I was once described as a "beautiful, intelligent iguana".
private property is not the same thing as personal possessions
private property is not the same thing as personal possessions
private property is not the same thing as personal possessions
the abolition of private property means that the resources and machinery that a community needs in order to function are owned by the community as a whole
the abolition of private property does not mean you need to share your t-shirt with the whole neighbourhood
In a world organized around competition, the act of reading is revolutionary - it creates compassion, it demands that we look at the world from the point of view of another.
Marc Bousquet, The Waste Product of Graduate Education: Toward a Dictatorship of the Flexible (and other essays on contemporary academia as corporatized institutions under neoliberalism)
Excerpt from The Waste Product of Graduate Education:
The core of any redescription of the linkage between graduate education and the system of academic labor more generally has to begin by discarding the Fordist assumption that the situation of the doctoral degree holder can be grasped by a manufacturing analogy to production. Under casualization, it makes very little sense to view the graduate student as potentially a product for the job market: most graduate students are already laboring at the only academic job they’ll ever have. (Hence the importance for organized graduate student labor of inscribing the designation “graduate employee” in law and discourse.) From this standpoint, it has to be acknowledged that increasingly the holders of the doctoral degree are not so much the products of the graduate employee labor system as its by-products, insofar as that that labor system exists primarily to recruit, train, supervise, and legitimate the employment of nondegreed rather than degreed teachers. This is not to say that the system doesn’t produce and employ holders of the PhD, only that this operation has become secondary to its extraction of teaching labor from nondegreed persons, primarily graduate employees and former graduate employees now working as adjunct labor—as part-timers, full-time lecturers, postdocs, and so on. This essay argues that the organized graduate employee has a better description. Against the dominant second-wave heuristic of the “job market,” and as a corrective to the lapsed and too-often residual labor knowledge of the first wave of faculty unionism, a third wave of thinking about academic labor is emergent in the graduate employee union movement. While this emergent knowledge is based in the particular experience of casualization by two generations of graduate employees and former graduate employees, I hope in the next few pages to suggest that it is not only a better knowledge of the “local” circumstance of the graduate employee (because how can the graduate employee be localized, exactly? Every other “location” in the system, from perma-temp to university president, is filled by someone who has been a graduate employee) but, further, that this third wave is an emergent better knowledge of the labor system as a totality. Consistent with the insights of psychoanalytic Marxism, it is in the graduate employees’ character as incipient by-products, their understanding that the system’s constant pressure is not toward their incorporation but toward compelling their recognition that they must serve as the system’s indigestible remainder, that provides the partial standpoint from which we can most usefully and justly accept a description of the whole.
Excerpt from the “Informal Economy”:
One of the reasons that graduate employees are so vocal is because the transformation of graduate education accomplished by the three-decade conversion of the university to a center of capital accumulation needs to be viewed as a profound form of ‘employer sabotage’—most graduate employees find that their doctorate does not represent the beginning but instead the end of a long teaching career: as I’ve observed in another venue, the ‘award’ of the doctoral degree increasingly represents a disqualification from teaching for someone who has already been teaching for a decade or more. In the course of re-imagining the graduate student as a source of informationalized labor, the academy has increasingly evacuated the professional-certification component of the doctoral degree (the degree plays a key role in the way professionals maintain a monopoly on professional labor; however, now that work formerly done by persons holding the degree is done by persons studying for the degree, the degree itself no longer represents entrance into the profession). The consequence of this evacuation is that the old Fordist sense of the doctoral recipient as the ‘product’ of graduate education has little meaning—instead, the degree holder must now be understood in systemic terms as the waste product of graduate education—not merely ‘disposable,’ but that which must be disposed of for the constantly-churning system of continuously-replaced student labor to function properly.
As much as we think we know about the modern university, very little has been said about what it’s like to work there. Instead of the high-wage, high-profit world of knowledge work, most campus employees—including the vast majority of faculty—really work in the low-wage, low-profit sphere of the service economy. Tenure-track positions are at an all-time low, with adjuncts and graduate students teaching the majority of courses. This super-exploited corps of disposable workers commonly earn fewer than $16,000 annually, without benefits, teaching as many as eight classes per year. Even undergraduates are being exploited as a low-cost, disposable workforce.
Marc Bousquet, a major figure in the academic labor movement, exposes the seamy underbelly of higher education—a world where faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates work long hours for fast-food wages. Assessing the costs of higher education’s corporatization on faculty and students at every level, How the University Works is urgent reading for anyone interested in the fate of the university. From page 21:
Under casualization [of academic labor], it makes very little sense to view the graduate student as potentially a “product” for a “market” in tenure-track jobs. For many graduate employees, the receipt of a Ph.D. signifies the end, and not the beginning, of a long teaching career. Most graduate students are already laboring at the only academic job they’ll ever have – hence, the importance for organized graduate student labor of inscribing the designation “graduate employee” in law and discourse.
From the standpoint of the organized graduate employee, the situation is clear. Increasingly, the holders of a doctoral degree are not so the products of the graduate-employee labor system as its by-products, insofar as that labor system exists primarily to recruit, train, supervise, and legitimate the employment of nondegreed students and contingent faculty.
As Andrew Ross (author of the highly-recommend “Mental Labor Problem” essay) puts it:
[T]he research university is behaving more and more like an adjunct to private industry in the “concentration of power upward into managerial bureaucracies, the abdication of research and productivity assessment to external assessors and funders … the pressure to adopt an entrepreneurial career mentality, and the erosion of tenure through the galloping casualization of the work force.
