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International Links of Solidarity: Recent reviews for Springtime

Kaitlin Staudt27 April 2011

In an article for Time Out, Danielle Goldstein asks if the recent protests are part of a new global movement? She reads Springtime as a document of the marchers' own story, and part of a growing movement to 'crack the looking glass.' Focusing on how the new rebellions have been represented  in the voices of the participants through informal social media avenues as well as other publications like The Paper and Fight Back!, she asks Clare Solomon

Why 'Springtime' and why now?

'It's important that the students' voice is shown from the perspective of the students because the media is quite often biased. Peple will gain a different view of the movement and and be inspired to do things in their own communities.'

Why do the proceeds from the book go to Palestine Connect and not towards legal fees for those arrested while protesting?

'At the time there wasn't anything specific set up in Britain and Palestine Connect is rebuilding schools in the war-torn and occupied areas of Gaza, and we think it's important to make international links of solidarity.'

The Irish Left Review reads the book's focus on communities as part of the collection's dedication to being a 'scrapbook of resistance, from a diversity of perspecitves and political backgrounds:'

In each section we get a flavour of the peculiarities of the student movements in various countries. In the UK, we encounter the raw anger of a generation of young people betrayed by the political system—first by Labour and then by the Liberal Democrats—who suddenly find themselves faced with the trebling of tuition fees, the scrapping of the Education Maintenance Allowance, and future of indebtedness and precarious work, if they're lucky, and unemployment if they're not. In France, on the other hand, the youth are well aware of their power as political actors, having defeated right-wing government reforms on several occasions; but we also encounter a working-class divided along racial lines, with occasional clashes between the immigrant population of the banliues and the proportionately more white/middle-class student movement. In the US, unlike most of Europe, student occupations of their campuses are met almost immediately with swift and brutal police repression: with beatings and mass arrests. In North Africa, then, we encounter student resistance against the crude and brutal face of capitalist imperialism: the Western-backed thugs and their repressive authoritarian regimes whose role is to maintain Western influence over some of the largest energy reserves in the world.

The Italian section, in particular, merits careful reading. In one particularly excellent piece, we are given quite an in-depth discussion of the Bologna process, which is changing the character of higher education across Europe: directing universities towards the production and normalisation of precarious labour (a process in which students are simultaneously treated as consumers of a product, and raw materials being transformed into commodities), devaluing degrees, turning universities into psuedo-corporations run by business elites, and pushing a greater and greater debt burden onto students and their families. In order to fulfil the dual tasks of producing more graduates for industry and maintaining the university's role in sustaining class privilege, "diversified inclusion" mechanisms are employed to create a two-tier system,with the best opportunities being made available to the children of the wealthy.

A review in Labour Briefing also mentions the links between the politics of higher education in Italy and the UK:

The Italy section repays careful reading: some of the pieces provide a window into the autonomist and black bloc politics which have begun to make their presence in Britain. Those of us who ultimately have comradely disagreements would do well to understand them and the social circumstances which give rise to them. The notion of 'precarious work' is a prominent example of something that deserves more thought.

The Labour Briefing review  ends by statingthat the book's value lies in its 'contributing authors being participants in the actions, rather than professional writers,' which echoes the Irish Left Review:

Where Springtime is most powerful is... in the simple stuff: the individual experiences of betrayal, abandonment, despair, anger, radicalisation, and hope—of a generation abandoned by their supposed leaders both in mainstream politics and the supposed counter-power of the trade and student unions and the official left learning to stand up for themselves together.

Visit the Irish Left Review to read the article in full.

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