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(en) Greece, anarchism.espiv: FREEDOM OR MARKET: for the "free" university and freedom. (ca, de, it, pt, tr)[machine translation]

Date Tue, 9 Apr 2024 07:54:27 +0300

From anarchism to Education ---- The inverted language of Orwellian 1984, where the Ministry of Propaganda is called the Ministry of "Truth" and the Ministry of War is christened the Ministry of "Peace", is the constant verbal pattern of the modern market. Only a self-proclaimed "anarcho-capitalist" (as the new harlequin president of Argentina[1]is said to be), could call the caricature of the government bill on private AEIs a "free university".
The battle for the establishment of private universities, under the euphemistic title of "non-state", has acquired the character of a fetish for the domestic bourgeoisie. And this "fetish" is related both to nuclear terms of capitalist ideology & ethics, and to the class, socio-psychological conditions that post-war shaped the domestic capitalist oligarchy.

In the center of gravity of the former is displaced what old Bakunin had demonstrated in time, at the time of his great dispute with the followers of Marx at the Basel conference,[2] as the cornerstone of capitalist ethics: the right of inheritance . In an earlier text[3] of ours, in 2011, on the occasion of Anna Diamantopoulou's law on Universities, we pointed out the following: at the core of capitalist ideology there is an inherent immorality , a belief according to which the wealth and power that this implies that they must constantly devour themselves. Wealth must be bequeathed to continue unabated the primary task of accumulation, whereby the rich (must) become richer and the poor poorer. You see, the members of the upper class never digested that a "rational" educational system would distribute occupational privileges, not inheritance law. For them, as for capitalist ideology, privilege (must) be inherited, sold and bought at a profit. Degrees, and through them the Aristotelian[4] professional certification of the higher social hierarchy, are nothing more than objects of possession, use and trade, and no one can deprive them of them by "buying" them for their children.

A timeless class conflict

The direct connection of education, and in particular university degrees, to the entrenched privileges of the ruling class, it stands to reason that it constitutes a permanent field of class conflicts that largely shaped the social confrontation and class reflexes of the privileged classes.

In the first century of the Greek state and until the second world war, the social confrontation was mainly limited to basic education. The territory is dominated by rural populations and the central social issue remains illiteracy. It is no coincidence that the main controversy centers around the language issue,[5] with a constant ping-pong of reforms and counter-reforms by alternating Venezuelan and anti-Venizelian governments in the 10s, 20s and 30s.[6]

The rapid industrialization of Greek society in the first post-colonial decade resulted in a significant part of the population leaving the rural countryside for the new industrial megacities. A current of internal migration is thus created which forms explosive social conditions as well as new social dynamics. The young proletarians vigorously claim their way out of poverty, but also the new industry, of factories and construction reconstruction, requires a skilled workforce.

The massive social movement that was expressed mainly during the period of the Unyielding Struggle[7] but also the fear of the capitalist bloc not to be overtaken by the then galloping Soviet Union imposed serious changes in the institutional organization of education, throughout the Western world. In Greece, education was state-owned, but it was connected on the one hand with a strong class privilege, since there were unaffordable tuition fees at all levels of education,[8] and on the other hand, with a major sociolinguistic "privilege", as the cleaner who spoke only the privileged class, was the only permitted language of education. Thus, both economically and linguistically, the children of the poor were excluded from social advancement.

Under the pressure created by the new social struggles during the period of the first "intransigence" but also by the Soviet terror, in April 1964 the government of George Papandreou, attempting to remove certain class restrictions, established "free public education at all levels of education"[9], making the vernacular an equal language at the same time. In his historic speech to the parliament, the prime minister and minister of education, made special mention of the recent scientific achievements of the Soviet Union,[10] emphasizing the danger: a system that does not enable everyone to study is in danger (if it has not already been ) to be surpassed by his opponents .

The radicalization of Greek society, which was temporarily halted by the seven-year dictatorship, was expressed mainly in the universities[11] and formed the conditions for the constitutionalization of universal public and free education in the Constitution of 1974 (article 16 of the Constitution) as well as the explicit prohibition of the establishment of universities by private individuals. While with the rise of PASOK to power, the Framework Law (1982) proceeded with the abolition of the conservative institution of the professorship, the self-administration of institutions and the participation of students in decision-making bodies.

