Note: this blog didn’t actually exist in January 2010, but I’m cross-posting an article I wrote then in the interest of having pieces I’ve written about the California student movement in one place.

In California today, we are facing an onslaught of austerity capitalism in the form of privatization / private accumulation, funding cuts, and neoliberal prioritization that effects public goods including education, health care, and transportation as well as prisons – hardly a public “good” but certainly a public function.

Are we all in the same boat? If so, some people have been in the bottom of the boat for a while. Now that the boat has sprung more leaks, their heads are barely, inconsistently above water. The question is one of breathing / drowning. Other people have been doing okay on the decks for a while. We’re getting wet; we have something to complain about, and we’re worried that the boat might sink. Some of us think the captain really ought to listen us; some of us are beginning to think we could pilot the damn boat ourselves. (Some of us would like to head for the life rafts, now, and forget the boat.)

Okay, this metaphor is obviously simplistic. It is addressed to a kind of leveling rhetoric that has emerged in sections of the California student movement in the aftermath of Gov. Schwarzenegger’s proposed constitutional amendment tying higher education funding to school funding, supposedly guaranteeing better funding for higher education and decreasing prison funding without decreasing incarceration.

The Schwarzenegger proposal has forced us to think these institutions and social positions together. Are the social positions commensurate, or incommensurate? Are the institutional positions structurally similar, structurally contradictory, or both? A friend asked me to reflect on this, and here’s an edited version of my response.

Read the rest on the Solidarity Webzine.

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