Inaugural lecture, 24/11/2010
“Welcome to the University for Strategic Optimism, a university based on the principal of free and open education, a return of politics to the public, and the politicisation of public space. As our university buildings are being boarded up we inhabit the bank as public space. Not just a public space but the proper and poignant place for the introductory lecture to our course entitled ‘Higher Education, Neo-Liberalism and the State’. We will take up only five minutes of your time for our inaugural lecture but will reconvene in different locations on the dates to be found on the syllabus that should be circulating. Please do check the website for further information and for details about assessment.
How much was spent on the bank bailout?
– £850 billion
Who’s paying for this?
– the unemployed
We at the University for Strategic Optimism reject the false antagonisms set up by the media between these groups and declare our solidarity with them. We are told that we must tighten our belts and sharpen our elbows so that the markets might be appeased, the collapse of society staved off. Along with Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel-prize-winning economist, we puzzle over a world in which the poor subsidise the rich.
Who owns Britain? As our universities are being sacrificed in a futile attempt to maintain the banks, we find our resources depleting. We are forced to be increasingly inventive – exploring new spaces in which to teach, study and research.
A senior treasury official recently said the following:
“Anyone who thinks the spending review is just about saving money is missing the point. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the way that government works.”
We at the University of Strategic Optimism share the Conservative Party’s excitement at the possibilities of a transformation!
But this course wants to move beyond this rhetoric and to interrogate how the cuts make sense, to whom, according to which logic. It urges a rampant questioning of the ideological basis for the relentless privitisation and privation of our lives. Are labour, education, healthcare, and the environment, mere commodities, to be consumed by those who will redeem them as more capital? We believe in alternatives.
The University of Strategic Optimism invites everyone to take part in this exciting endeavor. We don’t believe that the people are apathetic and apolitical. There are many good reasons for strategic optimism. There are alternatives. Join us in looking for them.”