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Pro-revolutionaries in academia

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Rob Ray's picture
Rob Ray
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Nov 24 2011 14:46
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Communists can surely both support these strikes and challenge the approach of those 'defending the institutions' ?

Of course, and in fact that's what most communists do both inside and outside said institutions. I don't think I've ever come across any commie saying "my job would be exactly the same post-revolution because it's perfect." I mean the critique of work is kind of a baseline critique which everyone on this site holds to one degree or another.

Blasto et al though take the idea to ludicrous extremes, slagging "academics" off because they are apparently vastly more culpable than say, a council repair worker who gets the occasional job of cutting the water supply at a squat.

There's no room for reciprocal solidarity in that kind of thinking, it plays directly to the maintenance of an atomised working class through its exclusivity. And there's no understanding of the transformative effect of struggle itself - where a teacher who always thought their work was building a better country finds that country doesn't give a shit about them, and thinks harder than before about their position and that of their charges. And perhaps spots a book by a man called Ferrer, who was mentioned by those people who brought them coffee on the picket line...

Blasto
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Nov 24 2011 14:56
Rob Ray wrote:
Quote:
Communists can surely both support these strikes and challenge the approach of those 'defending the institutions' ?

Of course, and in fact that's what most communists do both inside and outside said institutions. I don't think I've ever come across any commie saying "my job would be exactly the same post-revolution because it's perfect." I mean the critique of work is kind of a baseline critique which everyone on this site holds to one degree or another.

Blasto et al though take the idea to ludicrous extremes, slagging "academics" off because they are apparently vastly more culpable than say, a council repair worker who gets the occasional job of cutting the water supply at a squat.

There's no room for reciprocal solidarity in that kind of thinking, it plays directly to the maintenance of an atomised working class through its exclusivity. And there's no understanding of the transformative effect of struggle itself - where a teacher who always thought their work was building a better country finds that country doesn't give a shit about them, and thinks harder than before about their position and that of their charges. And perhaps spots a book by a man called Ferrer, who was mentioned by those people who brought them coffee on the picket line...

Rob Ray. This is very typical of your posting style - putting words in other people's mouths.This is all your own complete fiction.
Your motives for distorting what people say are known only to yourself.
I'll argue my own perspective, thanks. Stick to speaking for yourself and I'll do the same.

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Rob Ray
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Nov 24 2011 15:24
Blasto wrote:
Infact, there are a couple of academics in particular who are quite brilliant, incisive and witty and who I was very close to, but with whom I can no longer collaborate because it was clear to me that their role had set limits which not only neutered the projects, but created risks for myself and others.

To me, that reads as though you think the role of an academic is so compromised by their relationship to capitalist power that you can't work with them, whereas I presume that you'd have no such qualms about working with a council plumber as a plumber in and of themselves. If I've misinterpreted that I apologise, what did you actually mean?

(Edit: I mean if academics aren't being held up as particularly awful then the only other point I've seen come out generally is that workers shouldn't think about communism using the current capitalist framework as their main reference point, to which the phrase "well duh" comes to mind - and why do academics even need referencing?)

Spikymike
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Nov 24 2011 15:21

Just for the record Rob I have generally been supportive of much (even if not all) of the arguments put forward by Blasto, lines, samotnaf and some others in relations to 'middle class jobs' and 'academia' etc especially in relation to the potential or otherwise for such to become radicalised in the here and now (which I illustrated in two earlier posts from my own personal experience) and the risks associated with the mindset of such in any future revolutionary challenge to capitalism.

However I do not draw from that all the same conclusions as lines perhaps does in relation to our attitude as pro-revolutionaries to strikes in the education sector, though I am not convinced that pro-revolutionaries in that sector do in practice carry out such a specifically communist critique as you suggest because this was partly what was being challenged in our discussion here.