The glamor of the student anti-dictatorship uprisings and the mass radicalism of the student movement imposed on power not only a series of chronic social claims but was a bulwark in the face of reactionary counter-reforms. The main example was the withdrawal of the famous law 815 of 1978, with which the then government of Constantinos Karamanlis tried to control the dynamism of the student movement. After the great occupying movement of December of the same year, the bill was repealed.[12] A similar fate, twelve years later (1990), had the sweeping changes brought by the Mitsotakis government with Vassilis Kontogiannopoulos as Minister of Education, which concerned the abolition of the provision of free textbooks and cuts in social benefits, such as free food and housing. After mass protests and Tebonera's murder, Kontogiannopoulos resigned and the bill was withdrawn.

Alongside the post-revolutionary radicalism, the hard minority core of the reaction is also forming in the universities. These are right-wing figures who will play a leading role in the coming decades. Kostas Karamanlis, Marietta Giannakou, Vangelis Meimarakis, Nikos Dendias et al. they are fellow travelers, executives of the post-political DAP, whom the student movement has marginalized. For the hereditary offspring of the oligarchy and the ruling ideology, the experience of open and horizontal democratic processes in the auditoriums, which are dominated - understandably[13]- by radical ideas, was traumatic. When this group of people comes to power in 2004, they attempt a historic revenge.

In the informal biography of his 7-year succession, under the imaginative title "Karamanlis off the record" (by hand-of course-Manolis Kottakis, since princes are known not to write ) Kostakis the Karamanlis, you mention several times, in a way that rather betrays a some compulsive obsessive[14] attachment, to the issue of Private universities as the "great battle of his generation". However, the double reactionary reform that he and his old competitor Marietta Giannakou will attempt, which involved both the drastic limitation of student participation, the suppression of student unionism, and the revision of Article 16 with the aim of establishing private universities, will be crushed in front of the most massive post-colonial student movement. A river of 350 sit-ins, mass rallies of tens of thousands of students, with massive clashes with the police. A movement that will not yield despite fierce repression, mass arrests (61 in just one day), but will spread to all parts of the territory and will be the only social opposition of the period. Under the suffocating pressure of the movement, the cross-party consensus with PASOK will collapse, article 16 will not be revised and the government will withdraw the reactionary provisions of the bill.[15]

"Constitutional" and "unconstitutional"

The defeat suffered by the ruling class at the hands of the student movement did not limit its basic orientation. Through a series of slow but steady steps, he gradually managed to legitimize private universities and the general commercialization of higher education, bypassing the constitution. After all, as any good constitutionalist knows, constitutions, the observance of which is-supposedly-left to a vague "patriotism" (Article 120 of the constitution), are nothing more than harsh tools of class rule, upon which, under pressure of social struggles, certain social conquests are also reflected. The student movement of 2006, which with its determined stance blocked the change in Article 16 for 20 years[16] had no illusions about the reactionary role of the Constitution (in general) and Article 16 (in particular). He did not dream of a university captive to the whims of any state but a university open and free to society. But he knew that he was fighting a rearguard battle, because in the conditions of the modern market, the "liberation" of education from the state monopoly, would not guarantee any "freedom" beyond the complete indecency of the market. As it happened.

The attack on the public (state) university began a few years earlier. Through perhaps the most critical bastion of right-wing "excellence", the University of Piraeus,[17] the ruling class established (1996) the first postgraduate degree with tuition fees. The expansionary interpretation of the constitution that they invoked at the time to violate it, was based on the novel argument that master's degrees were not provided for in the 1974 constitution, and therefore it is as if ... they do not belong to higher education. Over the next two decades, motivated by faculty salary bonuses, the majority of university departments in the country created tuition-fee master's degrees. Almost at the same time, attempts were made to create non-state universities in the form of "Laboratories of Free Studies" and shops such as, among others, Deree were established, while at the initiative of the Association of Greek Industrialists (SEV) and - a little later - the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry, ALBA was created, the first private college with postgraduate degrees.[18] This was followed by the overnight conversion of the I.E.K. series. to colleges that advertised themselves as franchises of foreign universities. With the legislative initiatives of Anna Diamantopoulou and, subsequently, Niki Kerameos, the professional rights of college graduates (as graduates of foreign universities) were recognized. Finally, the necessary clientele was provided by the adoption of the minimum admission basis, with which 20 to 30 thousand customers annually have been lavishly poured into the private colleges ever since.

