As some of you may have guessed from a recent blog post, I’m not a great fan of the NUS. Well, I sort of got half way into an argument about it with a stranger on facebook and then went to the pub and got a little imbibed with aclohol. when I got back to check my notifications I discovered they’d posted something which nagged my annoyance bone and got me more heated up. Which in turn triggered a slightly heated if entire honest response that pretty much encapsulates my distaste for NUS politics.
The person I’m in discussion with is a former member of the National Union of Students National Executive Committee. Because the NUS is ridiculously convoluted regarding what you can do and how exactly what that means is never really clear to anyone but on a regular if not aily basis these are the people voting things through, and then the National Conference is the losest thing the NUS gets to a conference.
Full conversation is here, which is on this page that may need liking before it can be seen. I was pretty much ignoring the other comments and went for the NUS NEC, partley because I dind’t care what everyone else was saying and partly because. Well. This is the main response of mine, post alcohol, that I wished to she. As I say I’ve drunk a bit so it’s maybe more a tirade than it otherwise would’ve been. It does, however, make the criticisms I wish to make and responds to the self-righteousness amongst a lot of the NUS system that makes it exclusive rather than inclusive and elitist, ignoring calls for broader democratic participation. Instead they trumpet about how great a democracy it already is despite it’s convoluted systems of control.
As a politics student I also have a major, major pet peeve of sanctimonious political science students. Studying politics we look at both political philosophy and political science. Philosophy side looks at key writers since Plato, what their ideas were, why they’re good/bad, how they compare to each other and what relevance they have in modern day. Political science looks at comparing functional systems in a statistical sense - the science aspect looks for quantitive results to analyse instead of prosaic and rational reasoning on subjects.
Ok so my tirade:
And this is fundamentally the issue of political science as a course which by definition ignores or fails to emphasise political philosophy. What about, in broader democratic terms, the very fact that the majority of the parochial group are the working classes who feel forced out of normalised liberal democratic functions because it’s a political system designed for, propagated by and governed by the upper middle and upper classes? The fact that their inherent socialisation leads them away from participation within such functions because from the moment they’re born their parents are being stamped on, they’re being stamped on and democracy has no concern for what their needs are because they don’t have the economic power to fund an election campaign? What about anarchists and those people believe in direct democracy, people who see representative democracy as a fundamental denial and subversion of human socio-political intercourse?
For the first group involvement is futile as it will always ignore their wants and needs. And NUS and universities are no different where higher education very much is, and for a long time will remain, the domain of the economically privileged. As a system it considers the wants, needs, desires and interests of those who are already involved. Why broaden this or work to broaden this when they’re not compelled to by their already privileged electorate? They don’t understand and have never experienced the discrimination inherent within capitalism.
For the second group involvement is fundamentally corrupting of their idealogical basis because to become involved is to legitimise and place, in your own activity thereby generating a sense of personal interest, an undue importance in the self over the broader community?
If the system is institutionally corrupt then to participate in the system is to participate in, legitimise and become embroiled within the same corruption that must be fought against. Therefore the only way to deal with the system is from the outside, rather than becoming a part of, and institutionalised within, it.
However political science ignores the arguments or broader political philosophies and looks only at the comparative aspects of it. So you’ll excuse me (or not, I don’t care) if I have a somewhat derisive attitude of the approach you’re coming to the subject from. Rather than looking at the ethical, desirable and rationally justifiable aspects of it you’re boiling it down to a set of statistics and hoping they’ll bring you enlightenment.
As someone who has already been embedded within and institutionalised by the system you’ll also excuse me if I view your stance as skewed. You’ve already presupposed that the system works to the extent that you’re willing to become a participant within it, you’ve already become a participant to the extent that you’re willing to vaunt yourself into the upper echelons of it and you CLEARLY have already considered yourself better than other people for doing so. You’ve already stamped on the capacity for others to be politically participatory (by being delegate voting capacities, whereby they can’t) and derided those who see fault in the system and refused to partake of it because of that. You’ve already declared illegitimate the stance of those who view the system as illegitimate, you’ve already already been warped by the rhetoric surrounding the idea that the NUS is necessary and functional in it’s current format and you’ve already been sat there deciding the nature of my academic experience, the academic experience for thousands of others and the academic experience of countless thousands to come based on what legitimacy exactly?
So fuck your elitism when you tell me to put up and shut up. How dare you tell me what I can and cannot expect from my academic experience? How dare you tell others what they can and cannot expect from their academic experience? How dare you declare that your views are more valid than mine, how dare you declare that anyones views are more valid than others and how dare you expect me to participate in your flawed mimicry of external flawed “democratic” systems so that I can tell others how their views are less valid than mine?
Fuck student unions, fuck the NUS, fuck the national conference and fuck you.
I guess my anarchical tendencies are becoming increasingly apparent.