This is probably extremely relevant to a good portion of this blog’s followers and may prove a welcome eye-opener.
This is really important. I don’t know how much of this is particularly eye-opening - I think most people heading into graduate and post-graduate work already know about a lot of this (maybe only intellectually instead of experientially, but they still know it), but it’s still something that needs to be grappled with.
I know for me, regardless of the stupidity of current graduate and post-graduate systems, and despite my knowing how stupid they are, I’m still probably going to join into all of it. Because I’m not particularly good at anything else other than philosophy (I even fail at just being a person).
(Actually, I especially fail at just being a person).
Photo reblogged from A centralized location for your leftist literature with 262 notes
Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (Revised Edition)
Imagined Communities, Benedict Anderson’s brilliant book on nationalism, forged a new field of study when it first appeared in 1983. Since then it has sold over a quarter of a million copies and is widely considered the most important book on the subject. In this greatly anticipated revised edition, Anderson updates and elaborates on the core question: what makes people live, die and kill in the name of nations? He shows how an originary nationalism born in the Americas was adopted by popular movements in Europe, by imperialist powers, and by the anti-imperialist resistances in Asia and Africa, and explores the way communities were created by the growth of the nation-state, the interaction between capitalism and printing, and the birth of vernacular languages-of-state. Anderson revisits these fundamental ideas, showing how their relevance has been tested by the events of the past two decades.
I only got about halfway through this book, but what I read was really good. Most of what it talked about seemed ‘common-sense’-like for those today that are more ‘radically’ oriented in their politics, but it was good nonetheless.
Capitalism is fundamentally invested in notions of scarcity, encouraging people to feel that we never have enough so that we will act out of greed and hording and focus on accumulation. Indeed, the romance myth is focused on scarcity: There is only one person out there for you!!! You need to find someone to marry before you get too old!!!! The sexual exclusivity rule is focused on scarcity, too: Each person only has a certain amount of attention or attraction or love or interest, and if any of it goes to someone besides their partner their partner must lose out. We don’t generally apply this rule to other relationships—we don’t assume that having two kids means loving the first one less or not at all, or having more than one friend means being a bad or fake or less interested friend to our other friends. We apply this particular understanding of scarcity to romance and love, and most of us internalize that feeling of scarcity pretty deeply…
We are interested in resisting the heteronormative family structure in which people are expected to form a dyad, marry, have kids, and get all their needs met within that family structure. A lot of us see that as unhealthy, as a new technology of post-industrial late capitalism that is connected to alienating people from community and training them to think in terms of individuality, to value the smaller unit of the nuclear family rather than the extended family.
It reminds me of the “bike to work” movement. That is also portrayed as white, but in my city more than half of the people on bike are not white. I was once talking to a white activist who was photographing “bike commuters” and had only pictures of white people with the occasional “black professional” I asked her why she didn’t photograph the delivery people, construction workers etc. … ie. the black and Hispanic and Asian people… and she mumbled something about trying to “improve the image of biking” then admitted that she didn’t really see them as part of the “green movement” since they “probably have no choice” –
I was so mad I wanted to quit working on the project she and I were collaborating on.
So, in the same way when people in a poor neighborhood grow food in their yards … it’s just being poor– but when white people do it they are saving the earth or something.
Aaron Leonard: You write, “Capital is not a book about politics, and not even a book about labour: it is a book about unemployment.” Could you talk about why you think that is true?
Frederic Jameson: I know this is probably surprising for people who always think of Marx in political terms, but there is really very little mention of any political action in Capital. There is certainly the implication of the kind of society that could come out of capitalism and also of the contradictions that could lead to the end of capitalism and I am not saying that Marx was not political or didn’t constantly think of political strategies, but Capital is not a book about that. It is a book about this infernal machine that is capitalism.
It is a book about unemployment in the sense that the absolute general law of capitalism, as he enunciates it, is to increase productivity — as a result, as he writes, “The relative mass of the industrial reserve army [the unemployed] increases therefore with the potential energy of wealth.” I think this corresponds very much to what is happening in the present. I heard the most revealing thing recently from a venture capitalist, obviously annoyed by the constant talk of both Republicans and Democrats about supporting business so it can ‘create jobs.’
He said look, “Nobody wakes up in the morning and says, I wanted to increase my payroll because I think it’s good for the American economy.” This is a pretty direct way of saying business does not exist to create jobs; it is there to make money. That is exactly what Marx lays out in Capital. There is no direct connection between productivity and creating jobs.
This was not so clear as long as Keynesian economics were being applied in certain countries — Keynes understood there had to be workers with enough money to buy all these goods being produced. Since Reagan and Thatcher, however, we get something more like the fundamental logic of capital Marx described. It is not just job flight to other countries; this is part of a worldwide process.
You want to bring factories back to the United States but on the other hand you want them to be productive? Well that means more and more automation and less and less workers, it is obvious. So I think there really is a profound contradiction between employment and what the system does. In that sense it seems to me, a political demand of the kind that there used for full employment is a demand for something the system can’t possibly provide.
(Jameson showing how [unfettered] capitalism and job creation don’t go hand in hand - in fact, they might be opposed).
Marx, above of all, is incredibly, incredibly impressed by the fluidity and the dynamics of capitalism.
Anyone who thinks they have “refuted” the LTV or “Marxism” needs to watch this lecture by Professor Santy Claus Harvey.
"Professor Santy Claus Harvey"
That makes me extremely happy.
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