According to their own self-understanding, universities promote innovation, so-called critical thinking, thoughtful, ‘forward-looking’ people. Yet when we look at the actual situation, we see something different. We soon discover that universities we soon discover that they serve to co-opt radical ideas, flattening them so as to make them palatable to the bureaucratic apparatuses which rule the university to its innermost core. The university, in theory and in practice, overwhelmingly serves to reproduce patterns of oppression––no matter its claims to the contrary. Thus, the university can say “Black Lives Matter” while totally turning a blind eye to the calls for abolition which have become essential to this moment of general insurrection.
The university is also entirely structured by the capitalist division between manual and intellectual labor. The activities of the university’s students and workers are subject to the bureaucratic control of those who serve and manage the interests of capitalism’s endless drive for profit––to the point of death. Thus, the University of Oregon hired someone whose explicit mission it was to destroy the health insurance of graduate students, health insurance acquired and maintained through decades of struggle against the university. The fact that we have to fight for things we have already gained shows the insidious, profit-obsessed character of the university. Education is subordinate to corporate interests. It is a corporate university.
Students do not have a say in their tuition costs. Students do not have a say as to whether they must return to campus or not in the middle of a deadly pandemic. Students and workers do not have a say in whether their university chooses to build a monument worth billions of dollars as they struggle to pay for tuition or for living wages, as they struggle to live. Students and workers do not have a say as to whether pigs should be allowed on campus, creating a space permeated with violence and insecurity for BIPOC particularly. In having a police force, the university remains firmly committed to the violent policing of Black people characteristic of racial capitalism. We must never forget that the police in this country began as a slave patrol, meant to capture and discipline slaves and protect the property relations upon which capitalism relies.
Students do not have a say in whether they will be indebted for the rest of their lives as the university continues to raise tuition yearly. The university is through and through an authoritarian institution in which the lives of students and workers are determined by a minority that serves the interests of capital.
Not only this, however; the university is also part and parcel of neoliberal capitalism’s strategy of inclusion and diversifying social, political, and economic hierarchies. Thus, universities claim to be diversifying the canon, diversifying faculty hires, diversifying the student body, diversifying everything. But this process only serves to mask the fact that the university remains a plantation that polices the boundaries of knowledge and tests new modes of exploitation, warped sociality, and carceral intellectuality, subsuming everything else in the process of creating obedient subjects and extracting wealth.
Yet, this world, the world as it exists, will soon be no longer. Whether we will witness a full descent into fascism (though we must constantly be reminded that fascism has been present here much longer than now) or merely a prolongation of the current crises of capitalism that postpone any future human flourishing for a last effort to extract value from those suffering here and around the world––or even if revolutionary momentum can overcome the bloody institutions of our social and political present––it is clear to all who can notice that neither we nor the world go on like this. As students, it is time to take a side and a stand, gather your resources, consolidate your power, and be militant but never be silent.
You are trapped in a quickly collapsing world and your prospects are dim. Why resign yourself to carry on like normal now that you have realized that the very ‘normal’ in which you have found a relative stability is sutured by and saturated with the exploitation of, even veritable warfare against centuries of Black, Indigenous, and poor working people? You are here, pursuing entrance into a world of capitalist stability that is ever more precarious. For, why else would you get a degree? Obviously not to learn, since, if you were actually dedicated to learning, you would be fighting actively to dismantle the institution of the university that subjugates knowledge to profit and creates subjects obedient to the racist, sexist, and classist violence of the present…
But soon (if not now) you will not be guaranteed your place (if you ever had one) in the short-lived capitalist respite from the suffering of history that it required in order to be relatively stable. Soon (if not now) you will be forced to choose between suffering and acquiescence to others’ suffering (though, if we are being honest, you have always been forced to make this choice). With each ensuing crisis, your obedience becomes more valuable to your oppressors. With each ensuing crisis, their violence becomes more unstable, more insidious. With each ensuing crisis, your power grows. Choose militancy and revolt before it is too late. Then you will be able to learn, to grow, and to flourish in all of your capacities, body and soul.
Students have always been revolutionary. From the Black Student and Black Power movements on campuses in the 60’s and 70’s, to the Revolutionary Youth Movement, Student Brigade, and Attica Brigade, to the French revolts of ’68, to the student movements against Vietnam and the Iraq imperial wars, and to the more recent student movements against capitalism, racism, sexism, and fascism, students have historically been able to expropriate and to steal away with a radicality found in the cracks of the university. From protest, to riot, to insurrection, students have always been on the frontlines.
Now it is your time to join the struggle. Now it is your turn to steal and to steal away. Organize occupations, rent strikes, tuition strikes, protests. Walk off your job. Organize your workplace, then strike in solidarity with those who are more vulnerable than you. Read Marx. Organize mutual aid. Build barricades, then set them on fire. Dance in the flames of the old world. Deface property acquired through colonial conquest. Tear down the walls, open the buildings to the unhoused. Care for each other. Love each other. Throw away your books and rally in the streets! What will they do to you that they have not done to countless others for centuries?
Remember UOPD still exists. Remember the UO is currently endangering all workers and all students. Remember who bears the blame. Remember their corporate interests. Remember their racist commitments. Remember their carceral cruelties. Only we will save each other. We don’t need them. All we need is each other in arms. They are all pigs in the end. Remember, you don’t reform plantations, we burn that shit down.
A Las Barricadas. Black Lives Matter. Until the Entire Prison World Is Reduced to Ashes.