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Slightly Skeptical View on Neoliberal Transformation of University Education

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Introduction

Previously education was mostly about "finding yourself" -- developing understanding of the world and yourself, as well as developing those set of abilities that you was gifted most. And deciding what you want to do in the future, within contins of job market and your abilities.  Neoliberalism has changed that dramatically. Education now is just in "investment" into your "entrepreneurial self" to increase your value as "human capital" holder and this your value in the "labout market." (Symptomatic Redness -Philip Mirowski - YouTube).  That's bullsh*t, but people already brainwashed by neoliberals from the middle school buy it uncritically.

Today we live in a world of predatory bankers, predatory educators, predatory health care providers, all of them out for themselves…. Neoliberalism  is the philosophy of the Silicon Valley chieftains, the big university systems, and the Wall Street titans who gave so much to Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign…. They are pretend to belong to so called "creative vlass", but in reality are self-interested, parasitical, and predatory. Common people are not admissible to this new aristocracy even if they have two university educations.

In the current circumstances education is no longer the answer to rising inequality. Instead of serving as a social lift it, it designed to propagate the current status of parents and at least in some cases, became more of a social trap converting poorer or more reckless (as in specializing in areas were job market is not existent) graduates into debt slaves without chances to repay the loans. All this is connected with neoliberal transformation of education. With the collapse of post-war public funded educational model and privatization of the University education students face a pretty cruel world. World in which they are cows to milk.

Now universities became institutions very similar to McDonalds ( or, in less politically correct terms, Bordellos of Higher Learning). Like McDonalds they need to price their services so that to receive nice profit and they to make themselves more attractive to industry they intentionally feed students with overspecialized curriculum instead of concentrating on fundamentals and the developing the ability to understand the world. Which was the hallmark of university education of the past.

Since 1970th Neo-Liberal University model replaced public funded university model (Dewey model). It is now collapsing as there are not that many students, who are able (and now with lower job prospects and persistent tales of graduates working as bartenders) to pay inflated tuition fees. Foreigners somewhat compensates for this , but with current high prices Canada, UK and Europe are more attractive for all but the most rich parents.   That means that higher education again by-and-large became privilege of the rich and upper middle class.

Lower student enrollment first hit after  dot-com boom, when the number of students who want to be programmers decines several times.   Expensive private colleges start hunting for people with government support (such a former members of Arm forces).  The elite universities, which traditionally serve the top 1% and rich foreigners fared better but were also hit. As David Schultz wrote in his article (Logos, 2012):

Yet the Dewey model began to collapse in middle of the 1970s. Perhaps it was the retrenchment of the SUNY and CUNY systems in New York under Governor Hugh Carey in 1976 that began the end of the democratic university. What caused its retrenchment was the fiscal crisis of the 1970s.

The fiscal crisis of the 1970s was born of numerous problems. Inflationary pressures caused by Vietnam and the energy embargoes of the 1970s, and recessionary forces from relative declines in American economic productivity produced significant economic shocks, including to the public sector where many state and local governments edged toward bankruptcy.

Efforts to relieve declining corporate profits and productivity initiated efforts to restructure the economy, including cutting back on government services. The response, first in England under Margaret Thatcher and then in the United States under Ronald Reagan, was an effort to retrench the state by a package that included decreases in government expenditures for social welfare programs, cutbacks on business regulations, resistance to labor rights, and tax cuts. Collectively these proposals are referred to as Neo-liberalism and their aim was to restore profitability and autonomy to free markets with the belief that unfettered by the government that would restore productivity.

Neo-liberalism had a major impact on higher education. First beginning under President Carter and then more so under Ronald Reagan, the federal and state governments cut taxes and public expenditures. The combination of the two meant a halt to the Dewey business model as support for public institutions decreased and federal money dried up.

From a high in the 1960s and early 70s when states and the federal government provided generous funding to expand their public systems to educate the Baby Boomers, state universities now receive only a small percentage of their money from the government. As I pointed out in my 2005 Logos “The Corporate University in American Society” article in 1991, 74% of the funding for public universities came from states, in 2004; it was down to 64%, with state systems in Illinois, Michigan and Virginia down to 25%, 18%, and 8% respectively. Since then, the percentages have shrunk even more, rendering state universities public institutions more in name than in funding.

Higher education under Neo-liberalism needed a new business model and it found it in the corporate university. The corporate university is one where colleges increasingly use corporate structures and management styles to run the university. This includes abandoning the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) shared governance model where faculty had an equal voice in the running of the school, including over curriculum, selection of department chairs, deans, and presidents, and determination of many of the other policies affecting the academy. The corporate university replaced the shared governance model with one more typical of a business corporation.

For the corporate university, many decisions, including increasingly those affecting curriculum, are determined by a top-down pyramid style of authority. University administration often composed not of typical academics but those with business or corporate backgrounds had pre-empted many of the decisions faculty used to make. Under a corporate model, the trustees, increasingly composed of more business leaders than before, select, often with minimal input from the faculty, the president who, in turn, again with minimal or no faculty voice, select the deans, department heads, and other administrative personnel.

University bureaucracy and presidents became way too greedy

Neoliberalism professes the idea the personal greed can serve positive society goals, which is reflected in famous neoliberal slogan "greed is good". And university presidents listen. Now presidents of neoliberal universities do not want to get $100K per year salary, they want one, or better several, million dollars -- the salary of the CEO of major corporation (Student Debt Grows Faster at Universities With Highest-Paid Leaders, Study Finds - NYTimes.com)

At the 25 public universities with the highest-paid presidents, both student debt and the use of part-time adjunct faculty grew far faster than at the average state university from 2005 to 2012, according to a new study by the Institute for Policy Studies, a left-leaning Washington research group.

The study, “The One Percent at State U: How University Presidents Profit from Rising Student Debt and Low-Wage Faculty Labor,” examined the relationship between executive pay, student debt and low-wage faculty labor at the 25 top-paying public universities.

The co-authors, Andrew Erwin and Marjorie Wood, found that administrative expenditures at the highest-paying universities outpaced spending on scholarships by more than two to one. And while adjunct faculty members became more numerous at the 25 universities, the share of permanent faculty declined drastically.

“The high executive pay obviously isn’t the direct cause of higher student debt, or cuts in labor spending,” Ms. Wood said. “But if you think about it in terms of the allocation of resources, it does seem to be the tip of a very large iceberg, with universities that have top-heavy executive spending also having more adjuncts, more tuition increases and more administrative spending.”

... ... ...

The Chronicle of Higher Education’s annual survey of public university presidents’ compensation, also released Sunday, found that nine chief executives earned more than $1 million in total compensation in 2012-13, up from four the previous year, and three in 2010-11. The median total compensation of the 256 presidents in the survey was $478,896, a 5 percent increase over the previous year.

... ... ...

As in several past years, the highest-compensated president, at $6,057,615 in this period, was E. Gordon Gee, who resigned from Ohio State last summer amid trustee complaints about frequent gaffes. He has since become the president of West Virginia University.

This trick requires dramatic raising of tuition costs. University bureaucracy also got taste for better salaries and all those deans, etc want to be remunerated like vice presidents. So raising the tuition costs became the key existential idea of neoliberal university. Not quality of education, but tuition costs now are the key criteria of success. And if you can charge students $40K per semester it is very, very good. If does not matter that most population get less then $20 an hour.

The same is true for professors, who proved to be no less corruptible. And some of them, such as economic departments, simply serve as prostitutes for financial oligarchy. So they were corrupted even before that rat race for profit. Of course there are exceptions. But they only prove the rule.

As the result university tuition inflation outpaced inflation by leaps and bounds. At some point amount that you pay (and the level of debt after graduation) becomes an important factor in choosing the university. So children of "have" and "have nots" get into different educational institutions and do not meet each other. In a way aristocracy returned via back door.

Job market situation and hidden financial rip offs

Neoliberal university professes "deep specialization" to create "ready for the job market" graduates. And that creates another problem: education became more like stock market game and that makes more difficult for you to change your specialization late in the education cycle. But too early choice entails typical stock market problem: you might miss the peak of the market or worse get into prolonged slump, as graduates in finance learned all too well in 2008.

That's why it is important not to accumulate too much debt: large debt after graduation put you in situation like "all in" play in poker. You essentially bet that in the chosen specialty there will be open positions with high salary, when you graduate. If you lose this bet , you became a debt slave for considerable period of your life.

As a result of this "reaction to the market trends" by neoliberal universities, when universities became appendixes of HR of large corporations students need to be more aware of real university machinery, then students in 50th or 60th of the last century. And first student should not assume that the university is functioning for  their benefits.

One problem for a student is that there are now way too many variables that you do not control. Among them:

On the deep level neoliberal university is not interested to help you to find specialization and place in life where can unleash your talents. You are just a paying customers much like in McDonalds, and university interests are such they might try to push you in wrong direction or load you with too much debt.

If there is deep mismatch as was with computer science graduates after crash of dot-com boom, or simply bad job market due to economy stagnation and you can't find the job for your new specialty (or if you got "junk" specialty with inherent high level of unemployment among professionals) and you have substantial education debt, then waiting tables or having some other MacJob is a real disaster for you. As with such salaries you simply can't pay it back. So controlling the level of debt is very important and in this sense parents financial help is now necessary. In other words education became more and more "rich kids game".

That does not mean that university education should be avoided for those from families with modest means. On the contrary it provides unique experience and help a person to mature in multiple ways difficult to achieve without it. It is still one of the best ways to get vertical mobility. But unless parents can support you need to try to find the most economical way to obtain it without acquiring too much debt. This is you first university exam. And if you fail it you are in trouble.

For example, computer science education is a great way to learn quite a few things necessary for a modern life. But the price does matter and prestige of the university institution that you attend is just one of the factors you should consider in your evaluation. It should not be the major factor ("vanity fair") unless your parents are rich and can support you. If you are good you can get later a master degree in a prestigious university after graduation from a regular college. Or even Ph.D.

