Pro-revolutionaries in academia

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piter
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Dec 3 2011 12:16
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Cooked wrote:

2. Are middle class communists a problem for the movement?

Devrim wrote :
No, not individually, but I think there is a problem when you have organisations that are dominated by those people.

sums up quite well one of the main point of people criticising academia.
it's not a moral judgement against revolutionnaries in academia but just pointing the need to beware of what could results if people in academia (or the socials trata of middle class specialists in social management etc...) comes to dominates the revolutionnary milieu.
such people play a special part in the reproduction of capital, some play a part in reproducing the ideological conditions of capital, some of them play a part in reproducing in the workplaces the hierarchical organisation of work, the command of capital over labor.
and as Devrim said "they are effected by their jobs/working environment. I think that they pick up attitudes there that are antithetical to communist politics. "
the second international is a classical exemple for that...(even if it's not the only reason for which it wasnt a revolutionnay organisation).
the 3rd international then showed quite clearly that people from working class background placed in the same position (of managers, cadres, working places and political leadership, etc...) act in the same way ery quickly. so it's more than a "sociological" question of education, lifestyle, etc...its a question of reproduction of class relations, hierarchy, etc...of the reproduction of general conditions of the reproducion of capital.

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Rob Ray
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Dec 3 2011 12:16
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they are effected by their jobs/working environment. I think that they pick up attitudes there that are antithetical to communist politics.

Personally I'd rephrase to say "some" pick up attitudes. Others don't. It's the "oh you're an academic/middle class therefore you must be compromised attitude which (personally) I find to be counteproductive and tbh a bit prejudiced - I mean I know people who have grown up in racist households and who still have racist friends from back in school, it doesn't make them racists.

piter
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Dec 3 2011 12:19
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Personally I'd rephrase to say "some" pick up attitudes. Others don't. It's the "oh you're an academic/middle class therefore you must be compromised attitude which (personally) I find to be counteproductive and tbh a bit prejudiced - I mean I know people who have grown up in racist households and who still have racist friends from back in school, it doesn't make them racists.

of course its a trend, a tendency, of course not every individual is affected the same way by it...anyway most of them are affected by it to some extent, even if only unconsciously.

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Rob Ray
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Dec 3 2011 12:28

You say "of course" but that's not what Devrim wrote and you accepted the line without clarification in your post, hence my reply - even if you think in a particular way, it potentially frames the debate badly for subsequent posters.

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most of them are affected by it to some extent, even if only unconsciously.

Yeah and I'm sure growing up in a racist household does the same - but I'm not going to tell an ex-racist who joins a communist group but hangs around with his old mates at the footie and sometimes drops a bad attitude "you're destroying the movement." Ball not man etc.

piter
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Dec 3 2011 12:35

some food for thought.
I just read that in a recent book by Pierre Bourlier called "De l'intérieur du désastre"" :

"Le capitalisme se vit ainsi comme une domination de la pratique intellectuelle sur le reste de la pratique humaine : nous sommes privés de l'intelligence de nos pratiques, et cette intelligence devient une activité séparée, un moyen de domination de nos pratiques".

which can translate : "capitalism exists, and is lived, as a domination of the intellectual practice over the rest of human practice : we are deprived of the understanding of our practices, and this understanding becomes a separate activity, a means to dominate our practices".

to place it in the wider context of the general conditions for the domination/reproduction of capital :

the bourgeoisie wih the state expropriate the means of production, then they expropriate the control of the workers over the proces of work and place this control in the hand of managers. they also expropriate us of the understanding of our practice and place it in the hands of the intellectuals.
everybody can understand where the acadmics fits in this, what role they play regarding the conditions of domination/reproduction of capital...

"revolutionnaries" in academia who don't understand that and don't criticize it in theory and in practice are deeply recuperated.

piter
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Dec 3 2011 12:47
Quote:
Quote Rob Ray:

most of them are affected by it to some extent, even if only unconsciously.

Yeah and I'm sure growing up in a racist household does the same - but I'm not going to tell an ex-racist who joins a communist group but hangs around with his old mates at the footie and sometimes drops a bad attitude "you're destroying the movement." Ball not man etc.

strawman.
being racist is not like holding a position in the class relations (in division of work, hierarchy, in the ideological conditions for the domination of capital, etc..).

I just explained that position and its effects...

I also just said that the question is not rejecting academics/middle class professionnals but to beware that they don't hold dominant position in the movement. thay can play their part in it if they don't act as a social strata reproducing its position of leadership within the movement (and also in society of course...).