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Nov 24 2011 15:36
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I am not convinced that pro-revolutionaries in that sector do in practice carry out such a specifically communist critique

Start a survey then. Hell I'll ask here:

Does any communist academic on libcom believe that current academic norms are neutral or that present academic frameworks are entirely adequate to explain the world? Would you wish academia to remain the same post-revolution? Please speak below if so.

As a journalist, incidentally, my response to such questions would be "no of course not. I'm a communist ffs."

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Nov 24 2011 15:40
Rob Ray wrote:
Does any communist academic on libcom believe that current academic norms are neutral or that present academic frameworks are entirely adequate to explain the world? Would you wish academia to remain the same post-revolution? Please speak below if so.

As a journalist, incidentally, my response to such questions would be "no of course not. I'm a communist ffs."

+1, comrade.

In my experience, those that want to retain the academic state of things post-rev are a fringe minority. Actually, I have yet to meet one of them.

It's another question if answering these questions negatively passes for "communist critique" of the institution, however.

Blasto
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Nov 24 2011 16:21
Rob Ray wrote:
Blasto wrote:
Infact, there are a couple of academics in particular who are quite brilliant, incisive and witty and who I was very close to, but with whom I can no longer collaborate because it was clear to me that their role had set limits which not only neutered the projects, but created risks for myself and others.

To me, that reads as though you think the role of an academic is so compromised by their relationship to capitalist power that you can't work with them, whereas I presume that you'd have no such qualms about working with a council plumber as a plumber in and of themselves. If I've misinterpreted that I apologise, what did you actually mean?

Rob, I meant exactly what I wrote. I work with an academic now. He has healthy critique of his role as I do mine. Those previous two academics were compromised by their role. That illustrates how a role can compromise a person, but doesn't make it a certainty.
Re this imagined plumber, at what point does "I'm only doing my job" become acceptable? If the plumber was putting his own well being so far ahead of others by cutting off water supplies from any family then he is presumably not a communist. Yes? If he was he would either subvert his role or find another job and tell his boss to go to hell, or is class solidarity just an abstraction reserved for the occassional days announced by unions?

At no stage have I "slagged off academics" per se.. I have slagged of one academic for reasons I think by now are clear. I have, however, slagged off academia. I slag off the NHS too, but that doesn't make me against all nurses. I have slagged off social work, but I know people who are social workers (or rather, were, but now know better). So there is plenty of room for solidarity with other workers without defending a single crumb of capitalism.

The point of this thread is that all roles are not equal, just as all classes are not equal. You cannot equate a plumber with an academic, or an academic with a policeman. The argument that "we are all just workers" is fallacious. There is no neutrality in capitalism, but there are varying degrees of duplicity. As a communist, you surely have a specific critique of journalism that understands its role in the here and now and you apply that critique in terms of what you will or won't do, day in, day out. And surely you understand the role of journalism as a general category and how that differs from other roles in very particular ways in terms of perpetuating and developing capitalism's hold on the world? And that comparing that role to say, plumbing, just looks ridiculous?

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Nov 24 2011 16:58
Rob Ray wrote:
Does any communist academic on libcom believe that current academic norms are neutral or that present academic frameworks are entirely adequate to explain the world? Would you wish academia to remain the same post-revolution? Please speak below if so.

Of course not! In fact, now working within academia has only strengthened that. I would say that my class consciousness has been heightened from being an academic worker. The university must be abolished and I would be only too happy to bring about its demise, but at the moment this is where I work and I have to deal with that by becoming a schizophrenic (a communist and an academic since I do not see the overlap at all; indeed my main problem with the so-called radical academics is that they identify as radical academics first rather than simply workers with the radical implications that position implies).

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Nov 24 2011 17:03
Blasto wrote:
The argument that "we are all just workers" is fallacious.

Well, it depends. If you believe that by the virtue of receiving a wage you're somehow radical, then it's all bs. That's simply economic reductionism. But if you stress that "we all workers" in the sense of identifying as a worker and your interest is that of the working class (i.e. being class conscious to some degree), then it is something completely different.