County colleges are greatly underappreciated and generally provide pretty high standard of education, giving ability to students to save money for the first two years before transferring to a four year college. They also smooth the transition as finding yourself among people who are only equal or superior then you (and have access to financial resource that you don't have) is a huge stress. The proverb say that it is better to be first in the village then last in the town has some truth in it. Prestigious universities might provide a career boost (high fly companies usually accept resumes only from Ivy League members), but they cost so much that you need to be a son or daughter of well-to-do parents to feel comfortably in them. Or extremely talented. Also amount of career boost that elite universities provide depends on whom your parents are and what connections they have. It does not depend solely on you and the university. Again, I would like to stress that you should resist "vanity fair" approach to your education: a much better way is to try to obtain BS in a regular university and them try to obtain MS and then, if you are good, PHD, in a prestigious university. Here is a fragment of an interesting discussion that covers this topic (Low Mobility Is Not a Social Tragedy?, Feb 13, 2013 ; I recommend you to read the whole discussion ):

kievite:

I would like to defend Greg Clack.

I think that Greg Clack point is that the number of gifted children is limited and that exceptionally gifted children have some chance for upper move in almost all, even the most hierarchical societies (story of Alexander Hamilton was really fascinating for me, the story of Mikhail Lomonosov http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikhail_Lomonosov was another one -- he went from the very bottom to the top of Russian aristocracy just on the strength of his abilities as a scientist). In no way the ability to "hold its own" (typical for rich families kids) against which many here expressed some resentment represents social mobility. But the number of kids who went down is low -- that's actually proves Greg Clack point:

(1) Studies of social mobility using surnames suggest two things. Social mobility rates are much lower than conventionally estimated. And social mobility rates estimated in this way vary little across societies and time periods. Sweden is no more mobile than contemporary England and the USA, or even than medieval England. Social mobility rates seem to be independent of social institutions (see the other studies on China, India, Japan and the USA now linked here).

Francisco Ferreira rejects this interpretation, and restates the idea that there is a strong link between social mobility rates and inequality in his interesting post.

What is wrong with the data Ferreira cites? Conventional estimates of social mobility, which look at just single aspects of social status such as income, are contaminated by noise. If we measure mobility on one aspect of status such as income, it will seem rapid.

But this is because income is a very noisy measure of the underlying status of families. The status of families is a combination of their education, occupation, income, wealth, health, and residence. They will often trade off income for some other aspect of status such as occupation. A child can be as socially successful as a low paid philosophy professor as a high paid car salesman. Thus if we measure just one aspect of status such as income we are going to confuse the random fluctuations of income across generations, influenced by such things as career choices between business and philosophy, with true generalised social mobility.

If these estimates of social mobility were anywhere near correct as indicating true underlying rates of social mobility, then we would not find that the aristocrats of 1700 in Sweden are still overrepresented in all elite occupations of Sweden. Further, the more equal is income in a society, the less signal will income give of the true social status of families. In a society such as Sweden, where the difference in income between bus drivers and philosophy professors is modest, income tells us little about the social status of families. It is contaminated much more by random noise. Thus it will appear if we measure social status just by income that mobility is much greater in Sweden than in the USA, because in the USA income is a much better indicator of the true overall status of families.

The last two paragraphs of Greg Clark article cited by Mark Thoma are badly written and actually are somewhat disconnected with his line of thinking as I understand it as well as with the general line of argumentation of the paper.

Again, I would like to stress that a low intergenerational mobility includes the ability of kids with silver spoon in their mouth to keep a status close to their parent. The fact that they a have different starting point then kids from lower strata of society does not change that.

I think that the key argument that needs testing is that the number of challengers from lower strata of the society is always pretty low and is to a large extent accommodated by the societies we know (of course some societies are better then others).

Actually it would be interesting to look at the social mobility data of the USSR from this point of view.

But in no way, say, Mark Thoma was a regular kid, although circumstances for vertical mobility at this time were definitely better then now. He did possessed some qualities which made possible his upward move although his choice of economics was probably a mistake ;-).

Whether those qualities were enough in more restrictive environments we simply don't know, but circumstances for him were difficult enough as they were.

EC -> kievite...

"the number of gifted children is limited"

I stopped reading after that. I teach at a high school in a town with a real mix of highly elite families, working class families, and poor families, and I can tell you that the children of affluent parents are not obviously more gifted than the children of poor families. They do, however, have a lot more social capital, and they have vastly more success. But the limitations on being "gifted" are irrelevant.

According to an extensive study (Turkheimer et al., 2003) of 50,000 pregnant women and the children they went on to have (including enough sets of twins to be able to study the role of innate genetic differences), variation in IQ among the affluent seems to be largely genetic.

Among the poor, however, IQ has very little to do with genes -- probably because the genetic differences are swamped and suppressed by the environmental differences, as few poor kids are able to develop as fully as they would in less constrained circumstances.

kievite -> EC...

All you said is true. I completely agree that "...few poor kids are able to develop as fully as they would in less constrained circumstances." So there are losses here and we should openly talk about them.

Also it goes without saying that social capital is extremely important for a child. That's why downward mobility of children from upper classes is suppressed, despite the fact that some of them are plain vanilla stupid.

But how this disproves the point made that "exceptionally gifted children have some chance for upper move in almost all, even the most hierarchical societies"? I think you just jumped the gun...

mrrunangun:

The early boomers benefitted from the happy confluence of the postwar boom, LBJ's Great Society efforts toward financial assistance for those seeking to advance their educations, and the 1964 Civil Rights Act which opened opportunities for marginalized social groups in institutions largely closed to them under the prewar social customs in the US.

The US Supreme Court is made up of only Jews and Catholics as of this writing, a circumstance inconceivable in the prewar America. Catholics were largely relegated to separate and unequal institutions. Jews' opportunities were limited by quotas and had a separate set of institutions of their own where their numbers could support such. Where their numbers were not sufficient, they were often relegated to second rate institutions.

Jewish doctors frequently became the leading men in the Catholic hospitals in Midwestern industrial towns where they were unwelcome in the towns' main hospitals. Schools, clubs, hospitals, professional and commercial organizations often had quota or exclusionary policies. Meritocracy has its drawbacks, but we've seen worse in living memory.

The really cruel world of a neoliberal university

Of course bad things that happened to you during your university years are soon forgotten and nostalgia colors everything in role tones, but the truth is that the modern university is a very cruel world. Now more then ever. Here are some random observations of the subject (See also my Diploma Mills page about high education sharks for which sucking you dry financially is the main goal ):

Lysenkoism and petty, greedy pseudo-scientific scum as professors and teachers

Most teachers and Professors in the university are good, honest people who are trying to make some contribution to science and teach students (difficult things to mix). But not all. One of the most dangerous feature of neoliberal university are influx of people who represent a toxic mix of teacher, snake oil seller, careerist and cult follower. They are not teachers but brainwashers, hired guns -- propagandists masquerading as University professors. That is why we have witnessed such a corruption and politicization of science and rising proportion of research and theories taught at the universities that are fraudulent.

Previously teacher was a person somewhat similar to a monk. A person who consciously traded the ability to work in science to the possibility of acquiring material wealth, at least excessive material wealth. As Ernest Rutherford once reminded Pyotr Kapitsa "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." (Matthew 6:24)

But in neoliberal university way too many teachers/researchers took Faustian bargain when one trades the academic independence for above average personal wealth, influence, for the power grab. And despite popular image of scientists and university professors they proved to be as corruptible by money as Wall Street traders ;-). This is because the sponsors of their research such as big business, non-governmental organizations (NGO) and government vie to publish reports and results that put the sponsors in the best light. Good example is relations of pharmaceutical industry and academia

“The answer to that question is at once both predictable and shocking: For the past two decades, medical research has been quietly corrupted by cash from private industry. Most doctors and academic researchers aren't corrupt in the sense of intending to defraud the public or harm patients, but rather, more insidiously, guilty of allowing the pharmaceutical and biotech industries to manipulate medical science through financial relationships, in effect tainting the system that is supposed to further the understanding of disease and protect patients from ineffective or dangerous drugs. More than 60 percent of clinical studies--those involving human subjects--are now funded not by the federal government, but by the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. That means that the studies published in scientific journals like Nature and The New England Journal of Medicine--those critical reference points for thousands of clinicians deciding what drugs to prescribe patients, as well as for individuals trying to educate themselves about conditions and science reporters from the popular media who will publicize the findings--are increasingly likely to be designed, controlled, and sometimes even ghost-written by marketing departments, rather than academic scientists. Companies routinely delay or prevent the publication of data that show their drugs are ineffective.

...

“ Novartis, stepped in and provided additional funding for development. In 1984, private companies contributed a mere $26 million to university research budgets. By 2000, they were ponying up $2.3 billion, an increase of 9000 percent that provided much needed funds to universities at a time when the cost of doing medical research was skyrocketing.”

Historically the scientific community is held together through its joint acceptance of the same fundamental principles of conducting research (and teaching those results) and ethics. Scientific research is best practiced in a voluntary, honest and free atmosphere. But this idyllic arrangement as well as scientific ethics now belongs to the past ( The Corruption of Science )

“It’s a long-standing and crucial question that, as yet, remains unanswered: just how common is scientific misconduct? In the online, open-access journal PLoS ONE, Daniele Fanelli of the University of Edinburgh reports the first meta-analysis of surveys questioning scientists about their misbehaviours. The results suggest that altering or making up data is more frequent than previously estimated and might be particularly high in medical research.

...There is immense pressure on scientists to produce results, to publish, to seek glory, or just to get tenure. Scientists are human beings, after all, and sometimes they approach their field with preconceptions or biases. Politics certainly comes into play; consider eugenics in the United States at the beginning of the 20th century, or eugenics in Nazi Germany.

