No man is an island, entire in himself

No man is an island…

…But sometimes he (along with a few friends) might be an enclave.

The Situationists refused eclecticism, partisanship and the support of partial causes. Their critique was of the totality of the capitalist system, and of current conditions of existence. Sometimes this made them unpopular; their group remained very small; Debord was often accused of running the SI like a dictatorship. But, the continual refusals to engage with other groups and to expand membership were about integrity – about the integrity of a critique.

The relevance of which is? Recently anti-intellectual attacks have been launched against British universities. Partisanship is encouraged by a wealth of pseudo-oppositionary actors, the biggest offenders being Unions, which very much describe in their limited actions the Debordian analysis of the spectacular: that which offers the compensation of pseudo-unity in the face the actual impoverishment of unity. By this I mean, the image of solidarity and the image of critique pasted over the actual paucity of current analysis, solidarity and critique.

Rather than coming together as equal actors in a situation, to demand the revolution we need, the UCU prostitutes itself and its members to the whims of the government, with the media acting as mediator (as both medium and arbiter). Rather than recognising itself as a collective of actors – as a people (in the old and politically charged sense) – and taking action, it prefers to sit passively observing the spectacle that is parliamentary politics, deferring action indefinitely. Here is an excerpt from an email issued from UCU HQ:

REF campaign update:

I wanted to write to you to update you with some good news, showing that our lobbying and the publicity we have generated over the ‘impact’ campaign is having an effect. Please see below:

Tories call for REF to be shelved:

David Willetts announced last week that if elected, the Tories would shelve HEFCE’s plans on impact until the completion of a two year review. The shadow minister for higher education, David Willetts, said he would delay proposals that would force 25% of future research to be assessed on ‘economic impacts’ by two years in order to listen to the concerns of the academic community. The news comes just a week after a UCU poll of top professors revealed that over a third (35%) would consider pursuing their academic career abroad if the plans were introduced. Read more here: This is a measure of the pressure we are building up on political parties and HEFCE and a testament to your support, so thank you again.

Rather than wasting our time analysing this, being disgusted at the operation of pronouns in their discourse (“we and you” – thanks Jristos) and constructing from this micrography a history of the relationship between revolutionary struggle and bureaucracy/institutionalisation, &c., &c., let us ask simply:


From here on I can no longer give the UCU or any of the Unions (who have inserted themselves as bureaucratic mediators between our protest and our action) my support; I can only offer them my condemnation.

This is a difficult line to tread, though, and I am equally cautious of apathy, isolation and complete inactivity. As with the debacle that is the LUSU campaign against tuition fees, I will have to place myself, then, on the side-lines. Joining in only so far, and offering up frequent (and some would say rabid) critique at every stage. But, I also hope to develop and nurture an enclave of people dedicated to the critique of the totality… posts from willing candidates for membership please drop a line to me on this blog or in person. We already number, give or take, five. That’s a good number and I’m happy with it, but we might possibly allow a couple of others in.

Oh, I am aware that I have not yet explained the LUSU situation, but I won’t. I am busy now and must leave matters here, so, bearing in mind the above, I will let you analyse this one for yourselves. I issued a call for action via the facebook group site (which is more of a hindrance than a help now that it has been established as the sole means of communication) suggesting we create a presence (perhaps even an occupation) at the opening of the Lancaster University Learning Zone opening, which a chief executive of HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council) was attending. I also sent out emails to the LUSUs who have control of all means of communication. Nothing happened, until it was too late, when I received the messages below:

Andy Johnston January 14 at 11:53am

Hi —–,

Apologies for the slow reply.
Thanks for your thoughts, we were thinking exactly the same things last week. But we’ve been looking at what exactly it could achieve and our plans for the whole term and it is actually a bit of a false starter.

We have big plans for University Court at the end of the month where we can make an even bigger impact. We have submitted a motion regarding fees that will be voted on that, if passed, will be a really big win for us.

The protest outside the Learning Zone Opening unfortunately is something that would actually conflict with what our aims are I think. We need to focus all our energy on Uni Court. Another problem with the learning zone opening is that a lot of the people forming leading voices in the protest have actually been invited to the opening and our resources are best used inside that building talking to people who have casting votes in Court the week after.

I hope you agree with some of the points, and thank you for the message. I think this term we need to play it really carefully and use all our resources where it’ll be most effective.

I’ll get info out to the group wall asap and Mike will be sending out an email to everuone soon as well.

If you have any more ideas or thoughts at all then please do contact me. Hope to see you on the morning of Uni Court too.

Cheers ——-


Torri Crapper January 14 at 2:10pm

hi —–
it has been decided that we are not going to protest outside as all the sabbatical team – the ex presidents and incoming ones are all in the official opening. It is therefore paramount that we mobilise students again – as you suggest over the next week before university court – which we need huge huge numbers as all the stakeholders of the university, various bishops, councillors, MPs, lords sirs etc (you get the picture) will be there as well as a lot of university staff! We have submitted a motion to univeristy court this year – first time in years – surrounding student funding and need people outside too – making a noise.
Don’t worry though – this will happen



Love and Solidarity,



~ by Wit on January 19, 2010.

One Response to “No man is an island, entire in himself”

  1. I’m a stupid spammer, but, jees! you know! I just love your blog! It’s just so goddamn neat :D

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