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Nov 24 2011 17:18
Rob Ray wrote:
Does any communist academic on libcom believe that current academic norms are neutral or that present academic frameworks are entirely adequate to explain the world? Would you wish academia to remain the same post-revolution? Please speak below if so.

I doubt that anyone working or learning in academia needs a heightened communist critique to answer an emphatic "no" to all three questions (well, except for the post-revolution business, but they would definitely like to see it changed), from the labor point of view as well as the use-value point of view. I have never encountered such a person, except, perhaps, for administrators.

The reason I am in academia is that this is where the means of intellectual production are still locked up, and I could not find a substitute outside of it. I think I've said this before, I would rather not have it locked up there, and hope that a transition to communism would rid us of the walls of academia so that knowledge and intellectual experience will be available to everyone, not just in a stunted form to those who can afford to or who are willing to take the gamble of immense debt.

tastybrain
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Nov 24 2011 21:09
Tojiah wrote:
Rob Ray wrote:
Does any communist academic on libcom believe that current academic norms are neutral or that present academic frameworks are entirely adequate to explain the world? Would you wish academia to remain the same post-revolution? Please speak below if so.

I doubt that anyone working or learning in academia needs a heightened communist critique to answer an emphatic "no" to all three questions (well, except for the post-revolution business, but they would definitely like to see it changed), from the labor point of view as well as the use-value point of view. I have never encountered such a person, except, perhaps, for administrators.

The reason I am in academia is that this is where the means of intellectual production are still locked up, and I could not find a substitute outside of it. I think I've said this before, I would rather not have it locked up there, and hope that a transition to communism would rid us of the walls of academia so that knowledge and intellectual experience will be available to everyone, not just in a stunted form to those who can afford to or who are willing to take the gamble of immense debt.

Exactly. I don't think I've ever heard an academic defend or positively praise schooling or academia...whenever the subject comes up either in or out of class (more often out) the tone is extremely critical. And Rob is completely right. Not a single person has said academia should continue being the same way it is. In another thread, about "abolishing the university," which had many academics posting, and the discussion was between people who wants to "abolish the university" and those, like me, who think that the university should be radically changed and be open to everyone but that since there would still be centers for learning there would still be, in a sense, a "university". So no one on Libcom has said academia is fine as it is.

Lines, what's wrong with trying to get students not to cross picket lines? Every other worker deserves solidarity except education workers? Why are strikes at universities insignificant for communists? Just because you see academia as particularly odious in its repressive function the university is analogous to a police station?

tastybrain
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Nov 24 2011 21:26
Blasto wrote:
Re this imagined plumber, at what point does "I'm only doing my job" become acceptable? If the plumber was putting his own well being so far ahead of others by cutting off water supplies from any family then he is presumably not a communist. Yes? If he was he would either subvert his role or find another job and tell his boss to go to hell, or is class solidarity just an abstraction reserved for the occassional days announced by unions? ...And that comparing that role to say, plumbing, just looks ridiculous?

Well just as not all plumbers would agree to carry out the request to cut off the water not all academics would do what J did. Hopefully communist plumbers will refuse to cut off the water and communist academics will refuse to collaborate with the police.

Also, why is the comparison ridiculous? just because their job is not "intellectual" or "middle class" they get a free pass for a lack of solidarity? I will criticize both scumbag academics who's research aids power and chauvinist workers who manufacture munitions for the war machine.

tastybrain
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Nov 24 2011 22:07
Blasto wrote:
(The lecturer has an openly cynical attitude to HE, whilst at the same time finding some pleasure their largely benign topic area).

So you seem to be saying that working with academics is sometimes acceptable. I would suggest that most subject areas are "largely benign" (although the most heavily funded ones are probably not). People should keep this in mind when talking about "academics" generally.

Blasto wrote:
Arbeiten wrote:
nice one grumpy cat. I am sure there are those out there who had an old commie uncle or were visited by Marx in a vision. But there are others (me included) who only really had access to books when we got into the education system (well, I did have some Goosebumps books before college, but I don't think that counts).

