Melbourne Anarchist Archives Index

Fighting on Two Fronts: Against the University Administration; Against the Student Maoists (1971)

  1. One mistake...before another
  2. What is to be done? To whom?
  3. What is to be undone.
  4. Intelligent And Un-Intelligent Strategy: Right, Left And Centre On The Eve Of An Occupation
  5. Tactics In The Struggle Against The Admissions Regulation
  6. Student Newspaper Editorial

The central question dominating university politics at La Trobe in 1971 was the Admissions statute - usually called the Exclusion Statute by its opponents. All this document laid down was the conditions of admission to the university one of which was that no student currently under suspension from another Australian university could enrol at La Trobe. In the early seventies with students suspended at most Australian universities over demonstrations (rather than for cheating at exams or ordinary student crimes) this was very political indeed.

Despite the critical opposition by anarchists and their allies within the Labour Club the dominant maoist tendency managed to drag the issue through a sequence of occupations which finally led to the expulsion of large numbers of students and several thousand dollars worth of fines. Simultaneously the anarchists had captured the majority on a staff-student committee set up by the academic board to consider the question and when the board tried to reject their committee's report used their part-editorship of the student newspaper to publish the academic board papers together with other material compromising to the board. As a result the anarchist policy was adopted but the trials of the occupiers went on. In 1972 three maoist students were jailed for continuing to come to university and as the resultant occupations gradually dwindled to nothing (and the old labour club declined into apathetic cynicism) the anarchists set up a staff group, The Committee of Ten, which brought out a newsletter the "Bullet" in opposition to the university administration's "Bulletin". The agitation through the "Bullet" and at staff meetings coupled with the return to normalcy at the university eventually secured the release of the imprisoned maoists (although not before an anarchist lecturer was attacked by a fascist professor).

A. ONE MISTAKE ..........

On Thursday 12th, a small group of La Trobe students marched down Waterdale Road to the local: police station to deliver a decision of a general meeting of students. The reader is excused for not having known this. The reason for ignorance is simply that the demonstration was not advertised beforehand but was sprung upon a general meeting called about the Collingburn murder. This would be fair enough if the demonstration was really spontaneous, but of course it was not. The small group which has taken it upon itself to organise all "spontaneous" activities at La Trobe had discussed it beforehand but wasn't prepared to take other people into its confidence. in its enthusiasm for organising yet another demonstration the group completely overlooked the question of prior organisation. Even a little reflection would have revealed that the Collingburn protest could have been linked up with the bashings in Waterdale Road last year and the obvious lack of any action taken to discipline the police. It might also have been worthwhile to raise the question of what the S.R.C. had done about it and to have pointed out the true value of the Vice Chancellor's "promise" to ask Bolte to "investigate" the bashings. It could have been made quite clear what the value of "investigations" is - whether by the police or by "independent" bodies like the S.R.C. - but this was not done and so the arrest of a couple of police for manslaughter will allow everyone to go back to sleep. For those who believe in the dialectical inter-connectedness of absolutely everything our so-called "marxist-leninists" seem greatly averse to making these connections apparent; in the rush to notch up another demonstration all strategic considerations are neglected.


About the same time as the Collingburn debacle was planned the "vanguard" decided that it would hold a walk-in on next Monday's Council meeting. Apparently this was to be a protest against Apartheid and Imperialism. (The Chancellor, Glenn, is on the board of ICI.) Over Easter a meeting was held by inner groups from the three universities to consider joint action against the new Admissions statutes and so the line was changed and the walk-in became a protest against the Admissions statute. The method was to be the traditional one - call a meeting on Monday, vote through a condemnation of the Statute, vote to deliver this on mass to the Council, hey presto! an occupation. The essential point in the process is that once having voted for the condemnation you are (morally?) bound to support "action" against the policy and so, by a somewhat twisted logic, to vote for its delivery immediately. (The Collingburn meeting unanimously declared against the police and so, after a harangue by Barry York, had to unaminously "support" the delivery of the motion to the police. In fact fewer than a quarter of those present "voted with their feet". For an occupation called out of the blue the numbers would be even smaller.) It is now said that anyone who votes to oppose the Statute, but refuses to support action i.e. occupation, without proposing a different sort of action i.e. occupation, is "on the right" i.e. a Rodger-Monagle. (Thus we have reached the stage that any sort of analysis, educational or organisational work unrelated to a demonstration is counter-revolutionary.) Fortunately the opposition persuaded our would-be Lenins to advertise what they intended to do before the meeting.


