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October 6, 2008 | by  | in Opinion |
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I am a Revolutionary Socialist

This is what may be my last column as VUWSA President. I feel proud to say that the university are bringing about a $20 one-off internet levy. This is bringing about my pledge last year to make internet free, or non user-pays as explained when pressed last year, as nothing is ever free. Ultimately it is all paid for out of the wealth created by the labour of the working class.

We’ve fought hard this year against the Film School Proposal, we’ve stalled attempts to cut off Gender and Women’s Studies. Next year and even for the rest of the year, the university will be attempting to continue to their “rationalisation” of the university i.e. cutting off most of the small programmes at VUW, most of the choice that students currently have.

Since the 70’s access to student support and subsidies has been progressively attacked tightened and stripped back. This is not because of some right-wing rogernome conspiracy (although that did happen to a point) because as a capitalism came out of the post war boom, it could not sustain the levels of value given to buy students and workers. Remember in 1968, revolution was talked about seriously and students united with workers against the system most notably in France. The rate of profit (not the amount, but proportion of profit) has been decreasing ever since, just look in Forbes magazine for clarification on this. It’s not a secret, kinda like the recent sub-prime mortgage crisis, it’s the sort of thing that the ruling elite just don’t really want to talk about.

That is the reason why 1984 happened, Keynesianism had failed, it could not sustain capitalist profit while buying off workers at the same time with anything approaching a decent standard of living. With declining profits the state could not shell out for both the welfare state (workers) and simultaneously shelter the capitalist class from the effects of the recession. As a result students and workers were made pay. We suffer the effects of lower standards of living in the form of user pays, poorer health and the privatisation of public services including education.

Increased fees are the effect of this, lack of student allowances are the result of this, we pay double, in that production/the creation of value is a social thing, but the value/wealth from this ends up as profits/surplus value in the hands of a few. On top of this we pay for our own job training (course fees) to hypothetically create more value for those capitalist few. In the 70’s capitalism could contain this and allow the socially beneficial education to be carried out with no direct cost, we still paid, but only once, not twice like now.

The university want to increase your fees by 5% if you’re an undergrad or $500 if you’re a postgrad. We cannot change this at a university level. We could stop it this year, but in 2005 Massey voted for a 0% fee increase, the Labour government placed three new members on council and made sure a 10% increase got through. That is the outcome if we target the university only. We could target the government, as they set the direction of the unis, they find the unis, don’t buy the bullshit of autonomy or academic freedom, that only exists until it is challenged and then it is stomped on. Autonomy and freedom are accepted by the state, the government, until people try to put it in practice. Then it is clamped down and eradicated.

Hypothetically if the state allows a 0% fee increase, or god forbid scraps fees, it cannot be sustained as a challenge to the period of late capitalism that we’re in (how sad is it that free education is a fundamental challenge to the state?), we just get the 1984 backlash, because the state exists as a tool of capitalists to oppress workers and other groups in society, to maintain its hegemonic rule.

The state cannot maintain support for the working class, the producers of value in society without challenging the capitalist class. When that happens, you have situations like Pinochet in Chile. Capitalism reasserts itself.

So when you’re out there at 3pm today (Monday the 6th of October). Fight the fee rise, fight for a free education, but fight against the capitalist system that must be beaten before we can even attempt to realise a just and fair society. Capitalism can only be fought by revolutionary means, look at the Labour party in New Zealand, the Democrats in the USA. It cannot be destroyed by legal, parliamentary means, as it is the law, it is bourgeois parliament. Capitalist fuck us over. They have a sweet deal and have been in that position for long enough now to not give up without a fight. We need to fight. I’ll see you this afternoon.

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Comments (16)

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  1. Matthew_Cunningham says:

    Joel: You’re just regurgitating the revolutionary line here and not providing any evidence to back up your claims or your belief system. This is one of the fundamental flaws of the Workers’ Party and various other communist or socialist parties in general.

