Pro-revolutionaries in academia

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tastybrain
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Oct 18 2011 16:41
Blasto wrote:
Yes, as most things, when we apply a model like that we have to understand that it is a model, not a universal truth. I really overuse the phrase don't mistake the map for the territory - but it is a good one. And I am not suggesting self-flagellation either. But I'm sure most of us have made very conscious choices not to do certain things in our working lives

So with that first sentence are you saying this blanket assertion that academia is recuperative does not apply to every single academic? Because if so I understand your points a bit more. But I still think it is possible to be an academic and not play this sort of role, however common it might be overall.

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Rob Ray
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Oct 18 2011 16:57
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I think charities were thrown in because I think Rob wanted to make a point about not throwing stones from our own houses of glass

Yeah pretty much, flippant comment but with a serious centre. I think it's very easy to obsess over touchstone industries which do stuff we all read about, academia and journalism in particular, but which are:

a) Much more complex than a simple good/bad binary, which it sometimes gets reduced to.

b) Not at all as far removed from less high-profile jobs in the compromises they sometimes demand as many of us would like to think, which was kind of why I jumped on "I work in a charity" with such gusto wink.

I think with a very few exceptions in which seriously class-damaging activity can't be avoided (eg. police, working at GCHQ etc) most jobs are just base units of capitalist organisation which every so often run up against the need of capital to eat its weak and demand a choice on the part of the worker.

That might mean accepting some state say in your priorities as a charity worker, building a big gated community for the rich which you know is displacing people, selling an insurance policy you know offers really shit coverage etc. Sometimes that choice is the choice between compromising and losing the roof over your head.

The problem with drawing lines in the sand is that sometimes, circumstance gets in the way. I think guidelines are important and some lines you don't cross under any circumstances, but I'd be wary of being too doctrinaire - apart from anything else, almost everyone who's been in work for any length of time has already made compromises at some point, if we only accept the pure of heart into our midst we'll remain forever sidelined.

tastybrain
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Oct 18 2011 16:54
whatisinevidence wrote:
If you don't know what class training is, I'm not sure what to tell you. At private schools (or I guess they're called public schools in the UK?), young people with wealthy parents are taught to manage other people, to dominate discourse, to start businesses, etc. This training also occurs at home and carries on in the universities they go to. In grad schools, there is a lot of training for life as a middle class professional. That's the whole point of it, actually. I never went to grad school or uni, but I know that I received this sort of class training growing up. All the communist theory in the world is pretty pointless if I can't use it to look at myself.

In no way does this apply to everyone who is in the academy! I've never been taught to manage other people or start businesses, and my parents are teachers so their hardly super wealthy. I agree recognizing such "class training" is important if one wants to be a part of a communist organization but you are making assumptions about academics which are simply false when applied in a blanket way.

whatisinevidence wrote:
That academics happen to be poorly paid middle class professionals does not change their role or training. ... Academics (or doctors) do ...relatively shit jobs after they finish grad school, with the hope of landing a tenure track position after they 'pay their dues'.

How is this any different from any number of more traditionally "working class" jobs where people do apprenticeships and go to trade school?

whatisinevidence wrote:
Going back to the second paragraph: when someone has been trained their entire life (or at least in uni and grad school) to manage others, it is problematic when they take leadership positions/positions of power within so-called communist organizations. Even with good intentions, the ideological force of this training isn't something one can just shake off with political slogans.

Again, I don't see any of my life and training as teaching me how to "manage others". Indeed, I don't think too many of my friends in school with me had this either. Unless simply being educated is the same as being trained to manage others which I don't think is the case. Now it's possible that bosses might consider someone more suited to a management position because he or she was educated, but it's hardly some deeply internalized drive for domination.

whatisinevidence wrote:
This is something that should be brought out in the open, so this unconscious domination can be addressed. The outing of J.D. gave a sharp example of the danger of letting this go under the radar.

I agree whatever there is to discuss should be brought out into the open, but I would never allow my name to be put on the stuff J let his name be put on, nor would I ever give a lecture to the cops for any reason. Collaborating with the police is hardly something all academics do. And if you are going to make the concept of "middle class" so central to your arguments I think at least a working definition would help clarify what you mean.

