By Max Brophy
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This article is over 10 years, 9 months old
Clare Solomon and Tania Palmieri (eds)
Issue 357

In the autumn and winter of last year students shook the coalition with a vast, militant outburst of anger from below. Waves of student protests and occupations challenged the neoliberal agenda of the Con-Dem coalition, which sought to deny access to education for working class people and set a clear course to the wholesale marketisation and privatisation of education. Education is now no longer the preserve of critical thought and self-development – it is a tool of capitalism, to provide a skilled labour force tied with debt which can be hired and dispensed to the needs of the market.

This collection of essays, reports, letters, poems and photos documents the vivid revolts ranging from the student movements in the West (Britain, France and the US) to the general strikes in Greece and the revolution in Tunisia. The personal accounts from activists record the growth of the fight for education, the brutality of the police and the defiance of students and workers united in solidarity.

The ongoing struggle to fight the coalition’s plans has revived student politics. Young people in Tunisia, Greece and Egypt record the revolutionary upheaval created by workers withdrawing their labour and students bringing their governments to a halt. The essays in the compendium debate tactics and ways forward to continue the struggle against capitalism. One US activist writes, “We demand not a free university, but a free society. A free university in the midst of a capitalist society is like a reading room in a prison.”

Springtime captures the scale of resistance across the world and serves to inspire anti-capitalism and the fight to reclaim education. However, it also highlights how ongoing debate within the movement is absolutely necessary.

It is certainly inspiring to hear about the new and dynamic ways of protesting – such as the Italian students’ “book blocs” or how occupations have reclaimed space – but we must see the fight for education as an outward-looking resistance, as one of many struggles. The contributions from students, lecturers, journalists and academics bring forward the ideas of class solidarity, anti-capitalism and revolution – fighting for a new type of society and for a reimagining of education as we know it.

The student movements have revived the energy and the anger of working class people worldwide. As one Tunisian painter prophetically writes, “Citizens are burning themselves…in Cairo, hoping to trigger a revolution. It will come.” An Egyptian taxi driver explains, “The Egyptians are a very patient people by nature, but their patience is running out – they could explode.” Springtime is testimony to our struggle as a class, and it articulates what is on the tip of people’s tongues right now: revolution.

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