My friend Eileen Joy, a refugee from the Academy, has been an inspiration in thinking through the knot of urgent issues that cluster around the contemporary, crisis­plagued university. At a time when I was ready to stop publishing she also revived my faith in intellectual vagabondery, in the power of emergent communities, in the centrality of affect to cognition and creation, in openness and vulnerability as a mode of cognitive thriving. I like the idea of a para-­academy that dwells both inside the university (often as a kind of parasite, since if the neoliberal university knew more of its challenging aims it would choose to exterminate it) and alongside the university, as a space of freedom and alternative belonging. In the short term I think we are looking at a constriction in education as universities merrily continue to become corporations that churn out assessable products in predictable forms, with employability a code word for conformity. In the long term young people are much smarter than their would-­be overlords realize, and are already beginning to point out that a system that ensures they graduate with such debt that they must undertake 10 years of indentured servitude (at the loss of intellectual, physical and imaginative mobility) to pay it off – typically working a job in which nothing is challenged and little is fulfilled, is an utterly broken system that profits from their reduction. Education is a basic human right. So is protest. And freedom from intellectual constraint and the ability to form new modes of disrupting, learning, and belonging. All these things are being systematically stripped from the young in the hope of forming more obedient consumer­subjects.
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