Posts Tagged ‘send more paramedics’

Posted: July 10, 2020 by zombieacademy in Academy, Uncategorized
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An open letter from the Australian academic community.

lol

Posted: June 22, 2020 by zombieacademy in Academy, Uncategorized
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In a gratifying vindication of the effectiveness of decades of rigorous cultural Marxism and deplatforming on campus, on Friday the education minister, some guy, produced an effort to mangle public funding for most humanities and social sciences education in Australia. Exhibiting a cavalier disregard for empirical reality, this incompetent and unconvincing manoeuvre is of a piece with the short-sighted and vindictive ideological approach taken by the current government to higher education. Savaging local economies during a recession, exacerbating already chronic precarity in the sector, and insulting low-income and female school leavers, the minister fails to comprehend that these people are even more worrying when recognising and defending their common interests than when toiling in their overcrowded Zoom tutorials and online forums. Look out, we’re onto you.

Posted: June 15, 2020 by zombieacademy in Brains
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Step 1: get ready for the survey! If you have any questions about it, direct them to your employer (not the people doing the survey, obviously! That’d be like ‘taking ownership’ for the work you’re getting paid to do. Work that involves facilitating unemployment for other people).

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Step 2: Here’s a description of the options. They involve pay cuts and job losses at this rate over that time frame, or that rate over this time frame. If you don’t like those, there is a nuclear option, with no pay cuts, but a number of job losses so scary it cannot be specified.

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Step 3: OK, go ahead and choose some options.

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Step 4: Surprise! You are forced to rank the ‘options’ by ‘preference’ in order to complete the survey.

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This survey was brought to you by the voice project – ‘improving organisations by giving people a voice’. This is an example of a technology called ‘consultation’ in contemporary universities (this one, in this instance). Your preference as to how many people should lose their jobs is important and will inform decision-making! Well done voice project for leading the way here in ethical and methodological innovation. You are sure to earn admiration for your commitment to robust survey design. Be the change you want to see!

Posted: December 7, 2019 by zombieacademy in Uncategorized
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The West’s response to environmental issues has been restricted by the dominance of neoliberal economics since the 1970s. That led to hyper-individualist, market fundamentalist, incremental and atomistic approaches. By hyper-individualist, I mean a focus on individual action as consumers, switching light bulbs or buying sustainable furniture, rather than promoting political action as engaged citizens. By market fundamentalist, I mean a focus on market mechanisms like the complex, costly and largely useless carbon cap and trade systems, rather than exploring what more government intervention could achieve. By incremental, I mean a focus on celebrating small steps forward such as a company publishing a sustainability report, rather than strategies designed for a speed and scale of change suggested by the science. By atomistic, I mean a focus on seeing climate action as a separate issue from the governance of markets, finance and banking, rather than exploring what kind of economic system could permit or enable sustainability.

This ideology has now influenced the workloads and priorities of academics in most universities, which restricts how we can respond to the climate tragedy. In my own case, I took an unpaid sabbatical, and writing this paper is one of the outcomes of that decision. We no longer have time for the career games of aiming to publish in top-ranked journals to impress our line managers or improve our CV for if we enter the job market. Nor do we have a need for the narrow specialisms that are required to publish in such journals. So, yes, I am suggesting that in order to let oneself evolve in response to the climate tragedy one may have to quit a job – and even a career. However, if one is prepared to do that, then one can engage with an employer and professional community from a new place of confidence.

If staying in academia, I recommend you begin to ask some questions of all that you research and teach. When reading others’ research, I recommend asking: “How might these findings inform efforts for a more massive and urgent pursuit of resilience, relinquishment and restoration in the face of social collapse?” You may find that most of what you read offers little on that question, and, therefore, you no longer wish to engage with it. On one’s own research, I recommend asking: “If I didn’t believe in incremental incorporation of climate concerns into current organisations and systems, what might I want to know more about?” In answering that question, I recommend talking to non-specialists as much as people in your own field, so that you are able to talk more freely and consider all options.

 

That’d be Jem Bendell.

