Category Archives: ULS Presentation

Psychopolitics 1: the crisis of freedom

I learned about this book from Clarissa’s blog and am now reading it as well. This post is an aide-mémoire, not a full discussion.

a. The exploitation of freedom.
“Freedom will prove to have been merely an interlude.” It is felt when passing from one way of living to another, until this too turns out to be a form of coercion and gives way to renewed subjugation. “Such is the destiny of the subject; literally, ‘the one who has been cast down.’
* We no longer consider ourselves subjugated subjects, but rather projects…the change may seem liberating but the result is a more efficient kind of subjectivation and subjugation
*  The “achievement-subject” absolutizes bare life and labor, which form two sides of the same coin.
* Being free means being among friends. These two words have the same root in Indo-European. That is why academic freedom and collegiality go together; freedom signifies a relationship and a real feeling of freedom occurs only in a fruitful relationship — when being with others brings happiness (3).
* The neoliberal world, however, leads to utter isolation. As Marx indicates, individual freedom is a ruse, a trick of capital. Individual freedom sets capital, not people free. It degrades individuals, who are used to propagate capital, and become its genital organs.

b. The dictatorship of capital
* Industrial capitalism has mutated into neoliberalism. There has not been the struggle that would lead beyond capitalism, pace Marx; “capitalism can always escape into the fugure precisely because it harbours permanent and inherent contradiction” (5) … so we have entered a post-industrial, immaterial mode of production where we are all auto-exploiting entrepreneurs, master and slave in one; class struggle is now an inner struggle against oneself
* There is no multitude, pace Negri; there are only self-combating entrepreneurs. Therefore the cooperative Multitude will NOT throw off the parasitic Empire. This is a complete illusion.
* We are in a regime of auto-exploitation, so aggression is turned against the self. So the exploited do not rebel, but get depressed. We do not work to satisfy our needs, but those of Capital; it generates needs of its own, which we mistakenly perceive to belong to us. “We are being expelled from the sphere of lived immanence — where life relates to life instead of subjugating itself to external ends.” (7) Capital replaces religion as the transcendent order. In this situation politics becomes the handmaiden of Capital.
* Before God we are all debtors: guilty. But debt, or guilt, destroys freedom. Politicians today say high debt rates limit their freedom. Free from debt, we would truly have to ACT. Do we run up debts so as not to have to … so as not to be free, or responsible?
* Benjamin said capitalism was a religion. He noted that it created guilt but not atonement. People seize on the cult of capitalism not to atone for guilt but to make the guilt universal, he said!

c. The dictatorship of transparency
* Thanks to the Internet we are in this panopticon; this has implications.
* Neoliberalism turns citizens into consumers and politicians into suppliers. The demand for “transparency” from politicians is NOT a political demand, but a consumerist one.
* In the past there was surveillance; now we are actively steered.

Axé.

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Filed under ALFS presentation, Subconference, Theories Bibliography, ULS Presentation

Les notes du jour

For my essay on the market university: California is the worst state in terms of education vs prison investment: they spend $11K per student and $64K per prisoner each year.

In news of my other essay:

+ in the early 19th century, “whitening”was not yet a wish. And people did not want to admit that free women of color could be married or respectable. Plaçage is a white myth, a U.S. literary trope, based actually in fear of black men, although it is apparently true that some of those who came to N.O. from Haiti after the revolution had to take recourse in prostitution.

+ Clark: fear of the mulata displaced fear of Haitians

+ look again at the end of El Zarco, and at Amalia and Martín Rivas. Note how Sommer’s “foundational fictions” fail to found. And find out who used the term, “incest ex machina.”

+ novels permeated with the idea of possession, ownership; identities that are layered

+ novels that lend themselves to readings that support both liberating projects and repressive ones; these projects and readings don’t seem to enter into dialogue with each other but to cancel each other out, stifle each other, so we get this confused discourse.

Axé

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The critical university

My other friend(s) said this and I have to make the point explicit in my talk: “It’s important to recall why higher ed is important in the first place, imho. Namely: as a site to cultivate and protect and project critical thinking about the burning issues in our world.”

ETA: My other friend said: “[S]omething that we face as a real problem writ large, is the fact that we have lost our ability to recognize the larger scope of history and to see what was done in the past, as neoliberalism has done an absolutely fantastic job of making the present seem like the past, in that they make what is now ‘common sense’ seem like the historical reality for all of history basically.

That last is key for my other article. The landscape has changed and we are told it has not, and old gestures are called new when they are not, yet when performed do not mean in the same way, and old language is used in new ways, yet said to mean the old things.

Axé.

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Some fragments toward my presentation

Cuts to higher education in Louisiana over the past ten years have been some of the deepest in the nation, and have caused what could be termed an effective privatization of public universities; tuition and fees have grown rapidly and unsustainably (100% at LSU). The resolution could be supported and adopted by Faculty Senates and other entities, as well as supported by individuals, as the issue is of broad interest, to students, their families, faculty, and also administrators and politicians. We aim to bring to the center of discussion the role that public universities serve as a “public good,” not just as a private benefit to graduates. This understanding, of course, was central in the Morrill Act that formed land-grant colleges in every state, although it has been eroded in recent times. But Newfield believes this erosion can still be reversed.

Axé.

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