#FeesMustFall is a global teachable moment

“Rhodes becomes the university currently brutalised by police”

“Rhodes becomes the university currently brutalised by police”

A specter is haunting the global university: the specter of democracy. All the powers of the old world have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this specter: State and media; liberals and conservatives; radicals and police spies. Where is the party in opposition?

Across South Africa, students and some supporters have been forcing the State, and everyone else, to think and re-think the structures of “public education”. Whose public, and whose publics? How was that public, and which publics were dropped from the Public? The South African academies, and the media and more, have been focused on various aspects of this student-led and student-driven struggle. Today, for example, we read that students have presented a program for free tertiary education and that State security is planning a “zero tolerance” policy. For many South Africans, much of this is reminiscent of the “old days.”

But where is the rest of the world in this scenario? Whatever position(s) one takes, this, #FeesMustFall, is a global teachable moment. After three decades of critical discussion of the corporatization of higher education; racial, sexual, gender, class, ability and other forms of institutional violence on and by campus; the continuing colonial and imperial curricular and pedagogical practices; the intensifying exclusions from universities and then within the same; and so much more, this, #FeesMustFall, is a global teachable moment.

As a student led and student driven struggle, #FeesMustFall speaks to and extends recent similar movements in Chile, India, Canada, France and many points between and beyond. It also speaks to and extends earlier student led movements, including African, Asian and Latin American liberation struggles and those of ethnic and sexual “minority” and other disenfranchised communities. And it speaks to and extends earlier student led women’s movements. There’s no accident or surprise in #RhodesMustFall and #OutsourcingMustFall emerging into #PatriarchyMustFall. None of these individual struggles is at an end, by the way.

So, where are the teach-ins around the world? Where are the series of articles from various Left and alternative publications? The silence on this is roaring. It’s not too late, however, as this epochal struggle enters into a predictably new phase. South African students don’t need “our” counsel or advice. We, those of us outside of South Africa, need to pay attention to the light South African students, and South African academic communities, are shedding on the problems of exclusion and violence in the form of debt. As many have said, over the past twenty some years, let’s turn the state of debt into the new international. Let’s create a #FeesMustFall curriculum for our students and colleagues; let’s talk about #FeesMustFall in our classrooms and our Department meetings. And let’s write. It’s what we’re supposed to be doing.

(Photo Credit: The Daily Vox)

About Dan Moshenberg

Dan Moshenberg is an organizer educator who has worked with various social movements in the United States and South Africa. Find him on Twitter at @danwibg.