Category Archives: Bibliography

Steal this university

I have been reading and lying low, but tomorrow I will have to write, and work out, and socialize over an interesting film. Reading of some interest includes Steal this university, a 2003 book one should have read then (I read the reviews, but one should have read it and taken action on it). It seems dated now, which only shows how rapidly the changes it discusses and predicts have taken hold. A key point from early chapters is the commercialization of education: students are customers because education is a product.

Patrick O’Donnell has a good working bibliography on the corporatization of higher education but it is far from complete, as this topic is broader than one may realize and has also been discussed in greater, more erudite detail than one might think. Yet most people have been too busy with their jobs to notice what has been happening, and what has been happening has also been discussed in an obfuscating way. Finally, those with power are in situations where they are protected from these developments. Those without are in situations where we can see them, but have too few colleagues willing to open their eyes.

Then there is this piece on authoritarian neoliberalism. Neoliberalism is not about free markets, it is about creating inequality in the name of the free market, and turning everything over to the corporations and the authoritarian state. That, of course, is what has happened to universities. My piece, that I must finish, must resist the temptation to cover everything: I am talking about language.

BUT these are victors who will never declare victory — because the carefully-maintained capitalist illusion of the “university education” still benefits them. Never, ever, admit that the university is dead.

That is from this blog post which is very good. We have to use at least some of the words we have always used so that we can maintain the university as simulacrum. But this means that we are not necessarily talking about the same things when we use these words. (There was something I read a few weeks ago, on doublespeak and neoliberalism, that I must find.)

I have been thinking that my piece is not original and is not fresh but I think that if it is taking me as much thought as it is, and if it is true that not enough people understand what is happening, then it has some value.

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The sacrifice zone

Nowhere is the abuse as frightening as in Louisiana—with the exception, perhaps, of its neighbor to the east (“Thank God for Mississippi!” is the unofficial state motto). Louisiana is the second-poorest state and second-to-last in human development, which is a measure of individual freedom. The state’s rate of fatal cancers is about 30 percent higher than the national average. For all its antifederalism, Louisiana is fourth in accepting government welfare, with 44 percent of its budget coming from Washington. (Many of Hochschild’s Tea Party friends are beneficiaries of federal welfare programs.) Louisiana has the highest rate of death by gunfire (nearly double the national average), the highest rate of incarceration, and is the fifth-least-educated, reflecting the fact that it spends the fifth-least on education. It is sixth in the nation in generating hazardous waste, and third in importing it, since it makes a side business out of storing other states’ trash.

Louisiana’s governor is among the most powerful chief executives in the nation, a legacy that dates back to Huey Long’s administration, and under Governor Bobby Jindal’s dictatorship, between 2008 and 2016, the state’s prospects declined with unprecedented severity. After he reduced corporate income taxes and expanded the exemptions granted to oil and gas companies, the state’s revenue tumbled roughly $3 billion. He transferred $1.6 billion from public schools and hospitals to oil companies in the form of new tax incentives, under the theory that the presence of oil and a robust petrochemical infrastructure were not incentives enough. (The Louisiana Legislature is not only soaked with oil and gas lobbyists—during a recent session there were seventy for 144 legislators—but many lawmakers themselves hold industry jobs while serving in office.) Jindal fired 30,000 state employees, furloughed many others, cut education funding by nearly half, and sold off as many state-owned parking lots, farms, and hospitals as he could.

Despite these punishing cuts, he managed over the course of his administration to turn a $900 million budget surplus into a $1.6 billion deficit. National agencies downgraded the state’s credit rating. The damage was so great that it helped to bring about one of the most unlikely election results in recent American history. Jindal’s successor is John Bel Edwards, a Democrat—the only one to hold statewide office. Edwards is vehemently pro-life and agnostic about climate change, but he is determined to hold the oil and gas industry responsible for funding their share of coastal restoration. He currently enjoys a 62.5 percent approval rating. Almost a year into his first term, however, despite several emergency measures, the state remains in arrears.

The book has key information, even if I am not convinced the author does not exoticize our people somewhat. And I LOVE the term “sacrifice zone,” it is SO apt.