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Awesome Dude
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Dec 3 2011 13:13
Rob Ray wrote:
It's the "oh you're an academic/middle class therefore you must be compromised attitude which (personally) I find to be counteproductive and tbh a bit prejudiced - I mean I know people who have grown up in racist households and who still have racist friends from back in school, it doesn't make them racists.

Gosh. Didnt know you felt that way Rob Ray. I guess to middle class revolutionaries I'm the social equivalent of a white supremacist, i.e. I hold beliefs that middle class types are socially retarded, which stems from their biological inferiority. Naturally, it follows from such a point of view that working class uber men will eventually rule supremetongue.

lurdan
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Dec 3 2011 13:54
Rob Ray wrote:
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most of them are affected by it to some extent, even if only unconsciously.

Yeah and I'm sure growing up in a racist household does the same

Puzzling analogy. You don't choose your family, or where they live or where you go to school. By contrast jobs of any kind are different outside situations of conscription. And jobs in academia not only have to be chosen but getting them (as in many other fields of employment) commonly involves competition with other candidates.

Workplace communities aren't the same as the community inside a family or amongst your peer group. In some ways it can be easier to recognise and reject the attitudes and forms of public discourse that underlie and bond together workplace communities. Although this is most commonly done on an individual basis by putting on a way of 'being at work' and taking it off again before going home. Or by being cynically loyal at work.

Rob Ray wrote:
Ball not man etc.

What exactly would the ball do if the man wasn't there ?

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Rob Ray
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Dec 3 2011 14:37
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being racist is not like holding a position in the class relations

I wasn't saying it is, I was drawing the analogy solely in the sense that hanging around with/being influenced by people who hold counterproductive or stupid viewpoints doesn't necessarily lead to someone becoming counterproductive or stupid. Individuals need to be judged on merit, not on background, otherwise we could easily spend most of our lives picking holes (we can't have men because they're all socialised into sexism etc etc).

That's not to say you can't point to someone being a dick and say "this is where your attitude comes from" because then it's on them, a decent individual will shut up and listen while a "tourist" (or whatever you want to call them) will just get defensive.

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Railyon
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Dec 3 2011 14:46
lurdan wrote:
You don't choose your family, or where they live or where you go to school.

I agree. That's why I find this "middle class background = middle class kid" thinking that some people hold around here to be problematic...

lurdan wrote:
By contrast jobs of any kind are different outside situations of conscription. And jobs in academia not only have to be chosen but getting them (as in many other fields of employment) commonly involves competition with other candidates.

Not sure how that sets academia apart from other jobs on its own.

piter
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Dec 3 2011 15:00
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I wasn't saying it is, I was drawing the analogy solely in the sense that hanging around with/being influenced by people who hold counterproductive or stupid viewpoints doesn't necessarily lead to someone becoming counterproductive or stupid. Individuals need to be judged on merit, not on background

yes, but I wasn't talking about one individual. I was talking about people in academia /middle class intellectuals/managers as a social strata having a definite position in class relations and its reproduction.

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Dec 3 2011 15:01
lurdan wrote:
What exactly would the ball do if the man wasn't there ?

ball would not exisit...a human worker has to make it first!

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Dec 3 2011 15:09
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but I wasn't talking about one individual

That's my point - there's no such thing as a homogenous group of academics who all have a position based on their role as academics. There's just individuals, some or many (or even most) of whom might hold similar positions on stuff. Which if you want to talk about such tendencies in a shooting the breeze kind of way then fair enough, but that's not actually very useful to know when engaging with people ("most" people vote in elections with the expectation it'll change things for goodness sake).

piter
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Dec 3 2011 15:11

Railyon, what sets the academia apart from other jobs is the fact that the role of acadmia is to elaborate/reinforce the ideological domination of the bourgeoisie.

it is the place where people are trained to elaborate this ideological power and to communicate it (politicians, journalits, etc..are also usulally trained in academia and/or takes "their" "ideas" form academia).

it is in academia that is trained the cadres/managers that realises/personnify the domination of the bourgeoisie/capital. (wether they are producers of ideology or enforcing the command of capital over labor as managers in workplaces).

academics are forming people (directly as teachers are not directly as providers of ideology) whose role is to justify and/or enforce the power of capital and the reproduction of class relations.

piter
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Dec 3 2011 15:22
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there's no such thing as a homogenous group of academics who all have a position based on their role as academics. There's just individuals, some or many (or even most) of whom might hold similar positions on stuff

...and there is no such thing as society? there's just individuals? laugh out loud

...it looks like you want to illustrate my point about people reproducing the ideological conditions about the reproduction of class relations...

