At Lancaster University this week we have "One World Week". Several people, close to AUL created a program and a space to have alternative learning sessions and experiment with life in this context: the yurt.
This is the content of the flyer:
The Yurt at One World Week 2006
a collaborative learning experiment to live together as an example of how 'one world' could be and to question mainstream approaches to One World.
This leaflet is an introduction to some of our thoughts around 'one world week', the yurt, capitalism, the world and local action.
- Wednesday 2:30pm: Iceland: http://www.savingiceland.org; 6pm: People&Planet meeting; 9pm: various stringed instruments;
- Thursday 3:30pm: Green and Red politics discussion; 5pm: Anti GM Action discussion; 6pm: Amnesty meeting; 8pm: George Fox 6: Freedom to protest;
- Friday 1pm: alternative ecological living structures
...is a portable dwelling structure, a tent, used traditionally by nomads in the steppes of Central Asia. It is usually erected on wooden poles and covered with handwoven materials or skins. Source: Wiki[p/m]edia
why the yurt?
to me, the point of the yurt project is to facilitate questioning and create a free space where all those coming in have the chance to be part of something enjoyable and productive. it is an interactive experiment in horizontal politics, rather than elected committees deciding on our behalf. the focus of One World Week should be political issues affecting everyone, such as nuclear power, the criminalisation of protest, ID cards etc, not just cultural diversity, charities and fair trade. the yurt is a space where all these issues can be discussed, instead of assuming that hanging a national flag and buying fair trade chocolate is enough to counter capitalism. the yurt is a space for learning, skillsharing and relaxing, where everyone has just as much say as everyone else about things like whether alcohol should be allowed. as the university becomes more and more corporatised, it's refreshing to have a space where we don't have to see the coke vending machines and posters advertising corporate venturing sessions with unethical companies. the process of organising the yurt has been spontaneous and inclusive, with new people learning from those who've done similar things before. the personal is political, so in order to change the world for the better, we have to start with ourselves and our local communities. the themes of the official one world week (gender, sexual diversity, disability, climate change, environment) should be addressed in terms of a liberating, anticapitalist movement. the ways in which we are all affected by global profit seeking are many and complex. giving money to charity legitimates the system, because it gives the false impression that we can just give handouts and patch up the wounds capital is making now. it is not an empowering process. 'the differences between the standpoints of influential NGOs such as Oxfam and the political establishment are a matter of gradation rather than fundamental' (http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/regions/oxford/2005/06/315273.html). the yurt provides an ideal place for people to drop in and allows for dialogue between people who would otherwise never meet, creating a sense of community on campus, and allowing for political debate. the views of the people who have been part of organising the yurt are varied. i think we all agree that in order to change the world for the better we have to do more than simply buy ethical products, because the positive changes required cannot be achieved simply on a personal level. many people can't afford to buy organic products and many people don't have time to engage with projects, because of financial constraints. we want to create a society where everyone can participate and where work consists of what we collectively need, such as subsistance agriculture, thereby leaving time for community activities. at present, the system requires work for profit. we want to create a society where everyone can participate in decisions, rather than one where elected and unelected representatives decide what's best for us, or rather what's best for capitalism to thrive and keep dissent to a minimum. there are no quickfix solutions, like giving money to charity or creating new technologies to solve the environmental problems technology itself has created in the first place. neither is it worthwhile asking others to act on our behalf, like writing to MPs or protesting against the current war in Iraq or the future one in Iran in the form of asking our representatives to be nice. we have to collectively create alternatives and demand change, rather than passively expecting those in power to voluntarily see the light of justice.
George Fox 6 and the lecturer's strike
this is a call for solidarity between everyone who cares about the freedom of all to protest and to be involved with popular education! 'One world' is not abstract, but is something we have to create on campus: freedom of speech and to protest are essential to have 'one world'. it is not enough to ask for these freedoms in countries 'far away', we need these freedoms now and here! the George Fox Six are on trial this week. they peacefully protested at a corporate venturing conference on campus in September 2004, where BAE Systems and other violators of people and the earth were discussing how to feed off uni research. the uni decided to prosecute and the six were found guilty of aggravated trespass. the six are now challenging the uni over their blatant violation of freedom of speech. the NUS, the AUT, and other unions and groups are supporting them. this case is going to set a precedent for the future of protest in this country. civil liberties are being eroded, it is now illegal to protest within 1km of parliament. Ruth Kelly (the secretary of state for education) tells Vice Chancellors to root out unacceptable behaviour on campuses' and at the same time promotes venture capitalists clustering around... universities and feeding off their research." what exactly is the unacceptable behaviour? this case highlights the absurdity that if something is legal, it is therefore ethical. the six disrupted a legal meeting, but they have the right to protest against those who facilitate murder and destruction. such legal facilitation is the unacceptable, immoral behaviour. support the six at Preston Crown Court! see: www.freewebspace.biz/GeorgeFox/
Education, Capitalism and One World
Our idea of 'one world' is characterised by education for everybody. One World, however, is in conflict with capitalism. Capitalism is based on exploitation of humans and nature, discrimination and hierarchies. To fight these we need education. Thus, access to a decent education, in terms of being able to afford it and in terms of its content being as open as possible (i.e. not taylored to the needs of big business) is an essential element in the necessary anticapitalist fight for one world. given the increasing corporatisation of education at all levels, such as Nike sponsoring school sports kits and the commercialisation of research, and the divisions this process creates between students and staff, students and staff must fight together against the situation of decreasing freedom and democracy imposed on education by those in power and fight for accessible, meaningful education. We have to fight antidemocratic, corporate management of university, such as e.g.