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Sobre la llamada democracia

Cerrar esta tienda y abrir otra, dos calles mas abajo. Pero empezar el negocio sin engañar a nadie, sin joder a otro porque piense distinto a ti, sin que te busquen pretextos para callarte la boca y sin decirte, además, que cuando te cogen el culo lo hacen por tu bien y por el bien de la humanidad, y que ni siquiera tienes derecho a protestar o a decir que te duele, pues no se le deben dar argumentos al enemigo y todas esas justificaciones. Sin chantajes… El problema es que quienes deciden por nosotros decidieron que estaba bien un poco de democracia, pero no tanta … y al final se olvidaron hasta del poco que nos tocaba, y toda aquella cosa tan bonita se convirtió en una comisaría de policías dedicados a proteger el poder. (Paduro)

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Lester Spence

Read. John Patrick Leary has done, too.

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Frank Rosengarten

I was looking for a good translation of Gramsci and discovered this professor. Look at the fascinating, brief bio-bibliography.

Frank Rosengarten is professor emeritus of Italian and comparative literature at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. He is the author of The Italian Anti-Fascist Press; The Writings of the Young Marcel Proust (1885-1900): An Ideological Critique; and Urbane Revolutionary: C.L.R. James and the Struggle for a New Society.

Italian press, Proust, C.L.R. James, Comparative Literature.

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Nancy Fraser

The journal issue I am recycling today is a boundary 2 from 1990. Specifically, boundary 2 17:2. It is of course available in JSTOR. I kept it because I always wanted to read all of it, and because I liked the way I had marked up Nancy Fraser’s article “The uses and abuses of French discourse theories for feminist politics.”

Now I have torn that article out as though it were an offprint, and recycled the rest of the faded journal. Fraser is explaining why she has no positive references in any paper to Lacan, Kristeva, Saussure, or Derrida, and she does not think Lacan can be used to feminist purposes. Lacan is used to theorize the discursive construction of subjectivity in film and literature, but she relies on alternative models of language because she thinks Lacan and also Kristeva are antifeminist.

Very basically, she says that Lacan’s model does not account either for the complexity of the subject or for that of the world. “The speaking subject is simply a grammatical ‘I’ wholly subjected to the symbolic order; it can only and forever reproduce that order. The Lacanian ego is an imaginary projection….” (92)

One of Fraser’s problems with Kristeva is her aestheticizing bent: avant-garde aesthetic production is inherently revolutionary and other forms of discourse are not. (95) Another problem is that “the semiotic” is not located within culture and society but beneath them, so it cannot become a political practice. (98)

There is more: idealization of the maternal, the assumption that the goals of feminism have been achieved, the idea that “women” don’t exist and that collective identities are dangerous fictions. (96)

Fraser is interested in a pragmatic theory of discourse over structuralist ones. Pragmatic theories allow the subject agency (it is not a mere effect); they do not assume a single, coherent “symbolic system”; and there is more. (93-94, 96-97)

I kept this article all this time because I thought it was useful for my study of Vallejo, and I still do.

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Modos de vivir que no dan de vivir

Oficios menudos

Considerando detenidamente la construcción moral de un gran pueblo se puede observar que lo que se llama «profesiones conocidas o carreras» no es lo que sostiene la gran muchedumbre; descártense los abogados y los médicos, cuyo oficio es vivir de los disparates y excesos de los demás; los curas, que fundan su vida temporal sobre la espiritual de los fieles; los militares, que venden la suya con la expresa condición de matar a los otros; los comerciantes, que reducen hasta los sentimientos y pasiones a valores de bolsa; los nacidos propietarios, que viven de heredar; los artistas, únicos que dan trabajo por dinero, etc., etc.; y todavía quedará una multitud inmensa que no existirá de ninguna de esas cosas, y que sin embargo existirá; su número en los pueblos grandes es crecido, y esta clase de gentes no pudieron sentar sus reales en ninguna otra parte; necesitan el ruido y el movimiento, y viven, como el pobre del Evangelio, de las migajas que caen de la mesa del rico. Para ellos hay una rara superabundancia de pequeños oficios, los cuales, no pudiendo sufragar por sus cortas ganancias a la manutención de una familia, son más bien «pretextos de existencia» que verdaderos oficios; en una palabra, «modos de vivir que no dan de vivir»; los que los profesan son, no obstante, como las últimas ruedas de una máquina, que sin tener a primera vista grande importancia, rotas o separadas del conjunto paralizan el movimiento.

Larra

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