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At the final discussion session of this week’s ‘Discourses of Dissent’ workshop in Birmingham, I raised the need for academics and students concerned about the future of the university to consolidate a positive position — something beyond simply protesting budget cuts and tuition fees. A model for such an activity is the famous Port Huron Statement of 1962, which established Students for a Democratic Society in the US. Inspired by C. Wright Mills, for the following decade the Statement provided the intellectual springboard for co-ordinating university resistance to the military-industrial complex that had colonized American campuses during the Cold War. Even the original rhetoric is worth emulating today. Here is the statement.
You may also find the Google-generated reception history of the Statement of interest.
Perhaps we need a second ‘constitutional convention’ meeting at Birmingham and Midland Institute to draft an updated version of this statement? Given the eloquence and forthrightness of the original Statement, it might be worth paying attention to how it was composed: My general sense is that, like the US Declaration of Independence, the main draft was by one hand (Tom Hayden playing Tom Jefferson) with various editorial inputs.
Karen Rowlingson – Why doesn’t the British public seem to care about inequality or the cuts in public spending?
Thanks everyone for a great day. We recorded video and audio of both sessions which will be posted up on the website as we get them online. We’re also planning a series of podcasts exploring ideas and accounts which came up in greater detail.
There will be another event, with a similar format, next academic year. The same theme applies: how can academic research help inform and sustain political resistance? If you’d like to suggest a speaker for us to approach then you can do so here.
Also you can now follow us on Twitter: @dis_of_dissent