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Khawaga
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Oct 18 2011 19:12

Thanks, Tasty I would responded to whatisinevidence in almost the same way. But I would also add that, s/he seems to believe that the education system is the same everywhere. Depending on the country and time, even wealthy kids can go to the same schools as the children of proles, learn the same stuff and go to the same universities. Growing up in Norway, this was certainly the case. I think when I was in high school there were perhaps only a handful of private schools in the entire country and these were of the montessori/steiner type (and even in these schools anyone could go there; you just had to apply and have a good reason). But I do know that in the US, UK and France the situation is completely different and more in line with explicit class training.

whatisinevidence wrote:
In grad schools, there is a lot of training for life as a middle class professional. That's the whole point of it, actually.

Here's a secret for you. All that an MA trains you for in the arts and social sciences (I can only speak to that since that's my background) is to be able to do a PhD; a PhD trains you to become an academic. And I would argue that even an undergraduate degree is simply training for graduate school, although the last few decades it's slowly been restructured so that it's more about employments etc. Some graduate courses are so-called professional degrees, which is basically training for a specific job (e.g. librarianship).

In essence, academia is still organized around a journeyman-master system. It trains you to become a researcher and a teacher; managing others is something that you learn while a lecturer or professor. It's only in business school that management is taught outright.

Frankly, I find it somehow strange that someone who has "evidence" in his/her nick, doesn't seem to argue based on evidence about how academia is actually structured in different times and places.

RedHughs
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Oct 18 2011 20:10

It's not surprising that the presence of crudely manipulations brings out those politics that have evolved toward the pure anarchist position of attacking all those who influence others in any ways. The Duponist canard: "Teacher are just managers" fits right in here (though I'm sure there are plenty of others with this kind of position).

It does seem like this is kind of the false opposite of the unfortunate "ultra-marxist" position that wage labor is all that matters and the question of control, management and manipulation can be ignored. Obviously I think the truth is between these extremes or rather is dialectical overcoming of them.

But charged emotions are great for getting false-opposites screaming uselessly at each other. So don't let me stop you.

Anyway, only noticed this now...

Quote:
And personally I think it's pretty rough that you demand the million-odd people who work in these fields (400,000 teachers, 200,000 academics, 50,000 journalists plus direct support staff would comfortably make that) chuck in their jobs while you keep yours (which'll very likely be upheld in part by their donations) simply because there's elements of the work which are compromised.

WTF!

If the aim of your revolution is not for the maximum possible number to chuck their jobs, then your revolution doesn't have much in common with what I'm thinking of.

Certainly, I'd imagine the skills of both construction workers and teacher would be used in a new society, hopefully with a fair amount of skill sharing.

But anyone thinking about who gets to keep their job come the revolution is, uh, really is imagining something I'd consider well incompatible with communism.

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Rob Ray
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Oct 18 2011 20:35
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If the aim of your revolution is not for the maximum possible number to chuck their jobs, then your revolution doesn't have much in common with what I'm thinking of.

Well thanks for pointing that out Redhughes, never occurred to me roll eyes. How about rather than running your mouth and thinking the worst you try reading what I actually said:

Quote:
And personally I think it's pretty rough that you demand the million-odd people who work in these fields (400,000 teachers, 200,000 academics, 50,000 journalists plus direct support staff would comfortably make that) chuck in their jobs while you keep yours (which'll very likely be upheld in part by their donations) simply because there's elements of the work which are compromised.

Implying that I'm not talking about a general strike situation but one where people are being asked to ditch "compromised" jobs within capitalism by people who in fact have other compromised jobs. In the words of Sallah in Raiders of the Lost Ark, "You go first."

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OliverTwister
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Oct 19 2011 17:49

Wow. This is something Ive been thinking about and struggling with for about two years, and especially since I graduated in December. I only made up my mind within the past few days and only today really cast the die by asking for letters of rec etc. - and then stumbled across this thread.

So thanks to tastybrain for starting it, and to others for responding - its helped me to confirm some of my own doubts and apprehensions, and my desire to pursue it anyways,

whatisinevidence
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Oct 19 2011 21:47

I don't know if I'm being responded to in good faith, but I do not accept your formulations Khawaga.

