Monthly Archives: June 2019

Kropotkin and more.

I really should have spent all the time I wasted reading Marxist and other Left theory, simply for the sake of mental health — although it would have been good intellectual exercise as well, and a good political education. Here’s an article on Kropotkin, mutual aid and anarchism that is worth reading. Here is a good book-length study of Kropotkin, and here is a key paragraph from it.

I bought the biography of Victor Arnautoff, although I should not buy non-essential books. And my essay on the language of neoliberalism will start, I believe, by pointing to Kezar’s observations (which are also mine), including the fact that we do not seem to know where we are. And one of the reasons we do not is language.

(I want to come alive again, that is, I seem to be coming alive again after decades of sleepwalking and rare flashes of light.)


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Adrianna Kezar

On the commercialization of higher education. Kezar says the three books she reviews offer oversimplified solutions to the commercialization problem. She says commercialization must be studied from a systems and cultural perspective.

1. What is the public good, and how is commercialization threatening it? None of the authors say a great deal about the notion of public good itself. Bok (one of the authors) published an earlier book that did address this.

2. In the 60s many attacked HE for not meeting the public interest: it was too exclussive, too involved with classified research related to defense; not involved in international humanitarian efforts, and not engaged enough politically. Bok says universities should be involved in community activities beyond teaching and research but not activist.

3. Slaughter and Rhoades (Academic capitalism) explain commercialization and commodification of HE well. They don’t say a great deal on how to fix it or navigate it; Kezar says understanding it helps navigate it.

4. How does the new university serve the public good, though? Bok, in his newer book (2003), says academic capitalism does not have to be laissez-faire. We just need to make sure profit-making enterprises such as athletics, research partnerships, and online learning don’t lead to a decline in general quality of teaching and research. We should stop taking kickbacks (dream on, my man — N. Ed.).

5. The third book Kezar discusses (Zemsky) makes similar recommendations — with the right policies, quality will not be eroded. These are superficial recommendations that do not address the gravity of the problem.

6. Bok and Zemsky say the problem is the decline in state and federal funding; Slaughter and Rhodes say the issue is the neoliberal philosophy that underlies this, and that has reshaped societal and institutional culture. It is fundamental to consider the societal and policy environment in which institutions exist, and in which they and individuals act (and may not be strong enough to counteract).

7. Underconceptualized are commercialization as a systems issue, and the depth of the change. We need recommendations and a framework for management that actually takes the problem as a systems issue into account. Disciplinary societies, for instance, need to work to develop codes of conduct around these issues. (The review goes into some detail on the systems analysis and its points are important.) We also need to incorporate a cultural perspective, as the changes are deep and pervasive; we need to figure out how to navigate them.


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On Brazil

Here is another photocopy I have had for years and should really clear out, but that seems important. It’s Matthias Rohrig Assuncão “Elite Politics and Popular Rebellion in the Construction of Post-colonial Order. The Case of Maranhão, Brazil (1820-1841),” Journal of Latin American Studies 31 (1999): 3-38.

(It’s beautifully written and really well informed, and I imagine it having been composed by a person with peace of place and time to concentrate, or space. I imagine what it would be to be like this and realize how far I am from it — I have in fact rarely gotten to this state and stage, and I hope I can.)

Some things of interest: the transition to independence was peaceful in the south but had to be imposed militarily in the north, and the preservation of slavery was what held the country together as a nation. This means that independent Brazil was neo- and not post-colonial. Increasing state control, and law and order, were more important than increasing democracy and citizenship.

(Lord Cochrane was involved in N. Brazilian independence and post independence wars and in Peru too! He represented the central government and was given a title, the Marquis of Maranhão! Also: did you know São Luíz was founded by France in 1612, when it was trying to create its empire? The Portuguese took it in 1615, and it had a Dutch period as well.)

Color was a sign of social class (qualidade). And there is a great deal in this piece and it is interesting, and post-Independence politics are always interesting (and we are still in that period, from what I can tell).