So from that, are universities agents of revolution or have students become radicalised by their individual and collective alienation? And are those books really a banner for universities, or just poetic licence and playfulness?

Many people would have been radicalised by their experiences on that very day, but we don't conclude from that the police are an agent for change.

Whatever way we build our perspective, it is only ever from within this world - it doesn't mean any of it is worth saving, though that is not what you were suggesting, unlike radicalgraffiti.

Nobody is saying the academy is a wonderful institution that opens everyone's eyes to radical possibilities. Obviously there are plenty of miserable academics who reinforce reactionary thinking. It's more like academia fulfills a function within capitalism but can also, in spite of itself, offer opportunities for (self)enlightenment and gives workers the tools to think about society in a way academia itself enables but does not intend. It's not that we, as you put it, think academia is "worth saving" as a whole, that we should just chop off the snake's head and put a new one on. It's that there are aspects of the present society, including aspects of the academy, that can be employed as building blocks in the new world.

As an analogy, I'll offer military service. Now obviously no one would argue that the military is itself an "agent for change" or in any way compatible with communism. But individual soldiers, despite the fact that they carry out a repressive function, can be communists. Furthermore, while disciplined obedience to hierarchical authority is incompatible with communist action, weapons training is not. So while soldiers might reject aspects of their training (obedience, willingness to kill without thinking), they can and have employed the concrete skills they gained as a result of their function under capitalism (shooting, finding cover, strategy) in the service of bringing about communism.

Similarly, academics play a recuperative/reproductive, etc., role in capitalism or can even be directly involved in repression (like J or American anthropologists working for the Pentagon in Afghanistan). A communist who is also an academic would reject this and other aspects of their academic training (ideas as private property, competitiveness and elitism, appeals to authority, false "objectivity") but could also use aspects of it in their contribution to communist practice (research, theory, writing skills).

Blasto wrote:
radicalgraffiti wrote:
Whats wrong with having a organisation that delivers mail? why wouldn't we need such a thing during or after a revolution?

Nothing is wrong with it, but why ask postal workers to carry a corpse of the old world into the new. Communism is a belief in ourselves. Of course there would be communication, but any communication system would be created and exist through free will, not by chopping the head off the old world and putting a new one on it (even with a natty red and black cap). Don't mistake the end (communication - which is necessary), with the means (Royal Mail, etc, which is built on a purely capitalist and statist logic and necessitates a huge amount of coercion).

I have been accused by lines of wanting to preserve the division of labor. In fact I do not, but I realize that we can only break down the division of labor by sharing our skills with others, not simply renouncing our own because they are part of the "old world".

The problem with capitalism, in my view, is not that people work harvesting crops, providing medical care, researching and writing but how these necessary social functions are carried out (and not carried out for many people).

I think you are misunderstanding what radical graffiti is saying. He's not saying the mail should be delivered the exact same way. He's saying the mail should be delivered. Similarly, most academics are quite cynical about the academy but they still think there should be centers of learning and study. Don't condemn people just because they see a social need for what it is they do --- this doesn't mean they identify in toto with the world as it is or with their own role. In fact, the dialectical tension between the societal function many jobs are supposed to fulfill and the capitalist framework that makes the real fulfillment of these social necessities impossible can point very clearly towards the need for communism.

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Nov 25 2011 00:20

Right, there's been several complaints about this thread. Play nice and stay on topic or admins start unpublishing shit. And the first person to compare this to a twentieth century dictatorship gets a special prize.

Blasto
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Nov 25 2011 10:04

EDIT: I've been editing this... but it is not going to change any further...

That's a much clearer analysis Lines, but my point is a bit more specific..

My main thrust in this thread has been precisely about the ideological (and other) functions of academia. Unlike a worker in a supermarket (though Walmart etc try this), the academic is by definition required to intellectually identify with the academic role.

