After the strike

Image: Francesco Ungaro


Learning from the strike at federal higher education institutions


Two articles[I] recently published, due to their pertinent content and the importance of their authors, they must have been read carefully by the leaders who were involved with the strike and by what I call here, circumscribing them, the university left.

For this reason, I was encouraged to try to talk to her about aspects that, complementing the assessments and propositions contained there, could help our learning.

I do this by briefly commenting on some of their passages in the order in which the articles were published and which, in each case, were mentioned in them. With this, I intend, based on the excellent contributions of these outstanding professors, to enrich the debate which, certainly, as they say, must mark the “next steps” without “fear” and with a lot of “hope”.

I clarify, from the outset, that the passages were selected in light of the understanding that I have been accumulating throughout my participation in academic groups (at Unicamp and other teaching and research institutions), unions (such as the Andes S&T GT) and political groups (such as the FPA NAPPs and the PT Sectors).

Therefore, without justifying or arguing, I refer anyone who reads me and is interested in following the reflection and discussion to the texts in which I have been disseminating this understanding of mine.


Starting with the first article, by Luís Eugênio and Naomar, I highlight: ⁠

First passage: “… it is necessary to build a political program that articulates all popular segments in their diverse struggles: wage earners fighting for better working conditions, precarious workers in the search for rights…”.

My comment: In relation to the constitution of this arc of alliances and the meaning of its propositions to guide the action of the university left, I have emphasized the need to centrally incorporate into it the Solidarity economy[ii]. And to differentiate it from other “economies” that, despite presenting some degree of nonconformity in relation to the capitalist economy, do not propose an alternative with the power that the crisis of our peripheral capitalism demands.[iii]. More than other segments, it is capable of producing a cycle of economic growth, of projecting a new style of development[iv] quality confer governability[v] to the current government to implement that political program. 

Second passage: ⁠“… In the academic dimension, HEIs would organize their activities in order to favor the co-production and dissemination of emancipatory knowledge that reflects the realities of students and educators, identifying the necessary transformations…” … “These These are the main characteristics of a University project to be urgently defended in society, parliament and government. This is a proposal that radically opposes not only the authoritarian project of annihilation of the University, but also an uncritical, technical and training project of education”.

My comment: On a more comprehensive level, there is a growing perception that it is up to the university left to face the challenge of building a new pact on education on the periphery of capitalism[vi].

Third passage:⁠ ⁠“The public university, supportive, popular and inclusive, today is of interest, above all, to the working classes and excluded populations…”

I have also insisted, on a more specific level, on the need to reorient our teaching, research and extension agendas with a view to redesigning capitalist technoscience through a Sociotechnical Adequacy that leads to the development of solidary technoscience[vii]. Attention is drawn to initiatives such as the Manuel Querino Program for training almost 200 IF teachers as trainers of solidarity economy actors and to the possibility that municipal elections could catalyze the change in these agendas in a bottom-up direction[viii]. In the same sense, I have drawn attention to initiatives such as the curricularization of extension[ix] that can point out ways to bring into the university what “… today interests… the working classes and excluded populations…”


Regarding the second article, by João Carlos Salles, I highlight:

First passage: “A process of destruction of the public university as we know it or, better still, as we desire it, as an essential part of a sovereign and radically democratic nation project, continues and is accelerated. The signals are many, some old, while others are now becoming stronger.”

My comment: In fact, these “signs” have been pointed out since the 1970s, when the founders of Latin American Thought on Science, Technology and Society criticized the linear-offerist caricature adopted by our scientific elite to hegemonically elaborate our cognitive policy and inaugurating its transference orientation[X]. And it is also true that the entrepreneurial orientation[xi] which with this orientation begins to live under the aegis of neoliberalism, has caused a progressive departure of the public university from its “project of a sovereign and radically democratic nation”. The successive application of the mistaken idealization made by this elite and its technocrats of the reality of central countries has been undermining the university's ethos to such an extent that its younger professors do not even know the component of techno-scientific sovereignty that animated national-developmentalism.