acadamia is an ivory tower separated from the rest of capitalist relations and free from it?
and of course it's pure chance if most academics happens to be defenders, each in its own individual way of course, of the capitalist social order?

either you expressed badly your view or either you are completely deluding yourself...

academia at work! laugh out loud

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Dec 3 2011 15:23
piter wrote:
Railyon, what sets the academia apart from other jobs is the fact that the role of acadmia is to elaborate/reinforce the ideological domination of the bourgeoisie.

it is the place where people are trained to elaborate this ideological power and to communicate it (politicians, journalits, etc..are also usulally trained in academia and/or takes "their" "ideas" form academia).

it is in academia that is trained the cadres/managers that realises/personnify the domination of the bourgeoisie/capital. (wether they are producers of ideology or enforcing the command of capital over labor as managers in workplaces).

academics are forming people (directly as teachers are not directly as providers of ideology) whose role is to justify and/or enforce the power of capital and the reproduction of class relations.

I would say this is true for a large percent of academics. But it isn't the whole picture. I think some can be quite neutral (physics proffs. for instance) while there are the occasional ones that try and subvert their role given their constraints. I learnt a lot from some of my profs. But the deeper question here might be. Do these 'radical' intellectuals work to give the wider 'free' and 'democratic' system legitimacy? This question is more difficult. I would probably say yes, but does that make them irredeemable? Not so sure.

N.B There are also fucking tankies in higher ed.

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Dec 3 2011 15:25
piter wrote:
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acadamia is an ivory tower separated from the rest of capitalist relations and free from it?
and of course it's pure chance if most academics happens to be defenders, each in its own individual way of course, of the capitalist social order?

This is a good point, but I think, once again, it is worth point out that there does exist a contingent of academics which are more than aware of this contradiction. Some actually try to subvert it, others just pay it lip service.

lurdan
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Dec 3 2011 15:25
Railyon wrote:
lurdan wrote:
You don't choose your family, or where they live or where you go to school.

I agree. That's why I find this "middle class background = middle class kid" thinking that some people hold around here to be problematic...

Snobbery about peoples sociological origins is obnoxious in any context outside friends kidding one another, and where it's used as a tool to jockey for status it's worse than that. However the idea that people of middle class origin are more subject to this than anyone else is also problematic to say the least.

Railyon wrote:
lurdan wrote:
By contrast jobs of any kind are different outside situations of conscription. And jobs in academia not only have to be chosen but getting them (as in many other fields of employment) commonly involves competition with other candidates.

Not sure how that sets academia apart from other jobs on its own.

Which is why I wrote "(as in many other fields of employment)".

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Dec 3 2011 16:28
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...and there is no such thing as society? there's just individuals?

Speaking of straw men, hey there Mr Scarecrow roll eyes. Look if you want to shoot the breeze about tendencies (and I've never denied that there may be some but that's all they are) then fine, I'm just saying it's a pointless exercise because unless you plan to bar a person from meetings the moment they pipe up with their job description (and good luck policing that one) you're going to have to deal with them as individuals and judge them as such.

piter
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Dec 3 2011 16:40
Quote:
Quote Rob Ray :

...and there is no such thing as society? there's just individuals?

Speaking of straw men, hey there Mr Scarecrow roll eyes. Look if you want to shoot the breeze about tendencies (and I've never denied that there may be some but that's all they are) then fine, I'm just saying it's a pointless exercise because unless you plan to bar a person from meetings the moment they pipe up with their job description (and good luck policing that one) you're going to have to deal with them as individuals and judge them as such.

the "no such thing as society" was humour (hence the emoticone).
the "there's just indiiduals" is yours.

if speaking about the tendencies in class relations is shooting the breezing I wonder why you are taking part to the theory section of this forum...

to answer your remark, it's not a question of who is allowed in meetings.
the question is does it matters if people having a, less or more active, role due to their job in reproducing the ideological/management conditions for the reproduction of class relations/hierarchical relations have a leadership role in "revolutionnary" organisations?

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Dec 3 2011 17:07
piter wrote:
to answer your remark, it's not a question of who is allowed in meetings.
the question is does it matters if people having a, less or more active, role due to their job in reproducing the ideological/management conditions for the reproduction of class relations/hierarchical relations have a leadership role in "revolutionnary" organisations?

Leaders only become leaders when others choose to follow them. The onus is surely on us all to guard against any temptation to "follow" rather than to judge people's ideas on their merit.

My point being, if people are in "leadership" roles, then the main issue is the attitude of the followers, not the background of the leaders.

piter
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Dec 3 2011 17:14
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Pikel wrote : My point being, if people are in "leadership" roles, then the main issue is the attitude of the followers, not the background of the leaders.

what's more important is not the background, but the actual position in class relations.