When I say middle class I do not mean an income bracket or cultural milieu. I'm referring to people who play managerial or ideological roles in society. This includes psychologists, teachers, professors, doctors, journalists, lawyers, bureaucrat, and so on. Their 'products' are people rather than things. Obviously, a good electrician can make a lot more money than a teacher, but there is a qualitative difference between the work they do. Those who do professional jobs receive class training in managing others and producing/dominating discourse, which is why it is problematic for them to lead communist organizations. They can be wonderful people and believe the right things, but they carry out their class training unconsciously.

This is why a magazine like Aufheben, which is written by people trained in the academy, can dominate discourse in one segment of the milieu. If you look at the people whose ideas carry the most weight, they all have this sort of training. (If you read the long thread about J.D., a few people continually use the language of modern management - "What good outcome do you want to come out of this?")

The implications of this idea that journalists, professors, etc are working class are absurd. If academics and journalists are working class, then 1789 becomes a proletarian revolution, and the 3rd estate departs from both history and social function. Store managers must be working class too. Who else?

Blasto
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Oct 19 2011 22:08
Rob Ray wrote:
Implying that I'm not talking about a general strike situation but one where people are being asked to ditch "compromised" jobs within capitalism by people who in fact have other compromised jobs. In the words of Sallah in Raiders of the Lost Ark, "You go first."

But as you said yourself, no-one suggested that. I don't like people playing with semantics, but surely every job is a compromise? But different jobs have different relationships with class and capital. You point out that cops and prison guards are obviously a problem, but Western capitalism isn't maintained through pure brute force - there's a whole load of more subtle, and more lucrative things going on, such as the mediation and mystification of reality by the media, specialists and experts. And of course, we can't just brush off that academia reproduces class relationships - it reproduces the middle class.

So what I have described is the nature of academia as I see it - the arch recuperator, the mystification factory, the production line of professionals - a key reproducer of class society. People work as academics do so at their own peril. How many earnest lefties have turned to pulp teaching sociology, social policy, psychology, philosophy, economics or cultural studies? This is a job that involves a huge degree of self-recuperation - the bullshit, the institution (just ask any uni admin about that), the student/teacher relationship, the amputation of theory from lived experience... the list goes on and on.

Of course this is not being critical of every academic, but it is being critical of academia. It's the same in your profession. I'm sure not every journalist is a twat, but there isn't a newspaper (in the commercial sense) that doesn't very concretely advance the interests of capitalism and attack its adversaries.

So there's something to be said for being critical of the (diverse) roles of community organisations, but it's hardly serious to compare them to universities.

CornetJoyce
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Oct 20 2011 02:03

All this just shows how useless "class analysis" is, but then "class analysis" is the ideology of the professoriat.

vanilla.ice.baby
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Oct 20 2011 05:56
Blasto wrote:

So there's something to be said for being critical of the (diverse) roles of community organisations, but it's hardly serious to compare them to universities.

No but it is correct to compare professional community organisers and development workers to academics and journalists.

You are involved in drawing down funding that can be used in giving working class people the illusion that all we have to do to improve our lives in get an expert to write a bid in the correct way and send it to the correct nice bit of the ruling class.

Loads of roles in capitalist society are problematic, but some are more problematic than others but as long as the people performing them are aware of the dangers and take steps to minimize them I can't see the problem especially at a stage where revolution is not even vaguely on the cards and far left ideas have no traction what so ever among an even slightly significant minority.

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Rob Ray
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Oct 20 2011 10:52
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But as you said yourself, no-one suggested that.

I acknowledged that you didn't, but Satmonaf (among others) certainly has before now and is not the only one.

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giving up journalism, or at least not pretending you can be a journalist and be a radical journalist, is the beginning of subversive intelligence.

Link

And then there was this thread on teachers (or "mind jailers" as it was put) a wee while back, which ended up with a New Age traveller type saying we should all drop out of society if we wanted to be true to our ideals.

This sort of approach, that it's impossible to be a radical and work in certain fields (academia, teaching and journalism cropping up most often) informs the posting of a number of people who write on these sorts of threads. Hence my initial supposition that this was also the way you were heading and my immediate desire not to start down that path.

tastybrain
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Oct 21 2011 23:43
whatisinevidence wrote:
Those who do professional jobs receive class training in managing others and producing/dominating discourse, which is why it is problematic for them to lead communist organizations. They can be wonderful people and believe the right things, but they carry out their class training unconsciously.

