Monthly Archives: April 2017

How capitalism endures

Silvia Federici on women and many issues, brought to you by KPFA. Listen.

Despite the precariousness that it creates, why does capitalism survive?  Radical theorist Silvia Federici discusses how capitalism perpetuates itself by dispossessing and dividing us, while putting the job of reproducing the workforce squarely on the shoulders of the working class, especially women.  She considers the missteps that the feminist movement made in confronting the rise of neoliberal capitalism and argues for an approach that leads to the reappropriation of power from below.

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After diversity training

None of the many people who have informed me that Spanish is easier than the Romance and Germanic languages they speak, speak Spanish well; in many cases they also do not speak the Romance and Germanic languages they speak as well as I do. When I inform them that the actually more-difficult Romance language is Portuguese, they do not know what to say. Some have said to my face that they disbelieve me because both Spanish and Portuguese are spoken by brown people, so they just must be easy and writing in them must be VERY easy. It is entirely impossible that they would have formal writing styles very different in syntax, vocabulary and stylistic conventions from casual speech, and unlikely that there would be standard forms of oral discourse equivalent to BBC English. Finally, it is highly unlikely that Mexico would have national newspapers not written in slang. People with Ph.Ds in foreign languages tell me these things and I say it is more than a “micro” aggression and that it expresses extreme chauvinism but that more importantly, it demonstrates abysmal ignorance. But if I had said this during diversity training the other day it would have hurt the feelings of the aggressors and I would have experienced retaliation, so I did not say it.

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After Utrecht

While I am at the conference in Utrecht I will have an Air B and B apartment and after that I am theoretically spending 4 nights in Tournai and 4 in Antwerp.

I had a more economical place to stay in Antwerp (the ‘t Stadhuys Grote Markt) but heard it was very noisy and so changed to the Rosier10, at that address (Rosier 10) Antwerp 2000. In Tournai I am at Apart’hotel Le Dix, Place de Nedonchel 10. Like the Antwerp hotel, this one alludes to its address in its name.

This means that with tax I spend almost $1,000 in hotel costs for 8 days, and this is being done because I no longer tolerate bad lodgings as easily as I once did. The reason I am staying in Belgium is that my return flight is from Belgium, and I am trying to save on the cost of travel elsewhere.

But for $1,000 I could fly to Riga and back, and stay somewhere comfortable for less than in Belgium and be better humored if where I stayed were not comfortable. I could go to Mitau, and to the beach at Jurmala.

I should do it. Now, the cheapest flights are an illusion since they do not allow for luggage, so it will really cost about $400 to fly back and forth. This would leave $600 for lodging, if we take the $1000 figure to be accurate, and perhaps I could do it for less.

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Vilna

Napoleon called Vilnius (Vilna) “the Jerusalem of the North.” It was 40% Jewish and all were literate. It was also 95% destroyed in the second war, with almost all of the Jewish population killed.

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Ubuntu drivers

The weakness of Linux is wi-fi, at least in my experience. I am still trying to get the Ubuntu 16.04 drivers to work correctly.

Here is one putative solution.

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Sur l’intersectionalité

This article against intersectionality and for not just Marxist, but Gramscian feminism, is quite useful. And the dictator novel is about colonialism — and the way to teach it would be with Fanon.

These are the kinds of things I like to think about, and do not get to think about enough.

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Film syllabi in Spanish

I must work out my ideas for a different kind of film course than I have given in the past.

Ideally the course will work at two levels. Some students will be working on grammar and vocabulary through film, and others will be doing senior-type work.

How to choose the films? Are they: the ones we have streaming from the library [we choose that way], supplemented with my favorite films? We could use the streaming ones as viewing outside of class, and supplement in class with other films. For example, Nana is in the library; we could group it with Zona Sur and other films about domestic workers. (This suggests organizing the course by thematic units.)

Another obvious thematic unit is the guerra sucia — I say this because La historia oficial is in the library and it is a film about which there are many pedagogical materials focusing on language and vocabulary.

Perhaps I could have:
1/ An introduction to cinema studies, and one film a week that we see together.
2/ Two films to choose from for homework, one that has pedagogical materials for grammar and vocabulary, and one that does not.
3/ A final paper or project that, depending on the level of the student, either does or does not depend upon films that have subtitles.
4/ Instead of one overarching theme, some thematic units.

Here is one syllabus, an introduction to film as given in Argentina, with bibliography.

Please comment! This post will grow and change.

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Education and Reeducation

In shorthand.

Important to note for this week is how I was taught that normalcy was a façade. In reality we were barely tolerated: we hadn’t been wanted, we were not liked, and it was wished that we would go away. Our successes were events carefully arranged for our amusement by our parents, and if they were not there behind the curtain, creating an illusion or paying others to do so, the truth would be revealed to us. We would see that we were incompetent, and we would also be shunned, as we were not desirable or pleasant.

I remember feeling in graduate school that because my great-aunt had left us college money — such that my parents did not have to pay for college and I did not have to work during the academic year or take out loans — my B. A. was fraudulent, and my presence in a Ph.D. program was fraudulent as well.

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Bunk Johnson

He was from New Iberia, I believe.

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Henry Giroux Today

Having a bad day today. Maybe the hangover from being denied tenure by the right-wing stooge John Silber, the then president of Boston University, in 1981 still stings. Since those dark days, I have always had some hope in the university, recognizing that it was an important site of struggle and filled with contradictions. I am losing that hope. I consistently meet administrators who are not only unimaginative but cowardly and incapable of supporting programs whose value cannot be reduced to cost-efficiency metrics. These people do not just lack a vision, they constitute a kind of academic walking dead, albeit with the ever present smile on their faces–a kind of sickening embrace of civility. They are truly incapable of providing support and resources for faculty fighting for economic and political justice, faculty who take risks, join hands with those colleagues who have been reduced to Wal-mart workers, and act in solidarity with students who refuse to be reduced to customers. Where are the administrators from the ranks of the humanities and liberal arts? In too many instances we have dead-beat administrators drawn from the empirically based disciplines who do not have a clue as to what scholarship is about and increasingly reward the most unfit people with university awards, academic positions, and committee assignments–all the while making clear that qualified people should not apply. Rigorous and courageous scholarship has now gone the way of typewriter. Faculty are rewarded for committee work, grants, and a general attitude that can only be viewed as supine. Even worse, these individuals organize themselves in clicks exercising power that represents the worse form of cronyism. They barely publish, have no international reputations, and feed on gossip and innuendo, reproducing themselves in hires who mimic their own idiocy. I am sure there are exceptions in North America, but dark side of neoliberalism has just about killed the university as a democratic public sphere. All that is left is the detritus, filled with losers and dead beat careerists.

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Filed under ALFS presentation, Banes, Da Whiteman, What Is A Scholar?, Working