Open letter of support to The New University

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Platform BK (Platform for Visual Arts) offers its full support to the founding and actions of The New University within the confines of the UvA. Platform BK agrees fully with the calls for a reversal of the neoliberal doctrines, which have been implemented in the educational system over the last decades. A development that not only effects education but that has landed in society as a whole.

A society proclaiming to adhere to values of freedom of thought and expression, needs to realize the importance of critical thought and research both academic and artistic. We strongly reject the notion that the justification of research and study is made fully sub servant to the larger economic machine that is only measured in terms of profitability.

There are no ‘unprofitable studies’, there are only different standards of measurement – and different standards produce different outcomes. All knowledge helps expand our understanding of the world and our fellow human beings. The understanding of ancient and living languages and the ability to comprehend the history of ideas enable us to rethink and critically assess our past and current situation, and in doing so offers us a chance to consciously shape our future. The whole of what we recognize as study therefore represents our ideas as to what we are culturally and as society. It is up to society as a whole to define the instruments to evaluate these values.

Rarely, if ever, do politicians stop to consider the long-term consequences of selling out the social and intellectual foundations of modern society, e.g. education for all, universal healthcare, cultural stewardship, as well as the more practical societal achievements such as equal access to infrastructure, communication and energy. Once the pinnacle achievements of society and the pride of both public and politicians, these sectors are now being sold off to the private markets in order to briefly stabilize an inherently unsustainable economic model.

Platform BK also supports the call for rethinking the position of the university and its connection to society at large. We reject the ‘ivory tower’ accusation as populist, and endorse efforts to develop new modes of engagement. If a revitalization of the democratic process is to be achieved, the increasing inequality – both in educational level and wealth – has to be addressed.

T.I.N.A. (‘There Is No Alternative’) has to be rejected on all levels. Culture cannot be based solely on neoliberal rationale and free-market principles. We support all efforts that expose this rationale presented as an unavoidable consequence of our times, circumventing proper democratic procedure, and the ways this has become structurally part of the University’s infrastructure. The laws of economics and society are based on political choice and can be challenged and changed when needed.

Platform BK believes education, sciences and art have a quintessential role and responsibility herein and we gladly offer our assistance in achieving our common goals. Although the outcome may be unclear, The New University has shown with its actions that a deep and profound resistance exists against the direction we are taking, and a wish to explore new modes to alter our course.

Platform Beeldende Kunst –