If every single academic is constantly "managing others" and "producing/dominating discourse" then I can happily say I don't mind a little bit of "management", if some of the classes I have taken which were taught by academics were any indication. Indeed, I have often wished a professor would "manage" the classroom a little better to produce a better discussion. Even in libertarian discourse there will have to be some people who help facilitate the discussion.

whatisinevidence wrote:
The implications of this idea that journalists, professors, etc are working class are absurd. If academics and journalists are working class, then 1789 becomes a proletarian revolution, and the 3rd estate departs from both history and social function. Store managers must be working class too. Who else?

Yeah, I was not aware that the crowds storming the Bastille were principally academics.... roll eyes

tastybrain
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Oct 21 2011 23:46
Blasto wrote:
And of course, we can't just brush off that academia reproduces class relationships - it reproduces the middle class.

Well you haven't really defined "middle class". What is it about teaching and writing papers that reproduces the middle class exactly?

Blasto wrote:
So what I have described is the nature of academia as I see it - the arch recuperator, the mystification factory, the production line of professionals - a key reproducer of class society. People work as academics do so at their own peril. How many earnest lefties have turned to pulp teaching sociology, social policy, psychology, philosophy, economics or cultural studies? This is a job that involves a huge degree of self-recuperation - the bullshit, the institution (just ask any uni admin about that), the student/teacher relationship, the amputation of theory from lived experience... the list goes on and on.

Of course this is not being critical of every academic, but it is being critical of academia. It's the same in your profession. I'm sure not every journalist is a twat, but there isn't a newspaper (in the commercial sense) that doesn't very concretely advance the interests of capitalism and attack its adversaries.

So I feel like you are saying one of two things here. Either you are
A) Saying all academics are recuperators/mystifiers/manipulators in service of the ruling class and can never be part of the communist movement unless they quit their jobs
or B) Academia as a whole, in the sense of the majority of work produced by academics, is recuperative in various ways, but some academics can participate in communist politics, which the second paragraph seems to imply. I would agree with B but I don't think A is tenable; sometimes you seem to be condemning all academics in blanket terms. Again, whatever problems you may have with the politics of the authors of these books, how are academic works such as Manufacturing Consent or A People's History of the United States "recuperative" and "mystifying"?

Blasto wrote:
So there's something to be said for being critical of the (diverse) roles of community organisations, but it's hardly serious to compare them to universities.

I would beg to differ, I think their's plenty of evidence of the massive recuperative role of NGOs and other "community organizations". "My recuperative job is more communist then yours"

whatisinevidence
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Oct 22 2011 15:33
Rob Ray wrote:
And then there was this thread on teachers (or "mind jailers" as it was put) a wee while back, which ended up with a New Age traveller type saying we should all drop out of society if we wanted to be true to our ideals.

This is an intentional misrepresentation of the arguments in that thread.

One can say that the problem of journalism is not so much truth vs. lies but the structural distortion of communication. Given your work, it is not surprising that you continue to do that here.

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Arbeiten
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Oct 23 2011 04:01

roll eyes ^^

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Oct 23 2011 10:30

Yes yes, misrepresentative, very good, except the title is "Being a teacher is like being a prison guard" and I can pick relevant quotes from the first page:

Quote:
Teachers as a role, as a job description, a performance, are agents of the state.

...

A conscientious and friendly prison guard only makes doing time less troublesome for the warden. Happy workers are more efficient workers.

And of course, clap fucking clap for proving my point entirely that for some people don't seem able to acknowledge that the job is not the person. What job do YOU do whereistheevidence? How do you pay YOUR rent?

tastybrain
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Oct 26 2011 17:24
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"Being a teacher is like being a prison guard"

I'm so fucking sick of this attitude. It really smacks of the worst kind of workerism and prolier-than-thou attitude. It's really obscene for people within a movement that claims to be about abolishing class society to attempt to exclude massive segments of the population not because they exploit other workers but because their jobs involve some contradiction and ambiguity, all the while ignoring the contradictions inherent in most jobs, including their own.

