Resistance!

Austerity almost seems like the defining feature of politics today. Across Europe and the US, crippling cuts to education, health care and welfare budgets are driving millions further into poverty.

Even in Australia, where our economy has been spared the worst of the financial crisis, both big parties are raising taxes on ordinary people and applying cuts to welfare and education.

Last year, cuts to courses and staff at several universities, including Sydney University and La Trobe University, led to strong campaigns by staff and students to defend their education and jobs.

The federal Labor government has announced it intends to dramatically increase funding to primary and high school education as part of the Gonski reforms. But before you think that maybe, just maybe, the government might be making some policy that could be defended by progressives, there's a devil in the detail.

University of Queensland (UQ) Executive Dean of Arts Fred D’Agostino said last month the gender studies major would be cut from the Bachelor of Arts program.

No student commencing next year would have the option of majoring in this area.

Gender studies has a 41-year history at the university. The program was won in the early 1970s by the powerful feminist movement of the time.

It was the first of its kind in Australia and one of the first in the world.

The ongoing strike at Sydney University attracted national media attention on March 26 when strike-supporting students were dragged from a lecture theatre by riot police.

The students were engaged in a “roaming picket” that was disrupting one of the few remaining classes held that day when police intervened. This sparked debate as to whether student supporters used appropriate tactics to make their presence heard.

The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) at the University of Sydney is involved in an industrial battle with the administration over pay, conditions and casualisation.

As part of this campaign, the union held a 24-hour strike on March 6. Staff and students held pickets outside all campus entrances, and the university was largely shut down for the day.

The multiple picket lines converged on the main entrance to the university for a midday rally, which attracted hundreds of staff and supporters. There were many speakers including unionists, student representatives and the Greens.

This week on campuses across the country, Resistance members are opening their books and getting back into study. Our “Bachelor of Revolutionary Activism” will be open to anyone who is interested in getting an education in socialist ideas.

Classes will include a discussion on Marxist-feminism. Others will be about how we can save our environment, or how best to support the Palestinian people. It’s a little bit different in each city or campus, but there will be common themes. Everywhere Resistance will be putting forward an alternative vision on how to run the world.

Important rallies were held across the country in defence of the single parent payment on February 5. After having the welfare safety net in Australia for some time, it seems insane there is a need to protest to protect such rights.

But protests like these made welfare a reality in the first place. These protests are defending an unprecedented attack, it's a return to the action that made social welfare possible.

To do so, it is important to understand the reason that welfare is under attack in the first place.

The recent floods in Queensland, as well as bushfires in three states, have dramatically shown that climate change is a serious threat and is getting worse. Climate change is not an abstract issue that will be a problem at some point down the track; it is having real impacts now.

Extreme fires and floods are becoming the norm in Australia, rather than infrequent disasters. It is expected that there will be more frequent and more damaging extreme weather events if action to stop climate change soon does not happen soon.

Resistance is an activist youth organisation that is involved in campaigns for the environment, for queer rights, feminism and anti-racist issues.

Sometimes it can be useful for even the most experienced activists to renew our skills and examine what, how and why we do things. To do this, Resistance is holding an activist skills camp in Melbourne from January 21 to 23. Workshops covering practical activist skills and socialist theory will be held over three days.

Around Australia, proponents of neoliberalism have led attacks on tertiary education an ideological onslaught against the idea of well-funded public education.
 
In July, Fred Hilmer, vice-chancellor of UNSW and chair of the Group of 8 Universities, a coalition of university managements, called for total fee deregulation and “cutting red tape”.
 

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