The Power of Abundant Friendship

Words are torture in my mouth.Words are weapons when we shout: Ya Basta! Enough.

I attended an un-conference on higher eduction at the Tamera Peace and Research Centre in southern Portugal, 20th- 26th  August, 2015. The theme for the event was A Gathering of Kindred Folk – Reimagining Higher Education. The shared assumption was that higher education is complicit in the commercialisation of knowledge and that another form of knowing needs to be reimagined  to undermine the process of academic capitalism and the colonialisation of knowledge and of life. The colonisation of the world by capitalist civilisation was regarded by many of the participants as a catastrophe for the planet and its biosphere.

There was a tension in the group between people from the global south committed to indigenous and land based knowledges and revolutionary radicals from the global north for whom a critique of capitalism is required in order to recover the connection between humanity with nature. There was another approach based on developing  practical solutions for the many problems confronting the planet through, for example, permaculture, and others who favoured systematic decision-making processes to resolve problems on the organisational and global scale. There was consensus between the participants involved with the Zapatistas who argued for an anarchist-Marxist critique grounded in the values and culture of the Mayan people. All agreed on the power of love. I argued for the power of hate, not a subjective hate but a radical hate against what the world has become, as the other side of the love-hate dialectic and the basis for a negative critique of our commodified lives. We told each other stories about our own predicament and shared each other’s suffering and joy. There were more than forty of us from all over the world. We lived together, ate together, laughed and cried together, and had fun together.

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We were all developing alternative universities and other types of critical education projects,  including the Universidad de la Tierra en Oaxaca and California, Institute for Native Pacific Education and Culture,  H3Uni, The Journey Network, Free Home University,  Kainai Studies, RedCrow Community College, Auroville, Jangu E.V., Enlivened Learning, Gaia University,  Schools Without Borders,  Social Science Centre, Transition TownsSwaraj  University,  Centre for Convivial Research and Insurgent Learning, Black Daddies Club, Ubuntu Learning Village, Schumacher College, Maui Youth in Action,  as well as  Chto Delat/What is to be Done/School of Engaged Art?

A problem was how to connect and communicate through the pedagogy and the pain. We started to create a language that went beyond words. I felt the power of abundant friendship and its ability to confront the violence that attempts to maintain the gap between the intellectual, manual, natural, the immaterial/spectral and creaturely life. We discussed the overcoming of capitalism and colonialism through practices that support humanity-in-nature in the context of higher education. This could be the practice of enquiry-in-solidarity with the rhythmatics of blood pumping heart-beats and breathing, where ‘everything is pregnant with its contrary’, like labour, but this time more of a delivery than a process. We agreed to meet again and to invite other people. Someone dreamt our next meeting would be on a beautiful island in the middle of an ocean.

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