There is a distressing tendency to confuse demonstrations with real action. (Some "maoists" believe that the only forms of action are marching, or sitting-down!) The essence of a demonstration is that it is an act of symbolic opposition; demonstrations are rapidly becoming a symbol of phony opposition. In ascending order of importance the functions of a demonstration are educating the public, embarrassing the target bureaucrats and building a community of feeling amongst the demonstrators which can then be transformed into a common dedication to political goals. If the latter is not achieved then the community of feeling dwindles and the remainder becomes a sect. The symbolic action becomes phony opposition. The policy of permanent demonstration is an expression of the political poverty of a group that can only define itself by demonstration i.e. individuals who can only prove themselves by symbolic acts of opposition.


The "vanguard" admits that the Council is only symbolic i.e. that an occupation of the Council meeting is only symbolic, it shows our opposition to U.S. Imperialism etc. Yet they cannot admit this to students - after all the Statutes are repressive and we really do want to do something about them. The central contradiction of student maoism is that they believe that real changes are impossible without a revolution and yet they are mortally afraid of winning concrete victories in case the improvements we make lead to a decline of revolutionary consciousness. (This no-win attitude shows quite clearly that their spiritual home is in the left of the ALP.) Because they have a purely military concept of revolution (thus the La Trobe Rifle Club) they are incapable of understanding the dialectical interconnection of local struggles and victories and the global struggle. (Being at best vulgar marxists they believe that reformism comes about because the movement wins victories within the old society; they fail to perceive the roots of revisionism in the very scientistic Engelsianism to which they adhere. The victory of the proletariat is inevitable and "correct" ideas come from social practice but somehow all these revisionists have incorrect ideas. Abstractly opposed to "bourgeois" ideas they refuse to support intellectual engagement with them. For them ideas are feelings or at best images, the connection with vulgar scientific materialism is obvious).

The battle against bourgeois ideology must be fought and won NOW. The specific contribution of the university to the revolution is the demolition of the intellectual basis of bourgeois culture. Despite chinese opinions to the. contrary this does not mean the demolition of intelligence and the replacement of it by other peoples" thoughts. (Intellectuals are not changed into proletarians by being forced to do manual labour, they are turned into proletarians by the advance of the commodity economy. Either that or they become revolutionaries.) The battle against bourgeois ideology of necessity includes the battle against the hierarchies and separations based on this ideology. We must expect, even demand, concrete results from our struggles. Organisationally these will be expressed by the democratisation of the academic structure and the transformation of course content and structure. We must produce both. critical intellectuals and conscious proletarians. Externally the main battles will be against the bureaucratic rationality of the Australian Universities Commission and, most importantly, the struggle for the transformation of the schools.

On the subject of the Admissions Statute we must avoid turning the struggle for a principle of wide application into a struggle to re-instate students expelled from La Trobe. The exigencies of a reinstatement campaign ensure that by the time that the particular campaign is won, if it is won, everyone is too tired to goon with the general campaign. Furthermore the fact that the Administration over-reacts always means that a lot of the support generated is on the grounds of the harshness of the sentences rather than over the initial principle. It is also possible that there are people who disagree with the excessive use of the occupation tactic but who could be persuaded to take a stand against the Statute that we are supposed to be opposing. If we are serious about wanting to repeal the statute then we should try to create a broad movement of staff and students rather than confusing the issue by joining to it an extraneous "support the expellees" campaign: If we are serious then the campaign should be directed aqainst the Academic Board and should be linked with demands for a broadening and democratisation of such structures. The bourgeois nature of the university comes from the fact that within the university the real power is held jointly by the leading bourgeois ideologists and the proponents of technocratic rationality. The business men on Council are largely irrelevant. The technocrat will bureaucratise the outer world and the ideologists the inner one. These are our real and immediate enemies.