Key point: Maranhão Independence struggles looked a lot as they did in Spanish America. There was popular liberalism that elite liberalism eradicated and/or silenced. See Florencia Mallón on Brazil and Peru, and Carlota Carvalho (O Sertão, 1924) on the Duque de Caxias, who made order in Brazil. Then “all ideas of freedom and moral integrity . . . evaporated from the territory.”


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M. D. Y.

I stole this from someone’s page that seems to be public, but I am not sure, which is why I do not identify the author except by initials. It is too good not to share.

Did the New Deal, so nostalgically cited by our democratic socialist intelligentsia today, break the power of these capitalists, who sat at the pinnacle of the economy and the politics that helped enable their wanton accumulation of capital? Did the social democracy of the post-WW2 “golden age” do so (of course, new capitalists came to be and shared power with the old money and supplanted it in a few cases)? Did the social democracy of Europe and Scandinavia, far, far more developed than in the US, break the power of the great houses of wealth there? Did it even end the influence of Nazis in West Germany? Did the power of the working class last long enough to permanently countervail that of its class enemy? Is the world today at all comparable to that of the heyday of social democracy? Is there any longer a socialist world large enough to strike fear into the heart of capital, one that could force concessions in favor of workers in the social democracies and even the United States?

Is Bernie Sanders, the hope of the fanatics at Jacobin magazine and in an important faction of the DSA, even one-tenth the politician FDR was, or even LBJ? In a global world, hasn’t the power of capital multiplied and become almost immune to the weak-tea socialism of Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez, et. al.? And most of all, is not the ecological crisis facing us so great and so daunting, that only something far more radical than a Green New Deal has any chance of coping with it? And if the power of capital is global to an unprecedented degree, how will anything but a global movement, led by workers and peasants in the Global South, have any hope of ending capitalism and birthing a full-blown eco-socialism, built upon a foundation of agro-ecology and substantive democracy and equality?


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Qué estará haciendo esta hora mi dulce y andina Rita

Here’s an old article I like, from files I am clearing out. [Mazzotti, José Antonio (2000). “Retos y soluciones en la edición de la poesía de Vallejo: El caso de la diagramación en Los heraldos negros.” 10.31819/9783964564825-013.] In book Edición e interpretación de textos andinos, 231-240.

Hinostroza 1967: “Vallejo is not a poet, but a myth.” Mazzotti says that since V. is a myth, and has become sacred, he is very hard to edit and annotate — yet people keep doing it, and there is no reason to think any edition is actually definitive. HN is seen as the simplest book and has therefore been neglected (perhaps also because it was published in the author’s lifetime, although both it and T have been published in a lot of versions.

HN and T have more andinismos than people even realize: temples (not templos); blancuras meaning sheets; and much, much more. Editors have also inappropriately modernized punctuation in HN, and also the spacing of strophes (which is important). They ignore the “materiality” of the collection (the way it was printed mattered).

And this piece is old, and more editions have appeared since, but these ideas matter.

VALLEJO not as poet but as myth.


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I’ve unstuck the to-do list so I can see the other posts. I’m going to get a whiteboard and a lamp for the office, and start working in there part of the time–partly because I don’t want to print at home, or to have the large pieces of butcher paper I want to write notes on dragging around at home. (I think I can get these things at General Office Supply.)

Thoughts on work for today: I am mixing three topics and need some sort of spreadsheet to separate them, or map them. I need three columns and a lot of rows, some blank spaces and some arrows. Also, I like to write and need to extract from my perception of it others’ concepts of suffering. I think of it as something I do at a table that is too high for me, or a chair that is too soft, with a lot of books weighing on my forehead and a lot of people sniping at my back. I think of it as something I do with a lot of muscle pain. Really I like to write by hand at a hard table, in bright light, and a feeling of health, not illness and pain.

Thoughts on mestizaje for today: it is for the lower classes. It whitens them and incorporates them to a national us while also separating them from the white-white elite. And it neutralizes those truer and darker others who might revolt, or be truly different.

