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Tactics Against Debt Jeffrey J. Williams, EduFactory What does student debt feel like? By now, many of the facts and figures of college student loan debt in the U.S. are familiar. As of 2008 it averages about $25,000 for graduating seniors. Though it was barely noticed for a long time—we should be clear that it is not something new that arose as a result of “financial crisis,” but is the result of policy since around 1980—it has come to the forefront in the past couple of years. The U.S. was inventive in instituting the student loan system of privatized funding, which is packaged as “financial aid” but devolves to a student and his or her parents (in the form of PLUS and other loans). Of late, many European countries have started emulating the American model. Beyond the numbers, what does student debt do to people? I’ve written about the way in which student debt, in its prevalence and amounts, constitutes a pedagogy, unlike the humanistic lesson that the university traditionally proclaims, of privatization and the market. (See “Debt Education,” which appeared in Dissent in 2006 and was abridged in the Edu-factory collection Toward a Global Autonomous University.) For now, though, I want to call attention to a project that recounts people’s experiences with student debt: StudentLoanJustice.Org. It was organized by Alan Collinge, who himself underwent a Kafkaesque experience with college student loan debt and has published The Student Loan Scam: The Most Oppressive Debt in U.S. History—and How We Can Fight Back (2009). StudentLoanJustice.Org is oriented around the rubric of consumer rights rather than a concerted political stance, but the strength of the project is that it provides a forum for people to tell their particular stories of student debt. Since 2007 it has gathered hundreds of stories, building a kind of ethnography of debtors.
The Knowledge Movement Franco 'Bifo' Berardi Since the beginning of the modern age autonomy has been a defining feature of scientific progress and of the institution of university. It is not only a formal juridical aspect, but an epistemological prerequisite that prevents knowledge from beginning a purely instrumental technique. Late capitalism, in the phase of re-assertion of the already failed neoliberal philosophy, also the Autonomy of University, and therefore of the process of knowledge production, has been sacrificed to the absolute domination of profit, growth and competition. Only lately this operational and functionalist reduction of knowledge has been imposed in Europe, as an effect of the Bologna Charter (1999), and it is implying a standardization of the heuristic procedures, of the evaluation criteria, and what matters most, of the very goals of knowledge. The economic principle has been adopted as the purpose, the methodology and the evaluation criterion of knowledge. The idea that knowledge has an established purpose (whatever it may be) is wrong in itself, because the process of knowledge is constantly questioning not only its methodology but also its purpose.
"Knowledge Commons, Power, Pedagogy, and Collective Practice" Cara Baldwin in Conversation with Paula Cobo Q>Paula Cobo: At a moment where art institutions operate as corporations, where we are witnesses of an ongoing endogamy of interests, how do you feel about the role of the self-Institution, or the Anti-University? A>Cara Baldwin: Art institutions have historically operated as corporations, with varying effects/affects. At this particular moment what interests me in terms of collective practices are those that are incredibly open. This is not anti-corporate necessarily.
US Education and the Crisis Michael Hardt Governments across the globe are dramatically reducing funding for public education and raising university tuition rates. These measures are often cast as a response to the current economic crisis but really their implementation began well before it. Whereas in Britain, Italy, and other European countries students battle police in the streets and experiment with new means to protest such government actions, there is a relative calm on U.S. campuses.
Does the Notion of Activist Art Still Have Meaning? Alain Badiou [Is it still possible to propose a general definition of a militant vision of artistic creation? Alain Badiou proposes a work of art which is in relationship to local transformations and experiences, which is intellectually ambitious and which is formally avant-garde in the classical sense of the substitution of presentation for an ornamental vision of representation. A Lecture presented at the Miguel Abreu Gallery, New York City, October 13, 2010, in collaboration with Lacanian Ink.] My question this evening will be: Is it still possible to propose a general definition of a militant vision of artistic creation? The first and simple possibility is to say that a militant vision of artistic creation is when an art – a work of art – is a part of something which is not reducible to an artistic determination; for example, stained glass windows in churches. Stained glass is a symbol of the light of God and it is also part of artistic creation. Greek temples are also something for a collective cult. Military music is something inside the creation of patriotic courage. Egyptian pyramids are works of art certainly but also the whole symbolic question of the temple, and so on.
Google Is Polluting the Internet ">Micah White An advertising agency has monopolised, disorganised, and commercialised the largest library in human history. Without a fundamental rethinking of the way knowledge is organised in the digital era, Google's information coup d'état will have profound existential consequences. Google was originally conceived to be a commercial-free search engine. Twelve years ago, in the first public documentation of their technology, the inventors of Google warned that advertising corrupts search engines. "[W]e expect that advertising-funded search engines," Larry Page and Sergey Brin wrote, "will be inherently biased towards the advertisers and away from the needs of the consumers." And they condemned as particularly "insidious" the sale of the top spot on search results; a practice Google now champions.
"Why I Got Fired From Teaching American History" Thaddeus Russell Five years ago, I had every reason to believe that my job as a history professor at Barnard College was secure. I had been teaching there for four years, I had published my dissertation with a major publisher, and because I had tripled the sizes of the introductory US history course and the American Studies program, colleagues told me they "would be shocked" if I were not promoted to a tenure-track position. But that was before my colleagues knew what I was teaching.
Chevron Deplores Subterfuge, Investigates Options Chevron has added a news release to its Investor Relations website SAN RAMON, Calif., Oct. 18, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Earlier today, a group of environmentalists cyber-posing as Chevron officials illegally spoofed Chevron's just-launched “We Agree” advertising campaign, confusing reporters (link). While such a campaign does exist, its official URL is The advertisements released earlier today, at, were an elaborate subterfuge and must not be mistaken as real. “Chevron does not take this attack lightly,” said Hewitt Pate, General Counsel for Chevron. “We invest extremely heavily in our campaigns, and we take them extremely seriously. Such actions can never be tolerated.” Though the exact cost of “We Agree” must remain confidential, Chevron routinely spends $90 million per year on US advertising alone.
Chevron's New Ad Campaign Is a Slick Yes Men Hoax David Zax, Fast Company Part of the genius of the Yes Men is that they really know when to pull the trigger on a good prank. To wit: They fired off a press release, which we were initially fooled by, to us in the wee hours, before anyone from Chevron could actually respond to real questions for verification (this is an edited version of our original post). And of course, in the wake of the BP disaster, lots of oil-related stories that once seemed unbelievable are now much more plausible.
Fractal Mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot Dead at 85 CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Oct. 16 (UPI) -- Benoit Mandelbrot, a pioneer in fractal mathematics and the person who coined the term, has died in Cambridge, Mass., at the age of 85. Aliette Mandelbrot told The New York Times her husband suffered from pancreatic cancer and died Thursday in Cambridge.
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