Oppose sidetracking the revolution. Out of the Council chambers and into the classroom! Smash fuck-wit ideology!

B. WHAT IS TO BE DONE? . .. TO WHOM? (1971)

As first term draws to a close several political tasks remain. Virtually nothing has been accomplished on the exclusions issue - anyone who thinks that a threat of an indefinite "occupation" made by forty students at a meeting of two hundred will scare the Council into changing its policy simply shows that they should not be here in the firstplace. The S.R.C. executive has done nothing on the issue - if anything it has risen to new heights of irresponsibility. Nothing was done about the April 30th Moratorium - apparently our great leaders were busy elsewhere.


The central political error of the campaign so far has been the belief that the threat of symbolic violence, by a single faction of the Left will scare anyone let alone bodies backed by the weight of academic inertia and behind that State power. To predict that State power will necessarily be used against an occupation is to assume that the university power structure is as juvenile as the Labour Club. The fact that the vast majority of students and staff accept the power structure as legitimate and will not actively oppose it even when they disagree with its actions is sufficient to ensure that the "liberal" centre, if freed of the pressure from the Wolfsohn/Monagle style lunatic fringe; would be able to deal with any occupation without raising a mass movement against itself. Because of this initial error, and because of the way the group concerned reifies all its decisions into "principles", it has started to look as though their major aim all along has been to get an occupation quite independently of any tactical value it may have. As a result the crowds attending the meetings have grown smaller each time; the basis for a genuine, as distinct from pseudo, militant strategy in the future has been severely undercut.

Since the only public actions this group will make are purely symbolic, and since by the very nature of the university the power structure rests on manipulated consensus and "liberal" ideology, it is doubly damning that this group should have neglected all attempts to win over students and staff in a battle of ideas. Being vulgar mechanists who believe that the power of the council (and Academic Board if they have heard of it) exists eternally - or at least until Chairman Mao changes the Statutes - they neglect the fact that the power of these bodies to enforce their decisions is rooted in n particular social practice and that the power relations between the legal university of Vice Chancellors, S.R.C. Presidents and Boards and the real university of students, staff and workers, i.e. of real people, could be quite different. The whole basis of our strategy is in creating a militantly radical and democratic real university. To do this struggle in the realm of ideas is unavoidable, to merely make militant, and to the majority meaningless, speeches is pure capitulation.

The fact is that it is impossible to build a real mass movement of staff and students against the existing power structures unless we can show them that these structures are impervious to both reasoned argument and popular pressure through the "proper channels." To do this we must construct, and take seriously, reasoned argument; both to show that the conservative majority on the Council and Academic Board is impervious to reason and to create the basis for popular pressure in Departments, Schools and any Consultative Committees that exist. At the moment there is little that students can do other than putting pressure on academics; sufficient motions have been passed to make our position plain and we have put up an alternative Admissions Policy which is being used as a basis by staff working against the Board's decision. The S.R.C. counts for nothing in the campaign; before the anti-exclusionists resigned they passed numerous motions on the subject, since then the S.R.C. has been irrelevant to the campaign although the executive is pro the existing exclusion policy - or a stronger version.


Oh Dear: What can the matter be,
22 Councillors without a lavatory,
They were there to ignore the studentry,
And nobody could really care.

Failures make more attractive characters than the successful; their faux-pas and their shortfallings lend them distinction while all successes dress the same and get hot under their white collars and ties and R.S.L. badges when failures barricade in boardrooms.

When the local yokels nutted and bolted the University council in their council pad for three hours they failed in a way never before attempted, let alone dreamt of. Didn't they notice that, while all rushing to the double glass doors on either side of the North - exit to the Council Room, the door through the Glenn College Office was left practically undefended, but no escape plan was forged by our captains of industry. Of course, Council didn't want to escape, except for Dr. Law who suffers from claustrophobia and Galbally who just suffers. It would not have done for the Maoists to be successful either, for without the exclusions policy and without Glenn and Callinan on Council, there wouldn't be any symbols left to attack. (Critics may claim that David Brown is a symbol of a prick, but this is wrong, he is a prick).

