Defending student protesters, hoarishly

WFFE vs Lazy Reactionaries: I’d rather my transgression canned than rotten.

Defending student protesters, hoarishly

(Note: the subsequent article is a collection of ramblings from an individual on campus. Do not take it to be representative of the Hoar’s views, which, for the record, do not exist).

Nobody likes being late. Yet, the upshot of an intricate conspiracy of ineptitude delicately orchestrated by Stagecoach Ltd, the ministry for transport, and the West Midlands populace, is the pain of watching the buffer minutes between the present, and the 11am tee off time for your Menstruation in the Early Modern Period seminar, slip away in the stuffy sweat dripped upper hall of the U1.

Exasperation can quickly become internal disquiet when it comes to light that the cause of your temporal inconvenience is a collection of sanctimonious hair-dyed protesters, demanding an overhaul of the role of fees in university education, and while they’re at it, liberal capitalism.

How dare they argue, so forcefully, that a degree should be about the furthering of one’s education

How fucking egregious. How outrageously selfish. That somebody should risk their degree, their career prospects, and potentially their clean record in the eyes of the system — to fight for their honest beliefs. How dare they question the corporatisation of our university? How dare they fight for financial support for all, regardless of upbringing and wealth? How dare they argue that, in the face of funding, all should be treated the same — not subject to a series of infantalising and normalising filters to check you are statistically sufficiently financially oppressed to deserve mild remittance? How dare they argue, so forcefully, that a degree should be about the furthering of one’s education, so as to create well rounded critical thinking citizens, and not treated as a paper ticket to indicate that you are sufficiently middle class to not cause a stir in the workplace? Finally, how dare they make me late?

Before reaper costumes, there was the WFFE 'get in a hearse' trick
Before reaper costumes, there was the WFFE ‘get in a hearse’ trick

Hopefully you’ll have detected an ounce of irony — you see, I don’t actually think the WFFE lot are all too bad. Yet scarcely can they do anything without being labelled as vandals, sanctimonious gits, and once even, hopefully in jest, terrorists. As soon as they take any form of action, objections roll in about how they “are in it for themselves”, and “just want their names in the paper” (I’m not actually quoting from anywhere, but I’m not nearly sufficiently sober for journalistic rigour, I hope you believe the account). However, such criticisms are all too easy to levy when you have an essay due, a healthy allowance, and nothing real to fight for. But I hold that it’s exactly this career minded systemic obedience that highlights the rotten core of the modern student. Students are too busy filing internship applications to possibly waste their time being a noisy thorn in the side of governing authorities, be it wise or not.

such criticisms are all too easy to levy when you have an essay due, a healthy allowance, and nothing real to fight for

Okay, this far in I’ll grant a confession, they’re not perfect, the WFFE-ers, the NALF-ers, and anyone else coming under the nez perce social activism umbrella. For starters, a lot of them aren’t all too bright, usually that wouldn’t be a problem, but when you’re campaigning for the student body, coherence of thought is a good start. Claims in circle-jerk coffee rooms to the flavour of “I’ve got it… under capitalism… you just can’t… like… have democracy”. Though let us not allow a lack of grey matter have us question their good spirit. What might be a more pertinent criticism would be their disposition to tie ‘free education’ necessarily to nationalisation and, more broadly, socialism. Often alienated are cost-benefit liberals, and one-nation Conservatives who would oppose tuition fees on different grounds, though find themselves excluded by their repugnance at being handed ‘The Socialist Worker’ (is that the name of their paper? I can never remember) for fear of the contingent link between the collectivisation of resources and the rise of authoritarianism.

Firstly, ‘they don’t represent us’. Well, actually, they probably do.

Ideological ignorance, however, is a forgiveable crime. Hence focus of rebuttal should be the more substantial, and prescient, criticisms of everyone’s favourite foot-stampers.

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Firstly, ‘they don’t represent us’. Well, actually, they probably do. If you happen to oppose tuition fees, for whatever which reason, then their struggle is your struggle. And if you don’t, fine, it’s not my intention to challenge your belief. However, if you vigorously disagree, rather than harmlessly shit on their intentions; then rise from your sedentary backside, engage them in debate, and actively support the status quo. To let it all pass by with unrelenting indifference is tantamount to letting your view be ignored. Moreover, for the half-arsed posts of resentment typically present, one may even posit that they stem from a vehement lack of a decent cause in the life of the author, indeed, a pang of jealousy stemming from a deficiency of community and comradeship.

Another phlegmatic cop out from meaningful engagement is the argument that their quixotic activities are just that — futile. That blockades, occupation, and divestment will never achieve any more than a slightly pissed off student body… an uncooperative grumbling majority. Permit me a contradiction: they are effective. We even have an example on our beloved campus. You know the students union buildings? Those things in the centre of campus, with the big SU sign, the radio recording centre, the copper rooms, a series of over-priced tasteless outlets etc etc? You know the ones? Well they didn’t come with the university. Lord Butterworth’s decree was that Warwick university shall never have a student’s union building, the focus should be upon work alone. Though, following a prolonged occupation, the university authorities eventually caved into allowing a physical manifestation for student representation. Quite something, eh? It’s not without a touch of historicity that these protesters march. It’s not all as hopeless as you may imagine.

Therapeutic occupation.
Therapeutic occupation.

Permit me a contradiction: they are effective.

Fine, if we grant that they be in with a chance of changing a thing or two, what of our debt to the point that it is about them and their egos, not progress. Tell me no one actually believes that? I hate to break it you, but they’ve already paid their fees, missed out on loans, and accumulated debt. Their dreamt up revolution in fees is, in case you hadn’t noticed, yet to actualise. They are causing a fuss on campus for future students, and for future generations, not themselves.

But no, you say, it’s not about the material benefits of their ends. It is the very act of protesting — that is what is about them. They crave attention. They crave the public eye. Their wet dream is to appear on BBC West Midlands, complaining about being ruffed up by security officers. Again, do you really hold that? That people will risk criminal records, being unemployable, and even deprived of a degree — just for their name in the paper? Oddly, I don’t actually believe you.

Their wet dream is to appear on BBC West Midlands, complaining about being ruffed up by security officers… Oddly, I don’t actually believe you

It’ll take a great deal of persuasion to shake the belief that campus activism is filled with sanctimonious arseholes. Largely for the problem of herdish passivity pushing only the most fanatical among us to break the mould of quotidian discourse. But also because, quite often, it’s true. Yet the goal of this piece isn’t to create new band of Corbynista warriors, or even, for that matter, protesters. Rather the aim is to to ask, by means of a ramble, for one and all to re-evaluate our approach to those sufficiently caring of the world around them to step up and have their voices heard, and appreciate that, just because your drive to justice doesn’t extend past a slacktivist share, there is no need to berate others on account of your inescapable social coma.

Occupy Gibbet Hill, circa 1965. Still going strong.
Occupy Gibbet Hill, circa 1965. Still going strong.