I'm sorry, I refuse to accept that my high school history teacher who taught me about the horrors of the industrial revolution and early American colonialism is somehow objectively counterrevolutionary and incapable of participation in a revolutionary movement while the steelworker who makes more money than him, hates immigrants and gays, and votes Republican is not.

I'm not saying we should ignore class composition or fault-lines within the working class, but to me a movement seeking to abolish class society should be as inclusive as possible. Otherwise the result will be people like me, who are incredibly attracted to the ideas of anarchism/left communism, being totally alienated from the movement. A couple quotes from the Middle Class Revolutionaries thread are relevant here:

Quote:
This guy didn't feel working class because he had a 'comfortable' (what ever that is, an iPad?) lifestyle.
Quote:
A friend at my uni largely agrees with me, but keeps bringing up the idea that he's middle class and inferring that he's therefore somehow not able to be involved in working class politics beyond reformism.
Quote:
a couple of years ago some northern guy said he wasn't working class because he could afford to go on holiday abroad, he felt immigrants were the new working class as they were actually poor. He worked a manual job in industry.

Try mentioning class struggle to someone who self identifies as middle class. They might sorta agree but will be very unsure if they will be against the wall come revolution To clarify you have to give a 10min lecture, they still won't be sure. Then all sorts of people within the movement constantly "slip" and use the sociological definition revealing that even communists think in terms of sociological class. Really fucking annoying and leaves people hanging, waiting for the constantly moving line to be redrawn under their feet or their life to improve leaving them on the other side.

If you say everyone in academia is "middle class" (even those who live on poverty-line income!), you are going to alienate a lot of people. If academics are all middle class and communism is all about the working class, why the fuck should I be a communist? Why shouldn't I oppose communism if me and my family are seen as enemies by the movement? Whatisinevidence apparently received "class training" to dominate and manage people and extrapolates that therefore all academics received similar class training (even though he or she isn't an academic?).

I am all for specialized, hierarchical roles being abolished and I have sat in classrooms run by asshole teachers who did manage and dominate me and my fellow students. I have also sat in discussion-based classrooms where the teacher invited criticism and disagreement from students and openly declared his/her fallibility. I think we should be on the lookout for more privileged/educated workers dominating movements, but to say that entire industries of workers cannot participate is idiotic. Has it occurred to any of those who think academics are unfit for the communist movement that we may hate academia most of all and understand its idiocies from the inside? Has it occurred to people that middle class revolutionaries may hate the middle class role and want it to be abolished just as much as anyone else?

vanilla.ice.baby
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Oct 26 2011 19:18
whatisinevidence wrote:
The implications of this idea that journalists, professors, etc are working class are absurd. If academics and journalists are working class, then 1789 becomes a proletarian revolution, and the 3rd estate departs from both history and social function. Store managers must be working class too. Who else?

Store managers are working class. They may or may not be cunts, but that doesn't change their class position.

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Serge Forward
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Oct 26 2011 20:52

Can I just interrupt and say, this thread is funny as fuck. I think I'll become a proper acedemic now because it sounds ace, especially the class training bit.

Seriously though, you know that other thread about the Aufheben guy? Well, this is exactly the sort of mental shite that undermined any possible valid grievances against the kind of work that J person is involved in. It's utter pissflappery.

RedHughs
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Oct 26 2011 23:47

We've been around the whole "teachers are cops" bend before.

This has a strong flavor of the Ni-com folks.

The problem I have with the Ni-com approach is not that we should ignore the manipulation that is a constant part of this society's fabric but that the Ni-com party-lines describes the situation using crude, broad a moral good/bad worker/manager duality - a stance which is more or less a disingenuous sales pitch for their stupid version of postmodern-Marxism.

Essentially, these idiots are happy to take Aufheben's particular manipulative position as an opportunity to justify their dive off the deep end in a different direction. I saw Kevin Keating post something on the Aufheben events on another site too. The presence of idiots of all sorts doesn't anything either way - well neither Keating nor the Ni-comists are not in fact idiots, rather they're each intelligent but quite twisted folks out to prove the importance of their ideology and the relevance of their sweet selves.

Anyway, a pox on both their houses as things stand...