It's not just the subject area, it's the logic, the ideological framework in which this work takes place. So a communist academic must have a particular clarity and a strategy to deal with this, (just as a communist journalist or social worker must have to deal with their intellectual roles). In particular, a communist academic must have a thorough understanding of recuperation.

So when I say an academic is a communist despite their role its because their role is inexorably pulling them in the other direction - it will always work to recuperate them. And recuperation isn't the just tired, defeated ex-anarchist lecturer we heard of, it is far more insidious.

What does this recuperation mean in practice? Many things, such as always tempting the academic to actively inject their own intellectual energy into solving contemporary problems - from developing new discourses to resolving workplace issues. One aspect (and this is just one aspect) which is perhaps easiest to shed light on is recuperation through "radical" discourse.

There is an undeniable tendency of 'radical' academics (or journalists, social workers etc) to identify with their role in a way which incorporates their own "radicalism". This shows how easily a communist perspective is recuperated from acting against one's alienated labour and ideological role to endorsing it as a form of radical practice.

Thus we have "social policy", cultural studies", etc, presented as radical discourses, as subversive. In reality of course, it is radical in the sense that it is challenging current norms by pushing the boundaries of recuperation further and further into the terrain of the struggle against the world as it is. And that is because it cannot escape its own reformist logic. Dr J presents a particularly extreme example of this tendency - completely dissolving the distinction between action as a communist (road protests, the poll tax riot), and the role of an academic (research). But that is an extreme example.

So in practice, a more common example is we have "radical" academics actively encouraging young people who also have a critical analysis to engage with them on the basis of their "radical" academic discourse. Rather than propose to radicalised students - "your role is to abolish mine", they recuperate the young radicals as a new generation of radical academics, social workers, journalists, etc.., perpetuating the myth that these roles have some aspect of inherent radicalism in and of themselves. And so it goes on.

Beware!

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Nov 25 2011 10:11

lines, if you want to make up weird fantasist lies about anarchist groups, then at least try to back it up. If not, it's just trolling, so post unpublished.

You want to complain about this take it to feedback. Anything else on this on the thread will be deleted.

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Nov 25 2011 12:13

I think what we got here is a form and content debate being folded into one. I think we must agreed (ho ho, as Tojiah pointed out, academics included!!!!) that the current form of higher education is hugely problematic. Elitist, specialized, expensive, bureaucratic etc, etc.

Can, someone work within this form and still be revolutionary? Of course they bloody can. Who would say Antonie Pannekoek was not revolutionary? (I know, I know astronomy is pretty bourgeois and should be annihilated after the revolution....but ya know roll eyes

The content of 'the university' on the other hand is thoroughly ambivalent. One of my favourite metaphors is 'the conceptual net cast so wide that all the fishes swim through' and I think thats what we have here. There is absolutely nothing in common with the academic content (bar the word academic of course!) of J, Niall Ferguson, Ruth Wodak or Charles W Mills. The way this debate is going there is only going to be 2 proles left on the whole earth (lines and Blasto. I am not included of course because i went to university and still sometimes enjoy reading 'poetry and playfulness' wink). In the way that you have chosen to frame your arguments David Harvey is going to be as counter-revolutionary as Michael Gove, and that is (I think most will agree) just not the case.

Also, I think we should have something like a Godwin law for mentioning the police maybe (i'm guilty here, but I think most people on this thread have done it lavishly).

N.B Blasto, it made me chuckle into my cheese and pickle sandwiches when you posted pictures of people holding Deleuze and Guattari, Badiou and Beckett shields to justify the idea that students don't give two hoots about academics and the university. I actually know some of those people, and whether you like it or not (I'm sure you don't) a lot of them are actually now engaging in university occupations and in fact will be doing stuff in solidarity with their lecturers next week. But, don't let real life get in the way of your 'abstractions' of course....

2fast2war
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Nov 25 2011 13:19

I recently came across this article which I found very interesting, about directly dialoguing between anarchism and academia.