Now we can talk only about the level of political and economical pressure and corresponding level of corruption on professors and scientists, not so much about presence or absence of corruption in science and education. What really matters for students is that when they feel that a professor is a scum, they nevertheless try to imitate. See for example Harvard Mafia, Andrei Shleifer and the economic rape of Russia.

Historically the situation started to change even before neoliberal university became a dominant educational institution. Previously, despite the fact that money for science were in short supply, scientists maintained a self-discipline. That changed after WWII. Prior to World War II there was little government financial support for science. A graduate student working on a Ph.D. degree was expected to make a new discovery to earn that degree. And if somebody else came first he needed to find a new theme and to restart his work.

But with the advent of NSF scientists started to "propose" directions of research to get funding. And be sure this instill atmosphere of sycophantism and political correctness. This process accelerated dramatically since 1980th with the ascendance of neoliberalism as a dominant USA ideology, when greed became playing significant role in US universities. It should be understood that now the university professor is no longer is a teacher and a scientist, but predominantly "grants provider" for the university and that means that he/she is in the first place a political agent, a manipulator on a mission from the external agent (typically the state via NSF or other agency, see The Corruption of Science in America -- Puppet Masters -- Sott.net)

For the unwashed masses University professor career still represents the ultimate carrier of truth for a given discipline, so his opinion have a distinct political weight. And the architects of our neoliberal world fully use this "superstition". Like we can see with neoclassical economics, economists have turned into an instrument of cognitive manipulation, when under the guise of science financial oligarchy promote beneficial to itself but false and simplistic picture of the world, using University professors to brainwash the masses into "correct" thinking.

Professors literally became a religious figures, and cult members or even cult leaders. The first sign of this dangerous disease of the modern university was probably Lysenkoism in the USSR. In this sense one can say that Lysenkoism represented a natural side effect of shrinking of freedom of the scientific community and growing influence of political power on science. As by Frederick Seitz noted in his The Present Danger To Science and Society

Everyone knows that the scientific community faces financial problems at the present time. If that were its only problem, some form of restructuring and allocation of funds, perhaps along lines well tested in Europe and modified in characteristic American ways, might provide solutions that would lead to stability and balance well into the next century. Unfortunately, the situation is more complex, made so by the fact that the scientific establishment has become the object of controversy from both outside and inside its special domain. The most important aspects of the controversy are of a new kind and direct attention away from matters that are sufficiently urgent to be the focus of a great deal of the community's attention.

The assaults on science from the outside arise from such movements as the ugly form of "political correctness" that has taken root in important portions of our academic community. There are to be found, in addition, certain tendencies toward a home-grown variant of the anti-intellectual Lysenkoism that afflicted science in the Stalinist Soviet Union. So-called fraud cases are being dealt with in new, bureaucratic ways that cut across the traditional methods of arriving at truth in science. From inside the scientific community, meanwhile, there are challenges that go far beyond those that arise from the intense competition for the limited funds that are available to nourish the country's scientific endeavor.

The critical issue of arriving at a balanced approach to funding for science is being subordinated to issues made to seem urgent by unhealthy alliances of scientists and bureaucrats. Science and the integrity of its practitioners are under attack and, increasingly, legislators and bureaucrats shape the decisions that determine which paths scientific research should take. There is, in addition, a sinister tendency, especially in environmental affairs, toward considering the undertaking of expensive projects that are proposed by some scientists to remedy worst-case formulations of problems before the radical and expensive remedies are proven to be needed. They are viewed seriously though they are based on the advice of opportunistic alarmists in science who leap ahead of what is learned from solid research to encourage support for the expensive remedies they perceive to be necessary. The potential for very great damage to science and society is real.

Textbook racket is a part of neoliberal transformation of university education

Unfortunately a large part of the textbook market in the USA has all signs of corrupted monopoly infested with cronyism and incompetence to the extent that Standard Oil practices looks pretty benign in comparison. As the site MakeTextbooksAffordable.com states on its font page:

The report found that even though students already pay $900 year for textbooks, textbook publishers artificially inflate the price of textbooks by adding bells and whistles to the current texts, and forcing cheaper used books off the market by producing expensive new editions of textbooks that are barely different from the previous edition.

And some university professors are part of these scheme. Congressmen David Wu sites the opinion of the publisher in his letter "If a student is paying hundreds of dollars for a book, it's because the professor has ordered the Cadillac edition". But that might be true only for CS where any professor can easily find a cheaper high quality substitute from publishers like O'Reilly (and students can do this too, see Softpanorama Bookshelf actually about finding the best CS book (and some other) at reasonable prices. In other disciplines like mathematics situation is a real racket: The cost of a common calculus textbook is over $100 in the USA. This is a blatant, open rip-off. Economics is probably even worse with some useless junk selling for almost $300 per book.

In the meantime, enterprising students have many ways to cut the cost of buying textbooks.

But here one needs to see a bigger picture: low quality of recommended textbooks and, especially, the quality of university instruction makes it necessary buying additional textbooks. Also the ownership of best textbooks often makes the difference between success and failure in the particular course. In this sense additional $100 spending for books for each course makes economic sense as the common alternative is to drop the course, which often means $1K of more loss.

There are several ways to save on additional textbooks that hopefully can somewhat compensate for the low quality of tuition in a typical university. With some effort a student can often save approximately 50% of the cover price. Again my Links2bookstores page contains more information.

At the same time if the instructor is weak, or, worse, belongs to "fundamentalists", a category of instructors that does not distinguish between important and unimportant things and overloads the course with "useless overcomplexity" additional books are one of few countermeasures against this typical university-style rip-off. Dropping the course is a difficult maneuver that requires perfect timing and problems with instructor and the course content usually do not surface during the first month of the study when you can still do it for free or with minimal damage.

College textbook publishing became a racket with the growth of neoliberalism. And it is pretty dirty racket with willing accomplishes in form of so called professors like Greg Mankiw. For instance, you can find a used 5th edition Mankiw introductory to Microeconomics for under $4.00, while a new 7th edition costs over $200. An interesting discussion of this problem can be found at Thoughts on High-Priced Textbooks'

Tim Taylor on why textbooks cost so much:

Thoughts on High-Priced Textbooks: High textbook prices are a pebble in the shoe of many college students. Sure, it's not the biggest financial issue they face, But it's a real and nagging annoyance that for hinders performance for many students. ...
David Kestenbaum and Jacob Goldstein at National Public Radio took up this question recently on one of their "Planet Money" podcasts. ... For economists, a highlight is that they converse with Greg Mankiw, author of what is currently the best-selling introductory economics textbook, which as they point out is selling for $286 on Amazon. Maybe this is a good place to point out that I am not a neutral observer in this argument: The third edition of my own Principles of Economics textbook is available through Textbook Media. The pricing varies from $25 for online access to the book, up through $60 for both a paper copy (soft-cover, black and white) and online access.

Several explanations for high textbook prices are on offer. The standard arguments are that textbook companies are marketing selling to professors, not to students, and professors are not necessarily very sensitive to textbook prices. (Indeed, one can argue that before the rapid rise in textbook prices in the last couple of decades, it made sense for professors not to focus too much on textbook prices.) Competition in the textbook market is limited, and the big publishers load up their books with features that might appeal to professors: multi-colored hardcover books, with DVDs and online access, together with test banks that allow professors to give quizzes and tests that can be machine-graded. At many colleges and universities, the intro econ class is taught in a large lecture format, which can include hundreds or even several thousand students, as well as a flock of teaching assistants, so some form of computerized grading and feedback is almost a necessity. Some of the marketing by textbook companies involves paying professors for reviewing chapters--of course in the hope that such reviewers will adopt the book.

The NPR show casts much of this dynamic as a "principal-agent problem," the name for a situation in which one person (the "principal") wants another person (the "agent") to act on their behalf, but lacks the ability to observe or evaluate the actions of the agent in a complete way. Principal-agent analysis is often used, for example, to think about the problem of a manager motivating employees. But it can also be used to consider the issue of students (the "principals") wanting the professor (the "agent") to choose the book that will best suit the needs of the students, with all factors of price and quality duly taken into account. The NPR reporters quote one expert saying that the profit margin for high school textbooks is 5-10%, because those books decisions are made by school districts and states that negotiate hard. However, profit margins on college textbooks--where the textbook choice is often made by a professor who may not even know the price that students will pay--are more like 20%.

The NPR report suggests this principal-agent framework to Greg Mankiw, author of the top-selling $286 economic textbook. Mankiw points out that principal-agent problems are in no way nefarious, but come up in many contexts. For example, when you get an operation, you rely on the doctor to make choices that involve costs; when you get your car fixed, you rely on a mechanic to make choices that involve costs; when you are having home repairs done, you rely on a repair person or a contractor to make choices that involve costs. Mankiw argues that professors, acting as the agents of students, have legitimate reason to be concerned about tradeoffs of time and money. As he notes, a high quality book is more important "than saving them a few dollars"--and he suggests that saving $30 isn't worth it for a low-quality book.

But of course, in the real world there are more choices than a high-quality $286 book and a low-quality $256 book. The PIRG student surveys suggest that up to two-thirds of students are avoiding buying textbooks at all, even though they fear it will hurt their grade, or are shifting to other classes with lower textbook costs. If a student is working 10 hours a week at a part-time job, making $8/hour after taxes, then the difference between $286 book and a $60 book is 28.25 hours--nearly three weeks of part-time work. I am unaware of any evidence in which students were randomly assigned different textbooks but otherwise taught and evaluated in the same way, and kept time diaries, which would show that higher-priced books save time or improve academic performance. It is by no means obvious that a lower-cost book (yes, like my own) works less well for students than a higher-cost book from a big publisher. Some would put that point more strongly.

