THE MYTH OF EUROPA
& Edufactory Collective
Featured manifesto in this issue of Europa.
he old institutions are crumbling – from central banks to political parties, from museums to newspapers, from broadcast television to schools. They cannot cope with the continual rollout of crises one after the next. Nor can they adapt to the encroachment of networks on their borders. Most are trying to brand their way out of their dead ends. Doubtless some will survive, but most will become extinct. In any case, a radical politics can no longer be committed to the long march through these institutions. Needless to say, the universities are crumbling, too. ‘As once was the factory, so now is the university’. Edufactory started with this plain and apparently unproblematic statement— not to affirm but to interrogate it. The university does not at all function like a factory, and we are not nostalgic for the struggles of the past. This statement was rather the indication of a political problem. If we begin with the incommensurable spatio-temporal differences between the actual functions of the university and those of the factory, what are the political stakes of their comparison? In other words: how can the problem of organization be rethought in the aftermath of the demise of its traditional forms such as the union and the political party?
The Edu-Factory Machine Transnational Politics and Translational Institutions This problem concerns prognosis more than diagnosis, and its urgency is only deepened by the current global economic crisis. Within edufactory, we refer to this as the double crisis. On the one hand it is an acceleration of the crisis specific to the university that marks its end, the inevitable result of its eroded epistemological status; on the other hand it is also the crisis of postfordist conditions of labor and value, many of which are circuited through the university. To be succinct: how can edufactory become a theoretical and political machine for the production of the common and just-in-time interventions during a time of crisis? The question of composition has nothing to do with the exportation of a model or the communication among homogeneous subjects: it is immediately the question of translation. Everyday capital has to translate the production of the common into the language of accumulation; it has to take the ‘heterogeneous and full time’ of the movement and cooperation of living knowledge and turn it into the ‘homogenous and empty time’ of the capture of value. This is homolingual translation; global English is the homolingual idiom of the corporate university. Yet there are no more ‘outsides’, be they survivalist ideas or happy utopian islands: the ghettoes are definitely compatible with the system of governance. The global university is our battlefield: it is the space-time axis for experimentation in the ordinary event of heterolingual translation. Pitted against the multiple technologies of border management, security and identity that make the
university into a key site for the management of global populations, we explore the struggles among its knowledgeable bodies and their possible recomposition in a common process. If it is true that we are situated on the borders between the university and social production, it is equally true that these borders are the site of intensive struggle and reorganization. The question now turns around how we view these borders as political spaces. How can our bodies occupy these spaces and think and feel in them? It is not a question of defending the public against the private, for they are but two sides of the same capitalistic coin.
how the university ‘works’—both the ‘occupations’ that it enforces and those that it incites, as well as the anomalies that take exception to its homogenizing translations (the zero issue on the “double crisis” will be in the Winter); and the ideas for a new organization of knowledge production, entirely within the purview of social cooperation and its collective control. This is what we call the construction of an autonomous institution or the invention of the university of the common. To work in this way to build up a network of struggles is to move from the logic of ‘exchange’ to the translation of struggles based on their irreducible singu-
We have said that edu-factory is an organized network, yet what does this mean? For several decades now, networks have become the preferred form of movements as well as governance. As such they represent the possibility of the production of the common as well as its capture and enclosure.
Edu-factory moves from an extensive to an intensive mode of networked organization.
Rather, we are building up the common, which is neither public nor private, but an expression of autonomous yet mutually dependent bodies touching in social admixture. Hence, edu-factory moves from an extensive to an intensive mode of networked organization. This involves a constant process of updates and innovations, via a tool-kit that is both experimental and conventional: the discussion list and the website; the publication and translation of our first book, The Global University (it was published in Italian by Manifestolibri, 2008; in English by Autonomedia, 2009; in Spanish by Traficantes de sueños, 2010); the organization of and collaboration at meetings and public events all around the world; the webjournal devoted to analyzing
larity and heterogeneity. This network of struggles is embodied in the movements and conflicts all around the world, within and against the global university, and fuelled by the global crisis: from the California University occupations to the graduate students strikes in North America, from the new relationships between movements and governance in Latin America to the conflicts in Asia. And in Europe, from the Anomalous Wave in Italy to the Bildungsstreik in Germany, from the Greek revolt to the occupations in Austria and Switzerland, all the movements are inside the Bologna Process. All these struggles haven’t nostalgia for the national borders, but we’re building a new European common space of the higher education and the living knowledge mobility. An autonomous Bologna Process. Because we are speaking the same language. We are writing a common lexicon of the autonomy and the conflicts in knowledge production. And we’re building up an autonomous university, that is to say, a university without borders.
In short, the network is a dominant form, and all sorts of power are already articulated through it. Recently, we have noted two opposing inclinations among networks: the one is towards community, i.e., a reactionary return to the identity of a mythological origin, while the other is towards constituent practices, i.e., the road toward the invention of new institutions. In this decisive transition, we need money and funds. This is not merely a technical issue, nor a test of purity or commitment, but a political question. There is a nexus between the diminishing returns of old institutions and the practical difficulties of inventing new ones, and it is on this ground, as difficult and as compromised as it may be, that we see a point of intervention. In their desperation to survive extinction by capturing the innovation of living-knowledge production, these crumbling institutions channel funds that we can appropriate. We do not want to rescue the corporate university. We want to steal from it, and then kill it. Innovation is not a form of value-added, but the expression of the common.
the January issue of bimonthly cultural and political printed magazine The Myth of Europa