbole of "abolish ______" comes from communists wanting to sound super-radical to each other and, as Spikymike has demonstrated, is mostly a way to call other communists "radical capitalist reformists" or some other insult just because we choose to use language that is less bombastic and more comprehensible to non-communists.

Once again, no matter how different these institutions are under communism, as long as there is a place with medical equipment and medical personnel that performs medical procedures that place is a hospital. As long as there is a place with research facilities, libraries, living quarters, and specialists in various fields who help each other learn (and help students learn --- or is the student/teacher relationship automatically hierarchical?) that place is a university. What is the point of claiming we want to "abolish" these institutions (which only sounds cool to other communists) if what we really want to do is fundamentally and radically transform them?

As for football (or "soccer" as we call it here for some reason) I see nothing wrong with having a specific set of rules and a field to play on. Post revolution people will still be into sports--will you prevent them from playing the game according to one set of rules in a specific location? Yes, merchandising and passive spectatorship of sports is not a good thing -- but even if you get rid of merchandising and millionaire players surely "sports" will still exist?

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Oct 11 2011 20:05


Quote:
-will you prevent them from playing the game according to one set of rules in a specific location?

LOL. No. This is disingenuous in the extreme.

piter
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Oct 11 2011 20:06

ok Tastybrain if you don't like abolish (actually I don't like it that much for you can only abolish what you replace, and this replacement is the point), put "replace with relations radically different" instead...
the use of the term abolish is just to mark that the radicality of the "replacement" involve that some essentiel features of what you abolish/replace are completely destroyed in the process.

whatisinevidence
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Oct 11 2011 20:17
tastybrain wrote:
I mean, there were theaters and sports (and sports stadiums) before capitalism...so I wouldn't say they are inherently tied together. Certainly the logic of capital and value production permeates every institution we now have.

There have been iron, gold, etc deposits around the earth for many millennia, but Hegel reminds us that it is only with the human transformation of gold into coins/tools/etc that metals became metal.

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Oct 11 2011 20:17

I am making a point about reification and fetishisation, two things any genuinely critical mass movement must understand and overcome in theory and practice. That is the only reason such discussions about future communist society are at all useful. It shows what is possible and what people are capable of when they free themselves of abstractions.

Moreover, my point about football is that although certain forms of mediation, or activities, exist in lots of different societies they don't all mean the same thing. Acting, health care and group games meant something entirely different to a medieval person than they do to me and you. Just as they would mean something very different in a communist society because people's concerns would change.

tastybrain
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Oct 11 2011 20:22
Malva wrote:

Quote:
-will you prevent them from playing the game according to one set of rules in a specific location?

LOL. No. This is disingenuous in the extreme.

My bad. I'm not trying to be disingenuous. The main point was the rest of the post; the "football" paragraph was mostly an afterthought.

Quote:
Football, for example, was originally not separated in time and space from the rest of life. It was a game that took place on the town high street and where everyone could have a go and the rules could change as people liked. But football as a 'sport' is a multibillion dollar business

To me, what you said there implies that football being separated in time and space from the rest of life is necessarily a bad thing, and that rules and a designated area to play are part of the bad capitalist nature of "sports" which has to be "abolished". Now that you have said there is nothing wrong with people playing by a set of rules in a specific location, I take it you no longer think sports should be abolished?

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Oct 11 2011 20:24


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ok Tastybrain if you don't like abolish (actually I don't like it that much for you can only abolish what you replace, and this replacement is the point), put "replace with relations radically different" instead...
the use of the term abolish is just to mark that the radicality of the "replacement" involve that some essentiel features of what you abolish/replace are completely destroyed in the process.

This was also a point I was going to make. Hospitals and universities are just abstractions used to denote a real historical social praxis of some kind. They don't exist in all times and all places. There is nothing eternal about them. The point is to 'abolish' them and create something very different.

