Friday/Monday — 11.08 /11.11 — The Knowledge Commons, The Undercommons, The Tumult — Week 9

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Friday/Monday — 11.08 /11.11 — The Knowledge Commons, The Undercommons, The Tumult

0. About Monday (11.11.13) at 16 Beaver
1. About Friday (11.08.13) at CUNY City College
2. Related Readings for Monday’s Common(s) Course

0. About Monday

What: Meeting / Conversation
When: Monday, November 11 (from 5:15 to 7:15)
Where: 16 Beaver Street
Who: Free and open to all

This Monday we hope to broaden our inquiries in the common(s) course by
looking into struggles in the city for and around a knowledge common(s).
We also hope to be joined on Monday by individuals/groups who are involved
currently in various university/education related struggles in New York.

As Silvia Federici writes in one of this week’s readings:

The call for “knowledge commons” reflects not only a resistance to the
privatization and commercialization of knowledge, but the growing
awareness that an alternative to capitalism and the market must be
constructed starting in the present. It also stems from the realization
that engagement in a collective process of knowledge production is not
possible in today’s academic environment.

To put it differently, the struggles over the last years which have been
unfolding around knowledge common(s) through the constitution and
production of spaces for supporting autonomous modes of research and
knowledge production. As well as the struggles locally at New School, at
NYU, at Cooper Union, and at CUNY, among others, are not simply struggles
over fees, loans, or pay. They are not even solely struggles over the
means of production (of knowledge). But they are more fundamentally tied
to the shape life takes in the present.

They are struggles over the reproduction of everyday life. And they are
struggles over the common(s) which is continuously being created and yet
eludes us, arriving to us through enclosure, bundled in debt packages,
sold back to us as a commodity, and as the only means to belong to the
community (of money).

What is the promise of knowledge inside the university today, other than
as a potential ticket for entering the community of money? That debt is
the precondition of this “right of passage” is no coincidence, it is,
rather, part of the conditioning process.

If common(s) are not an object or end result, but emerge in the process of
struggle and in confronting the enclosures being created by state and
capital – then to paraphrase Silvia once again, today’s students’
struggles are less aimed at defending public education than at changing
the power relations with capital and the state in a process of
re-appropriating, commoning our lives, and our everyday reproduction. And
this could be said equally with struggles for creating common spaces for
sharing and generating knowledge outside the university.

One could go even further to say that these are not only struggles against
the state or capital, but also, and even more fundamentally struggles over
our ability to produce or reclaim a common(s). Indeed, if the state and
capital, posit themselves today as the basic means for coordinating our
knowledge, our lives and our imaginaries; if as we have discussed in
recent weeks, money is the capitalist common which brings us together,
becoming a means to our reproduction, even as it disperses and alienates;
then these struggles also may reveal the limits we confront in
coordinating or creating coincidences of desires outside these two central
structures of coordination (capital and state).

Thus, each site of struggle, whether inside the university or inside a
space such as 16 Beaver, is a potential front line of a battle being waged
over the shape life is taking. And each of these struggles, as it may
reveal certain limits, can also potentially point towards the
possibilities for overcoming those limits.

This, perhaps, is also how we can begin to think of the “politics of
occupation,” i.e. as a means to take over spaces needed for the creation
of new common(s).

We look forward to meeting this Monday. For those who are interested in
joining the struggles currently unfolding at CUNY, more details below.

1. About Friday (11.08.13)

Today on Friday, two related calls have been made at City College in
support of struggles which have intensified in recent weeks, both with the
violent seizure of the Morales / Shakur Center from student and community
groups as well as efforts by the University administration pass CUNY wide
measures (“Policy on Expressive Activity”) which attempts to stifle
political freedoms of students to organize:

a. by banning demonstrations from the interior of CUNY buildings
b. forcing demonstrators into “designated areas”
c. requiring 24 hours’ advance notice of demonstrations involving as few
as 25 people
d. limiting the distribution of “materials” on campus to areas designated
by the administration
e. giving college presidents or their designees the sole power to
determine if a demonstration is “disruptive” and to be able to call the
police onto campus to stop it.

Draft of Policy on Expressive Activity

For those who are able to come to City College in support of these
struggles further details below:

What: Convergence / Rally
When: Friday, November 8, at 9:00am and 2:00pm
Where: City College, CUNY – 138th and Convent Avenue, North Campus Center
Who: Everyone who …

A. 9:00am

“Resist Attacks on Student Leaders! Resist the Militarization of CUNY!”

On October 28, a City College administrator suspended Tafadar “Taffy”
Sourov and Khalil Vasquez, two students who led demonstrations against the
administration’s illegal raid and seizure of the Guillermo Morales /
Assata Shakur Community Center. The Morales / Shakur Center is a space
that has existed at City College for more than 20 years and was first won
in 1989 through a mass student strike and occupations throughout CUNY.

On November 8, Taffy and Khalil will come before the faculty-student
disciplinary committee for the first time. The City College
administration, and the ruling class they serve, is attempting to squash
political dissent on campus by targeting two of the most prominent and
uncompromising organizers in today’s CUNY movement.

Taffy and Khalil are members of the Revolutionary Student Coordinating
Committee. In addition, Taffy is the secretary of CCNY Students for
Justice in Palestine. Khalil is also a former leader of the CCNY Black
Student Union.

In response to the attacks on our student leaders, students and community
say: WE ARE NOT AFRAID. Repression will not end the campaign to save the
Morales / Shakur Center or the broader struggle to liberate CUNY for the
people. Hundreds on campus and in the community will follow their example.
Any punitive measures against Taffy and Khalil will only be a lesson to
the people that the CCNY administration dismisses the people’s concerns
and that the people must escalate their mass actions.

Taffy and Khalil are fighting for the people, defending the last
autonomous campus space that serves the community and defending the legacy
of the people’s revolutionary heroes. THE PEOPLE MUST DEFEND TAFFY AND
KHALIL. The people cannot stand aside and look as the City College
administration attempts to isolate them and promote fake sellout student
leaders who want to negotiate away the Center. The Center was won through
struggle and will be reclaimed through struggle.

In the face of repression, students and community are even more determined
to reclaim the Morales / Shakur Center and to fight for the overall
transformation of CUNY to serve the people.


B. 2:00pm

“Take Back CUNY”

CUNY was created to give the working class a level playing field at a time
when only the wealthy could afford Higher Education.

We, the students together with our allies declare an end to the
destruction of the CUNY legacy. We will not be treated as second class
citizens because of our age, race or ethnicity.

We will stand together in solidarity. We will not allow our open spaces
and community centers to be stolen by an elite and racist board of
trustees. A BOARD THAT IS TOTALLY disconnected from the people they’re
supposed to SERVE –the students of CUNY

2. Related Readings for Monday

George Caffentzis
“Autonomous Universities and the Making of the Knowledge Commons”

Stefano Harney and Fred Moten, from The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning &
Black Study
We will focus on Chapter 2
“The University and the Undercommons”

Silvia Federici in conversation with Maya Gonzalez and Caitlin Manning
Political Work with Women and as Women in the Present Conditions