- in the former Institute for Environment, Philosophy and Public Policy: Management has channeled environmentalists out of the department and got rid of the 'Environment' (Leaving 'IPPP') – against the will of students from all over the world who came to study environment but now cannot as they wish,
- dividing students up (like forcing graduates into a separate college, this fragmentation is not conducive to the solidarity required to fight the battle for people learning from each other, both formally and informally),
- stressful working conditions for teachers/lecturers,
- the steadily decreasing numbers of representatives on Union Council,
- facilitating the efficient dominance of companies, like BAE, who make a profit from killing people and the earth (BAE and The Management School are in constant mutual aid, as the school offers the BCIM 'BAE Systems Certificate in Management', BAE have a constant presence on campus, which it seems sometimes violates uni regulations.)
so how do we fight? where is our voice? LUSU? the NUS? and unions for lecturers? we have to question the current state of such student unions when the president of LUSU forgets to submit contributions to the NUS national conference and when the political news round up in SCAN is biased towards the views of those in Conservative Future. the NUS itself is problematic: on the one hand it works with NGOs, while on the other NUSSL refuses to disengage with its reformist, dialogue with CocaCola, who supply the majority of soft drinks to students unions whilst violating human rights and the environment, especially in India. This links back to 'one world'. We have to create 'one world' locally, not wait for others to build it on our behalf.
Solidarity with French Students and Youths
french students revive spirit of 68, or maybe they just have the spirit of 06! Dominique de Villepin, the french prime minister, wants to force a measure through France's parliament designed to alleviate unemployment, paradoxically by making it easier to fire workers aged under 26 years. The measure would introduce a new form of work contract, le contrat de première embauche (first employment contract), which gives employers the right to let employees go after two years. The hope is it will spur employers to hire young people safe in the knowledge they are not obliged to retain them. (see: tinyurl.com/hm5by). Student protests all over France are the answer of the youths: 39 (out of 84) universities are on strike at the moment, students barricaded the entries to lecture theatres or whole university buildings and several universities were/are occupied. Last Thursday, the 9/3, the prestigious elite uni Le Sorbonne was occupied by 400 students. This is a symbolic action since Le Sorbonne was last occupied in 1968, which lead to the famous 'cultural revolution'. The french police used force on Saturday morning to empty the university, but the students continue protesting on the streets and plan a reoccupation ...We want to express our solidarity with the french struggle against a raving neoliberalist capitalism!! the protests continue. 200 students invaded the College de France Monday night and thousands have vowed to block cities across France in street demonstrations today. they are demanding the government reopen Sorbonne University. see: www.libcom.org/blog/, www.libcom.org/news/, www.paris.indymedia.org/
a political philosophy, the belief that rulers, governments, and hierarchical social relationships are unnecessary and should be abolished. it refers to related social movements that advocate the elimination of authoritarian institutions. desire for a harmonious antiauthoritarian society and social relations based upon voluntary association of autonomous individuals: mutual aid. this is not a utopian desire, rather our power lies in realising that demanding what seems impossible is the only way that the one world we share can be repaired and be free from domination. capitalism is boring. a sense of humour is common sense dancing.
Historical Background: Development, Environment and Capitalism
Two concepts of 'development' exist: The modernisation approach assumes that peoples are less developed than the western world, because they do not use their capital and abilities fully. Thus, the western world is seen as a role model and the cause of underdevelopment is located in the global south. Lateron several dependency theories (Frank, Carsado, 1960s) were created. They pointed out that the state of development of countries in the global south and its peoples is not to only caused by internal problems, but by the country's situation in the worldwide globalised economy (Wallerstein's worldsystem approach). Thus, the depdency theories critique the modernisation approach. More recent approaches to critique 'development' come from postdevelopment, anticapitalist theorists (Escobar, GibsonGraham) and from feminst critics (Mohanty, Spivak, Parpand, Ang, Amos & Parmar). A powerful, though mostly academic, critique of the idea of 'development' was also generated by postcolonial theory. A wellknown book is Edward Said's 'Orientalism' a deconstruction of the 'Orient' as a stereotypic image developed in the industrialized West (Said, 1978, for a more recent comment on that by Said, see http://www.counterpunch.org/said08052003.html). While the two competing paradigms of 'modernisation' vs. 'dependency' exist(ed) since the 1960s, also the environmentalists were able to put their agenda more successfully in public discourse. if we take into account ecological restrictions on earth, we had to learn that unlimited growth is not possible, that the technicoscientific rationality creates many problems for humans, nature and development.
In the 1980s the environmentalist and the development discourse have been brought together; necessitated by their contradiction: both developmental approaches claimed industrialisation for development. However, environmentalists pointed out the problems of industrialisation to out needs for nature. Merging the discourses happened under the new name sustainable development.
Under this new discourse, however, the environmental and dependency critiques had been neglected soon: Today, sustainable developments serves to allow unrestricted capitalist activities in the name of 'ecology and social justice', incorporated by 'environmental management' and 'corporate social responsibility'. see http://www.corporatewatch.org/, http://www.eco.utexas.edu/Homepages/Faculty/Cleaver/port.html A movement which connects a critique of capitalist development and environmentalism is the environmental justice movements, mainly in India, Brazil, Mexico, but growingly also other Latinamerican countries. This movement emphasizes the importance of 'indigenous' knowledges and noncapitalist ways of living.