A final dynamic that may be contributing to higher-prices textbooks is a sort of vicious circle related to the textbook resale market. The NPR report says that when selling a textbook over a three-year edition, a typical pattern was that sales fell by half after the first year and again by half after the second year, as students who had bought the first edition resold the book to later students. Of course, this dynamic also means that many students who bought the book new are not really paying full-price, but instead paying the original price minus the resale price. The argument is that as textbooks have increased in price, the resale market has become ever-more active, so that sales of a textbook in later years have dwindled much more quickly. Textbook companies react to this process by charging more for the new textbook, which of course only spurs more activity in the resale market.

A big question for the future of textbooks is how and in what ways they migrate to electronic forms. On one side, the hope is that electronic textbooks will offer expanded functionality, as well as being cheaper. But this future is not foreordained. At least at present, my sense is that the functionality of reading and taking notes in online textbooks hasn't yet caught up to the ease of reading on paper. Technology and better screens may well shift this balance over time. But even setting aside questions of reading for long periods of time on screen, or taking notes on screen, at present it remains harder to skip around in a computerized text between what you are currently reading and the earlier text that you need to be checking, as well as skipping to various graphs, tables, and definitions. To say it more simply, in a number of subjects it may still be harder to study an on-line text than to study a paper text.

Moreover, as textbook manufacturers shift to an on-line world, they will bring with them their full bag of tricks for getting paid. The Senack report notes:

Today’s marketplace offers more digital textbook options to the student consumer than ever. “Etextbooks” are digitized texts that students read on a laptop or tablet. Similar to PDF documents, e-textbooks enable students to annotate, highlight and search. The cost may be 40-50 percent of the print retail price, and access expires after 180 days. Publishers have introduced e-textbooks for nearly all their traditional textbook offerings. In addition, the emergence of the ereader like the Kindle and iPad, as well as the emergence of many e-textbook rental programs, all seemed to indicate that the e-textbook will alter the college textbook landscape for the better.

However, despite this shift, users of e-textbooks are subject to expiration dates, on-line codes that only work once, page printing limits, and other tactics that only serve to restrict use and increase cost.

Unfortunately for students, the publishing companies’ venture into e-textbooks is a continuation of the practices they use to monopolize the print market.

JohnH:

My understanding is that there are cases where the professor requires the textbook he wrote and for which he receives royalties...

In such cases, the publisher and the professor's interests align against the student, who pays through the teeth.

djb:

good article but i have a real problem with introductory texts on economics

they are completely biased, mostly towards supply side of the debate

meaning, of course, they are wrong

if they just contained that which is undeniably true then ok, or if they presented it as this school of thought says this and that school of thought says the other, ok,

The Raven:

A general rule of thumb: half the selling price of a book is spent before the first impression is made on paper. Speaking as a very small publisher, I think the main problem is that the texts are expensive to produce.

They take a lot of editorial and design effort, so the fixed costs of textbook production are high, the production costs are often high, and textbook bestsellers are not common, so they don't usually make it up on volume.

Now, one could, for standard freshman and sophomore texts, aim at lower costs and higher volumes, but that's not academic publishing, and nothing is going to help with upper-level texts; the market is just not that big.

pgl -> to The Raven...

Excellent! With a high elasticity of demand, the increase in quantity beats the drop in price. Unless the marginal cost of printing books is higher than I suspect it is, Mankiw's publisher is not a profit maximizing monopolist. I'm telling you the best economics is right here and we don't charge $286!

The Raven -> to pgl...

Thanks.

You'd have to market a book *hard* to get that increase in demand, though. It's not a student-by-student sale decision; the professors have to be marketed. The other thing about publishing economics that people outside the industry don't realize: most books don't make much money, so publishers rely on the good-sellers and the best-sellers for much of their profits. If you've got something you're pretty sure is going to be in demand, *you mark it up,* because in William Golding's immortal phrase, "Nobody knows anything."

Over the past 25 or so years, the consolidation of publishing has put the money types more and more in control of the business. And the money types always want to only market best sellers. This is sort of like Germany saying that everyone should make money exporting. "That trick never works."

Now, if anyone wanted to bring the price of an Econ 101 book down, one could do a no-frills book, small, soft-covered, and strictly monochrome, or perhaps an ebook. (But watch out—only some ebook readers support mathematics well.) It might cost $50 or so (I'm guessing—I'm not a textbook publisher.) It would not look impressive, and this might make a problem for marketing, but students could still learn from it. And—who knows?—it might even sell.

T.J.:

The issue is that textbook publishers release new editions every couple of years. For many subjects, including economics, this is absurd. Sciences don't change that quickly.

For instance, you can find a used 5th edition Mankiw introductory to Microeconomics for under $4.00, while a new 7th edition costs over $200.

Has principles of microeconomics changed that much over the course of 6 years? No, but textbook companies make a few changes on the margin and charge you hundreds of dollars for a new edition. Many times, professors require online access codes to supplement their lecture. Therefore, the student is forced into the newer edition, in which often there is no substantial differences or major improvements in presenting the material.

When you have that sort of market power, it is easy to achieve economic rents.

pgl -> to T.J....

"Sciences don't change that quickly". One would hope those freshwater books changed after their utter failures to predict the most recent recession. But they likely haven't.

cm -> to T.J....

There are errata, and some content that the author has in mind doesn't make it into the first edition, or not at the intended quality/depth. Most people who have never published something substantial have no idea how much work it is to get non-fiction scientific/technical stuff publication ready. Not only on the author's part but also editing and proofreading/giving feedback at a collegial level. (Not meaning to knock down fiction, that's a different set of challenges.)

Bill Ellis:

Two Ideas I would like to see combined. A period of Universal public service that earns a free higher and or tech education. Something like the GI bill for all.

I think making universal public service a right of passage could help us be a more unified society. If we have kids from inner city Detroit, rural West Virginia, suburban San Francisco and the oil fields of Oklahoma working side by side it would open their eyes to each other in ways that are never experienced by most American kids who are living in communities of institutional self-segregation.

Having said that.. free education is a no brainer no matter what.
To cover everyone's tuition it would only cost us about forty billion more than the feds already spend on higher ed. That's a rounding error in terms of our total budget.

We subsidize big oil and gas to the tune of about 50 billion a year.

The maddening thing is that the national debate is not even close to taking Free Ed seriously. Instead Liz Warren is portrayed some kind of wild eyed radical for proposing a modest cut in interest rates on student loans and some narrow way to get some forgiveness of debt.

John Cummings:

It is part of the educational industrial complex (which include vouchers and government backed private school industrial complex)

Educational industrial complex
Military industrial complex
Medical industrial complex
Prison industrial complex

Fred C. Dobbs:

(Evidently, 'It’s Economics 101'.)

Higher education: Why textbooks cost so much http://econ.st/1yzDU5Z via @TheEconomist - Aug 16th 2014

Students can learn a lot about economics when they buy Greg Mankiw’s “Principles of Economics”—even if they don’t read it. Like many popular textbooks, it is horribly expensive: $292.17 on Amazon. Indeed, the nominal price of textbooks has risen more than fifteen fold since 1970, three times the rate of inflation (see chart, at link).

Like doctors prescribing drugs, professors assigning textbooks do not pay for the products themselves, so they have little incentive to pick cheap ones. Some assign books they have written themselves. The 20m post-secondary students in America often have little choice in the matter. Small wonder textbooks generate megabucks.

But hope is not lost for poor scholars. Foreign editions are easy to find online and often cheaper—sometimes by over 90%. Publishers can be litigious about this, but in 2013 the Supreme Court ruled that Americans have the right to buy and resell copyrighted material obtained legally. Many university bookstores now let students rent books and return them. Publishers have begun to offer digital textbooks, which are cheaper but can’t be resold. And if all else fails, there is always the library.

Related: How Your Textbook Dollars Are Divvied Up http://t.usnews.com/a2B567 via @usnews - Aug 28, 2012

Fred C. Dobbs -> to Fred C. Dobbs...

(A bunch of experts discuss the matter.)

Room for Debate: The Real Cost of College Textbooks http://nyti.ms/1qEHasX - July 2010

(Including a couple of economists!)

Fred C. Dobbs -> to Fred C. Dobbs...

How to Cut Your Textbook Costs in Half -- or More-Kiplinger http://po.st/nCZsxY - August 2014

(By renting e-books, donchaknow.)

(Turns out Mankiw's Econ textbook, which
currently costs $289 in hardcover from
Amazon, can be rented in Kindle format
for a mere $173 - for 180 days.)

(Hardcover rental is $70, however.)

Fred C. Dobbs -> to Fred C. Dobbs...

(Wait a second. The Federales fixed
this problem back in 2008...)

Advocates say a new set of federal provisions, aimed at driving down the cost of college textbooks, should help students this fall. On July 1, (2010) these rules took effect:

Publishers must give professors detailed information about textbook prices, revision histories and a list of alternate formats.

Publishers have to sell materials typically bundled with textbooks -- such as CDs, DVDs and workbooks -- separately so students don't have to buy them.

Colleges have to include in-course schedules with required textbooks for each class, including the book's price and International Standard Book Number, an identifying tool.

The protections, included in the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, are an attempt to lessen student debt, said U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., on Wednesday.

"The cost of education is of concern not only to students and families but to the nation," Durbin said, explaining why the government got involved in textbook prices. "Students are emerging with more and more debt."

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/07/22/97931_new-federal-rules-take-aim-at.html?rh=1

Charles Peterson:

A $289 econ text is only marked up 20% ???

I'm not sure how to account for this, but I believe a full account of markup should include royalties if they have become outrageous economic rent.

Jim Harrison:

Textbooks have been outrageously expensive for a long time, though some of the prices quoted in this article were astonishing to me and I used to be in the business. Nothing much has changed. The complaints and the defenses sound very familiar. Even in the 70s and 80s, publishers groused about how the used trade hurt their sales and the suggestion was repeatedly made that one way around the trap was to produce much cheaper texts and make up the difference on volume. Unfortunately, the numbers never add up for that business plan since the major textbook publishers have huge sunk costs in the big sales forces needed to support the current model. Anyhow, good cheap books have long been available for many big undergrad courses if profs want to assign them and don't mind producing their own tests and other teaching aids. A handful of profs do just that and were already doing it thirty years ago, but they are a distinct minority.

