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Monthly Archives: July 2018

Ruth Rikowski

SUBVERSIVE MAGIC: LIBRARIES, EDUCATION AND CAPITALIST FUNCTIONALITY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ruth Rikowski

London South Bank University & Series Editor for the Chandos Information Professional Series

 

Thisd is Ruth Rikowski’s paper that she will be presenting at the Internatioanl Conference on Critical Education VIII, at the University of East London, Stratford Campus, on Saturday 28th July 2018.

Ruth’s paper can be down loade at Academia, at:  http://www.academia.edu/37112556/Subversive_Magic_Libraries_Education_and_Capitalist_Functionality

 

ABSTRACT

A Magical Marxism – as writers such as Andy Merrifield and Derek Ford have noted – can illuminate the future whilst helping to shatter the shackles of the past. Shining this light on libraries and education in contemporary capitalism allows us to glimpse the subversive magic which, on the one hand is dreaded by representatives of capital, and on the other generates hope for humankind. A brief autobiographical account of how libraries hold a certain kind of personal magic is included. Then the notion of ‘subversive magic’ is outlined, with reference to ideas drawn from Giordano Bruno and his ‘Essays on Magic’ (1588). This is contrasted with Abstract Magic: a form of magic ground in the capitalist impulse. From these preliminary points and in the context of libraries in England, the first stop in the analysis is the Mechanics Institutes. This is followed by examining the capitalist state’s attempts to curtail, or at least control, their subversive magic through establishing constraining cultural spaces; that is, a public library system. The strange cases of John Passmore Edwards and Andrew Carnegie libraries are considered at this juncture: specifically, their effects in terms of possibilities for enchanting the public library system. The falling apart of the capitalist state’s paradigm for libraries is then taken up, with an examination of Thatcherism and neoliberalism from the 1980s. During the 1980s, and 1990s, but especially after the capitalist crisis of 2007-09, together with Tory austerity policies and related cuts, public libraries have faced a resulting atmosphere of disenchantment. Today, the state library system has given way to capitalist functionality, together with desperate local attempts to re-enchant them. This point is illustrated through developments in libraries in the London Borough of Newham. The paper ends by discussing prospects for a new subversive magic in libraries. It also explores whether it is possible for state-financed libraries to ever let the subversive magic that is required to flourish, and whether they can nourish the dangerous imaginative qualities required for nurturing the communist impulse.

 

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Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

Glenn Rikowski @ Academia: http://independent.academia.edu/GlennRikowski

Glenn Rikowski @ ResearchGate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Glenn_Rikowski

Ruth Rikowski @ Academia: http://lsbu.academia.edu/RuthRikowski

 

 

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Glenn Rikowski

MARXISM AND EDUCATION: FRAGILITY, CRISIS, CRITIQUE, NEGATIVITY, AND SOCIAL FORM(S)

 

 

 

This is a paper I prepared for the International Conference on Critical Education VIII, University of East London, Stratford Campus, 25 – 28 July 2018. The Abstract is below, and the paper itself can be viewed at Academia and at ResearchGate.

Glenn Rikowski

 

ABSTRACT

Why Marxism? Why Marxist educational theory? Through addressing these questions, this paper proclaims the importance of Marxism as a theory that intellectually disrupts and ruptures capitalist society and its educational forms. With reference to the work of John Holloway, it is argued that the significance of Marxism resides in its capacity to pinpoint fragilities and weaknesses in the constitution of capital. Grasping these fragilities in the rule of capital in contemporary social life sharpens the critical edge of any politics aimed at social transformation. Marxist educational theory plays an important role in this enterprise. These points are illustrated through consideration of the following ideas and phenomena: fragility, crisis, critique, negativity and social form(s). It is argued that fragility must be the starting point as Marxism is primarily a theory of capitalist weaknesses, and not the opposite: a theory of capitalist domination. Following Holloway, Marxism is a theory against society, rather than just another mainstream theory of society. Against Holloway, it is argued that the forms that fragilities for labour take also need to be understood. Paradoxically, our strength vis-à-vis capital is also the place for apprehending the fragilities and dependencies of labour. This vicious duality also exists in terms of crises in capitalism, and this flows into the phenomena of critique and negativity too. Finally, on the basis of this theorisation, the doors of capitalist hell are opened through a consideration of social forms in general and commodity forms in particular and their relations to educational processes and institutions. It is at this point that Marxist educational theory enters the stage, although in a transfigured form. In 1997, I wrote an article for the British Journal of Sociology of Education called ‘Scorched Earth: Prelude to Rebuilding Marxist Educational Theory’. Twenty-one years later, this paper can be viewed as my definitive first element in a programme of rebuilding Marxist educational theory.

 

Available from:

The full paper can be downloaded from Academia, at: https://www.academia.edu/37095004/Marxism_and_Education_Fragility_Crisis_Critique_Negativity_and_Social_Form_s_

The full paper can be downloaded from ResearchGate, at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/326545788_Marxism_and_Education_Fragility_Crisis_Critique_Negativity_and_Social_Forms

 

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Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

Glenn Rikowski at ResearchGate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Glenn_Rikowski

Glenn Rikowski at Academia: http://independent.academia.edu/GlennRikowski