Student problems as such, as specific problems, don’t exist. Problems that students have are closely related to the totality of society, that is, the totality of what represents the life of every student. Inability to pay tuition is not only caused by (ever increasing) amount of university fees, but also by other processes within society of which we are passive observers: privatization and mass layoffs, terror of the market and exploitation which also manages university reforms. In short, by the totality of our miserable lives.
In such a context, the context of the totality of our lives, the idea that one can be apolitical is idiotic.
This idiotic idea is based on “real” (miserable) demands that the student movement delivers.
Such demands, entirely student-specific, aren’t understandable to the rest of society and cannot serve as a basis for connecting with other parts of society, though the causes of the problems which “others” face (so also “students” themselves in other non-student related functions, that is, in the totality of their lives) have the same roots as the causes of “student” problems.
If we would stay within “politics of demand” and narrow student identity, and at the same time decide to radically (at root) look at the problem, we would come to the conclusion that the only rational demand is: gratis and free education.
Probably it is immediately obvious that fulfillment of such demands are not realistic. So much the worse for the reality.
During the occupation of the faculty in 2006, when a student was asked what he thought about the current situation in the faculty, he answered: “For the first time I feel as if this is our space. Suddenly, the atmosphere in the building is completely changed and now I really enjoy dwelling here.”
Faculty occupation is a limited and temporary breaking with the imposed reality; such experience is in itself liberating and can become contagious. The essence is exactly in the experience of that break, and not in adapting to the imposed reality through realistic demands.
If this experience and its contagiousness is understood as the primary goal, then whether the struggle is formulated through the “maximalist” demand for free education, or heads towards its logical consequences and gives up demands as such, becomes secondary.
Rather than pleading for free education (to say nothing of current miserable demands), isn’t it more logical to start from a different consideration of the already existing practices at previous occupations? Since the occupation of 2011, students in the occupied Faculty of Philosophy organise discussions and lectures themselves. What is this then? Is it not perhaps free education? And what we as free people, autonomously, bring back to the faculty ignoring the reality that convinces us this is impossible?
Isn’t that a good start? Sufficient to convince us we have more strength and autonomy than we realize?
Furthermore, isn’t this the free education that students proclaimed at the occupied faculty, a good basis to look at the root of the problems in our miserable lives, to talk with other people and hear about their struggles, and thus to work on strengthening and better connecting on the basis of solidarity and mutual aid? And all of that while the bureaucrats and politicians are shocked at the “frivolousness” of students who do not demand anything? Nothing other than the total transformation of life.
A good start?
Unfortunately, for now we must put aside the first part: those who are always willing to see things “realistically” and adjust at any cost to this miserable reality imposed on us problems so miserable, that until yesterday we considered them unexpected, if not impossible.
Something disgusting happened. At the student assembly, Nazis declare love to the student movement, distance themselves from previous attacks and promise to join the protest in a dignified manner. And then the greatest disgrace in the history of the students of the Faculty of Philosophy: applause by the student assembly.
With the student assembly as it is, even the nationalist-Stalinist organisation of NKPJ/SKOJ/SF (New Communist Party of Yugoslavia/League of Communist Youth of Yugoslavia/Student front) seems almost as antifascist.
Of course, this unspeakable abomination didn’t just “happen”. It was preceded and directly caused by an atmosphere which was nurtured. And that’s the atmosphere of apoliticism and realism. An atmosphere of conformism and gutlessness of good children.
This atmosphere was in good part contributed by the most opportunistic parts of Belgrade student Left, primarily members of the CDA (Centar za društvenu analizu/Centre for social analysis) and people close to them.
From before, this group of apologists for nationalism and fascism perceives every critique of nationalism and fascism as a “liberal story” of the 90s, and de facto rejects critiques of nationalism and fascism as such.
After this disgusting episode, which unfortunately we cannot call an incident as it passed in an atmosphere of poignant love, some members of the CDA state that they are even willing to cooperate with Nazis “on anti-capitalism,” although they “don’t like it (fascism) so much.”
Anti-capitalism which is not antifascist and antipatriarchal can only produce a society worse than the existing one.
However, this cannot be a surprise, because previously “moderate” fascists from Dveri were also welcomed in the “blockades”.
Such a high amount of conformism and opportunism was unable to produce anything else: at the root of every dominance of fascism lies the spinelessness of those who don’t oppose it.
People were trained in this spinelessness and conformity from before, not only through a “realistic” perspective but also (since the 2011 occupation) by withdrawing and condoning a bully (former anarcho-syndicalist, now Stalinist) who was prepared to harass those he perceived as weaker than himself, but ran away from Nazis and locked himself in the amphitheatre. The student assembly, who bent the spine before him, can easily do the same before Nazis. The mechanism is the same.
A result of the aforementioned apoliticalness was the fact that other students behave similarly during Nazi attack. Establishing a community based on solidarity and resisting attack still require taking a clear stand beforehand.
Another cause can be found in the emptying of “direct democracy” and “self-organisation” of radical content, which is a global trend. Thus fetishized “self-organization” makes it possible to enter the “direct democratic process” with those who argue against Belgrade’s “gypsysation” (“ciganizacija”) and those who organise protests against asylum seekers and “sexual deviants”.
From all the above we think it follows that it’s necessary to dismantle this attempted student protest.
Efforts must be established on new grounds that include abandoning imposed student identity and egotistical self-infatuation of students, as well as apolitical conformism and real demands.
The essence of the problems in our lives must also be viewed radically, that is, at root, starting from a criticism of exploitation, capitalism, patriarchy and the State.
Based on the principles of solidarity and mutual aid, and with mandatory active rejection of fascism and all of its derivatives and constituent elements.
First of all, it’s necessary to grow a spine. And wipe the shitty student ass.
Finally, the most radical act is to bring into question one’s own position and role in the system of reproduction of this miserable life.
A few years ago, in one of the student protests, an old man approached an anarchist who carried a banner reading “Down with tuitions” and cheerfully said: “No kids, not down with tuitions… Down with the schools!”
Nina Simonović, Milka Radić, Pavle Dimitrijević