… There was an acceptance amongst managers of the inevitability that education would increasingly be modelled on business. Some managers would typically introduce new procedures by explicitly saying that they didn’t themselves think they were a good idea, but what could you do? This was how things were to be done now, and the easiest option all round would be for us to go through the motions. We didn’t have to believe it, we only had to act as if we believed it. The idea that our ‘inner beliefs’ mattered more than what we were publicly professing at work was crucial to capitalist realism. We could have left-wing convictions, and a left-wing self-image, provided these didn’t impinge on work in any significant way! This was ideology in the old Althusserian sense – we were required to use a certain language and engage in particular ritualised behaviours, but none of this mattered because we didn’t ‘really’ believe in any of it. But of course the very privileging of ‘inner’ subjective states over the public was itself an ideological move …

one manager would cheerily present us with each new initiative, openly saying that he didn’t think it was of much value, but that we should do it to make our lives easier. He once told our team that we weren’t sufficiently critical of ourselves in one of our performance reviews – but not to worry because nothing would happen on the basis of any criticisms that we made. I don’t know what was more demoralising here: the fact that we were required to denigrate ourselves as part of our job, or the fact that the criticisms we made were a purely empty exercise. Some of the affective consequences of this self-surveillance regime are amply demonstrated here: anxiety, accompanied by a sense of the meaninglessness of the activity about which one is anxious. The word ‘Kafkaesque’ is enormously over-used, but it fits this existential situation perfectly. So, bureaucracy becomes immanent to the fabric of work in general, not something performed by a special kind of worker.

… neoliberal bureaucracy is quintessentially ideological. It not only naturalises and normalises the language and practices of business; it makes the ritualised performance of this naturalisation a condition of workers retaining their jobs. The second role that managerialist bureaucracy plays for neoliberalism is a disciplinary function: it subdues and pacifies workers. The anxiety that neoliberal bureaucracy so often produces should not be seen as an accidental side-effect of these measures; rather, the anxiety is something that is in itself highly desirable from the perspective of the neoliberal project. The erosion of confidence, the sense of being alone, in competition with others: this weakens the worker’s resolve, undermines their capacity for solidarity, and forestalls militancy.

So it seems to me that the politicizing of managerialist bureaucracy could be extremely fruitful from the point of view of the struggle against neoliberalism.

 

Mark Fisher

Posted: September 30, 2018 by zombieacademy in Brains
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The mutating metric machinery of higher education

Posted: June 19, 2018 by zombieacademy in Readings, Research, Uncategorized
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Now, matters are such that German universities, especially the small universities, are engaged in a most ridiculous competition for enrollments. The landlords of rooming houses in university cities celebrate the advent of the thousandth student by a festival, and they would love to celebrate Number Two Thousand by a torchlight procession. The interest in fees – and one should openly admit it – is affected by appointments in the neighboring fields that ‘draw crowds.’ And quite apart from this, the number of students enrolled is a test of qualification, which may be grasped in terms of numbers, whereas the qualification for scholarship is imponderable and, precisely with audacious innovators, often debatable – that is only natural. Almost everybody thus is affected by the suggestion of the immeasurable blessing and value of large enrollments. To say of a docent that he is a poor teacher is usually to pronounce an academic sentence of death, even if he is the foremost scholar in the world. And the question whether he is a good or a poor teacher is answered by the enrollments with which the students condescendingly honor him.

It is a fact that whether or not the students flock to a teacher is determined in large measure, larger than one would believe possible, by purely external things: temperament and even the inflection of his voice. After rather extensive experience and sober reflection, I have a deep distrust of courses that draw crowds, however unavoidable they may be. Democracy should be used only where it is in place. Scientific training, as we are held to practice it in accordance with the tradition of German universities, is the affair of an intellectual aristocracy, and we should not hide this from ourselves. To be sure, it is true that to present scientific problems in such a manner that an untutored but receptive mind can understand them and – what for us is alone decisive – can come to think about them independently is perhaps the most difficult pedagogical task of all. But whether this task is or is not realized is not decided by enrollment figures.

Weber, in 1918.

In M. Weber, H. Gerth, & C. W. Mills (Eds.), From Max Weber. New York: Oxford University Press: 133-134.

Australian Universities’ Review Special issue: Challenging the Privatised University.

Posted: December 19, 2015 by zombieacademy in Academy
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There are no good academics in the EU.