If the facts be known the Maoists and Co., and Council and Co. are very much dependent on each other. If it weren't for the Maoists the students might start investigating the role of courses and degrees in creating an "aristocracy of labour"; the Maoists, who revere Council (as a symbol -) like an icon, keep people diverted by attacking Council only, and for that our Captains of industry ought to be eternally grateful.

To misquote Mao Tse Tung; "Issues don't drop from the skies, they are manufactured by social practice." Then along came some mysterious article on J.I.O., and also the 1971 Admissions Policy, and the Council had, quick as a flash, done what the Labour Club Conference had failed to do, resucitated the Vanguard! Of course Council had to introduce the Admissions Policy for they knew damn well that the students would legitimately be opposed to it, and who leads the student masses on the burning social issues of the day? The Maoists. And what do the Maoists generally do? They fuck everything up. Good, say Council, then we can have an excuse for existing, in fighting those student barbarians! Of course, they may have to expel a few of the John Waynes of the revolutionary movement, because Sir Henry Bolte is angered for he cannot see the rationale for this mutual co-operation between Council and the Maoists. (Sir Henry is stupid - Why else do you think he has held power for seventeen years).

The problem has become so confused under a welter of cliches produced by champions of the age mentally tripping over their dialectic. The Christian community want to bring God into it but if He has any sense he will keep his fingers clean. "What is to be done?" ask the majority of respectable moderate students, just as Lenin before them asked this question, he also being respectable and moderate. This is not the question. What is to be undone?

My advice to the Council:

- "Don't expel the radicals, they're safer on campus; out of harm's way and out of the way of doing harm.

To the radicals, vanguard, Maoists, or whatever:

- Don't get rid of Council, the enemy you know is better than the enemy you don't understand.

To the interested, uninteresting majority of students and staff at La Trobe:

- Beware of David Brown, who was quoted in a morning newspaper last week as saying he wanted La Trobe run by a public servant (it is); this is just a Moderate Student Alliance plot to hand control of the university to Andy Rodger.



The anatomy of the University is to be found in the structure of academic space-time. All the forms of administrative - academic superstructure, the rules of academic progress, the hierarchy of academic pseudo-specialists, the disciplinary and admissions policies rise upon this base both as reflections and as guarantors of the existing mode of production of academic capital and intellectual proletarians. The real relations of production and reproduction of university life have historically produced and now move beyond a complex and formalised superstructure of institutions in which the real relations of the university appear in the fantastic forms of rules and ruling bodies claiming an independent and eternal validity. This we will call the fetishism of Councils.

"To be a revolutionary the student must first revolt against his studies." In the University, as in the factory, direct action must be taken at the point of production. The struggle against the present organisation of academic space-time must be carried out on the lecture and tutorial front. This struggle is ultimately the struggle against the Degree. It is the positive rejection of bourgeois society. It is the affirmation of the possibility of free intellectual creation and the transcendence of the constraints of class society.


The hallmark of intelligent political strategy is that it reproduces the desired reality in its means; that the ideal unfolds in the concrete development of willed activity. Intelligent strategy then always overruns its objectives; rather than being merely a means to a formally defined end, it creates the objective basis for further development. Inherently then - unless its aim is the production of automatons - intelligent strategy is democratic, creative and anti-authoritarian, i.e. it is radical.

The radical objective is the willed transformation of everyday reality - the reality of manipulated conformity. Thus a truly radical strategy (and there are many pseudo-radical strategies) is inherently intelligent; conversely an unintelligent strategy propounded by a radical is inherently reactionary, i.e. reformist.

