Friday, 8 July 2011

Ruth Rikowski's 46th News Update

Times they are a-changing; moods they are a-changing.

Anyway, whatever – this newsletter (a little late) is a joint effort between Glenn and I.

Glenn spoke in Dublin in May 2011 and he saw this as the first leg in his ‘comeback tour’, as he calls it, leading on from his father’s death in Feb 2009 and alienation from some aspects of academic life. So, for this and other reasons, the sections on ‘Marxism and Education’ in this newsletter (1-4) are written by him and the remainder is written by me.

Glenn’s aim over the last 30 years or so has been very much to re-invigorate Marxism and Education. And from there to take the topic to new heights; breaking new theoretical ground. Single-authored volumes on this topic by him have yet to be written, but they will be in time.


On 25th May 2011, I gave my first public performance (apart from the eulogy at my father’s funeral, and lectures / seminars with my students at Northampton) since 4th July in Rhodes 2008 – for nearly three years. I was invited by the Praxis & Pedagogy Group of the Graduate School of Creative Arts and Media (GradCAM) in Dublin to give a talk. The convenors of the Praxis & Pedagogy Group had read my Battle in Seattle: Its Significance for Education (Tufnell Press, 2001) and wanted me to expand on topics therein. However, given that little of substance has happened to the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) since Seattle in 1999, I did not see much point in that. The Praxis & Praxis Group were interested in the concept of human capital, which permeates education and training policy documents in Ireland, as well as in the UK. Thus, I ended up speaking on that topic.

The title of my talk was: Capitorg: Education and the Constitution of the Human Contemporary Society. The ‘Capitorg’ (meaning ‘capitalist organism’) was an idea originating from Soowook Kim. He based the idea of the Capitorg on my work on the form of the human in capitalist society of the late 1990s and early 2000s. You can see Kim’s original article at:

I based a short article on Kim’s work interesting work, called Planet of the Capitorg in 2007, which you can see at:

The Praxis & Pedagogy Group produced a fantastic flyer for the event, which you can view at:

I produced a 15,000 word paper for the event: the most substantial writing for nearly three years. This will come out soon at our The Flow of Ideas website. About 6,000 words is new material. The rest in stuff jammed together from previous papers, but with some refinements and brief additions.

The Praxis & Pedagogy Group website is at:

My advert for the event (along with quotations from my work and the work of Peter McLaren and Ramin Farahmandpur) can be found at:

Graduate School of Creative Arts and Media, Dublin:

Many thanks to folks in the Praxis & Pedagogy Group (and especially to Glenn Loughran) for inviting me to speak. They were great hosts. After having turned down so many invitations to speak and write over the last three years in particular, this event can be viewed as the first part of my ‘comeback tour’.

Glenn Rikowski


For the second gig in my ‘comeback tour’, I have been invited by Cliff Jones of the International Professional Development Association (IPDA) to do a Keynote talk at their forthcoming annual conference in November, at Aston University, in Birmingham. I will speak on Higher Education in Crises of Capital and Labour. For more on this, and the IPDA Conference in general, see:

Glenn Rikowski


For over 30 years now, I have been developing Marxist educational theory; or, more precisely, theorising education within the totality of capitalist social relations. Thus, for me, it is a momentous occasion when new works on Marx / Marxism and Education appear.

The first I would like to draw your attention to is Critical Education Against Global Capitalism: Karl Marx and Revolutionary Critical Education, by Paula Allman.

This first came out in 2001, and was published by Bergin & Garvey in hardback only. Now, at last, it is in paper back (and much cheaper). Sense Publishers have produced an excellent version, with some new material in the Introduction by Paula. In my view, this is the best book on Marx / Marxism and Education we have today.

For more details and Helen Colley’s introduction, see:

In contrast to Paula’s excellent book is Jean Anyon’s Marx and Education which came out a few months ago (Routledge, 2011). I have not reviewed it myself, but here I will say two things. First, Robin Small’s Marx and Education (Ashgate, 2005), whilst nothing near the quality of Paula Allman’s book, at least indicates that the author knows a fair bit about Marx and his views on education in capitalist society and the transition to communism. Secondly, I find it incomprehensible how anyone could write a book called Marx and Education and not mention Marx’s 3 volumes of ‘Capital’. Apparently, it was not a problem for Jean Anyon. There have been a number of reviews of Anyon’s book already, but for me, it is Curry Malott’s review of Anyon’s book that provides a compelling view regarding the quality of Anyon’s rendition.

Review details for Jean Anyon’s Marx and Education:

For Curry Malott, see:

For details on the book (including how to order it), see:

Finally, the publishers Continuum, through Professor Richard Bailey, the Series Editor for the Continuum Library of Education Thinkers (see:

have invited me to write a book on Karl Marx and Education. I declined the offer, mainly because I do in fact want to write such a book (and have done for many years) but not be confined by working to some kind of formula; as Jean Anyon did on her Marx and Education, which was part of the Routledge ‘Key Ideas in Education’ Series, edited by Greg Dimitriadis and Bob Lingard. I have something original to say on the issue of ‘Marx and Education’, which, like so many other topics in Marxist educational theory, will have to wait until my stint as a teaching / driving / marking machine comes to an end (or at least a decline in its intensity).

Glenn Rikowski


In 2004, with Tony Green, I set up the world’s first book series on Marxism and Education: the Palgrave Macmillan Marxism and Education Series. From 2006 I was no longer one the Series editors, but the Marx and Education Series has really developed and Tony Green has facilitated an interesting range of publications under its banner.

