On Enemy Propaganda

A third of the semester is gone. One of my five classes (remember, I have five classes and five graduate committees, and administrative work and a major grant proposal and research, and in order to do this work I must fight obstruction daily) — well as I say, one of my classes did a really good job on their first midterm. I said they were a very good class and they said they were not necessarily; they were merely responding to me, they alleged. From the tone of my voice you can tell I am a survivor, and I shall not be moved.

I have decided that a great deal of the “advice” and “warnings” given academics is not just a set of misunderstandings and good principles misapplied. I think it is actually propaganda from their enemies, who do not want them to do well and are thus doing the Devil’s work by offering unfriendly advice in sheep’s clothing, as it were. I will make lists of  some of the enemy propaganda that has been pushed on me for decades and that I roundly reject. Do you have examples?

My prime one is, of course: “You will want to spend too much time on teaching, and research, writing, and publication will be too hard for you.” The next one is, “You have oppressed others by doing a good research degree and by having published as you have. You must atone for it now. Realize that the party is over and the time for teaching up a storm and serving others’ research agendas has come. Your job depends upon it.”

Another is: “Avoid service.” I am completely convinced that the real agenda behind this gem is to keep new faculty from meeting and working with senior faculty in other departments and programs. That way they are as isolated as possible and as subject to oppression and manipulation by senior faculty in their own departments as possible.

Still another is: “You are good at this field, so what worked for you as a student is not what will work for others.” I have thought a lot about this sentence and my considered opinion is fuck that.  I am good at this field because I know how to work in it, and I am not willing to keep this knowledge a secret if I am being paid to share it.


 I realize this is a controversial post but I am tired of seeing people repeat the same old advice about things. I am giving alternate advice from the savage zone.  I suggest to graduate students that if they are not getting good standard advice in their programs and have to look at websites for it, then they are in bad programs and should quit. I suggest to department chairs that if they have hired people who did not get good standard advice in graduate school and/or cannot understand it and modify it to fit their own situations now, then they are not hiring well.

I repeat that if you are a department chair and you are yelling at assistant professors and causing them to cry (I heard someone actually boast about this the other day), you deserve to be grieved, and to lose, and to be removed. If they then thank you when they get tenure, they are probably only thanking you for not further sabotaging them. I do not believe anyone who alleges, “This person just did not get it, so then I made them cry, so then they got tenure and thanked me.”

If you are a department chair who tells that kind of story to yourself about yourself, realize how thin it sounds to the rest of the world. I believe the more likely story line is this: you, sadist, are a freak and a pervert; you mistreated that person; they got tenure anyway and were gracious enough to thank you, and you are now trying to take credit for their good work.


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