Plans: tomorrow Saturday I will work, although I am not sure on what: either my files generally, or my abstracts, but it will be about this tripartite piece although I will not force linear progress. Sunday I will do outdoor things.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning I will have a writing push and YES I will insist on linear progress. I might spend all of Monday morning on mapping … and what I am NOT doing until 5 PM is reading news.

Thursday and Friday I will keep going, although it will not be a push, and Saturday the 6th I’ll go to town and work . . . Sunday the 7th is that film, and I could go to Baton Rouge early and work, and Monday through Wednesday, there comes that push again, and get those abstracts in before the 10th.

Thursday the 10th is a day off but I’ll work Saturday the 13th. I think. When is the best time to go to Houston? Can I go to Austin?


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José Antonio Primo de Rivera

“España no es nuestra sangre, porque España tuvo el acierto de unir en una misma gloria a muchas sangres distintas. España no es siquiera este tiempo ni el tiempo de nuestros padres, ni el tiempo de nuestros hijos; España es una unidad de destino en lo universal.”

Well. Nolan: “This creates the illusion of a body that cannot possibly be a body here on earth. A ‘unity of universal destiny’ can only be a transcendental body, since fleshy bodies differ and have needs. For this reason, José Antonio must construct the Spanish body out of the negative: Spain is what it is not – land, hunger, blood, people, time periods, ancestors…all of these things we associate with limits and bodies.”

Cultural difference is decadent: “Cuando se produce la época de decadencia de ese sentido de la misión universal, empiezan a florecer otra vez los separatismos, empieza otra vez la gente a volverse a su suelo, a su tierra, a su música, a su habla, y otra vez se pone en peligro esta gloriosa integridad, que fue la España de los grandes tiempos.”

Nolan: So Spain, if whole, is disembodied! “[U]nder fascism . . . bodies are used to wage war against each other and themselves. They delight in killing themselves because they have forgotten they are bodies with needs.” Fascism does away with the body and Lorca’s theatre brings it back.

I will put it on Moodle.


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Current evaluations of teaching

This proposal is quite interesting. We used to evaluate teaching with something more than Yelp-style reviews, yes.


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August 3-11

It is in August, then, that I will create the reserve list for that class and construct Moodle sites for all my classes. In July I will still read for them. Today I was supposed to start writing — write for an hour, not read — that article. There are all these tantalizing ways to start. One would be a reference to the caged children: we have them in camps (and may start “euthanizing” for all I know) because they are foreign … so racial categorization is not passé regardless of anything anyone says. (I need to stop writing prefaces and write the text, though.)

Also in August, of course, I will visit the ASUC Store and REI.

For my other piece, Max Alvarez has an interesting podcast, that I will listen to. And for class, I am going to retrieve this book from Dad.

Right now, though, it is time to get rid of a few very old notes. These are from a file that had been started on race, hybridity, and coloniality, and they are old.

One of the points they make is that Blackness is not the same thing everywhere, is not experienced the same way everywhere, and so on. Correct, diasporas are hybrid, to refer to “home” is essentializing, and so on. But where I am still uncomfortable is that these points do NOT mean there isn’t such a thing as white supremacy, even when WHITENESS isn’t uniform.

Gilroy’s idea of a Black Atlantic would be a kind of middle ground, say Gordon and Anderson (1999). This might be a good piece to cite as something from the past … but all the other articles in the folder are too passé.


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Research universities and the public good

I would buy this book if it were less expensive, and if it were in a library I would check it out.

Countering recent arguments that we should “unbundle” or “disrupt” higher education, Jason Owen-Smith argues that research universities are valuable gems that deserve support. While they are complex and costly, their enduring value is threefold: they simultaneously act as sources of new knowledge, anchors for regional and national communities, and hubs that connect disparate parts of society. These distinctive features allow them, more than any other institution, to innovate in response to new problems and opportunities.


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