The revenge of the state: regulation-as-expulsion
International education economies within Australia have been in a period of turbulence and reconstitution. From the overall social positioning of those on international student visas, and in more direct relation to violence, workplace exploitation and school closure, movement and resistances arose, with direct and massive consequences. The relation of resistance to recruitment has the potential to impact upon the relation of exploitation to profit for particular capitals, and for these economies broadly upon the transformation of surplus-value into additional capital, and the responses of the Australian state(s) were efforts to manage (away) this potential crisis of reproduction. Thus these movements and resistances, in their most ‘visible’ forms, have been undermined and largely defeated, by both the intensification of xenophobia and violence on the one hand, and new regulation and enforcement by the state on the other – the latter involving a wave of expulsions and enhanced border control, as well as the sacrifice of a section of private capital in the form of colleges which will end up closing, as part of efforts to re-found “the industry” on new and hopefully more stable bases, less dependent upon the non-rich and overcoming the fragility of the existing integration of Australian institutions in world markets. Though this transition is far from complete, and will likely be far from smooth, the outlines of such a state-managed transition are now evident - we will see the scale on which the state will transform the lower end of the guest consumers into supernumeraries, and the degree of success of efforts to create and develop alternative markets.
Of course, post-expulsion, people become invisible to ‘Australia’ – maybe World Vision can organise some sponsorship for the chronically-indebted families, whole villages even, which will be left in the wake of this moment of restructuring. These are also results of the mediate processes of reproduction.
The student movement was not a student movement
The only student movement in Australia worth mentioning turned out not to be a student movement at all, least of all one in continuity with any of the historical student movements of Australia. Ironically, the once-popular slogan, “education for all, not just the rich”, is now relevant in a way not seen in my lifetime, though in a way invisible within the covertly-national political categories of social democracy and its radical edges.
There is no alternative, not even this one
In almost the same way that the struggle of a section of proletarians to be eg. Australian construction workers contains within it the struggle against the outsider, the struggles of those on international student visas, conducted in terms of the “students” as representation of the social category of the guest consumer, have capital as their horizon.