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Dec 3 2011 18:27
piter wrote:
Quote:
Pikel wrote : My point being, if people are in "leadership" roles, then the main issue is the attitude of the followers, not the background of the leaders.

what's more important is not the background, but the actual position in class relations.

I didn't intend to draw a distinction between background and class, although I didn't make that clear.

I'm saying leader/follower relationships are inherently problematic. We should be more concerned about what ideas we follow rather than whom. If someone's class position makes them a problematic leader this will be evident in the ideas they promote. We shouldn't be saying "she is a poor leader because she's an academic", we should say "she is a poor leader because she promotes dodgy ideas".

piter
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Dec 3 2011 18:02
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I didn't intend to draw a distinction between background and class. I'm saying leader/follower relationships are inherently problematic. We should probably be more concerned about what ideas we follow rather than whom.

ok. I just wanted to say that what's more important (even if background has some effects) is not where do people "comes from", but what they actually do in the present.

you are right in sayin' that the leader/follower relationships are inherently problematic.
that's also why it's more than just (even if it is essential of course) about what ideas are followed, but also about the functionning of the organisation, how decisions are taken, followed, etc...including how the ideas are communicated, who controls the publications and how (the paper, the internet site, the mailing list, stuff like that...). academics/social managers tend to de facto have a position of power and influence in organisations not only because of their training in communicating their ideas and managment but also because they tend to control things like publications, etc...

piter
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Dec 3 2011 18:10
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If someone's class position makes them a problematic leader this will be evident in the ideas they promote. We shouldn't be saying "she is a poor leader because she's an academic", we should say "she is a poor leader because she promotes dodgy ideas".

ok. but in most organisations at least, the real leadership (or the differents positions of real leadership) is not just a result of a free choice between ideas and people. some people in the organisations have more power or facilities to influence the choice, and also more possibilities of activities/communications, and have a certain autonomy for doing stuff not in line with what have been chosen...

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Dec 3 2011 18:18
piter wrote:
Quote:
If someone's class position makes them a problematic leader this will be evident in the ideas they promote. We shouldn't be saying "she is a poor leader because she's an academic", we should say "she is a poor leader because she promotes dodgy ideas".

ok. but in most organisations at least, the real leadership (or the differents positions of real leadership) is not just a result of a free choice between ideas and people. some people in the organisations have more power or facilities to influence the choice, and also more possibilities of activities/communications, and have a certain autonomy for doing stuff not in line with what have been chosen...

Yes, and we should be fighting against those structures. We're against hierarchy after all, not people wink

piter
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Dec 3 2011 18:37
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We're against hierarchy after all, not people wink

absolutely. and when one (at least me) say "beware of the power academics have in revolutionnary organisations (or more broadly in the "milieu")" it is directed against the power not against the people.
and when we say (at least me again...) "beware of academics" again its not that they are "bad" people, its a "raccourci" to say "beware of the power they can have resulting, in different ways, in the reproduction of class relations".

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Dec 3 2011 23:42
Pikel wrote:
If someone's class position makes them a problematic leader this will be evident in the ideas they promote. We shouldn't be saying "she is a poor leader because she's an academic", we should say "she is a poor leader because she promotes dodgy ideas".

^this

It's not only about ideas though, its practice, organisation and ways of communicating. To me it seems sound to be very much on guard against the ideas and practice of the middle class. This is much more productive than focusing on the individual. To me it seems that avenue can't lead anywhere.

Superproles can adopt middle class roles and ideas when the position is available to them.

I stuggle with prejudice against middle class people myself but I know some of it is unfair and based on working class cultural norms that are just wrong.

I'd be interested to hear from some of the more experienced people how the dangers of middle class people manifest themselves. How can organisations survive long term when saturated by middle class ideas? Authoritarian movements do not apply.

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Dec 4 2011 00:02

What ARE "middle class ideas and practice" anyway?

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Dec 4 2011 00:06
Cooked wrote:
I'd be interested to hear from some of the more experienced people how the dangers of middle class people manifest themselves. How can organisations survive long term when saturated by middle class ideas? Authoritarian movements do not apply.

Oh I'm confused now, what's a middle class idea? I thought we have our libertarian ideas and these are the ones that we fight for. What organisations are saturated with middle class ideas? Are you suggesting a purge of middle class ideas from libertarian organisations? What is this, a yellow menace?

Edit: bad choice of word there, I was thinking yellow=liberal but hadn't considered the "yellow terror" interpretation embarrassed