The central problem for intelligent strategy is that reality today is mainly appearance. Behind every formal power structure stands the real power structure - a certain set of social relationships. Behind every formal resolution stands its real meaning, behind that the will and ability to carry it out or frustrate it. Unintelligent strategy identifies the formal with the actual, i.e. the real with the rational in a profoundly irrational world. Intelligent strategy is here already radical since it presupposes the discrimination of the real from its appearance and hence creates a new world in which that appearance stands revealed as a surrogate reality.

Intelligent strategy is honest with itself; although it has secrets from the enemy it has none from its executors. The proliferation of illusions and the creation of an executive class to whom alone reality may be revealed brands a strategy as being counter-radical - its esoteric aim being a new manipulated conformity.

Superficially one might think that there is a mass movement at La Trobe aiming at the repeal of the Admissions Regulations. This is not the case: the agreement on the wording of a few resolutions cannot conceal the fact that there are at least three movements with disparate aims and completely opposed strategy and tactics.

The mere formal act of revocation means different things to different groups: for manipulative liberals and conservatives it would remove a strictly unnecessary regulation which could be used as a rallying point for opposition to the present power structure; for "fair-play" liberals it would remove an apparent anomaly in a supposedly liberal institution; for "ordinary" students it would be a victory for student "solidarity"; for the maoist left it would principally be a victory in a defensive campaign; for the radical left it would be a formal manifestation of the victory of a real counterpower to the University Council and Academic Board. For only some of these groups can the problem of intelligent strategy arise. The analysis of the movement becomes even more complex when it is remembered that it may be tactically better to demand the repeal of a regulation that you hope and expect to maintain in all essentials even if not as a formal ruling.

Manipulative liberals and conservatives have a virtual monopoly of the seats of official power - Council, Academic Board, Deanships and S.R.C. executive. More to the point the rational members of this group are in the majority. Thus a great pretense will be made of consultability and reasonability. One third of the (un) holy trinity (of S.R.C. President, Dean of Education and Vice Chancellor) will send on a motion to another third, two thirds may appear at meetings to tell everyone how reasonable the other third is, the holy spirit may direct his son to distribute his newsheets. Despite the appearance of great activity the three are really One - the ghost speaks to itself.

The ambiguity of maoist politics springs from the tendency to put forward formal - and thus satisfiable - demands whilst believing that reform is impossible. To prevent this contradiction from exploding their system they act according to a mechanistic strategy in which the world is divided into two perfectly separate mutually recognising parts between whom the struggle is total. Thus the apparent and stated objective is never the real objective but only the pretext for rehearsing again an old play. The only permissible way to achieve an end - i.e. appear to be attempting to achieve an end - is to make demands and put forward arguments for them that would only persuade one half of the (conceptually) divided world. The arguments - being only rallying cries - fail to persuade and so immediately the sanction of force can be invoked. Because the mini-struggles of the university are only games by the standards of the world outside the force can only be symbolic force. Thus buildings are occupied or liberated as symbolic counterparts to real occupations or liberations by troops or the armed people. Sooner or later the University - which has power in the real world - intervenes with real force, e.g. expulsions or cops, and the maoists are on the defensive. Real victory is now impossible (formal victory can be achieved) and so they must appeal either overtly or covertly to the university community at large. "Student solidarity" either saves or fails to save the day and academic liberals and student bureaucrats work out the details of a new consensus. Because their strategy is necessarily manipulative (loudly demanding a reform and secretly hoping for a revolution to grow out of the physical clash) the maoists fall prey to more experienced manipulators than themselves. Entangled in the rhetoric of socialist moralism they are easy targets for the totally amoral.

Contrary to the maoists the radical left believes that real gains can be made in the university and that the destruction of the universities (qua universities) does not entail any gains for the left. To give up the universities as arenas of struggle as the maoists would if they were consistent - is pure capitulationism.


The council, having taken 'cognizance' of student opinion on the subject, has returned the matter of the admissions regulations to the Academic Board for it to formulate a policy for 1972 and after. In doing so it has announced that it will, as in the past, accept the Board's recommendation. Subject to a qualification to be made later this means that effective power in the matter of exclusions rests in the hands of the Academic Board.