In parallel with the above initiatives and under the pretext of the economic crisis, a systematic operation was attempted over the last 15 years to lay off staff, discredit and financially strangle public (state) universities, with a freeze (for a decade) of the appointments of professors and staff, the merger and/or abolition departments ("Athina" plan) but also blocking the establishment of new departments. Indicative are the conclusions of a recent study by KEPY[19] according to which: a) the total teaching staff in the country's public Universities decreased by 32.7% in the 15 years 2008-2023 b) the ratio of undergraduate students per professor (faculty member) currently amounts to 47 students per faculty member and is three and a half times higher than the European average (13 students per faculty member) c) the cumulative loss of public funding of higher education in the period in question amounts to 6.1 billion Euros .

The "free" university of Mitsotakis

With today's government initiative, another step in the chain of reactionary reforms is being attempted: the recognition of college degrees as well . The legislative acrobatics is based on virtual synergies of colleges with foreign universities. The supposedly strict academic conditions set by the legislator for the establishment of private universities (10 professors per faculty) are laughable, if one considers that professors can work simultaneously in any part of the world, while the number of students (per faculty) can reach 1500. As for the argument that the low academic standard of colleges, which tend to specialize in pseudo-scientific majors (such as marketing), will not have serious social consequences, the recent news that the investment fund CVC Capital Partners is expected to establish the first non-state medical school in Greece[20] should answer for itself. But the bill's biggest euphemism is the addition of the phrase "not-for-profit" to describe the new foundations. Traditional non-state universities in the Western world are indeed organized as non-profit organizations. This, its non-profit designation, simply means that they do not have a shareholding structure and therefore do not distribute profits among their shareholders. Otherwise, however, they function as normal commercial and profit-making mechanisms. They charge unaffordable tuition fees that only the wealthy can afford, compete for student clients, research programs and grants. The vast majority of "non-profit" universities are nothing more than competitive businesses whose sole purpose is commercial profit. And if some very prestigious institutions maintain in their countries a level of social policy (through scholarships of excellence), international experience teaches that when the same institutions create branches abroad they act as unfair and ruthless capitalists. Nowadays, the biggest universities of the western world are establishing branches in Asia (China, India) but also in the Gulf countries, trying to sell their brand name. As for the famous domestic megalobourgeois (shipbuilding and oil) class that once the government bill is passed will suddenly stop squandering some of their monstrous surplus value on football teams and start lavish academic sponsorships to buy electron microscopes, let me bet that has as likely to happen as to see penguins in the Sahara.

So what does the government bill seek? The "axe-wielding" current Minister of State from the floor of the parliament, with the honest brutality that distinguishes him, had, a few years ago, given the material dimension of today's battle: "we have to switch to private universities, because the public ones are the mechanism in the which the Ideological Hegemony of the left reproduces. Universities are the main source of its executive potential." Conclusion: Public universities are turning our children into communists .

The goal of the ruling class is not only the acquisition of degrees, for the professional reproduction of the offspring of the middle-upper class. It is also the gradual elimination of any trace of public space where rifts of freedom can be born. The continuous reduction of the public character of universities, the continuous commercialization of studies, the increasing intensification of educational programs with the aim of disciplining students, go hand in hand with the policies of reducing admissions, financial strangulation of any research that is not directly related to market, but also the expansion of the private sector of higher education.

Against all this, is there a different perspective?

Free & public - non-state university

Universities were born in the monasteries of the Middle Ages, as an institution within and against the dominant theocratic ideology, as a mechanism within and against the feudal organization of society. From their foundation to the present day, despite the enormous social changes, they carry within them this double role: on the one hand, they are the body that gives prestige, that produces the Ideology of the dominant class, on the other hand, they carry in their bowels the seed of denial , of questioning, become the shell in which the seeds of a new world are incubated. Universities, as living social organizations, have always been these dialectical sites , on which the forces of the old world, the state and the market, competed with the forces of utopia.

Because beyond the false dilemma of state or private (a state that is already a servant of the market and a private that cannot exist without state usurpation), the real difference, the real field of tension where the class struggle is waged is between the capitalist state and society . The real dilemma these days, which does not only concern universities, but every living public space, every field of modern life, is not state or private, but public & free, which of course means: horizontal, anti-state and self-governing.

This is the project; towards it and our constant struggle.

Sotiris Lykourgiotis

Republished by: alerta.gr
[1] We are referring to Javier Millay, the self-proclaimed "anarcho-capitalist" new president of Argentina. Anarcho-capitalism as a trend, with Murray Rothbard as its main exponent, has, of course, as much to do with anarchism as the brutal violence of murderers has to do with the tenderness of utopia.