Blasto
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Nov 25 2011 14:28
Arbeiten wrote:
Can, someone work within this form and still be revolutionary? Of course they bloody can. Who would say Antonie Pannekoek was not revolutionary? (I know, I know astronomy is pretty bourgeois and should be annihilated after the revolution....but ya know roll eyes

But ya know, who has said otherwise?

Arbeiten wrote:
The content of 'the university' on the other hand is thoroughly ambivalent. One of my favourite metaphors is 'the conceptual net cast so wide that all the fishes swim through' and I think thats what we have here. There is absolutely nothing in common with the academic content (bar the word academic of course!) of J, Niall Ferguson, Ruth Wodak or Charles W Mills. The way this debate is going there is only going to be 2 proles left on the whole earth (lines and Blasto. I am not included of course because i went to university and still sometimes enjoy reading 'poetry and playfulness' wink). In the way that you have chosen to frame your arguments David Harvey is going to be as counter-revolutionary as Michael Gove, and that is (I think most will agree) just not the case.

I'm not sure what you are on about here? Has anyone suggested that all academics are the same, that all academic disciplines are the same or all academics are counter-revolutionary? It comes across as very defensive.

Arbeiten wrote:
N.B Blasto, it made me chuckle into my cheese and pickle sandwiches when you posted pictures of people holding Deleuze and Guattari, Badiou and Beckett shields to justify the idea that students don't give two hoots about academics and the university. I actually know some of those people, and whether you like it or not (I'm sure you don't) a lot of them are actually now engaging in university occupations and in fact will be doing stuff in solidarity with their lecturers next week. But, don't let real life get in the way of your 'abstractions' of course....

I wasn't justifying anything other than students have more imagination than to stand around on lecturers picket lines. The rest is all yours.

Seriously Arbeiten, disagree with me all you like. Call me a retard or fuckwit, for what its worth. And defend academics - I'm not actually attacking academics per se. But once you start defending academia, where does that leave you?

Like I wrote earlier (and should have stuck to) I've said my piece - take it or leave it. This is my last post on this thread. It's been fun.

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Nov 25 2011 16:36

There has unfortunately been a lot of 'cross-talking' on this thread (in both senses of that phrase).

I think Blasto in his most recent posts has tried to correct that as best he can and if people still persist in misunderstanding his point of view that's their problem it seems to me.

The difficulty is that whilst most posters here can claim to be very critical of academia and the educational institutions as they are in capitalism, it has been the view of Blasto, lines and some others in the minority, that this appears more as a radical reformism than a revolutionary rejection of both. This difference in turn seems to result from a pretty huge difference of analysis as to the extent and depth of capitalism's moulding of the material environment, life and indeed psychology of all of us but more particularly those who's work involves a degree of intelectual identification with the content of their work.

This difference has also surfaced in the related discussion as to the significance of managerial roles in relation both to the day to day class struggle and the future shape of any potential revolutionary situation. Again differences have revolved to a large extent as far as I can see as to the extent and depth of those influences.

At no time have any of the minority asserted that some individuals could not be both academics or professionals etc and communists, but there is a big difference between individual communists from this background and:

1. any assumption that a communist 'ideology' somehow makes one immune from the material influences of ones particular class and social function under capitalism. We have to be more self-critical of our roles in capitalism.

2. pro-revolutionary groups becoming dominated either numerically or intelectually by such individuals. (A survey on this would bu useful)

3. any anti-capitalist strategy based on the assumption that all sectors of workers are somehow equally significant or have equal potential in the development of the class struggle or that class unity can be forged through simple appeals to an identity of interests as waged workers. (see note below).

4. any assumption that the roles performed by the 'middle class' are not going to be a problem in a revolutionary situation and the transformation to communism.

It is still very dificult getting at diffences of opinion in this discussion because it is inevitably such a difficult task describing and explaining difference of opinion over matters of extent and depth which are so wide apart from one another. Maybe only time and experience will resolve matters?

I'll probably get accused again of taking the 'middle ground' but I'll risk it.