This is important for two reasons: firstly, because the Academic Board is at least partially elective and its members are in daily contact with the university and so can be expected, in the long run, to follow the movement of opinion in the university whereas the Council is largely appointed from outside and is potentially out of tune with university opinion. Secondly, because if the issue is clearly with the Academic Board students will be less likely to be diverted into Council sit-ins and Administration occupations which would be ineffectual even if the issue was to be decided by Council.

The Academic Board, whilst being an exceedingly conservative - indeed reactionary - body, can be influenced in that a successful campaign amongst staff and students can make its position, and that of its members, untenable. This is what both the Academic Board and many members of staff fear. To approach the problem realistically we must realise that only a handful of staff are sufficiently "liberated" to oppose the Academic Board publicly. This is not because they are afraid of it; it is because they are afraid of being without it, i.e. they are afraid that a campaign against particular evils, e.g. exclusions, will lead to the loss of the Academic Board's claim to moral authority. Many staff who oppose exclusions, or would if the arguments were presented to them, are prepared to support - i.e. not oppose - the Academic Board on this issue because they don't want to upset the existing power structure. They 'have 'adopted the ultra-conservative stance that it does not matter what established power does since it must be supported because it is established. (Cf. the Dreyfus case in France).

Thus the road to revision of the policy is through an attack on the Board's moral authority and an offensive in the name of liberal principle against the vast majority of "liberal" academics. It follows that a successful campaign will not just lead to the scrapping of the policy but must also lead to a fundamental shift of academics towards a more progressive and committed standpoint; it will be a step towards the implantation of the ideals of the university in the La Trobe reality.

It is not easy to make men free. What we are asking is that academics shake themselves free of the institutional values of the academic bureaucracy and act - for the first time in their lives? - as independent and autonomous agents according to the traditional values of intellectuals. They will only do this under heavy pressure because all their experience has been of socialisation into the values of the hierarchy, i.e. into a hierarchy of values in which those of the critical intellectual rate a poor last.

The groundwork for this must be a major effort by students to educate their teachers. All students, must talk to academics they know and raise the matter in tutorial discussion: (It would be unwise at this stage for groups of students to visit other students' lectures for it is important that the groundwork is done informally without the appearance of coercion.) We must persuade a certain number of academics to proclaim publicly their dissent from the Academic Board as a preliminary to any general campaign of building up an opposition department by department, school by school.


Once again general questions about the respective rights and duties (sic) of students and Administration and about university discipline proceedings have been raised and the predictable lines are being redrawn. It is rather easy to dismiss all talk of "rights", "law" and "justice" as just so much twaddle but, since legal and ethical concepts and general university mythology are convenient ideological forms in which students, staff and administrators can become conscious of their difference and fight them out, the matter repays consideration.

Simply because ideological facts are facts it follows that those who talk of "legalistic illusions" are themselves under an illusion. One understands "bourgeois legality" by withdrawing completely from the ideological sphere, not by opposing to it an equally ideological concept of "proletarian (sic.) legality". One opposes to university legality the concept of university tactics, not other purely ideological notions.

The core of the discussion on "university legality" has revolved around the question as to whether university tribunal procedure is governed by Common Law, i.e. whether the evolved concept of "justice" current in common law countries can be used to criticise the conduct of university disciplinary hearings. Despite the spectacular success last year of the "natural justice" challenge to the university's proceedings it seems that the university's proceedings need not be conducted in accordance with common law principles of justice.

An extremely important distinction here is that the "natural justice" challenge was the expression of a widespread political movement of staff and students against the 1970 suspensions and derived its efficacy from this as well as serving as a rallying cry for bringing further forces into the campaign against the suspensions. Thus the functioning of the concept was pre-eminently ideological. As a purely legal point for use in court it had some possibilities because of the extra-ordinary nature of the hearings at which the suspensions were handed down, but this was mainly because a ruling, against the suspensions on these grounds would not have undermined the validity in general of university disciplinary proceedings. It is otherwise with the projected common law attack on this year's suspensions.

