Did the Mark Taylor NYT op ed that Bully Blogger Jack Halberstam writes about below make you cranky? Have you been looking for a way to sound off about it? Add your 500 word commentary to this blog! Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will review what you send for posting here.
For the Bullly Bloggers: Lisa Duggan, J. Jack Halberstam, Jose Munoz and Tavia Nyong’o
One reply on “Commentaries Welcome”
If you want to revamp the university into whatever you imagine that American Holy-See “The Market” will be ripe for, have at it. With student tuition replacing government funding, it was only a matter of time before education, like everything else in the United States, was placed on the alter of the market. It’s already been priced out of the reach of the poor and working poor. If universities were allowed to find their own way through intellectual curiosity we might actually find solutions to the really big problems, such as: How do we fulfill human needs without destroying natural systems? What is the future and the path of climate change, and how can we work to mitigate its negative impacts? Is there an organizational structure for states or economies which better provides for the welfare of a people? Or at least one which doesn’t concentrate wealth upward? We will never find the answers to any of these questions so long as free-market gods are the only ones to which we are beholden. The market will tell us it has answers, and we will boom industries in the wake of its grand invitations to a glorious future, only to wake once again in the toxic exhausted wasteland of extractive economies and exploitative business models. Take the plethora of adjuncting Ph.D’s; while universities struggle to “streamline” and maximize efficiency, underpaid intellectuals compete for the hallowed right to babysit the children of the wealthy between bouts of beerpong and beg them to form complete sentences, or to at least read the assigned texts. So long as they stay enrolled and keep paying the ever-escalating fees, the colleges make money.
No university in the United States is interested in solving problems, unless there is a bottom-line reason behind their work. Absent a profit motive, the university works to treat the symptoms of its many cancers, not to cure the affliction. In the United States, the GDP jumps with every cancer case diagnosed, and so go the many markets of our society. This whole damned conversation is just one more tumor; another cause for study and “research,” but heaven forbid a cure! we’d all be out of a job.
In a real university of the future, information would be free, and the goal would be to chart an escape from the chains of intellectual, economic, and corporate tyranny. Try this stress test of your own institution: Ask yourself, am I allowed to posit a different model for intellectualism? A new economic system? A non-corporate government or nation? Would such an idea be taken seriously, or are the underlying operating systems of your institution unassailable, uncriticizable, sacrosanct?
Sure, we’ll revolutionize higher education, as soon as RevolutionizeYourLife.Inc. invents us a kit, sells it to us on late night television, and tells us on Facebook it’s time for the uprising. Please. We’ll more likely just keep nipping at the heels of big business, asking what they would have us do next. Shall we create a Department of Mindscape Technomediation and Advertising Saturation? A Department of Market Solutions for Health Related Industries? Say, that’s what I can do with my advanced degrees in Language Arts, I can be an ad-guy!!! Now all I need is a martini and a hi-fi, and for GE to control a tenth of the GNP, and everything will be swell. The future looks a lot like the past. Good thing there aren’t any history teachers around to tell us we’re being screwed again.