What is the New University?

ROARmag, 18/03/2015

The heart of the student movement today beats in Amsterdam. The occupation of the Senate House by staff and students at the University of Amsterdam has rekindled the flame for a free and democratic university. The ensuing fire has spread fast and wide throughout the Netherlands, which now counts at least five geographically distinct campaigns under the banner of the so-called ‘New University’ (apart from Amsterdam: Groningen, Leiden, Maastricht, Nijmegen and Utrecht). The movement has also garnered support from the FNV, the largest Dutch trade union and numerous statements of solidarity from the rest of the world.

Perhaps the best way to understand this movement is as a challenge to rethink the very idea of the university. What follows is one attempt to meet this challenge in light of the movement’s own self-conceptions.

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Amsterdam discussion: ‘Greece & the prospects for a European Spring’

Why we occupy

by Nicholas Vrousalis, Robin Celikates, Johan Hartle, Enzo Rossi

Open Democracy, 2/03/2015

It has been two weeks since the first occupation of the Bungehuis, one of the main buildings of the University of Amsterdam (UvA). The more recent occupation of UvA’s Senate House – the Maagdenhuis which was famously occupied back in 1969 – and the breadth of the grassroots movement for a New University exposes the problems of Dutch higher education. Increasing student/staff ratios, chronic underfunding, creeping micromanagement of research and teaching, and growing authoritarianism from university management are all conspiring to turn universities into a bureaucratic version of Walmart. The twin pressures of authoritarianism from above and neoliberalism from below make it necessary to develop the democratic alternative put forward by the movement for a new university.

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Πικεττύ: Κριτική της Απολιτικής Οικονομίας

The Books’ Journal, 1/1/2015

Μπορεί να σωθεί ο καπιταλισμός από τον εαυτό του; Τον τελευταίο αιώνα έχουν γίνει τρεις εκτενείς προσπάθειες να δοθεί καταφατική απάντηση σε αυτό το ερώτημα. Η πρώτη συνοψίζεται στις προγραμματικές δεσμεύσεις του Φράνκλιν Ρούσβελτ όταν ανέλαβε το χρίσμα των Δημοκρατικών για τη προεδρεία των ΗΠΑ (1932), στις ιδέες δηλαδή που συγκρότησαν το New Deal. Η δεύτερη προσπάθεια ήταν η Γενική Θεωρία της Εργασίας, του Τόκου και του Χρήματος του Τζον Μέιναρντ Κέυνς (1936). Η τρίτη είναι Το Κεφάλαιο τον 21ο Αιώνα του Τομά Πικετύ (2014). Η κριτική της ανισότητας που αναπτύσσει ο Πικεττύ δεν είναι πρωτότυπη. Παρόμοιες θέσεις έχουν αναπτύξει μαρξιστές οικονομολόγοι, όπως ο Έρνεστ Μαντέλ και ο Ρόμπερτ Ρόουθορν, και φιλελεύθεροι όπως ο Τζον Κένεθ Γκάλμπρειθ και ο Ρόμπερτ Σόλοου. Ωστόσο ο Πικεττύ επιστρατεύει μια εντυπωσιακή δύναμη στατιστικού πυρός για να υπερασπιστεί τη θέση του, ενώ ταυτόχρονα ρίχνει μια βόμβα βαθιά μέσα στα τείχη της σύγχρονης οικονομικής ορθοδοξίας. Αυτά είναι προτερήματα του βιβλίου. Όμως πίσω από το θεωρητικό οπλοστάσιο του Πικετύ κρύβεται ένα σημαντικό δίλημμα, ένα δίλημμα ανάμεσα στον καπιταλισμό και τη δημοκρατία. Και παρόλο που ο Πικετύ κάνει ό,τι μπορεί για να υποστηρίξει ότι αυτό το δίλημμα δεν είναι εξαντλητικό όλων των πολιτικών δυνατοτήτων, οι προσπάθειές του είναι ανεπιτυχείς.