About the revision racket: the funny thing is that old editions of textbooks are often better than more recent editions. Market research makes good books worse in much the same way that it eventually screws up software by the relentless addition of bells and whistles. I'm a technical writer these days and keep copies of several old classics at hand when I need to brush up: Feynman's lectures on physics; the first edition of Freeman, Pisani, and Purves on Statistics; the 2nd edition of Linus Pauling's Intro Chem text; Goldstein on Thermo; and a real museum piece, Sylvaner Thomas' Calculus Made Easy. Many of these books have been reprinted by Dover and are available for peanuts.

To be fair, the high price for textbooks makes more sense in some fields than in others. The three or four year revision cycle is absurd for math books since the math remains the same decade after decade, but texts in areas like molecular biology really do have to be revised frequently and substantively, a very labor-intensive task. Which is why I give a pass to the Biology editors and the folks who struggle to update the Intermediate Accounting books with the latest FASB standards.

cm -> to Jim Harrison...

Can you elaborate on the revision "paradox"? Surely not only in very new fields, the state of the art progresses, or textbook authors see a need or opportunity to include new material (I suspect somebody setting out to write a comprehensive text has more ideas what to write about than can be finished at the required quality in the required time, for the first edition).

How would the subsequent editions be worse, if the new content is driven by the author and not by external marketing considerations, unless the new material is at the expense of older material (e.g. #pages limit)?

From my very limited experience, authors who are not in it for making a profit, and who write for a small market (selling up to a few thousand copies per year is a small market) run into substantial overhead costs for editing, marketing (i.e. making the existence of the book known to the target audience), and distribution, and basically have to do the work for free. Some, and perhaps most, certainly academic, publishers have "charity" programs where they publish small editions where they at best break even or even cross-subsidize them out of "full rate" publications. Then people complain about excessive prices for the latter.

Leading Edge Boomer:

Jeebus, $286 for a textbook, from an author who is often wrong lately? I co-authored a graduate computer science text (low volume = higher cost) that retailed in the low two digits.

cm -> to Leading Edge Boomer...

I will not comment on the author's merit or lack thereof, but $286 is really in "WTF" territory, for any textbook.

cm -> to Leading Edge Boomer...

I once contributed to a book, and the authors/editors decided to collectively waive their royalties to hit an affordable price (and I suspect it was still a charity deal on the part of the largely academic publisher). But I got my free copy.

Jim Harrison:

At least for big market textbooks, the motive for revisions is generally financial and that's as true for the authors as the publishers. In fact, the authors are often the ones who push for new editions as their royalty checks steadily diminish. In cases where it's the authors who are reluctant to revise for whatever reason, publishers often sweeten the deal with advances, grants, or other goodies.

I don't mean to be completely cynical. Authors and editors certainly try to produce a better product when they put out new editions, and it very often happens that the second edition is better than the first. Especially in later cycles, however, the changes are usually pretty cosmetic. The editor in charge of the project solicits advice from users and potential users and comes up with a list of "improvements" in a process not entirely different than what happens when various interests in Washington get their pet provisions put in a bill. If you think that professor X is likely to adopt the text if you go along with his ideas and plug his contributions in the acknowledgements, the idea is very likely to be irresistible.

The sales force also weighs in. They want feature they can tout; but since real improvements are hard to come by, that usually means more and more pedagogy: boxes, pictures, computer programs, and umpteen forms of emphasis. Let me assure you it takes desperate ingenuity to come up with something new to add to an Intermediate Algebra textbook. "Now with a new way to factor trinomials" isn't exactly a memorable pitch. Meanwhile, after three or four editions, the author, who presumably would be the best source of serious innovation for a new edition, is generally bored to death with the project.

As I said above, there are textbooks that really do need perpetually revision for substantive reasons; but in most fields what Freshmen and Sophomores need to learn has been known for a long time. My remarks on revisions also don't apply very well to upper level texts in smaller markets, in part because students tend to hang on to serious books in their majors so the companies have less incentive to beat the used book market with new editions.

reason:

From what I remember of my university days (in the long distant past), we didn't have text books (that was for school kids). We had lectures and lists of reading materials (that if we were lucky we could find in the library and photocopy relvant sections). I did have a copy of Samualson (relatively cheap). But the emphasis was on a reading a variety of sources. What has changed, and why?

reason:

P.S. Not have text books would have the advantage of ensuring that the students attended lectures and stayed awake during them.

Jay:

No mention of the cost for this textbook...

http://www.amazon.com/Economics-Paul-Krugman/dp/1429251638/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1413545846&sr=8-2&keywords=krugman+wells

grizzled:

My own biggest peeve concerns calculus textbooks, especially introductory calculus textbooks. The material hasn't changed in at least 60 years, if not longer. If it weren't for the current ridiculously long copyright terms people could just use old ones.

The last time I took the subject our professor went to some lengths to let us use the previous edition, which was available used. The only real change in the next edition was in the problems. That is, if a student was assigned "problem 8 in section xxx" having the most recent edition was the only way to know what the problem was.

I don't see any redeeming value in this.

Bloix:

My son took an intro geology course a few years ago. The textbook price at the school bookstore was about $125. He purchased the gray market (legal) "international edition" - word for word, page for page the same, but with a different picture on the cover - over the internet for about $50.

It's my understanding that this sort of price-differential is common. Mankiw's book appears to be available in the "international edition" for $60 (soft cover).

http://www.abebooks.com/9781285165875/Principles-Economics-7th-Edition-Mankiw-128516587X/plp

Please don't tell me that publishers and authors are not making money when they sell their books for US$50 or 60 in Australia.

Dr. Nikolai Bezroukov


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[Jan 15, 2021] Wealth and Want- Foreword to -Brave New World-

Jan 15, 2021 | www.wealthandwant.com
Foreword to Brave New World, second edition -- circa 1947
Aldous Huxley (1894-1963)

Here's my abridgement:
In the meantime, however, it seems worth while at least to mention the most serious defect in the story, which is this. The Savage is offered only two alternatives, an insane life in Utopia, or the life of a primitive in an Indian village, a life more human in some respects, but in others hardly less queer and abnormal. ... Today I feel no wish to demonstrate that sanity is impossible. ... If I were now to rewrite the book, I would offer the Savage a third alternative. Between the utopian and the primitive horns of his dilemma would lie the possibility of sanity -- a possibility already actualized, to some extent, in a community of exiles and refugees from the Brave New World, living within the borders of the Reservation. In this community economics would be decentralist and Henry-Georgian , politics Kropotkinesque cooperative. Science and technology would be used as though, like the Sabbath, they had been made for man, not (as at present and still more so in the Brave New World) as though man were to be adapted and enslaved to them. Religion would be the conscious and intelligent pursuit of man's Final End, the unitive knowledge of the immanent Tao or Logos, the transcendent Godhead or Brahman. And the prevailing philosophy of life would be a kind of Higher Utilitarianism, in which the Greatest Happiness principle would be secondary to the Final End principle -- the first question to be asked and answered in every contingency of life being: "How will this thought or action contribute to, or interfere with, the achievement, by me and the greatest possible number of other individuals, of man's Final End?"

.... and here is the Foreword, in full:

Chronic remorse, as all the moralists are agreed, is a most undesirable sentiment. If you have behaved badly, repent, make what amends you can and address yourself to the task of behaving better next time. On no account brood over your wrong-doing. Rolling in the muck is not the best way of getting clean.

Art also has its morality, and many of the rules of this morality are the same as, or at least analogous to, the rules of ordinary ethics. Remorse, for example, is as undesirable in relation to our bad art as it is in relation to our bad behaviour. The badness should be hunted out, acknowledged and, if possible, avoided in the future. To pore over the literary shortcomings of twenty years ago, to attempt to patch a faulty work into the perfection it missed at its first execution, to spend one's middle age in trying to mend the artistic sins committed and bequeathed by that different person who was oneself in youth -- all this is surely vain and futile. And that is why this new Brave New World is the same as the old one. Its defects as a work of art are considerable; but in order to correct them I should have to rewrite the book -- and in the process of rewriting, as an older, other person, I should probably get rid not only of some of the faults of the story, but also of such merits as it originally possessed. And so, resisting the temptation to wallow in artistic remorse, I prefer to leave both well and ill alone and to think about something else.

In the meantime, however, it seems worth while at least to mention the most serious defect in the story, which is this. The Savage is offered only two alternatives, an insane life in Utopia, or the life of a primitive in an Indian village, a life more human in some respects, but in others hardly less queer and abnormal. At the time the book was written this idea, that human beings are given free will in order to choose between insanity on the one hand and lunacy on the other, was one that I found amusing and regarded as quite possibly true. For the sake, however, of dramatic effect, the Savage is often permitted to speak more rationally than his upbringing among the practitioners of a religion that is half fertility cult and half Penitente ferocity would actually warrant. Even his acquaintance with Shakespeare would not in reality justify such utterances. And at the close, of course, he is made to retreat from sanity; his native Penitente -ism reasserts its authority and he ends in maniacal self-torture and despairing suicide. "And so they died miserably ever after" -- much to the reassurance of the amused, Pyrrhonic aesthete who was the author of the fable.

