The student is a state of being. It is a transitory state. It is a hazing; it is a rehearsal. It is a preparatory stage.
The student is a privileged person in an underprivileged world of suffering, but only because s/he does not recognize her/his own boredom as a form of imprisonment, of torture. The student is not only deadened to reality, s/he is also deprived of the consciousness of her/his own suffering. The student accepts this as “normal,” but it is only the normality of her/his repression that makes the student like the rest of society.
The student lives in a state of protracted infancy because it is the function of the University to train future, docile low-level functionaries. This state of protracted infancy is seen in the classrooms, where students sit quietly in military formation, accepting the nonsense professors spew. The student is there, content and misguided, believing that the classroom is a setting for some privileged and serious learning. Thus the student eagerly accepts the traditional teacher-student relationship.
It is in the University where submissiveness is ingrained ever more easily. Such inculcations formerly had to be forced upon the white-collar workers; now they are easily absorbed and passed along by the mass of future low-level functionaries. Students are being trained for jobs comparable to those of 20th century skilled workers; except, back then, skilled workers never expected promotions.
The student clings to the crumbling prestige of the University, and, in comparison to the former level of general bourgeois culture, the machine-made specialized education is just as profoundly debased at the intellectual level because the modern economic system requires the mass production of uneducated workers who have been rendered incapable of thinking—like domesticated cows.
The University is, in fact, a training ground for future docile, submissive workers. On these training grounds, the student unashamedly lives an overt childish existence. The tighter authority’s chains shackle the student, the freer the student believes s/he is.
The University has become an institution for organizing ignorance; “high culture” disappears at the same rate as the school assembly lines produce professors; professors are scum and most would be jeered at in any high school classroom. But the University student is oblivious to all of this and continues to listen obligingly to the masters; the student consciously suspends all critical judgment so as to wallow in the mystical state of being a student—someone seriously committed to learning serious things—and hopes thereby to learn the latest “truths” and repeat them as her/his original thoughts.
The future revolutionary society will condemn everything that takes place today in lecture halls and classrooms as nothing but noise, verbal pollution. The student is already a very bad joke.
Students live a poor existence. Student poverty—both material and emotional—is more extreme than that of the proletariat’s. However, this poverty is temporary and not comparable with the miserable existence of society’s poor. Because student poverty is only temporary, and because being a student is too temporary and detached from the historical process, the student accepts the poverty without resignation. The student wallows in it, thinking that the approaching future will compensate. However, the student will only discover an endless, inevitable mediocrity.
The student movement is blind to itself because it is detached from the rest of society; it does not understand the forces that push it into action; it cannot connect its struggle to its own life. (The issue is not about incompetent state and school administrators and the severe budget cuts. Recovering funds will not solve the University’s perpetual problems.) The student movement seeks ‘demands’ everywhere, but because students cannot see the absurdity of their own lives and their own imprisonment, they cannot begin to imagine what the struggle is for.
The deaths of students who struggle all over the world for liberation reveal the poverty of the U.S. student movement and the superficiality of its own struggles.
When the real struggle comes, it will be easy to recognize because it will cut through all the bullshit in which the student is trapped. (It knows its objectives. Its tactics are clear. It moves with confidence.)
We begin by killing the enemy within us and within our friends with whom we share our classrooms, homes, and beds. We come together in small bands with those we have learned to trust, occupying everything that represses us, taking back the schools, the streets, our lives.
The function of the student movement must be something other than making demands of the University, but to destroy the existence of the student as a distinct social role and character structure. More eager for grades than knowledge, more eager for a “good” job than to live without dead time, the first enemy of the student is within you.
The student however should not alone be singled out for student passivity is only the most obvious symptom of a general state of affairs where each sector of social life has been subdued by a similar imperialism.