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Oct 11 2011 20:34
Quote:
To me, what you said there implies that football being separated in time and space from the rest of life is necessarily a bad thing, and that rules and a designated area to play are part of the bad capitalist nature of "sports" which has to be "abolished". Now that you have said there is nothing wrong with people playing by a set of rules in a specific location, I take it you no longer think sports should be abolished?

That was actually Piter not me. But if you mean do I think that a mass movement that 'abolishes' capitalism will also abolish the abstraction 'sports' then yes I do. It wouldn't be a matter of people being forced to stop doing something but rather realising that this reified category is just that. They can invent any game they like and play it how they like. I think you need to consider the real activity that makes up 'sport'. The idea of what sport is is sold to us through a highly lucrative industry in countless pub adverts, magazine articles, merchandising, celebrity endorsements, institutional PR and spectacular sports events. People make money through 'sport'. I think people in the future will invent their own 'sport' for want of a better word, why not call it play? It is not a matter of forcing anyone to do anything, it is a matter of spontaneous creation for people who have realised their own revolutionary praxis.

tastybrain
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Oct 14 2011 21:09
Malva wrote:
Quote:
To me, what you said there implies that football being separated in time and space from the rest of life is necessarily a bad thing, and that rules and a designated area to play are part of the bad capitalist nature of "sports" which has to be "abolished". Now that you have said there is nothing wrong with people playing by a set of rules in a specific location, I take it you no longer think sports should be abolished?

That was actually Piter not me. But if you mean do I think that a mass movement that 'abolishes' capitalism will also abolish the abstraction 'sports' then yes I do. It wouldn't be a matter of people being forced to stop doing something but rather realising that this reified category is just that. They can invent any game they like and play it how they like. I think you need to consider the real activity that makes up 'sport'. The idea of what sport is is sold to us through a highly lucrative industry in countless pub adverts, magazine articles, merchandising, celebrity endorsements, institutional PR and spectacular sports events. People make money through 'sport'. I think people in the future will invent their own 'sport' for want of a better word, why not call it play? It is not a matter of forcing anyone to do anything, it is a matter of spontaneous creation for people who have realised their own revolutionary praxis.

Why not call it play? Because it is often a serious competition involving high levels of skill, concentration, and discipline. Yes, part of sports as it is now is the spectacular/capitalist selling of sports-viewing to the masses, but another part of the "real activity that makes up 'sport'" is simply a group of friends getting together and playing a pick-up game...and they use a given set of rules and a specific area because they enjoy that game specifically. Having rules to bound a game can actually make it more fun. Also, clearly that category of sports is not inherently tied to value production; do you consider the sacred games of the Aztecs "sports"? I would. They had nothing to do with value production but had an entirely different social meaning...this leads me to conclude that the capitalist attributes you have correctly assigned to capitalist sports are not inherent to the category of "sports". Take those things away and you will still have sports, in fact you will have a purer version of sports.

Malva wrote:
Hospitals and universities are just abstractions used to denote a real historical social praxis of some kind. They don't exist in all times and all places. There is nothing eternal about them. The point is to 'abolish' them and create something very different.

I see your point about these categories being abstractions on some level. But many of these abstractions are used despite vastly differing "historical and social praxis". The term "army", for example, encompasses such widely varying phenomena as the groups of warriors fielded by the ancient Greeks and Babylonians, modern military forces like those of the United States or Britain, and the revolutionary militias of the Spanish Civil War and Russian Revolution. Why do we call all of these things, which clearly have widely divergent "historical and social praxis", "armies"? Because they all share a few core characteristics; armed bodies of people organized in some fashion for the execution of violence. Now, however different hospitals and universities are after the revolution (and I agree they should be VASTLY different) they will still share the core attributes that make something a "hospital" or a "university". In the case of the former, they will still be spaces in which people with training of some kind perform medical procedures. For the latter, they will still be spaces where knowledge is produced, critiqued, and transferred (whoever is doing those things and however it is organized).
Dictionary.com (not definitive, I know, but I don't have the OED in front me) defines "abolish" as

"to do away with; put an end to; annul; make void"

Clearly what you and others are proposing is not the abolition of hospitals, sports, or even the university, no matter how much you would like to call it that. You may say, as duskflesh said,

Quote:
the universities as we know them...should be abolished.....