Today I feel no wish to demonstrate that sanity is impossible. On the contrary, though I remain no less sadly certain than in the past that sanity is a rather rare phenomenon, I am convinced that it can be achieved and would like to see more of it. For having said so in several recent books and, above all, for having compiled an anthology of what the sane have said about sanity and the means whereby it can be achieved, I have been told by an eminent academic critic that I am a sad symptom of the failure of an intellectual class in time of crisis. The implication being, I suppose, that the professor and his colleagues are hilarious symptoms of success. The benefactors of humanity deserve due honour and commemoration. Let us build a Pantheon for professors. It should be located among the ruins of one of the gutted cities of Europe or Japan, and over the entrance to the ossuary I would inscribe, in letters six or seven feet high, the simple words: SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF THE WORLD'S EDUCATORS. SI MONUMENTUM REQUIRIS CIRCUMSPICE.

But to return to the future . . . If I were now to rewrite the book, I would offer the Savage a third alternative. Between the utopian and the primitive horns of his dilemma would lie the possibility of sanity -- a possibility already actualized, to some extent, in a community of exiles and refugees from the Brave New World, living within the borders of the Reservation. In this community economics would be decentralist and Henry-Georgian, politics Kropotkinesque cooperative. Science and technology would be used as though, like the Sabbath, they had been made for man, not (as at present and still more so in the Brave New World) as though man were to be adapted and enslaved to them. Religion would be the conscious and intelligent pursuit of man's Final End, the unitive knowledge of the immanent Tao or Logos, the transcendent Godhead or Brahman. And the prevailing philosophy of life would be a kind of Higher Utilitarianism, in which the Greatest Happiness principle would be secondary to the Final End principle -- the first question to be asked and answered in every contingency of life being: "How will this thought or action contribute to, or interfere with, the achievement, by me and the greatest possible number of other individuals, of man's Final End?"

Brought up among the primitives, the Savage (in this hypothetical new version of the book) would not be transported to Utopia until he had had an opportunity of learning something at first hand about the nature of a society composed of freely co-operating individuals devoted to the pursuit of sanity. Thus altered, Brave New World would possess artistic and (if it is permissible to use so large a word in connection with a work of fiction) a philosophical completeness, which in its present form it evidently lacks.

But Brave New World is a book about the future and, whatever its artistic or philosophical qualities, a book about the future can interest us only if its prophecies look as though they might conceivably come true. From our present vantage point, fifteen years further down the inclined plane of modern history, how plausible do its prognostications seem? What has happened in the painful interval to confirm or invalidate the forecasts of 1931?

One vast and obvious failure of foresight is immediately apparent. Brave New World contains no reference to nuclear fission. That it does not is actually rather odd, for the possibilities of atomic energy had been a popular topic of conversation for years before the book was written. My old friend, Robert Nichols, had even written a successful play about the subject, and I recall that I myself had casually mentioned it in a novel published in the late twenties. So it seems, as I say, very odd that the rockets and helicopters of the seventh century of Our Ford should not have been powered by disintegrating nuclei. The oversight may not be excusable; but at least it can be easily explained. The theme of Brave New World is not the advancement of science as such; it is the advancement of science as it affects human individuals. The triumphs of physics, chemistry and engineering are tacitly taken for granted. The only scientific advances to be specifically described are those involving the application to human beings of the results of future research in biology, physiology and psychology. It is only by means of the sciences of life that the quality of life can be radically changed. The sciences of matter can be applied in such a way that they will destroy life or make the living of it impossibly complex and uncomfortable; but, unless used as instruments by the biologists and psychologists, they can do nothing to modify the natural forms and expressions of life itself. The release of atomic energy marks a great revolution in human history, but not (unless we blow ourselves to bits and so put an end to history) the final and most searching revolution.

This really revolutionary revolution is to be achieved, not in the external world, but in the souls and flesh of human beings. Living as he did in a revolutionary period, the Marquis de Sade very naturally made use of this theory of revolutions in order to rationalize his peculiar brand of insanity. Robespierre had achieved the most superficial kind of revolution, the political. Going a little deeper, Babeuf had attempted the economic revolution. Sade regarded himself as the apostle of the truly revolutionary revolution, beyond mere politics and economics -- the revolution in individual men, women and children, whose bodies were henceforward to become the common sexual property of all and whose minds were to be purged of all the natural decencies, all the laboriously acquired inhibitions of traditional civilization. Between sadism and the really revolutionary revolution there is, of course, no necessary or inevitable connection. Sade was a lunatic and the more or less conscious goal of his revolution was universal chaos and destruction. The people who govern the Brave New World may not be sane (in what may be called the absolute sense of the word); but they are not madmen, and their aim is not anarchy but social stability. It is in order to achieve stability that they carry out, by scientific means, the ultimate, personal, really revolutionary revolution. But meanwhile we are in the first phase of what is perhaps the penultimate revolution. Its next phase may be atomic warfare, in which case we do not have to bother with prophecies about the future. But it is conceivable that we may have enough sense, if not to stop fighting altogether, at least to behave as rationally as did our eighteenth-century ancestors. The unimaginable horrors of the Thirty Years War actually taught men a lesson, and for more than a hundred years the politicians and generals of Europe consciously resisted the temptation to use their military resources to the limits of destructiveness or (in the majority of conflicts) to go on fighting until the enemy was totally annihilated. They were aggressors, of course, greedy for profit and glory; but they were also conservatives, determined at all costs to keep their world intact, as a going concern. For the last thirty years there have been no conservatives; there have been only nationalistic radicals of the right and nationalistic radicals of the left. The last conservative statesman was the fifth Marquess of Lansdowne; and when he wrote a letter to the the Times , suggesting that the First World War should be concluded with a compromise, as most of the wars of the eighteenth century had been, the editor of that once conservative journal refused to print it. The nationalistic radicals had their way, with the consequences that we all know --Bolshevism, Fascism, inflation, depression, Hitler, the Second World War, the ruin of Europe and all but universal famine.

Assuming, then, that we are capable of learning as much from Hiroshima as our forefathers learned from Magdeburg, we may look forward to a period, not indeed of peace, but of limited and only partially ruinous warfare. During that period it may be assumed that nuclear energy will be harnessed to industrial uses. The result, pretty obviously, will be a series of economic and social changes unprecedented in rapidity and completeness. All the existing patterns of human life will be disrupted and new patterns will have to be improvised to conform with the nonhuman fact of atomic power. Procrustes in modern dress, the nuclear scientist will prepare the bed on which mankind must lie; and if mankind doesn't fit -- well, that will be just too bad for mankind. There will have to be some stretching and a bit of amputation -- the same sort of stretching and amputations as have been going on ever since applied science really got into its stride, only this time they will be a good deal more drastic than in the past. These far from painless operations will be directed by highly centralized totalitarian governments. Inevitably so; for the immediate future is likely to resemble the immediate past, and in the immediate past rapid technological changes, taking place in a mass-producing economy and among a population predominantly propertyless, have always tended to produce economic and social confusion. To deal with confusion, power has been centralized and government control increased. It is probable that all the world's governments will be more or less completely totalitarian even before the harnessing of atomic energy; that they will be totalitarian during and after the harnessing seems almost certain. Only a large-scale popular movement toward decentralization and self-help can arrest the present tendency toward statism. At present there is no sign that such a movement will take place.

There is, of course, no reason why the new totalitarianisms should resemble the old. Government by clubs and firing squads, by artificial famine, mass imprisonment and mass deportation, is not merely inhumane (nobody cares much about that nowadays), it is demonstrably inefficient and in an age of advanced technology, inefficiency is the sin against the Holy Ghost. A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude. To make them love it is the task assigned, in present-day totalitarian states, to ministries of propaganda, news- paper editors and schoolteachers. But their methods are still crude and unscientific. The old Jesuits' boast that, if they were given the schooling of the child, they could answer for the man's religious opinions, was a product of wishful thinking. And the modern pedagogue is probably rather less efficient at conditioning his pupils' reflexes than were the reverend fathers who educated Voltaire. The greatest triumphs of propaganda have been accomplished, not by doing something, but by refraining from doing. Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth. By simply not mentioning certain subjects, by lowering what Mr. Churchill calls an "iron curtain" between the masses and such facts or arguments as the local political bosses regard as undesirable, totalitarian propagandists have influenced opinion much more effectively than they could have done by the most eloquent denunciations, the most compelling of logical rebuttals. But silence is not enough. If persecution, liquidation and the other symptoms of social friction are to be avoided, the positive sides of propaganda must be made as effective as the negative. The most important Manhattan Projects of the future will be vast government-sponsored enquiries into what the politicians and the participating scientists will call "the problem of happiness" -- in other words, the problem of making people love their servitude. Without economic security, the love of servitude cannot possibly come into existence; for the sake of brevity, I assume that the all-powerful executive and its managers will succeed in solving the problem of permanent security. But security tends very quickly to be taken for granted. Its achievement is merely a superficial, external revolution. The love of servitude cannot be established except as the result of a deep, personal revolution in human minds and bodies. To bring about that revolution we require, among others, the following discoveries and inventions.

All things considered it looks as though Utopia were far closer to us than anyone, only fifteen years ago, could have imagined. Then, I projected it six hundred years into the future. Today it seems quite possible that the horror may be upon us within a single century. That is, if we refrain from blowing ourselves to smithereens in the interval. Indeed, unless we choose to decentralize and to use applied science, not as the end to which human beings are to be made the means, but as the means to producing a race of free individuals, we have only two alternatives to choose from: either a number of national, militarized totalitarianisms, having as their root the terror of the atomic bomb and as their consequence the destruction of civilization (or, if the warfare is limited, the perpetuation of militarism); or else one supranational totalitarianism, called into existence by the social chaos resulting from rapid technological progress in general and the atomic revolution in particular, and developing, under the need for efficiency and stability, into the welfare-tyranny of Utopia. You pays your money and you takes your choice.

