Methods of Relations

the university is burning!

disregard of demands for social justice

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The Coyote or Goddess?



I am interested in conceptually, politically, and ideologically rethinking the conditions of re/production of life, art, and culture in social and political space in the present moment of neoliberal global capitalism. Capitalism is not just a framework "out there somewhere."

It is the sine qua non of the way we live and the way life is conceptualized today. It is also the basic condition of how the social and political, machine, and technological layers of society function. And last but not least, it is the basis of the way each institution of contemporary capitalist society, as well as our relations and interfaces, function today.

The frightening case is the movement Bildung Brennt (the university is burning) in Austria, when over the last months and weeks, several tens of thousands of people have taken part in protests against the amendment of the University law, online and offline.


The demand is to reject the planned changes to Austria’s university law and the undemocratic, negligent procedure of the ÖVP/Green government. "Let us once again clearly stand against this injustice. Let us call members of the national council to vote against the UG amendment." (Bildung Brennt, email message to author, 23 March 2020)

The protest is directed against the transformation of education into a neoliberal machine of fast education for capital and the labor market. Pressure is exercised online by writing petitions, writing emails to the members of the Austrian national council,1 using the hashtag #bildungbrennt and #ugNOvelle on social media, and tagging politicians in order to notify them of the demands.

What we witness is that nobody listens to the people, and that none of the people’s demands are taken into the decision-making process or the negotiation of laws.

What we can read in Mbembe’s seminal chapter "The Aesthetics of Vulgarity" in his book On the Postcolony, published in 2001, in which Mbembe talks about Africa and calls power in Africa "obscene" and "vulgar," characterized by "defecation, copulation, pomp, and extravagance" (Mbembe 2001, 108), is exactly what is currently seeping out of diplomatic living rooms, which are increasingly resembling the police, and at the same time the rooms of the major television network as the place where diplomacy is done in the most developed states of the global capitalist present.


Politicians are now described in a way that borders on calling them complete buffoons; but at the same time, any protest against them is completely suppressed. In the Covid-19 period, public space is occupied by the right-wing mob, that is, the toxic neoliberal mob, and protesters are kidnapped by mobs working for the repressive state apparatuses. This is used as a shield to repress and imprison those who point the finger at social injustice.

This disregard of demands for social justice, to stop exploitation, to stop greater police control and repression, is paradoxically replaced – and rendered absurd – by increasing discussions on ethical questions connected with intelligent machines.

In fact, what one can currently read in documents published online and also in short reports all over the mass media in Austria, Europe and the world, comes very close to the theory of Achille Mbembe (2001) about the obscenity of state power in Africa, the EU and the USA today; what we can see is the contemporary fetishistic, patriarchal nature of the violent commandments in the back of many democratically elected parties these days.