Workers and Punks University / Institute for Labour Studies since 2014
Audio-visual material (lectures and round tables), books and bulletins, 1997-2015
Socialism, poster, 2013
The Workers' and Punks' University (WPU) was created in 1997 as a project of the Peace Institute, Ljubljana. From the outset, the WPU has strived to swim against the current and to lay foundations for independent critical thought. This mission is expressed in the very name of the project, referring to two historical antecedents: the alternative movements of the 1980s on the one hand and the two centuries of workers' struggles on the other. Thus, the Workers' and Punks' University aspires to create an alliance between social movements and workers' struggles. In the sixteen years of its existence, the WPU, consisting of a collective of socially engaged students, researchers and activists, has remained true to this mission. The collective focuses on radical theory, yet without succumbing to armchair theorising, participating regularly in current progressive social movements and workers' struggles. It lays foundations for fresh critical thought, yet without consenting to established patterns of knowledge production in academia or to arbitrary divides between theory and practice. It adheres to egalitarianism, to openness, not succumbing to the social trends of the day.
Sixteen years on, none of the intervening changes within the local intellectual sphere or within the general society seem to have in any way managed to abolish or weaken the reasons that led to the founding of the WPU. On the contrary: with the subordination of all social spheres to capital and with the complete failure of the established Left and of leftist intellectuals, the society has increasingly fallen under the sway of a political duality offering just two options: unreflected »expert« conducting of society according to a score written by the capital on the one hand; senseless populism on the other. Informed and consistent reflection on the political-economic crisis, not stooping to moralising discourse, to empty promises in the vein of the liberal technocracy or to cheap conspiracy-mongering, has increasingly disappeared from the public sphere.
As the WPU's sphere of activity increased, its initial informal framework was no longer sufficient, leading to the collective's decision to establish an Institute for Labour Studies as a vehicle for further educational and research activities (since 2014).