-O-

You might also want to look at somaweb's piece, Aldous Huxley: The Author and his Times - http://somaweb.org/w/huxbio.html

[Jan 15, 2021] Huxley's Warning- Totalitarianism in the 21st Century by T.R. Clancy

Jan 12, 2021 | www.americanthinker.com

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In the foreword to the 1946 edition of his novel, Brave New World , Aldous Huxley anticipated the continued emergence, perhaps in novel forms, of statist totalitarianism:

There is, of course, no reason why the new totalitarianisms should resemble the old. Government by clubs and firing squads, by artificial famine, mass imprisonment and mass deportation, is not merely inhumane (nobody cares much about that nowadays), it is demonstrably inefficient and in an age of advanced technology, inefficiency is the sin against the Holy Ghost. A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude. To make them love it is the task assigned, in present-day totalitarian states, to ministries of propaganda, news-paper editors and schoolteachers. But their methods are still crude and unscientific.

Because, in 1946, the world had yet to witness the horrors of Red China, North Korea, Cuba, and Cambodia, Huxley guessed wrong that artificial famines, mass imprisonment, and political executions would go out of fashion. Totalitarianism is impossible without brute violence. And, from our brave new world of 2021, where Big Tech's promiscuous deployment of tools like Machine Learning Fairness and shadow banning prevent users' exposure to wrongthink, his estimation of propaganda methods as "crude and unscientific" is badly out of date.

But how chilling is Huxley's prescience about propaganda ministers, news editors, and schoolteachers training generations of serfs to willingly obey "political bosses and their army of managers"?

https://lockerdome.com/lad/9371484590420070?pubid=ld-8832-1542&pubo=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.americanthinker.com&rid=www.americanthinker.com&width=610

Just like the truism that "generals always fight the last war," Huxley's point that there's "no reason why the new totalitarianisms should resemble the old" calls for both vigilance and imagination on our part; our next totalitarian enemy isn't limited to patterns of twentieth-century Nazism or Soviet-style Communism.

For instance, the suffocating blanket of censorship and suppression of free speech, which seems to defy any constitutional remedy because it's not directly traceable to government action, remains a problem without an obvious solution. Regardless, it's an open secret that the corporate executives in media, Big Tech, and Hollywood managing this suppression are acting on behalf of a single political party -- a party that, due in large part to that interference and suppression now have near total control of the federal government. Townhall's Matt Vespa quotes even a liberal reporter, Michael Tracey, warning that the "absolute authoritarian lunacy" of Twitter's decision to ban President Trump isn't about "'safety,' it's about purposely inflating a threat in order to assert political and cultural dominance." Warns Tracey, "The new corporate authoritarian liberal-left monoculture is going to be absolutely ruthless -- and in 12 days it is merging with the state ." [My italics].

Glenn Greenwald, another committed progressive, also complains " that political censorship has 'contaminated virtually every mainstream centre-left political organization, academic institution and newsroom.'" In October, Greenwald, co-founder of The Intercept news site, resigned after they refused to publish his article about Joe Biden and Hunter's shocking influence-peddling, unless Greenwald first removed "critical points against the Democratic candidate."

In reality, standing alone with election fraud notwithstanding , last October's lockstep decision by an entire news industry to suppress the starkly headline-worthy scandals around Hunter Biden's laptop, along with all other negative stories about Joe Biden, accounts directly for 17% of Biden voters who would have abandoned him " had they known the facts about one or more of these news stories." Because those lost votes "would have changed the outcome in all six of the swing states won by Joe Biden," re-electing Trump, burying those stories was first-degree election interference.

Huxley foresaw this, too:

The greatest triumphs of propaganda have been accomplished, not by doing something, but by refraining from doing. Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth. By simply not mentioning certain subjects, by lowering what Mr. Churchill calls an "iron curtain" between the masses and such facts or arguments as the local political bosses regard as undesirable, totalitarian propagandists have influenced opinion much more effectively than they could have done by the most eloquent denunciations, the most compelling of logical rebuttals.

In 2020 alone, news outlets systematically misinformed, or kept uninformed, scores of millions of voters whose only news sources are either mainstream media or the occasional de-contextualized sound bite. Corporate news, in addition to disappearing the Hunter Biden story:

But Fake News is only as powerful as its consumers are gullible. Knowing that, PJMedia's Stephen Kruiser was able to predict in advance that a Biden win would be "the complete triumph of decades of public education indoctrination ," which is no longer education, anyway, but "more of a leftist catechism class." Journalist William Haupt III reports that 12 years of Common Core "has resulted in 51 percent of our youth preferring socialism to democracy." It's also why "[t]wo thirds of the millennials believe America is a racist and sexist country and 40 percent agree America is 'the most unequal society in the world.'" In fact, in 2011 Chuck Rogér traced this decline to the sixties, when teachers' colleges began churning out "[s]ocial justice-indoctrinated teachers [who] instill resentment in 'non-dominant' (minority) children and guilt in 'dominant' (white) children. Judging by the abundance of guilt-ridden white Americans, the tactic is working its magic well." At present a reported 3,500 classrooms across fifty states are incorporating the New York Times ' specious 1619 Project , which teaches that every accomplishment in America's history came out of slavery . The purpose of this all this falsified history? Not education, but more generations of Americans "unable to discern fact from fiction ."

Now that progressives have complete control of Washington, they'll escalate their lies -- of commission, and especially of omission -- to gain a tighter and more permanent grip. Still, Truth remains their real enemy. It explains social media's current blitz of de-platforming conservatives, trying to drop an "iron curtain," just as Huxley predicted, to separate the people from undesirable facts.

Likewise, fidelity to truth is our best defense; that, and continuing to refuse their lies. That's one positive action Solzhenitsyn was able to offer his comrades who felt powerless against the repressive Soviet system, "the most perceptible of its aspects" being lies: "Personal non-participation in lies. Though lies conceal everything, though lies embrace everything, but not with any help from me."

T.R. Clancy looks at the world from Dearborn, Michigan. You can email him at trclancy@yahoo.com .

Image: John Collier

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[Dec 12, 2020] On the Demise of Universities

Dec 12, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Yves here. Friend of the site Erasmus e-mailed Lambert and me about his post on Covid accelerating the conversion of universities from institutions of learning to money generators. As you'll see, Erasmus has direct experience with some of the pathologies, which extend beyond colonization by MBAs.

By Erasmus, an academic in the humanities

Thank you for the Dec 7 post on the demise of universities . I know this terrain all too well.

Universities have become far more profit-oriented, and corrupted by administrative bloat and bullshit jobs (Graeber)/make-work (like "assessment" mandates), as well as by the customer service mentality of pleasing and placating students to the detriment of standards and solid education. There are plenty of books about various facets of academe, including satirical novels. The Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed are useful, but there are plenty of silly articles there too, often written by well-intentioned administrators or English faculty. Parkinson's Law and all his other insights should be rigorously imposed on the whole mess.

Standards have declined precipitously, which no one admits except curmudgeon tenured senior faculty. Grade inflation is a related problem. There is cheating and lack of study skills, lack of attention span, lack of discipline. A Harvard professor, Harvey Mansfield, has denounced grade inflation publicly, which is excellent, but most cannot do that. The high schools do not teach much, so students cannot handle college work, and there is a lot of partying and dysfunction and anxiety and superficial learning, often done in groups. The pseudoscientific obsession with metrics instead of the hard work of engagement and informed judgment means that student course evaluations (numbers) are important, and that corrupts the teacher-student relationship.

On tenure. Tenure can be legally revoked, but it is rare, and usually due to gross misconduct or something serious. Probably every college and university faculty handbook has a boilerplate section on emergency situations in which the administration can eliminate academic departments and lay off tenured faculty – this has happened. It has been rare up to now, but we will probably see more of it. The Medaille place mentioned in the post is a nothing school, but it is ominous.

Legally the university is a corporation, and you can usually find the faculty handbook on its website. Interesting reading. There are business/executive types on boards of trustees who don't understand and/or don't care about university customs and would love to eliminate all tenure. It is happening incrementally, with tenured faculty retirements being replaced with low-wage, contingent adjuncts, lecturers, "clinical" faculty, "assistant teaching professors", and the like. Gigs instead of stable positions with the traditional ranks: assistant, associate, and full professor. In the UK a lecturer is a higher status than in the US system. Germany and France and Italy have their own systems. Of course, as you would expect, the Italian system (today) is the nuttiest, and unfortunately there is a lot of nepotism there, to the detriment of serious research and teaching. Italy gave us Vico and Eco and others though, so there's that.

In my view, it is a massive, systemic fail of the faculty to not stand up to the bad decisions and greed of administrators and prevent a lot of this. Faculty governance is a pleasant myth, but faculty have lost a lot of ground over the decades. Some faculty are in denial and believe that what is customary will prevail. They do not understand the difference between custom and law. The faculty handbook is a ratified document, in force for making decisions.

Most faculty are cowards and careerists and sycophants who just want to be comfortable or gain status with peers, but this neglects the institution. They are politically inept, like the progressives (as Matt Stoller has observed). Most of them do not know how to get anything done. They do not understand power. It used to be that mediocre faculty tended to go into administration, but now there is an expanding administrative class that rules over the budget and faculty, and this is detrimental to the institution. Tenured faculty have not prevented the exponential growth in the use (exploitation) of adjuncts for undergraduate teaching. I say this as a person with a PhD from a public university that has had a unionized faculty for decades. It didn't make much difference. My institution was the only one in the US charging tuition to PhD students teaching on its undergrad campuses – taking back money paid for teaching in the system (extremely low-paid, of course). This is one reason why I will never donate.

Yep, academic freedom is being undermined. It's elusive if one can't pay the rent and is a gig laborer for an institution run like a brutal plantation.

Yep, teaching is not job training. George Carlin had a few words on this topic – obedient workers are the desired product of the school system. There are various brilliant scholars who wrote worthwhile books on teaching, usually forgotten.

One insidious practice I have seen is the notion of "collegiality" being a factor in tenure decisions. The traditional categories, usually weighted, are teaching, research, and service. People have been sabotaged and denied tenure due to collegiality issues, which can hide bullying and nasty dept politics or bigotry. There are legal cases about it. It is vague and subjective, and there is no way for it to be imposed fairly as a standard. The AAUP has position papers for various issues on its site, as does the MLA (Modern Language Assn).

