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Nottingham Free School's May Day Discussion

One of Nottingham Free School | 30.04.2010 09:39 | Mayday 2010 | Education | Social Struggles | Workers' Movements

With Mayday coming soon the Nottingham Free School decided to arrange an open discussion on some of the issues surrounding the day. This discussion took place at the Sumac last Sunday night and is scheduled to be the first in a series which will take place on the final Sunday of each month. The hope is to create a regular space in which we can learn collectively and share our ideas and understandings of issues which strike us to have a particular relevancy. On Sunday we hoped to discuss the nature of class struggle today, as well as the different forms that resistance to capitalism can take, and this was in many ways a success.

The format for the evening was to have a number of previously selected topics on offer, whilst encouraging suggestions from the participants thus creating an as participatory a forum as possible. In the weeks leading up to the discussion various call outs were made for readings, many of which were then distributed on the evening.

Those who attended had wide spectrum of experiences and brought with them a diverse array of perspectives. This created particularly rich dialogue in a number of areas, not least those relating to the gendered aspects of work, as well as critiques of paid work. On the former it was discussed that any anti-capitalist critique must incorporate a feminist analysis in order to avoid falling into the trap of maintaining sexist domination. Elsewhere the notion of useless toil was discussed in relation to many forms of paid work in contemporary British society, and the advantages of lets systems and local work exchanges were brought forward as examples in which we can live and survive outside of the capitalist labour system. Others in the group raised issues with using paid work places as a site of resistance to capitalism, suggesting that within those milieus only reform eg: better wages, better conditions is possible, this was countered with the argument that resistance to capitalism and authority can happen wherever an individual or group struggle to penetrate the everyday mechanisms of capitalism.

These were just a few of the ideas and opinions raised during an engaging couple of hours, and those who took part in the discussion were excited by the possibilities for learning and knowledge creation opened up. Suggestions of fascism and insurrection were made for future discussions, and the Nottingham Free School is open to other ideas and welcomes participation from whoever may be interested.

The Free School have a number of projects coming up over the next few months, including an involvement in the new format for the Sumac Skillshare, and over the Summer a Skillshare for teenagers programme. The latter is in its embryonic stages at the moment, but is being created with the ethos of genuine participant led learning. The former takes a similar stance, and will be a venue in which participants of the all day workshops can share their experiences and practical knowledge with one another, in a environment that encourages active learning of the collective over passive consumption of the individual.

One of Nottingham Free School