This paper, jointly authored with Gary Saunders, tells the story of how a group of academic staff and students set out to establish a subversive teaching and learning project: Student as Producer, across an English university. Confronted by the intensification of neoliberal education policies and faced with the recuperation of its radical practice, the paper recounts how staff and students involved with Student as Producer moved outside of the university in 2011 to set up a cooperative form of higher education: the Social Science Centre, Lincoln, where students can attain higher education awards without the burden of debt, along with the experience of running a workers’ cooperative. This subversive practice is grounded in a Marxist ‘critique of value’, underpinned by a politics of abolition based on the work of Thomas Mathiesen. The paper concludes that it is possible and necessary to create new dissident institutions ‘in and against’ the organisational forms of capitalist society as the embodiment of revolutionary theory.
Accepted for publication by Critical Education, November 2015