. But without this caveat you are just using hyperbole.

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Oct 14 2011 21:21
Quote:
another part of the "real activity that makes up 'sport'" is simply a group of friends getting together and playing a pick-up game

This is just idealism to me. As a social phenomenon 'sports' could not be more removed from 'simply a group of friends getting together and playing a pick-up game'.

Quote:
Why not call it play? Because it is often a serious competition involving high levels of skill, concentration, and discipline.

Nothing wrong with rules, rules are what make a game a game after all. Nothing wrong with concentration and high levels of skill and discipline. But the rules of the game should change according to the desires of the participants. I don't know much about football but I have read about the massive disillusionment of fans with the football institutions, teams being bought and messed up by investors, etc. etc. Plus 'sports', again as a social phenomenon, is very much a matter of passive spectatorship.

As for the talk of abolishing: Hyperbole can be a useful rhetorical tool and is not inherently negative.

wojtek
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Nov 6 2011 03:56
Quote:
duskflesh wrote:
I actually remember reading somewhere that in the Spanish civil war that a new university based on popular donations of books and supplies was created.

I seem to recall reading that Emma Goldman went to see it and she returned singing its praises. If anyone else has any more information about the university, I'd really appreciate it.

Quote:
tastybrain wrote:
I absolutely agree it [university] should not be limited to a privileged few or confined to a few years. But in any decent libertarian communist society it would not be limited to a few, it would be free to all.

I'm currently reading 'Springtime: The New Student Rebellion' by Clare Soloman and Tania Palmieri and it contains an extract from Ernest Handel's essay 'The Changing Role of the Bourgeois University' (June 1970), some of which I think compliments what you were saying:

Quote:
...Subordinating – not production to human needs but human needs to production – that is the very essence of capitalism.

Self-management, therefore, is the key to full development of both scientific competence and the potential productive power of science. The future of the university and of society intersect here and finally converge. When it is said that many people are not suited to a university education, that is doubtless a truism… in the context of our present society. But this is not a matter of physiologically or genetically determined unsuitability but of a long process of preselection by the home and social environment.

When, however, we consider that a society that subordinates the development of men to the production of things stands the real hierarchy of values on its head, we can assume that, with the exception of marginal cases, there is nothing inevitable about this unsuitability.

When society is reorganized in such a way that it puts the education of people before the accumulation of things and pushes in the opposite direction from today’s preselection and competition –that is, surrounds every less gifted child with so much care that he can overcome his ‘natural handicap’ – then the achievement of universal higher education does not seem impossible.

Thus, universal higher education, cutting the workday in half, and all-embracing self-management of the economy and society based on an abundance of consumer goods is the answer to the problem of the twentieth century – what shall the teachers teach? ‘Who will watch the police?’ The social development would become a fundamental process of self-education for everyone. Then the word ‘progress’ will have real meaning – when humanity has the competence to determine its own social fate consciously and relying only on itself.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/mandel/1970/06/university.htm

Mike Harman
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Oct 24 2011 04:46
Quote:
Why do feedback and evaluation have to be the same thing? In many courses I've seen, if you do poorly early on, even if you end up understanding later, you are not going to get as good a grade as someone who has understood everything to begin with, or, say, hasn't understood as well as you but was consistent throughout the semester. So even though you understand the material better, they will get a higher evaluation, simply because you required more feedback - you, in fact, learned more.

While it's not applied to students, this is starting to be used for grading of schools/teachers in the UK - schools get a 'value added' rating based on the academic achievement of students when they enter the school vs. when they leave. I don't know if/how it actually works though but it's interesting you bring it up in relation to grading of students.