Three years ago the financial bubble burst, resulting in the largest economic crisis of the past decades. The social and economic system that has been introduced in the past thirty years as the only option available showed its real face: a system that increased inequalities both on a global and a local scale, a system that aims to destroy labour rights and the welfare state, a system that fosters the most powerful 1% to the detriment of the remaining 99%.
Governments intervened and saved the banks, but now they’re asking citizens to pay the bill for the crisis and the conservation of a social and economic system that has proven to be socially and environmentally unsustainable. The response to a crisis generated by neoliberalism has been more neoliberalism: more privatisations, more cuts to public expenditure, fewer rights, more job insecurity. As a case in point we should mention the measures that the ECB dictated to Greece, Spain and Portugal as well as the ones taken by the American government to avoid technical default.
The world of education during these years has been a favoured testing ground for those measures that the entire society is now experiencing: cuts which undermine the very existence of the system of public education, commodification of knowledge, violation of the right to education, tuition fee increase, obliteration of democratic spaces.
Many people took to the streets across the world in the course of last year, at different times and with different slogans, but with a shared objective: to retrieve the future that has been stolen by the financial dictatorship, by that 1% that counts more than we do, even if we are 99%. Students’ mobilization in Italy, Great Britain and Chile, Occupy Wall Street, the Spanish acampadas, the Greek and Portuguese demonstrations, all used different words to say the same thing: we want to count more than the profits of a few.
For this reason, on the 15th of October we took to the streets together, in 79 countries, to call for global change. The important battles that we individually fight in our own countries risk remaining fragmentary in the face of a global crisis and of a financial power that regards us as costs that can be sacrificed to keep on speculating. The 15th Oct. must not remain an isolated moment. Rather, it must be the beginning of a European and international mobilization for real democracy, for a development model that focuses on people and not on profits.
As education is the sector that neoliberalism has attacked most strongly in the past few years, a strong European and international movement must start from schools and universities and must be able not only to respond to this attack, but also to directly oppose a system that has proven to be absolutely incompatible with the idea of public knowledge and public education.
17th of November, international date for the right to education, could be the first date where we prove all together that the battles that we have been fighting for a few years against our own governments are part of a larger struggle which we are ready to fight together.
The students from Rete della Conoscenza