[2] See: Yannis N. Karytsas (2008) Michael Bakuni. The World and its work , Ardin publications, pp. 102-106

[3] See: Sotiris Lykourgiotis, Credit units and the intrinsic immorality of the capitalist reorganization in universities , Anarcho-syndicalist newspaper ROSINANDE #19 (November 2011)

[4] Only a naive person cannot understand that the concept of "excellence" invoked by the "excellent" of the upper classes, is not related to any rational assessment of individual educational abilities, but is nothing more than their old aristocratic right to transfer wealth, privilege and power to their children. And this is not only related to the domestic oligarchy, it is a global phenomenon. As recently revealed by the New York Times, Harvard and other top US universities have been admitting rich students who don't meet the requirements for decades through the slant... payment (see: Lifo "Huge Scandal in the US: Parents of the Rich Cheated into Top Universities" )

[5] The forerunner of socialist ideas, Georgios Skliros, poses the language issue as a key issue that decisively mediates the domestic class confrontation. He characteristically writes: "H

plutocracy, which uses a whole system of delusional ideology to keep the people in a state of ignorance that will enable them to exploit them, has every interest in perpetuating an education system based on the khatharevusa which leaves the great mass of the people out of all education" See: G. Skliros (1922) Our social issue , Socialist Center Publications.

[6] Indicative of the controversy is that in 1917 elementary school was taught in schools, in 1921 elementary school, in 1923 elementary school, in 1926 elementary school, in 1927 elementary school together with elementary school (due to the ecumenical government), in 1931 elementary school , in 1933 the cleaner, and in 1939 the Cleaner together with the Primary.

[7] See: Yannis Kartis (1974) The birth of neofascism in Greece , Papazisi Publications, pp. 135-144.

[8] Almost half of the children of the time were illiterate, since they either did not go to school at all or dropped out in elementary school

[9] See: Spyros Linardatos (1986) From the Civil War to the Junta , Volume D, To Vima Publications, pp. 319-321.

[10] He made special reference to the flight of Sputnik (1957), the first technical satellite in orbit around the Earth, but also to the flight of Yuri Gagarin (April 12, 1961), the first man to travel in space.

[11] As Alexatos observes: "After the fall of the dictatorship, the massiveness of the student movement can only be compared to the period of the Eamian resistance. In the student elections, until the beginning of the 80s, the total percentages of factions that have radical and Marxist references reach 90%". (see: G.N. Alexatos (2008) Historical Dictionary of the Greek Labor Movement , Neighbors of the World Publications, p. 434)

[12] It was the first time after the post-colonialism that a passed law was repealed, under the pressure of a particularly militant and mass movement.

[13] As we have argued before, the form of the political process determines, to a large extent, its content. Direct, horizontal, open and democratic procedures, statutorily exclude perceptions that promote class separation and inequalities. (see: Sotiris Lykourgiotis University asylum, democracy and parliamentarianism , (19.1.2022) Alerta.gr)

[14] The recent article in Kathimerini (09.07) by the Deputy Prosecutor of the Supreme Court (and brother of the current minister of justice) Vassilis Floridis, which characterizes article 16, and specifically the ban on the establishment of universities by private individuals (in paragraphs 5 & 8) as a "shame of our democracy"! (see: Vassilis Floridis, Article 16 of the Constitution: the shame of our democracy , Daily Newspaper 07.09.2023)

[15] For a more detailed description of the student movement of the period, see: Student squats - Teachers' strike: A meeting that (didn't) happen , Eternal Sit-ins publications, 2008

[16] After his stance shaped the position of the subsequent SYRIZA - ANEL government

[17] Where a few years ago the current Deputy Minister of Citizen Protection Konstantinos Katsafados prevailed as a thug mobster who in 2003, being a lifelong student of the University of Piraeus, president of the DAP-NDFK and member of the senate, invaded, leading a group of "thugs", in closed faculty meeting and emptied the contents of some fire extinguishers on them to force the election of the professor of his choice. (see:

[18] Nikolas Travlos (2020) Can and should the state maintain the monopoly of higher education in the knowledge society? Comparative and International Educational Review, issue #4

[19] https://www.healthpolicycenter.gr/el/publications/9

[20] The way is opened for the establishment of a non-state medical school in Greece , First topic (25.08.2023)

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