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Oct 27 2011 00:06

What's a Ni-com?

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Khawaga
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Oct 27 2011 00:20

Nihilist Communism. They've posted here under fort-da-game, frere dupont, monsieur dupont and a few other nicks I think.

tastybrain
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Oct 27 2011 00:49
Khawaga wrote:
Nihilist Communism. They've posted here under fort-da-game, frere dupont, monsieur dupont and a few other nicks I think.

Fort-da-game's posts were hilarious.

Spikymike
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Oct 27 2011 15:14

I think perhaps Blasto and some others may have already made this point in different ways but I think the point is rather that professional academics can and do, despite the training and general atmosphere of academia, sometimes become pro-revolutionary, but that they cannot become pro-revolutionary academics and that an 'academic' approach to pro-revolutionary politics is to be considered harmful or at least suspect. So for comparison a bricklayer may become pro-revolutionary but equally cannot become a pro-revolutionary bricklayer as such. There's no difference except that it seems many 'academics' think that they can actually combine their professional and pro-revolutionary roles whereas bricklayers would never consider this in the first place.

As I recall this theoretical point has been made previously by Aufheben but perhaps not been embedded in their practice.

There is a separate issue in relation, not so much to the pro-revolutionary ideas of different sections of the working class (or as some prefer the middle and working classes) but as to their respective material potential to undermine (and eventially destroy) the capitalist economy as a preliminary to any mass change towards a communist consciousness. As I see it MD, in their Nihilist Communism book and in other discussions here, have placed most emphasis on 'external' material conditions as opposed to the 'ideological' role of conscious pro-revolutionaries.

I have my own disagreements with MD, but their book in the library here is still worth a read for those who haven't seen it before.

jacobian
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Oct 27 2011 15:40
RedHughs wrote:
We've been around the whole "teachers are cops" bend before.

This has a strong flavor of the Ni-com folks.

The problem I have with the Ni-com approach is not that we should ignore the manipulation that is a constant part of this society's fabric but that the Ni-com party-lines describes the situation using crude, broad a moral good/bad worker/manager duality - a stance which is more or less a disingenuous sales pitch for their stupid version of postmodern-Marxism.

Unfortunately I think this extends beyond Ni-com. The Pareconistas, the Alinsky folks and many others in the lib-soc milieu have a three class analysis.

I think the theory is meaningless since the categories are by necessity arbitrary and miss an essential factor - the consciousness forming aspects of the ownership of the means of production. Petite bourgeois may make less than a wage worker but they very often tend to have a bourgeois consciousness. This fact has reasserted itself repeatedly in history.

The working class is stratified and compartmentalised into any number of sections. That's obviously true. The question of whether we can find three essential functions outside of the social relations of capital leads to a conversation with shifting sands where there is nowhere to stand permanently. Worse it doesn't lead to any better analysis of how to move forward, how to join forces against the ruling class or how to reconstitute ourselves.

Minus the "middle class" garbage, I also agree somewhat with Malva's early assertion that the university as it currently is constituted should be abolished. We should all be able to engage in mixed manual and cognitive labour. It would be healthier in a direct physiological sense and healthier socially.

In addition people who take classes when they are 18-22 about subjects they don't care about are rubbish. They don't pay attention and remember it for the tests and little else. It's really a waste of everyones time. People really never learn what they don't want to. It has to be voluntary and not for a piece of paper. The paper is truly worth nothing when it isn't voluntary, so whats the point in the piece of paper in the first place? In the end it's about little more than guarding access to certain jobs.

I'd encourage a much more open university model with people drifting in and out throughout their lives being allowed take courses etc. with assistance for areas that we collectively decide are in great demand. The mix of work and learning would enable a lot more directed enthusiasm.

tastybrain
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Oct 27 2011 16:44
Spikymike wrote:
they cannot become pro-revolutionary academics and that an 'academic' approach to pro-revolutionary politics is to be considered harmful or at least suspect. So for comparison a bricklayer may become pro-revolutionary but equally cannot become a pro-revolutionary bricklayer as such. There's no difference except that it seems many 'academics' think that they can actually combine their professional and pro-revolutionary roles whereas bricklayers would never consider this in the first place.