Some of the forthcoming books in the Marxism and Education Series (Palgrave Macmillan) are:

Marxism and Education: Renewing the Dialogue, Pedagogy and Culture’ edited by Peter Jones

‘Educating from Marx: Race, Gender and Learning’ by Shahrzad Mojab and Sara Carpenter

Mike Cole’s Racism and Education in the U.K and U.S. – Towards a Socialist Alternative, was recently published as part of the Marxism and Education Series. See:

For a comprehensive list of titles in the Series, see:

Glenn Rikowski


And the rest is by me!!


Peter McLaren, Michael Peters
and their partners, Nathalia Jaramillo and Tina Besley, respectively, have all obtained academic positions in New Zealand and will be leaving the USA and going to New Zealand later in the year. And what a beautiful country to live in! We have also been invited to give talks/stay with them.

Tony Ward (one of the contributors to my digitisation book) will certainly be able to see more of them and hopefully work with them in one way or another.

We wish them all the very best with their new adventures.


There are just 2 new items on my ‘Serendipitous Moments’ blog – ‘Capitorg’, which is about Glenn’s talk in Dublin and ‘Moving’, stating simply that Glenn and I are moving forward and are thinking what to do next; where to go next.

7. BOOK LAUNCH FOR ‘LIBRARIES AND SOCIETY: role, responsibility and future in an age of change’ edited by DAVID BAKER AND WENDY EVANS, CHANDOS PUBLISHING, OXFORD, 2011, ISBN 978 1 84334 131 4

At the invitation of Dr Glyn Jones at Chandos publishing, I attended the book launch for ‘Libraries and Society’, held on 6th May at the Ewart Room, CILIP, London. It proved to be an enjoyable event.

‘Libraries and Society’ is in 25 parts and has a number of different contributors.

As it says in the publicity for the book, it:

“…reviews both the historical and future roles that public, private, academic and special libraries have in supporting and shaping society at all levels. Key aspects of library provision and the major challenges that libraries now face and will continue to face in the future are considered. The book also focuses on the emerging chapter in cultural, economic and social history and the library’s role in serving diverse communities within this new era.”

I particularly like the cover of the book, showing the development of man and reading; from parchment, to paper to ebooks.


The UCL Digitisation lunch time talks are fading into the background for me. There are not going to be any more talks until the autumn. And when I asked whether they would like me to give a lunchtime talk based around some of the themes in my digitisation book (thinking that it was something that could be of mutual benefit, especially as one of the contributors to the book was a UCL lecturer), this was the reply that I received:

“Dear Ruth,
thanks for your offer to speak.

As you say, we are postponing the lunchtime talks until the start of the
new academic year in the coming autumn. We already have an extensive
programme of speakers from within UCLDH and the wider UCL community
which is our focus. Rossella is currently confirming those slots but we
are already over subscribed.”

As I pointed out, one wonders what the definition of ‘the wider UCL community is’. Also, that my energy needs to be preserved and used wisely! Anyway, we will have to see what transpires.


A school friend of mine, who is a member of the Royal Society of Protection for Birds (RSPB) sent me details of a petition, asking me if I would urge others to sign it. So here it is. The RSPB say:

“Dear Supporter,

A new UK Government review called the 'Red Tape Challenge' is threatening all environmental legislation with the axe. We cannot let this go unchallenged.

We all value the natural world. We all appreciate how fragile it can be. And we all know how vulnerable nature and special places for wildlife are to the ravages of unrestrained human activity.

We also all appreciate that to safeguard our precious wildlife and environment we need to give them legal protection. Wild birds and their nests need to be protected from damage and disturbance. Special places need to be protected from development and preserved for future generations. The Wildlife and Countryside Act does both of these things.

There are 277 other pieces of environmental legislation and regulation in the UK covering everything from National Parks and marine protected areas to greenhouse gas emissions and clean air.

All of our vital environmental safeguards are now under threat. The UK Coalition Government's Red Tape Challenge is aiming to scrap as much regulation as it can. It has put all legal protection for the environment up for grabs. Protection which is a measure of a civilised society, and is the result of reforms won since our charity was created in the nineteenth century.

The RSPB has played a leading role in securing much of this legislation and we will not stand by and allow it to be put at risk.

Please step up for nature and support our campaign to secure the future of this essential legislation.

We have prepared a template e-mail for you to send to the Business Secretary, Vince Cable, who launched the Red Tape Challenge - copies of which will be sent to the Cabinet Office and the Treasury.

Yours sincerely

Mike Clarke
Chief Executive”


We are delighted to say that our middle son, Victor Rikowski, obtained an Upper Second Class Honours degree in ‘Music and Creative Writing’ (which also included some English Literature - poems and plays) from Bangor University. We are now looking forward to going to the graduation ceremony next week.

All in all Victor got a lot out of his degree and the whole experience. As well as obtaining a good degree, he also set up a band, ‘Cold Hands & Quarter Moon’ (and wrote most of the songs for the band), obtained some 1sts, made lots of friend, played at a lots of gigs, performed in some plays, had a good social life in general and did quite a lot of mountain climbing and walking in the beautiful North Wales countryside.

He is currently in the process of compiling a CD of the music of ‘Cold Hands & Quarter Moon’ and he will take this along to his graduation.

Now it is time for him to move on with his life. He is taking on board the next phase of it really enthusiastically and has already obtained work, which he is very much enjoying.

We are obviously very proud of Victor and his achievements and wish him all the very best for the future.

Best wishes


8th July 2011

N.B. Many thanks to Tina Sinclair for providing information for item 9.

The next newsletter will be distributed at the end of September 2011.

And finally … check this out……

‘Life is Jerky’ – a video by Carlos Escano, featuring Peter McLaren: