Bhargav Rani | To Revolution or Not to Revolution

Bhargav Rani, editor-in-chief of the CUNY Advocate, has written a brilliant, lengthy editorial, titled “To Revolution or Not to Revolution” (Oct 10, 2017) addressing the central problematics of Uprising 13/13. Rani urges us to place these questions at the heart of our ongoing debates, and writes:

Situated in the Graduate Center, even as we strive to build a movement that can galvanize its most marginalized and exploited, it becomes imperative to attend to these debates and reflect on what value the idea of revolution can hold for us in a neoliberal university. As Balibar notes, identifying revolutionary situations is not the difficult part, insofar as these situations are often moments of acute crisis. Rather, what is difficult is “identifying in the present collective agents who can become active in such situations and “resolve” the contradiction.” The crises of the neoliberal university are most acutely felt in a public university like CUNY, where contractual, adjunct labor shoulders most of the teaching load at a third of the pay that full-time faculty receives and with little job security, where tuition fees for students have been steadily rising over the past four decades, and where an expanding class of bureaucratic managers and administrators continually siphon off funds that could benefit the students and faculty—the main stakeholders of the university—to pay for their six-figure salaries. Yet, the very real, material conditions of scholarship and pedagogy under neoliberalism and the immense labor of everyday life that it demands, when conjoined with its ideologies that spell out in bold letters that “There is No Alternative,” work to prevent the “becoming subject of groups or “forces” that are virtually revolutionary” (Balibar).

Despite his caveats, Rani does articulate a theory of revolution and of the crisis of these current times, suggesting that we stand “in the debris of social movements that identity politics produced.” There is lots there to debate and discuss! Please join Rani and his colleagues at the Advocate for a “conversation that the Advocate hopes to sustain in its pages over this semester.” We will be reading!

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