    Karl Marx was a great man with great ideas – even i’ll admit that and i’m not a communist. Marxist ideas have great potential to enhance the existing system and enrich society, but when they are couched in vague revolutionary slogans instead of practical ideas and methods for change they just become empty, and potentially harmful, rhetoric.

    Example: you claim that the worldwide student revolutions of the late sixties were due to “access to student support and subsidies [being] progressively attacked tightened and stripped back”. This is at best a gross oversimplification. Student protests arose for a number of reasons: civil and woman’s rights, pacificism and opposition to Vietnam, a rejection of the rigid moral values of the time, and a disenchantment with the political process. Ultimately, the overarching cause for all of this discontent was that the first post-war generation was coming of age and making their mark on the world, in various ways and through various forms. By appropriating this movement solely on socialist grounds you are merely reinterpriting facts to suit your own cause. That would be like me saying that socialism and communism only came into being so that they could enrich the Left-wing, social democratic and Labour philosophies of the existing capitalist system.

    You also claim that “The rate of profit (not the amount, but proportion of profit) has been decreasing ever since [1968]”. This shows a fundamental misunderstanding of economics. The 70’s were indeed a tough era economically due largely to the Oil Crisis; however, most economies improved dramatically at the end of the decade and into the 1980’s. This was quite often due to the very ‘Reaganism / Thatcherism’ policies that you decry within your article.

    Your statement that “the state exists as a tool of capitalists to oppress workers and other groups in society, to maintain its hegemonic rule” is a perfect example of the empty rhetoric I am talking about. This doesn’t even make sense. If you examine capitalism in the sense that you so often address it – as a ruthless force for economic expansion – then what would be the point of oppressing “workers and other groups in society”? To have economic growth in a consumer-driven society you need people to possess enough money to buy the goods being produced – otherwise you have overproduction and underconsumption. Why would a supposedly self-interested ideology such as capitalism shoot itself in the foot like that?

    “Capitalism can only be fought by revolutionary means, look at the Labour party in New Zealand, the Democrats in the USA. It cannot be destroyed by legal, parliamentary means, as it is the law, it is bourgeois parliament”. This kind of sentiment will not win you support. You can fight the system from within the system. Look at the Italian PCI in the post-war years under Palmiro Togliatti – they maintained their level of public support and popularity due to their willingness to engage in the political process. Why would your Workers Party register with the Electoral Commission if it only intends to fight the system through extralegal means?

    Alas, when you talk like this, you are basically saying that “I know best. Those in power do not. And regardless what you think, i’m going to overthrow your system simply because I think it is right.” That does not sound like a Peoples’ Revolution, nor a Dictatorship of the Proletariat, to me.

    Matt.

  2. Matthew_Cunningham says:

    In all fairness though, I should add the following: good job on the internet levy, and also for your successful protest against both the Film School closure and the treatment of students by Unicomm. I may disagree with your political persuasion but I can’t deny that you’ve done some pretty good things this year.

    Matt.

  3. Jackson Wood says:

    I was going to write something along those lines. But thought I would wait for someone else to say it. So I’ll just say SNAP.

    Although Matthew, I wouldn’t congratulate Joel on the internet levy. ITS has had plans to roll out something along these lines for at least two years, they just haven’t had the resources to do it. I think this is a very hollow victory for cosgrove that Salient will be looking into next year.

  4. Lenin says:

    Communism by stealth huh?

  5. Nick Archer says:

    Why would Salient want to look into this the following year when Joel will no longer be President??? It is a TRIVIAL thing to want to do… I think it would be more constructive to report on whether the University follow through with the implementation of this in a reasonably speedy manner.

    The fact of the matter is that they are rolling out this $20 amount for a way better Internet service than they have had for a long time…

    ITS may have had this policy along these lines for at least two years, but why all the attacks on Cosgrove when he fought for free internet for students, sure it is based on a $20 levy (which given that the University is willy nilly in the levies and fees increases is hardly anything and is better than the $100 per gigabyte that students were being charged).

    Whether this was part of a long term infrastructure improvement is irrelevant, as VUWSA represents Vic students and fights on their behalf it is hardly surprising that changes like this need consultation and work with VUWSA via the academic boards and relationship between the University and VUWSA.

