David Dawkins interviews Clare Solomon, co-editor of Springtime, for Dazed Digital. They discuss the thinking and theory behind the front lines of the student rebellions.
DD: Were you worried about making what was quite a kinetic period of time into a book, something that is by its very nature a stationary object?
Clare Solomon: All books are a snapshot of history in one-way or another. I hope Springtime will inspire others to reconsider how they perceive the student protests, or add alternative perspectives to get a deeper understanding. And, more than that, it is always necessary for us to record our own history as a 'taking note', as the Italian revolutionary Gramsci said, 'of actual events, seen as moments of a process of inner liberation and self-expression'. Otherwise we may only get to hear the voices of those in power. It is the self-expression of these new shoots that was most important for this book...
DD: A lot has been said about 'apathy'. Culturally/individually-what happened?
Clare Solomon: Students can never get it right: one minute they're apathetic, the next 'they're always protesting about something'. The apathy is an effect of a supposedly democratic society which has stripped away any real possibility for engagement. A vote every four years is hardly the most enticing thing, especially when people feel that this vote is not listened to. Two million people marched against the Iraq war, many more millions now disagree with these wars: our governments do not listen to us. And then they want us to vote again for an increasingly similar selection of liars. No wonder people can't be arsed. And, on the other hand, the actions of the students have exposed the hypocrisy of our governments.
Condemning the smashing and burning of a few inanimate objects by students whilst at the same time bombing and killing millions in the middle east and north Africa. They have all of a sudden found a few extra billion pounds to carry out this new imperialist intervention in Libya. What they try to cover over is the causes of the uprisings. People don't just go out and protest for no reason. The suffragettes didn't smash windows because they just felt like it; they wanted their voices to be heard when they demanded the vote, and we don't now condemn them for this historical achievement. Students protested so vociferously because, as a fifteen-year-old said on Newsnight, 'you're taking away our education and EMA, we won't be able to get work and if we have to sell drugs to make ends meet you will then blame us'. Enough said.
One such student, Conrad Landin, a sixth-form student at Camden School for Girls, reviews Springtime for the Camden New Journal, focusing on the collection as linking the "student protest movement to a wider youth enlightenment and moral consciousness in the face of spending cuts and the neo-liberal consensus." Describing the collection as "a tight summary of the movement so far – confirming the books’ shared intention to reach out to those outside the young, radicalised generation" Landin's focus on reaching out echoes Clare's belief in the necessity of bringing together people from a wide range of experiences in order to stop the cuts:
DD: Although Springtime has this particularly emancipatory swell of direction or purpose, we still have to deal with the possibility that things are going to get worse before they get better. What's next?
Clare Solomon: No one can predict the future. But I bet things will get worse before getting better. The worse it gets, the more people will resist. We need to get across the argument that not one cut is necessary. They found money for war, so there's money to save our libraries and so on. What we need now is a mass movement of resistance to all the cuts.
Change is never brought by just a small group of militants. We need everyone: precarious workers and pensioners, unemployed and disabled people, single parents, civil servants and, of course, trade unions and so on. We shouldn't just be aiming for political change at the top but social change from below, for society to be run by us, for people and not for profit. Another world is possible, but only if we all organise for it. We will not put up with their lies and distortions anymore. We will continue to build resistance.
Visit Dazed Digital to read the interview in full.
Visit the Camden New Journal to read the review in full.