Posts Tagged ‘Marxism’
* The Halloween candy to avoid if you don’t want orangutans to die. This is why consumerist approaches to struggle will never work. Horrors lurk everywhere.
That table reveals that in 1970-1971, 17.1% of students who received BAs in the United States majored in a humanities discipline. Three decades later, in the midst of the crisis in the humanities we hear so much about, that number had plummeted to 17%.
* There is little talk in this view of higher education about the history and value of shared governance between faculty and administrators, nor of educating students as critical citizens rather than potential employees of Walmart. There are few attempts to affirm faculty as scholars and public intellectuals who have both a measure of autonomy and power. Instead, faculty members are increasingly defined less as intellectuals than as technicians and grant writers. Students fare no better in this debased form of education and are treated as either clients or as restless children in need of high-energy entertainment – as was made clear in the 2012 Penn State scandal. Such modes of education do not foster a sense of organized responsibility fundamental to a democracy. Instead, they encourage what might be called a sense of organized irresponsibility – a practice that underlies the economic Darwinism and civic corruption at the heart of a debased politics.
* Man buys $27 of bitcoin, forgets about them, finds they’re now worth $886k. Exactly how currencies are supposed to work!
* The tragedy of Michelle Kosilek. A better treatment of the issue than the headline’s framing would suggest.
* Macy’s security has arrest quota, ‘race code system’ for nonwhite shoppers. An exemplary case, I think, of the phenomenon Adam Kotsko describes in “What if Zimmerman had been a cop?”
* And speaking of which: George Zimmerman’s Hometown Bans Guns For Neighborhood Watches.
* There’s something really revealing about how the Daily Show can’t process this story about an unaccountable shadow government running the national security apparatus, and so just punts to a random n-word joke instead. Liberalism, I think, characteristically flinches whenever the conclusion that the system is fundamentally broken is inescapable.
* Insert cheap infallibility joke here: Vatican Misspells ‘Jesus’ on Thousands of Commemorative Medals.
“There’s nothing about this online business model that saves students money,” said David M. Hughes, professor of anthropology. “This is not about Rutgers trying to increase the access and affordability of its offerings. In fact, it’s supposed to bring in a great deal of revenue for both Pearson and Rutgers.”
According the agreement, Pearson will receive half of the tuition revenue in the first academic year. The share drops as more students enroll; if Rutgers were to meet its 2019 enrollment goal, for example, Pearson would take 45 percent the next academic year. Hughes said a growth in enrollment and tuition revenue should be accompanied by more tenured faculty members, not corporate profits.
* Here are the facts: Piedmont hasn’t turned away anything close to 100 applicants for nursing school. Even if it had, the college could not possibly squeeze the $400,000-a-year cost of instructing them out of its prison furniture purchases, which were below $100,000 last year. Piedmont is not even required to buy furniture from the state, though it must get a waiver to shop elsewhere. Great story though bro.
* An Extended Government Shutdown Threatens To Halt Rape Kits In Washington, DC. Congressman: Workers Furloughed In Shutdown Should Not Get Backpay. North Carolina Reverses Course, Promises Nutrition Assistance For Moms And Babies.
* Stylish bulletproof whiteboards for today’s academic-on-the-go. Available in pink, blue, and green!
* What would happen if, at long last, women and especially mothers were paid the market rate for their services? To begin with, it might buoy the baseline value of such work above zero, so that rank-and-file nurses, cleaners, and child care workers moiling in the waged economy wouldn’t get such lousy pay. Rosler and Federici belong to a generation of leftists largely suspicious of economic rationality, but to extend it, rather than battle to incrementally reduce its influence, could do women good. Put a price on women’s work, they say. If that work suddenly seems too expensive, it should. Perhaps men — increasingly the sex without work — might just do “women’s work” at lower pay, as women have done men’s since the Industrial Revolution. And perhaps women, as studies have shown they do, will use their wealth to improve the quality of life of entire households, entire societies.
* Coffee bad for you again. Stay safe, academics!
Is it true that you wrote your undergraduate thesis on a Marxist overview of popular 1970s cinema and hegemonic discourses?
I did. The piece was actually called Base and Super Sucker which was a play on the phrase “Basic Super Structure”, which is a Marxist proposition, hegemony and consent in Star Wars and related works. Basically I was using Marxist modes of critical theory to address Star Wars. And the main thrust of it was that if you watch any kind of television or theatre or film that has certain kind of themes or opinions and you don’t critically recognize them, then you consent with them. So very simply put, if you watch a racist comedian and you laugh, then you are a racist. And there are various preoccupations and concerns that flow through popular cinema that reflect things that are going on in society, certain ideas and certain fears. The thesis suggested that by watching films like those you are participating in those fears and preoccupations.
He talked a little bit about this on WTF the other week.
* “In previous papers, ‘Financing the University – Parts 12-14’, I have demonstrated that there is a much larger constellation of management bureaucracy throughout UC, which has grown enormously over the past decade and is now estimated to waste some $600 million per year. The Senior Management Group, which you talk about here, is just the tip of that iceberg.”
These contradictions don’t show that ideology is “irrational” — the problem is exactly the opposite, that there are too many reasons supporting their views. Žižek argues that these piled-up rationalizations demonstrate that something else is going on.
A similar sense that something else is going on always strikes me when I read a review of Žižek’s work in the mainstream media. (A recent example is John Gray’s review of two of Žižek’s books in the New York Review of Books, to which Žižek has responded.) Now academics are always ill-used in the mainstream press, particularly if they deal in abstract concepts and refer to a lot of European philosophers. Yet there’s something special about the treatment of Žižek. In what has become a kind of ritual, the reader of a review of Žižek’s work always learns that Žižek is simultaneously hugely politically dangerous and a clown with no political program whatsoever, that he is an apologist for the worst excesses of twentieth-century Communism and a total right-wing reactionary, both a world-famous left-wing intellectual and an anti-Semite to rival Hitler himself.