Spiky, I think some people have gone beyond this and have started basically saying that all academics are reactionary, which is why I started this thread.

Also, I never asserted that one can participate in revolutionary movements and retain the academic role intact while doing so. I do think, however, that what academics do at their jobs can contribute to revolutionary praxis (I keep bringing these examples up, but I really think Manufacturing Consent and A People's History of the United States are both academic works which can be profitably read and used by revolutionaries). So no, I guess one can't be a "revolutionary academic" but I think one can use the professional skills one has in a revolutionary movement. An academic who is also a revolutionary could do research for the revolutionary group (while sharing this skill and trying to make his/her specialized role obsolete, of course), just as when we are building walls I expect the bricklayer to take a leadership role while teaching others.

Spikymike wrote:
There is a separate issue in relation, not so much to the pro-revolutionary ideas of different sections of the working class (or as some prefer the middle and working classes) but as to their respective material potential to undermine (and eventially destroy) the capitalist economy as a preliminary to any mass change towards a communist consciousness. As I see it MD, in their Nihilist Communism book and in other discussions here, have placed most emphasis on 'external' material conditions as opposed to the 'ideological' role of conscious pro-revolutionaries.

I recognize that various jobs have different potential to materially disrupt capitalism (an electricians/garbageman's strike is likely to have more of an impact than a university strike) --- however, I think it's ridiculous to choose one's profession on the basis of the potential for serious class struggle (if one has any choice, which I have some). So yeah, maybe academia isn't the most revolutionary workplace, but that's not why I'm interested in it.

Spikymike wrote:
I have my own disagreements with MD, but their book in the library here is still worth a read for those who haven't seen it before.

What book is that?

jacobian wrote:
I also agree somewhat with Malva's early assertion that the university as it currently is constituted should be abolished. We should all be able to engage in mixed manual and cognitive labour. It would be healthier in a direct physiological sense and healthier socially.

In addition people who take classes when they are 18-22 about subjects they don't care about are rubbish. They don't pay attention and remember it for the tests and little else. It's really a waste of everyones time. People really never learn what they don't want to. It has to be voluntary and not for a piece of paper. The paper is truly worth nothing when it isn't voluntary, so whats the point in the piece of paper in the first place? In the end it's about little more than guarding access to certain jobs.

I'd encourage a much more open university model with people drifting in and out throughout their lives being allowed take courses etc. with assistance for areas that we collectively decide are in great demand. The mix of work and learning would enable a lot more directed enthusiasm.

I totally agree with this. This has never been at issue; rather, the blanket condemnation of academics is what I am trying to address here.

The problem with this blanket (and as RedHughes pointed out, moralistic) condemnation of academia is that it is preventing a more sophisticated critique from emerging. I am very interested in how academia is used as a tool by the ruling class and how academics can potentially resist this function even as they resist attacks on their living conditions.

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Red Marriott
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Oct 27 2011 17:54
jacobian wrote:
many others in the lib-soc milieu have a three class analysis.

I think the theory is meaningless since the categories are by necessity arbitrary and miss an essential factor - the consciousness forming aspects of the ownership of the means of production. Petite bourgeois may make less than a wage worker but they very often tend to have a bourgeois consciousness. This fact has reasserted itself repeatedly in history.

So which of your two classes is the petit-bourgeois in, then? The ruling class?

Spikymike
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Oct 27 2011 18:00

tastybrain,

OK were perhaps not so far apart here. In fact on another thread I did say I thought that Chris Knight and the RAG's contribution on 'Primitive Communism' at the bookfair was useful (whatever else one might think about his political practice) so perhaps some academic type research outside of the restrictions of the University is valid. Of course he did get fired from his original post. And I do of course value some particular works/books by particular academics though I don't think this invalidates my general point.

The 'book' or rather 'collection of texts' was of the same title ie 'Nihilist Communism' sorry if I didn't make that clear.

jacobian
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Oct 27 2011 19:53
Red Marriott wrote:
So which of your two classes is the petit-bourgeois in, then? The ruling class?

A section of the bourgeoisie, just as a section of the proletariat is lumpen, and a section of it is professional. Or a section of it makes between 35k/yr-45k/yr and a section of it works >40h/week or a section of it has a 401k or ...