Whilst "contrary to common law" may move the more legalisticly inclined it has far less appeal as a rallying cry then "denial of natural Justice". It is a point which can only really be used in court and it can only be used against tribunals which are supposed to operate under common law rules. Thus claiming "violation of common law" will only lead to an argument as to whether university tribunals are legally required to follow common law rules. And this can be answered in the negative - courts have shown quite clearly that they do not expect universities to give students the benefit of common law safeguards. (See Douglas Brown: "Student Discipline and the Law"; Vestes: The Australian Universities Review. March, 1971)

The best starting point for consideration of university discipline procedures is to assume that:

  1. By enrolling at the university the student is accepting (in a legal sense) the existing university statutes and regulations and so he or she is accepting any form of disciplinary hearings which can be held under the statutes. The courts would regard disciplinary bodies set up under the statutes as private arbitral bodies agreed to by the student. There is no constraint, other than the statutes, on their mode of operation.

  2. If the student wants a degree he or she must at least appear to accept any demands or regulations the university authorities may, from time to time, care to make. Enrolment in no way implies approval of the university statutes and regulations; a student is in no way morally obliged to the university authorities; it is just a question of whether one will make a gesture of submission to their rules. If one wants a degree one has to be flexible because universities have a monopoly on degree granting and they all make similar demands.

  3. Essentially the university authorities have only one sanction, the withholding of a degree (withholding a university place is just withholding the chance to get a degree). Providing there is sufficient staff and student opposition to a particular decision to withhold a degree - or if there is a functioning "free university" or "Genesis scheme" - the university authortties cannot withhold the opportunity to learn, although they can try to interfere by preventing "unofficial" students from coming on campus. Of course this latter course may not be politically feasible, i.e. it may not be an option open to the Administration.

  4. Thus all one's dealings with the university authorities are governed purely by pragmatism; one owes them nothing. Insofar as one is dealing with the bureaucracy the only question is: "Can we get away with it?"

Given this attitude, the only rational one, legal questions occupy only a secondary role. One can only catch out the authorities when they are clearly in conflict with their own rules or the University Act, i.e. when they are in breach of the "contract" into which they have entered with the student. One must also remember that no court would make a decision that in any way would cast doubt on the validity of "normal" university procedure. It would in fact depend heavily on the judge's personality whether a court would rule against the university even in an exceptional case.

The primary question, then, is one of power - understood in a sufficiently wide sense. There are potentially two universities; the legal university of the statutes and administrators and the real university of staff and students. Although students are not represented in any real sense on the bodies that control the university - and hence have no obligation to use "proper" channels and, in general, even less reason to expect anything of them - the academic staff are represented on all university bodies and so it is always possible for the legal university to be (temporarily) captured for use against the authorities or one of their decisions. Possible but improbable! What is more probable is that, in crisis situations in which large and important sections of students and staff move into opposition to the university authorities, the split in the university "community" will be reflected in splits amongst the staff temporarily members of the ruling university bodies and in order to heal this split the high administrators would have to compromise with - or even surrender to - the staff-student opposition (because the university's functioning depends on both consensus politics and the apparent supremacy of the constituted authorities). Thus precisely because students are powerless in formal terms their important demands are achievable only in what could be termed "university-revolutionary situations", i.e. situations in which the administration is stripped of moral authority and appears only as a body which hands out or withholds scraps of paper.

This situation is only temporary and once the aim of the mass movement is achieved the majority of staff and students settle back and only those who take the administration seriously remain up in arms. In fact the majority attitude is the reasonable one; the university as a legal body will not be destroyed this side of a social revolution and will be handing out degrees until the end of all class society.

Thus one takes university discipline only as seriously as one takes formal qualifications and not even that seriously if the political climate in the university is right. However one takes the violation of their own or society's legality by the university authorities very seriously indeed and quite properly so. The legal university holds all the cards; it writes the conditions of admission and the allowable methods of changing them. All the clauses in the "contract" between the student and the university are written by the authorities. It is not a matter of whom it serves; it is a matter of what it is. The legal university is arbitrary authority; between it and the real university there can be no lasting peace.

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