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#14: Self-Education

Dmitry Vilensky /// Theses on Self-Education

1. The theme of self-education flows from the notion of self-organization. What do we mean when we talk about this notion today? Self-organization is a collective process of taking on political functions and addressing tasks that have been excluded from the field of real politics or pushed out of public space. Thus, the process of self-education is inseparable from the positioning of collective dissent with the existing order of things. It demands the transformation of the status quo. Self-organization searches for a form to express the voices of dissenting subjectivity.

1. The theme of self-education flows from the notion of self-organization. What do we mean when we talk about this notion today? Self-organization is a collective process of taking on political functions and addressing tasks that have been excluded from the field of real politics or pushed out of public space. Thus, the process of self-education is inseparable from the positioning of collective dissent with the existing order of things. It demands the transformation of the status quo. Self-organization searches for a form to express the voices of dissenting subjectivity.

2. Since self-organization demands something lacking in a concrete historical moment and a concrete local situation, its most important characteristic is the LACK OF KNOWLEDGE. At the same time, the lack of knowledge does not entail the rejection of cognitive approaches that are already known. The state of a creative lack of knowledge is the point of departureDmitry Vilensky for action; it needs to be founded upon a clear historical analysis of the moment and the experience of emancipatory projects in the past.

3. We still do not know how to take action, nor do we know what our actions could bring. This is why we begin by asking questions. The situation of questioning is comparable to the consciousness of a child who has no ready answers. But unlike a child, which needs to acquire everyday skills, we are forced to think the non-existent. This is precisely where I see the unbelievably provocative force of the Lenin-quote: Study, study, and study again to learn communism in reality.* We need to learn how to learn communism, to learn something for which there are no ready recipes. Genuine education always set itself the goal of learning the non-existent. It demands the synthesis of rational methods of knowing the world and practices that anticipate other social relations.

4. The process of self-education departs a clear awareness of its oppression, and aims at changing this state of affairs. Self-education is a process that draws in those who identify themselves as the oppressed. Its goal is emancipation, dignity, and love.
In other words, it searches for an answer to the question of how can we get beyond ourselves, breaking with our state of insufficiency and oppression, finally attaining equality.
The only answer is to be found in the practices that make up our lives, which demonstrate here and now that we are not talking about the abstract categories of an ideal world in the future, but about the realities of our everyday existence.

*Editorial note: This quote is actually apocryphal, and most likely, a posthumous condensation of Lenin’s view of the Soviet Union’s post-revolutionary transformation as a process of ardous self-education, which he voiced on innumerable occasions.

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