Writing about the university as a site of class struggle

The new (and last) piece will follow on this one and will start out talking about the question of trust and solidarity: do we really have these, are we really one faculty? Part of why we are not is hierarchical management and part of it is that in situations where basic survival is at stake, the lofty goals of a campaign like One Faculty are not anyone’s first priority (really).

The university is the new factory floor, someone said. “The struggle is not just over campus labor, but over the social reproduction of the labor force, knowledge of ‘the economy,’ and more.”

Eagleton on the death of universities

Facing the corporate university (by that Basque scholar)

Newfield on UW: originally the state university systems gave opportunities to all

The false promise of the entrepreneurial university (UM-Milwaukee)

Not about this precise point, but on another part of my piece: The university and the public good.

Whose university is it, anyway? The brilliant LARB piece.

Lagniappe: on Wilhelm von Humboldt

Legitimation crisis — on hierarchical micromanagement: https://poptheory.org/2018/03/03/the-crisis-of-legitimation-in-higher-education/

On labor, focusing on the contingency wars: Contingency, Exploitation and Solidarity (Seth Kahn et al.) — despair is not a strategy

Reichman quoting Jacobin quoting WV teacher on uniting with other public employees, parents of low income students (Bolivia: obreros, campesinos, jubilados, amas de casa, empleados públicos, estudiantes)

Demands against the long crisis of the university (on faculty complacency).

Global autonomous university

Between the ivory tower and the assembly line

Malcolm Harris’s new book Kids These Days and the chapter on schools. Also, the 1970s pamphlet by Zerowork, “Wages for Students”.

Bowles and Gintis, Schooling in Capitalist America.

Aronowitz and Giroux, others, but I want to start with these things. My intuition is that the older forms of shared governance are insufficient, complacency is bad, and just unionizing is similarly inadequate.


3 thoughts on “Writing about the university as a site of class struggle

  1. Next sentence, after the paragraph I have: that isn’t true, of course; the profession abandoned them and they came up with an appropriate response. Next. Complacent senior faculty. There is not one faculty and do the old institutions fit?

  2. I asked: Do you think the AAUP and Academic Senate have any power at all in the current situation, where most faculty are contingent and do not hope to have, or necessarily even think they want tenure track jobs? Do you think it is possible to build trust and solidarity when the fact is that many groups within the university do not have the same interests at all? Do you think academic freedom and shared governance are as quaint and yesteryear as tenure? WHAT is the third, not middle but radical way forward, after nostalgia (tenure-academic freedom-shared governance with Senate and AAUP), and the current marketized university where the most we seem to be able to hope for is long contracts with union protections … if we are in CB states, that is? Can one reclaim the university as a public good if there is no public anything / no concept of public goods left? What is the path? (Those are the questions I am considering for my NEXT post; this one is happier.)

    A friend said: It’s a pessimistic piece. About 15 years ago our faculty senate rose up and voted no confidence in a retiring President and his handpicked successor and out they went. Subsequent administrations have taken the right message from that, although it may be fading now. The key to influence however lies in A) the board, who senior faculty must cultivate carefully and respectfully of the administration B) Chaired professors, who have a level of attentiveness from admin far beyond their numbers. C) Student Government (though they are flaky and dangerous) and D) the press. Faculty have zero power but can have a *lot* of influence. The faculty senate need not be a debating club, or even if it is it can form a core of actual long term strategic thinking and institutional memory administrations lack. Keeping the trust going but showing the instruments of torture from time to time (faculty climate survey, op-ed in the paper, student sit-in, making friends with a regent’s brother) these are all things that can be turned to very strong advantage. Much better than blackmail, threat of a walkout, votes of no confidence and so forth. I would draw inspiration not from the American labor movement, which has failed, but from the European one, which is alive and well. You might even invite someone from a European labor union to consult. It’s very different than here.

  3. Also: union, at least US unionism, isn’t enough.

    t has to do with the liberal stab in the back and the removal of left people from unions. The KEY is about how they turned unions into hours and wages and got politics out of them. This is key, key, key.

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