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On Piketty: Gravediggers wanted

New Left Project, 12/08/2014

This post summarizes my longer review of Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century, forthcoming in Capital & Class.

Social democratic lamentation about rising inequality is often clouded in nostalgia for the mid-twentieth century ‘golden age’ of capitalism, which combined low unemployment and increasing wages with falling inequality. Thomas Piketty, author of the explosive Capital in the 21st Century (2014), does not share the optimism of garden-variety social democrats. The ‘golden age’, he argues, was an anomaly made possible by very specific historical conditions—conditions that no one would wish to see return (notably, the two world wars, which destroyed vast amounts of capital and set the stage for accelerated ‘catch-up’ growth between 1945 and 1970). But if we cannot simply return to twentieth century social democracy, how are we to halt the seemingly inexorable rise of inequality?

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LSE exploitation debate

Details and podcast here.

What is Domination? Workshop

3 May 2013
Leslie Stephen Room
Trinity Hall, Cambridge

Morning session: Domination and Unfreedom

Chair: Hallvard Lillehammer

10.20 – 11.40 David Blunt (Cambridge)
Conceptualizing Domination

Respondent: Amanda Cawston

11.40 – 1.00 Laura Valentini (UCL)
Freedom as Independence

Respondent: Neal Carrier

Afternoon session: Domination and Inequality

Chair: Chris Thompson

2 – 3.20 Stuart White (Oxford)
The Relevance of Republicanisms

Respondent: Claire Benn

3.20 – 4.40 Nicholas Vrousalis (Cambridge)
What domination is (and what it is not)

Respondent: Sebastian Nye

Cambridge Anti-Fascism Teach-in

Fascism: what it is and how to fight it

Sunday 17th February
Keynes Hall
King’s College, Cambridge

Session 1: Fascism in History
Chair: Dr Lorna Finlayson

10.00 – 10.50am Dr John Pollard on Italy
10.50 – 11.40am Dr Martin Ruehl on Germany
11.40 – 12.30pm Dr David Renton on the UK

Session 2: The Politics of Fascism and Anti-Fascism
Chair: Amy Gilligan

1.30 – 2.15pm Joseph Choonara on the United Front
2.15 – 3pm Dr Nicholas Vrousalis on Fascism and the State (and a note on no-platform)

Session 3: Fighting Fascism Today
Chair: Laura Kilbride

3.10 – 3.50pm Mitch Mitchell on the UK
3.50 – 4.30pm Elisabeth Mantzari on Greece
4.30 – 5.10pm Dr Clement Mouhot on France

No-Platform & Hate Speech Workshop

17 May 2013

Coleridge Room
Jesus College, Cambridge

Should fascists and/or racists be given a platform? Does denial of platform deprive racists of freedom of speech? Should that freedom be protected? Liberal conventional wisdom tends to answer most, or all, of these and related questions in the affirmative. This workshop will critically engage with the liberal conventional wisdom and challenge the assumptions underpinning it.

Morning session

Chair: Priya Gopal

10.30 – 11.30am Caleb Yong (Oxford)
Liberal Rights, Free Speech, and Hate Speech

11.30 – 12.30am Nicholas Vrousalis (Cambridge)
Hate Speech and Inequality

Afternoon session

Chair: Chris Thompson

2 – 3.00pm Lorna Finlayson (Cambridge)
Free Speech as Liberal Fiction

3 – 4.00pm Sebastian Nye (Cambridge)
No-platform, Speech and Speech Acts

Cambridge Political Philosophy Workshop

The Political Philosophy Workshop is a forum for discussing work in progress by Cambridge political philosophers at the doctoral level and above.

Papers are pre-circulated on the Workshop mailing list and must be read in advance: there will be no presentation of the paper at the Workshop.

The Workshop is open to senior members and graduate students in Political Philosophy and is not limited to members of the Faculty of Philosophy. More details here.