Note: In relation to three above I recall the debate which many of us had with Aufheban and some other Brighton comrades over the relevance or otherwise of the 'Three Strikes and Your Out' AntiJSA campaign way back as illustrating this difference.

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Arbeiten
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Nov 26 2011 05:15

Ok Blasto. I will deal with your weak responses one by one.

1. who said otherwise? you on numerous posts that we have all read. Don't make me quote them (I won't because i can not be bothered with this pathetic debate. But everyone here is able to read it).

2. has anyone suggested that all acaemics are the same? yes. you and lines. in your pesistantly shite absoltely un-nuanced posts about 'all academics' being absolutely counter-revoltuionary (I believe one of you [can't remember which one, but are you even different posters?] who had the gall to imply Romon was fucking counter-revolutionary for asking advice on how to stop her students crossing the picket line* (Again, I could quote the exact posts, but it is basically every other posts).

3. I have not called you either a fuckwit or a retard. Neither. and I wouldn't. the fact (and i use this in the most un-communist sense) of the matter is, your argument is bollocks. as I said in my last post. Massive net, all the fishes have well swam off. To quote a poster on this thread 'take it or leave it'.

*are you fucking nuts or what?

N.B I was impressed in the way that your last post basically skirted all of my substantive points wink

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Arbeiten
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Nov 26 2011 05:52

ok just a quick little foot note. i am dealing largely with what I feel to be the main thrust of a diametrically appose debate. Only one of my paragraphs directly challenged Blasto. it was up to him/her to take it up further. So I think it might become a little disingenuous if our next post is 'did i saaaaaaaaaay that bruv'.

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Nov 26 2011 09:07

Wow, this thread is really popular. I think that this probably reflects how many people in the 'anarchist movement' are academics these days. I suppose this is probably partly due to the change in access to education over the last thirty years or so, but I think that there is something more than that.

When I was involved in a UK anarchist organisation (I was in South West London DAM, now Solfed), our local branch had between 15 and 20 people, and non of them had done a Ph.D. Only four of them had even been to university. Even today the only people that I know who are doing Ph.Ds are people I have met through politics.

Devrim

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Nov 26 2011 12:50

Treading the OT line here but I think I'm on the right side.

Blasto, Lines and Samotnaf often say things that to my ears suggest that individual behaviour is very important. That a communist should have impeccable morals (sorry cant think of an other word) and act according to a very stringent and high standard constantly pushing onwards towards the communist ubermench.

I'm not that well read and I'm not aware where this tendency comes from and I cannot understand how individual behaviour can be deemed so important. This includes the discussions about the academics. There are shitloads of academics, their contribution to the capitalist state is almost always absolutely minimal. Removing 1000 will make no difference, why then fret about it? (leave J out of it for a bit) I can't help but see some weird inverted lifestyleism that I cant get my head around in the arguments by the above. Me bunching you up is purely as I've noticed some similarities in argument it's actually not related to your stance on Aufhebengate.

I take a split personality as given under capitalism. I'm not sure that there is any merit in trying to heal this split by means other than revolution.

@Devrim, Perhaps in addition to the increased access to education it's the fact that politics are sadly sort of an extra divorced from daily life. Until the militancy is up again and more people get organised the people in orgs will be the ones who have an ideological interest and a personal tendency towards reading, writing, thinking, organising and these people will try to find work where they can do what they are good at. There is a risk though that this discussing this huge increase in academics is a red herring without basis in reality? There's that line on anecdote and statistics that I cant remember.

Spikymike
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Nov 26 2011 19:38

Cooked,

For the record there are some important differences of opinion between all three of those you quote and me, despite some important overlapping areas of agreement between the four of us, but if you think the arguments have been about communists requiring 'impeccable morals' (as opposed to some sound analysis and basic awareness of the material influences on our lives) you are way off the mark and perhaps need to reread this and related threads again a bit more carefully. Unfortunately lines is now banned (rightly or wrongly) and the other two have given up on this discussion so they are unlikely to seek to clarify this point any further.