Away passage: “… over decades, Marilena Chauí has ​​insisted on the internal corrosion of the university, which would now become operational. Her reflection is, without a doubt, one of the most consistent intellectual contributions in this regard, highlighting external and internal reasons for the degradation of the most virtuous essence of the university”.

My comment: The courageous and unusual mention of the “internal reasons” of this “corrosion” process is essential! More than that, it is vital for the university left to show society that we are not all the same in our environment. It is necessary to identify the heralds of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (scientism, productivism, innovationism and entrepreneurship) that invade the public university. Those who, calling themselves researchers-entrepreneurs, are co-responsible for their growing dysfunctionality and fragility that lead to strikes that harm everyone[xii].

Third passage: “After all, if we once feared that foundations would function as a kind of shadow of universities, we now fear that universities will become a shadow of foundations.”

My comment: The dissemination within the Brazilian research community of innovationism (what I have caricatured as the technicalist offspring of neoliberalism) has been overwhelming. For those who witnessed its development in the early 1980s, with the creation of the first university business incubators, it is sad to see how it contaminated our teaching, research and extension agendas, which were already emulators of what was being done in the North. Under the allegation that the so-called third mission should guide us towards the generation of innovations that, as has been more than empirically demonstrated, are of no interest to Brazilian companies, those researcher-entrepreneurs are transforming the public university into an uninhabited “puxadinho”.

Fourth passage “Could it be that, in this context of diminishing the aura of the institution and the imprisonment of its budget to external or partial interests, will some enlightened person come up with a solution from a Brazilian University Services Company, an EBSERU?”

My comment: My impression, judging by what I have been seeing for some time during the action research that I carry out as a duty-bound professor of STI policy, this “solution” has already appeared. The proposal for the “oessization” of São Paulo state universities that has been appearing from time to time has already been masterfully announced[xiii].

Thursday passage: “… we must admit, the Future-se program may have been a mere experiment by amateurs. In fact, in my experience at the institution, in the dialogues I was able to have when a fascist government tried to foist the proposal on us, I identified Future-se supporters in the most unlikely places”.

My comment: The fact that left-wing professors, concerned about giving back to the poor people who, with their taxes, pay their salaries, their equipped laboratories and their functioning air conditioning, consider it their duty to develop innovations, patent and generate startups, is one of the consequences of the spread of innovationism. Therefore, when we criticize that “amateur test”[xiv] We were also surprised by the reaction of some colleagues.

To conclude, addressing the university left, I combine João Carlos' penultimate sentence, “We cannot renounce our status as professors and members of the university community; we cannot give up on the university itself, which, after all, is our horizon and our reason for being” with the epigraph of the article by Luís Eugênio and Naomar that talks about “accumulating forces and seeking alliances with other sectors willing to fight for reconstruction from the country". May we continue learning from them!

* Renato Dagnino He is a professor at the Department of Scientific and Technological Policy at Unicamp. Author, among other books, of Solidarity Technoscience, a strategic manual (anti-capital fights).


[I] Public Universities: the next steps, by Luís Eugênio de Souza and Naomar de Almeida Filho; It is Fear and Hope, by João Carlos Salles.

[ii] Solidarity economy and politics.

[iii] The Solidarity Economy and other “economies”.

[iv] The Solidarity Economy as an axis of national reconstruction⁠.

[v] Exits for the political moment;

[vi] Teacher and student training: reflections on the university as a formative place.

[vii] To Explain the Storm and Surround the Bonanza.

[viii] Proposals for left-wing candidates.

[ix] Extension Curricularization and Solidarity Disciplinary Extension.

[X] Science, technology and innovation policy.

[xi] Science, technology and innovation policy — part 2.

[xii] Science, Technology and Innovation, and strike at the university.

[xiii] The “Fapesp 1% issue” and the news that appeared in ALESP.

[xiv] Future-se and the contribution of company resources.

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