The goal is not so much to give an account of Žižek’s arguments and weigh their merits as to inoculate readers against Žižek’s ideas so they feel comfortable dismissing them. To find left-wing thinkers and movements simultaneously laughable and dangerous, disorganized and totalitarian, overly idealistic and driven by a lust for power is to suggest: there is no alternative.
Adam Kotsko spins some recent blog and Twitter observations into review-essay gold in the Los Angeles Review of Books with “How to Read Žižek.”
Žižek does not hold out the utopian hope of eliminating all conflict — in fact, he believes our supposedly “post-ideological” era is blinded by the truly utopian hope that all genuine conflicts might be resolved, allowing the system of liberal-democratic capitalism to go on more or less forever. What Žižek hopes for, in tracking down the contradiction at the heart of our society and identifying with the class that embodies it, is not that the world will no longer suck, but that it will no longer suck in this particular way, that we will no longer be stuck in this particular vicious cycle, that we can somehow find a way to stop frantically grasping at rationalizations for our self-destructive fixations and do something else — in short, to jolt us into the realization that there is an alternative.
Better late than never, (most of the) video files from the Marxism and New Media 2012 conference we held at Duke this January are finally available at iTunesU.
[All] conservatism is based upon the idea that if you leave things alone you leave them as they are. But you do not. If you leave a thing alone you leave it to a torrent of change. If you leave a white post alone it will soon be a black post. If you particularly want it to be white you must always be painting it again; that is, you must be always having a revolution. Briefly, if you want the old white post you must have a new white post.
—G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy
Modern American conservatism nearly always specifies the defense and preservation of capitalism as one of its central goals—logically enough, on one level, since capitalism is the economic status quo in the US today. Yet such conservatism is thus structured on an immense self-contradiction. For capitalism is itself the most thoroughly disruptive, the most emphatically anti-conservative, social force in the history of the world: a truth integral to the thought of Burke, for whom conservatism was by definition the defense of a pre-capitalism old order against the revolutionary innovations of the new middle-class regime. Capitalism, after all, is the force that razes historic buildings in order to construct shopping malls, that prizes “growth” over stability, that destroys traditional ways of life wherever there is money to be made by doing so. It melts into air all that was apparently solid, as Marx and Engels observed. In some instances, accordingly, it may well be a left-wing, anti-capitalist position that is in one sense most genuinely “conservative.” In his noel Saints and Scholars, the Marxist author Terry Eagleton gives this line to the Irish revolutionary-socialist leader James Connolly: “Revolution isn’t a runaway train; it’s the application of the emergency brake.”
—Carl Freedman, The Age of Nixon
Aaron suggested on Twitter the other day that David Graeber was threatening to eclipse Žižek as the go-to theorist of the revolutionary left. We’ll have to see about long-term sustainability—is there a Graeber bubble?—but in the short term at least it definitely seems possible. Today, he’s talking to Rebecca Solnit in Guernica.
Communism is the basis of all sociology and it’s the basis of cooperation. Within a capitalist corporation, someone says, “Lend me a wrench,” and someone asks, “Yeah, what do I get?” You assume that the idea of each according to his or her abilities, each according to his or her needs—in solving a problem—is actually the only thing that works. And in situations of disaster, there are often communistic notions of improvisation, where you basically exchange hierarchies and all of a sudden all those things that are luxuries that you can’t afford, you have them in an emergency. So I think we need to think of capitalism as a very bad way of organizing communism. Much of what we do is already communism, so just expand it.
But how do we get to “communism” via someone who doesn’t like Marxists and doesn’t really want to talk about Marx?
Marxism and New Media continues at the John Hope Franklin Center at Duke all day Saturday. I’ll be moderating the Games and Virtual Worlds panel at 1:30:
* Stephanie Boluk (Vassar College), “State of Play: Procedural Love and Ludic Labor”
* Alenda Chang (University of California, Berkeley), “Land’s Labors Lost: Farm Games and the Counter-Pastoral”
* Kenneth Rogers (University of California, Riverside), “Technologies of Management: Digital Labor, Human Capital, and the Attention Economy”
* Braxton Soderman (Miami University), “Benjamin and Brecht Play Chess: Critiquing the Industry of Innovation in Contemporary Game Production”
Other panel themes include collective production (9 AM), political economy (10:40 AM), cognitive capitalism (3:30 PM), and of course the keynotes (5:30 PM).
Continuing my recent theme of really unreasonably busy days, I’m spending nearly all of today and tomorrow at the Marxism and New Media conference organized by Duke Lit grad students (myself among them!). The full schedule is at the link; today’s themes include the Arab Spring, Occupy, labor and class, embodiment, queer theory, art, and more…
I’m tweeting when I can at @gerrycanavan, hashtag #mnm2012.
In the unlikely event you haven’t already seen my email, Twitter, and Facebook exhortations, remember that Marxism and New Media 2012 begins today with two events:
2 PM: Kick-Off Workshop: “Mediating Autonomia: Newness and Critique” (Friedl 225, Duke East Campus)
6 PM: U.S. Premiere of Marx_Reloaded and director Q&A (Richard White Lecture Hall, Duke East Campus)
In between these events there will be a Donald Pease Jr. lecture “Pip, Moby-Dick and Melville’s Novel Governmentality,” also in Friedl 225 on East Campus. Hope to see you!