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Commonware

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Commonware: an apparently cryptic name, and deliberately ironic. We chose it to mock the didactic units and modules provided by corporate universities, so-called coursewares, to reverse their meaning through the freedom of social cooperation. Above all, we chose it to name a challenge: that of building up – here and now – an “education of the common”, that is to say an education which is adequate to the new composition of living labour, which is bound up in struggles, and in the materiality of collective behaviours. Commonware was born in 2012 within the UniNomade project, that tried to face such a challenge. On this basis, two experimental workshops (“From Marx to Workerism”, “Styles of Militancy”) have been organized within and against the university in its twofold dimension: the university of Bologna, and more generally that of the Bologna Process. In doing this, we tried to avoid a double risk: a certain nostalgia for the origins, on the one hand, and a history without the present, on the other. Along this line of flight, the opposition between “past” and “future” loses any consistency whatsoever: only a genealogical and radically materialist gaze can allow us to criticise concepts as well as organizational forms which are, today, unusable. New ones can be created, in a similar fashion, only by relying on that same gaze: to sharpen our thought, and to orient our practices towards the unsolved knots of this time.

In these two years several things have changed (and are still changing): the crisis bites in its depths and accelerates on the surface; the scrapping of the general intellect goes on and on; cognitive labour begins to desert the university of banal knowledge and permanent deskilling; the second generation of precarious workers does no longer feel its future has been robbed: quite simply, it never heard of it. In the meanwhile, the little engine of UniNomade got broken. Fortunately, however, its end does not coincide with the exhaustion of its presuppositions, and of the challenge it raised. Commonware, then, wants to renew not so much the form, but rather the wager of that project. Not its solutions, but its questions: how to organise independent networks of knowledge production? How to foster self-education and practice co-research, namely the autonomous institutions of the general intellect? 

Let us be clear: there are no shortcuts. Either the intellect is general, or it is not. It must be known as much as it produces knowledge; it is the root and simultaneously the stake of education; it already is, and yet it ceaselessly becomes. Outside this historically determinate truth there is only the vain attempt to sit comfortably in the self-consolatory allure of what is already known. Like it or not, however, what is already known does no longer work: nothing will ever be the same. So this is the challenge facing us: we call it style of militancy, a style that needs to be collectively reinvented. Therefore, in its entirely transnational dimension, Commonware is situated in the “medium-range”, where theory turns into action and practice creates discourse. So we weigh anchor: may a hundred Commonwares spring up!

 

Map of the sections

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