    Is Salient looking into this so called hollow victory going to just be more continuation of bias against the Workers Party now that Jasmine is taking over as President from January? Or is it going to be constructive and examine the issues of the infrastructure. I was pleased though that reasonable reporting was down on the Campus Hub, and I expect that the Campus Hub will be an ongoing story for you next year…

  6. Michael Oliver says:

    Dude, I go to Vic, and I don’t care as much about this shit as you assholes.

  7. Matthew_Cunningham says:

    Nick Archer:

    First of all, who is “attacking Cosgrove”? I certainly wasn’t – I was merely arguing against the case he has presented in his article. Jackson was espousing his opinion on the internet levy and Joel’s role in it. Lenin’s “Communism by stealth” quality didn’t seem like an attack, unless you consider associating Communism with ninja-like qualities as an insult? (I certainly wouldn’t – ninja-like qualities rule!).

    In saying that, I will admit that there has been some anti Workers Party bias on the Salient website this year. However, this bias has been contained within the feedback blogs responding to articles rather than in the articles themselves. This is something that Salient has no control over. Having followed the website closely for most of the year I can personally vouch for the journalistic integrity and impartiality of the Salient staff.

    You do have a point however about the investigation over Joel’s platform for free printing. This does seem like a trivial thing despite the fact that it was a core component of Joel’s platform. In saying that though, I have to ask – is it Salient’s policy to evaluate the tenures of all Presidents and / or exec staff after they have left, to see where they have and have not met their campaign promises? If this is the case, then it is more than fair that Salient should examine Joel’s following through on his promises (or lack thereof).

    Matt.

  8. Gibbon says:

    what the fuck
    so I have to pay twenty dollars for internet at university which I will never use
    what the fuck

    “free internet” has just become INFINITELY more expensive than I have ever paid for internet

    thanks joel you shit, for costing me EVEN more money
    you useless fuck
    you useless useless piece of shit

  9. Shitkicker McGee says:

    Hey Nick, how about you FUCK OFF

  10. Jenna Powell says:

    Nick: Joels the president of VUWSA. Joel and his political affilations are going to be mocked, belittled and yes sometimes questioned by Salient and people who browse the Salient website. It comes with the territory…I think even he could accept that. I do not think any Salient staff have any seeeeeerious probs with his workers party “im a revolutionary socialist” go me wooo thing he has going on.

    My “attacks” on Joel through out the year had nothing to do with the Workers Party. I was harsh on Joel because he loves going off the record in exec meetings which avoids accountability me thinks. These issues were not just employment related but shit that students should totally know about. He will no doubt disagree with the above statement under a false name.

    But on the other hand at least the guy believes in something. Although he is disorganised and (I think I can safely say) does not understand anything to do with the mechanics of the VUWSA budget, I think the guy actually cares about shit but is slack in some very important areas.

    Hollow victory? Yeah I think it is. I had a few chats with ITS and it seemed like they had this planned for a while.

  11. ? says:

    “I feel proud to say that the university are bringing about a $20 one-off internet levy. This is bringing about my pledge last year to make internet free”
    the way he phrases it makes it seem like he has ownership of the idea. which is just not true. they already had plans to do it. It is like someone claiming that the they will make it rain; it was going to happen eventually anyway.

    salient should investigate the claim. It is an issue of accountability and honesty. If Joel did have a role to play in getting the levy put on students should know that it was him and rejoice that the system actually benefited them in a small way. if he didnt actually do anything students should know that he is a liar.

  12. Wotsam ouspay says:

    Fuck Joel Cosgrove is a fuckatard. Fuck him and fuck the workers party. What a fucking crock of shit.

  13. Jeremy says:

    Joel is a dick.

  14. Mature says:

    Wow really logical comment, cause if Joel is a dick then that means that Socialism must be real bad…

  15. Shitkicker says:

    Is the iPhone helping with the revolution?

  16. Wee Hamish says:

    >(

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