If you are interested in my viewes on this whole area you can off course trawl back over my posts but I too am a bit tired of this one as well for now.

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Mr. Jolly
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Nov 26 2011 22:24

Weird angle to take, the 'sociological' definition of class, is the one that fits most peoples everyday experiences of how one social class exerts power on another. These are concrete institutions and concrete classes of individuals that are separated economically, socially and geographically from each other. To dismiss this stuff out of hand, is a little simplistic.

gypsy
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Nov 26 2011 22:51
Devrim wrote:
Wow, this thread is really popular. I think that this probably reflects how many people in the 'anarchist movement' are academics these days. I suppose this is probably partly due to the change in access to education over the last thirty years or so, but I think that there is something more than that.

When I was involved in a UK anarchist organisation (I was in South West London DAM, now Solfed), our local branch had between 15 and 20 people, and non of them had done a Ph.D. Only four of them had even been to university. Even today the only people that I know who are doing Ph.Ds are people I have met through politics.

Devrim

Not having a pop at anyone or the anarchist scene in the UK. But I would say the majority of 'anarchists' I have met in the UK are from a middle class background. I'm guessing that in Spain and other countries this is not the case.

bzfgt
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Nov 28 2011 18:14

I don't know if this will move discussion forward, or inspire ridicule, or both, but here is a text that I think is well worth reading on this question:

http://insipidities.blogspot.com/2011/11/self-interview-no2.html

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Picket
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Nov 28 2011 18:35
bzfgt wrote:
I don't know if this will move discussion forward, or inspire ridicule, or both, but here is a text that I think is well worth reading on this question:

http://insipidities.blogspot.com/2011/11/self-interview-no2.html

From the site:

that web site wrote:

Q.
Begin simply, what is the first problem?

A.
The first problem is always encountered practically. It is manifested within confrontations [1] where much more than what is first thought is suddenly put into jeopardy. One cannot explain why exactly, but it rapidly becomes necessary to hold on.
Q.
The sudden quickening of the argumentation [2] around class appears as a confusion of different uses for the various categories that become available as argument [3]. Such categorical incoherence draws in wildly different approaches to interpellation [4], specific economic functionality (productive worker and intellectual worker) as well as a question about 'where' class consciousness appears.

A.
There is an endless and inescapable oscillation between the question of class as the motor of the reproduction of existing relations, and the question of class in relation to social revolution. This simple divergence in real life produces endless complexity.

This needs translated into "normal".

[1] Confrontations between what? The rest of the "A" makes no sense without understanding this.

EDIT OK I get it (I think), between classes, but it's taken a few minutes for this to dawn on me, when it would have taken two seconds to just write that.

[2] What does this even mean (the phrase)?

[3] What does it mean for various categories to "become available"? What process is allowing them to "become available"?

[4] EDIT: I found a "marxist" definition on wikipedia but it seems every marxist has their own version...

etc.

Generally, I wish marxists / philosophers would write more clearly, I tend to think there are few good excuses for failing to do so.

Boris Badenov
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Nov 28 2011 19:33

I'm glad I stayed away from this mess, but I can't help notice that all of this ultimately boils down to two possibilities. Either

1) some jobs are more moral and communisty than others
or
2) no job contributes to, or takes away anything from one's allegiance to communist ideas.

If anyone subscribes to 1), obviously there is nothing to discuss here. Such a person would lack even the most basic understanding of material reality. If 2), this is a false problem, as there is really no such thing as a "radical academic". One can have a profession in academia, and be involved in radical politics given specific circumstances, but the latter never follows from the former.
As for the supposedly unique role that academics as a whole have in propagating the "ideology of the ruling class," it is a fairly spurious proposition as it implies that it is possible to neatly calculate the exact percentage of "ideology upholding" that academics do, whereas ideological hegemony, as a self-reproducing and self-sustaining phenomenon, is infinitely more complex than this.