Books: Higher Education?, The Last Professors, many others document what has been happening.

Jacques Barzun foresaw a lot of what is happening in his book The American University . He dissected the parasitical centers and institutes that infest campuses. He has a chapter in there on an essay by William James (if I recall) on the "PhD octopus" which exemplifies the expansion of credentials and degrees. Barzun's book Teacher in America is also excellent and worthwhile, in my opinion.

Camille Paglia (I know Yves views her work as uneven, but when Paglia talks about academia, she is perceptive) has written since the 1990s about the intellectual corruption in the humanities, and many other topics. In fairness, she has been teaching undergraduates for decades, and she was exiled from having a "normal" academic career because she was and is outspoken and direct. She is very serious about education and students. She was in the culture wars. She sees what is happening now.

There was a professor, Richard Mitchell, who wrote a delightful newsletter, The Underground Grammarian, later published as books . He also foresaw the coming idiocy. He denounced idiocy coming out of schools of education, and deconstructed the poor thought in their convoluted prose, which is similar to administrative prose. There are entire journals devoted to such bloviation.

The brutal economic conditions caused by the pandemic (well, due to lack of support from DC) are only accelerating processes that were already well underway for many years in US colleges and universities.

It is not enough to throw money at the problem – there needs to be substantial reform, and no upper administrator wants to cut off the branch s/he is sitting on. There was great expansion in the 1960s and 1970s, and some of those places might die out. Neoliberalism again.

When I look back at the wonderful teachers and professors I have known across multiple disciplines, and see the tremendous impoverishment of students today, it is heartbreaking.


LowellHighlander , December 11, 2020 at 6:10 am

When I was employed as an economist within the Bureau of Labor Statistics, I was required to interview authorities in certain occupations and industries for my work. For that reason, I interviewed people at professional engineering associations, and one or two of them confirmed for me that the land-grant system (and consequently the GI Bill arising out of WWII) had given the U.S. a major advantage over other countries. This was because many, many graduate programs in engineering had sprung up or expanded in the 1950s and 1960s, in large part because so many more students (than prior to WWII) were now able to attend university, and the U.S. as a consequence did indeed produce much more "human capital", particularly in science and engineering.

And, as an economist, I fully agree that the neo-liberal model is destroying all this in its corrupting the institutions of academia so that they become "profit centers". [Certainly, the ever-widening maldistribution of wealth and income, as seen in states' decisions to steadily decrease funding for their public universities, also contributed mightily to this trend.] But this is what happens in empires: institutions become so corrupted that they no longer function. The sooner we all realize that the U.S. has become such a polity, the sooner we might be able to reverse course [although, I admit, I am anything but sanguine].

John A , December 11, 2020 at 6:14 am

Not sure if the 1980s British play 'Educating Rita' ever made it across the Atlantic, though it was made into a film with Michael Caine, so maybe. Rita is a hairdresser wanting to better herself by attending Open University and has tutorials with a worldweary English lit lecturer, Frank. The pair gradually get to know each other. At one point, Rita asks Frank if he could ever be fired from his secure tenure. His response is that the only sackable offence would be 'buggering the bursar'.
How times change.

The Rev Kev , December 11, 2020 at 9:28 am

A great film that as well as a great book. I have some of the author's – Willy Russell – other works and when you read about his early life, you realize that Rita's story is really his own story in disguise. But that era of ordinary people achieving higher education may be gone now. Mark Blyth once remarked that if today's education system was around when he was young, that he would have ended up as just some yobbo hanging around the streets of Glasgow.

icancho , December 11, 2020 at 9:37 pm

Yes, indeed. There are (small) legions of us provincial, working class kids who lucked out by growing up in the UK in that magic quarter century or so (~'45–'75) when, if you did well enough in O- and A-levels to secure an offer of a place at uni, all expenses were paid direct, and you got a living allowance on top! (£375 p.a. -- sounds like a pittance, but, with care, and not too much beer, you could save on it).
I'm with Mark Blyth -- not in Glasgow -- but without that visionary national social policy, I'd have been in the same boat, in another northern town.

Patrice , December 11, 2020 at 10:02 am

"Educating Rita" with Michael Caine, is on YouTube, if interested.

savedbyirony , December 11, 2020 at 11:18 am

Great movie. MIchael Caine, Julie Walters, Michael Williams – what a wonderful cast. Saw it my junior year of HS and just loved it. Still a big fan of Dame Julie.

jackiebass , December 11, 2020 at 7:14 am

A big negative effect of this is the quality of research. At one time university research was trusted as valid. Now money has corrupted it to the point a lot of the research is questionable and not trust worthy.

KLG , December 11, 2020 at 8:02 am

True. Credit most of this to the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980, along with the substantial decrease, adjusted for inflation, in federal support (NSF, NIH) for essential, fundamental scientific research during the neoliberalization of all things. Gresham's Law in action, the bad money did drive out the good.

David , December 11, 2020 at 11:03 am

But even outside the big money areas, research has become a race to publish as much as you can, irrespective of quality, to get the right metrics for you and your institution. There are profit-making companies whose sole job is to act as F***b**ks for academics, signing them up and encouraging them to obsessively pore over how many people have read their work and how many, um, "likes" they have received.

Fox Blew , December 11, 2020 at 7:41 am

Thank you very much for this, Erasmus. Most especially citing Jacques Barzun. (Another darn book for me to read as Lambert would put it. Ha!) It all seems spot on to what I have personally witnessed in my little college town since the late 80's. I would like to add John Ralston Saul to the list of folks to read/listen/watch on this subject too.

Peconomist , December 11, 2020 at 9:03 am

One more author, the late Canadian writer Robertson Davies who has much to say about the decline of the University as a teaching/scholarly institution.

CanCyn , December 11, 2020 at 9:24 am

As someone who just retired from the community college system in Ontario, all of this rings true to me. Especially the cowardice of full-time faculty (it isn't called tenure in the college system in Ontario, but effectively that is what it is). Voting for pay increases contract after contract while the holes in the collective agreement just kept getting bigger and bigger year after year. Old timers protecting their bank accounts and youngsters living under the delusion that things would stay the same, not wanting to rock the boat.
And yes the bloat of administration. And the contracting of private sector consultants to do everything from re-decorate to write curriculum. Assessments done by outside firms so that the college didn't own the data and was therefore not subject to Freedom of Information requests. More and more administrators who know or care nothing for education. Bloated grades and high school graduates who arrive incapable of doing the work – and thus a whole new wing of non-academic support personnel created to help them succeed.
This post also brought to mind IM dr's comments of the other day the about the know-nothing, unmotivated residents he is encountering at his hospital. I came across many nursing students who needed remedial math and science help to get by in their college level courses. And watched this play out in real life – once when my father was in the hospital, I listened while two young nurses tried to figure out the drip rate for an IV for a new drug prescribed by the doctor. The IV bag was a different strength than what was prescribed so they needed to do some figuring. I had to intervene and have them call the doctor as they were clearly hopeless at the math required to determine the correct drip rate. So, indeed neoliberalization is not just hurting bank accounts, the crapification of our educational institutes is now having detrimental effects in many parts of our society. It is scary.

HeadInClouds , December 11, 2020 at 10:11 am

I'm currently working in the Ontario community college system (on contract) and see little hope of improvement. Full time faculty (i.e. tenured) have little incentive to rock the boat because they are comfortable and secure – this is in spite of the fact that many are left-leaning and consider themselves champions of social justice. Contract faculty (i.e. adjuncts) are too cowed to speak out because it could mean non-renewal of teaching contracts. Better to put your head down and hope you eventually win the full time lottery.

The strike three years ago ended up being the longest ever, and then went to arbitration that resulted in no improvement for contract faculty (aside from superficial gestures). Most full time faculty I spoke to were begrudging participants. Some complained about the five weeks of pay they gave up to be on strike. A couple examples: One guy was disappointed because he was expecting 2017 to be the first year he made six figures, until the strike. Another told me he had to delay a bathroom reno. Boohoo, I thought sarcastically, but I held my tongue because, you know, solidarity.

Meanwhile, things will only get worse. The pandemic is accelerating a shift to more online learning, and has given the colleges an excuse to freeze full time faculty hiring. Will be looking for a way out of the mess in 2021

CanCyn , December 11, 2020 at 1:43 pm

You're right about that last strike. It was long and, in the end, pointless. I was a faculty librarian for most of my career and decided to try my hand at admin before I retired and had just become a low level manager when that strike happened. Being on the admin side I was shocked by the disdain for faculty openly expressed by many administrators. Between that us vs. them status quo and the faculty unwilling to rock the boat, I don't see things changing for the better, ever. I had a 5 years-to-retirement plan when I got the management gig. I only lasted 3 years, just couldn't take the nonsense anymore. Lucky for me I could afford to go. Good luck to you!

Kouros , December 11, 2020 at 1:47 pm

I wanted to comment separately but the mentioning of the two nurses inability to calculate the drip rate is a combination of insufficient education as well as lack of training.

I see education as providing the knowledge as well as furthering the ability to understand the nature of things. Training would refer to the ability to better and more efficiently deploy this knowledge by strengthening the pathways (brain and flesh muscles) that enable the realization of any objective/task.

Somebody in the post that started this discussion also tried to emphasize the role of training and I totally agree that it is important. A deep level of professionalism does involve mastering of the knowledge and having the ability to skilfully deploy that knowledge.

An example at limit: Stephen Hawkins had the brains, but in the end, he did rely on some very smart, skilled young ones, that were able to carry on many of the calculations necessary for his theorizing. Oh, the graduate student, the other lab rat of the research environment.

CanCyn , December 11, 2020 at 4:13 pm

I agree that some on the job training is required but those nurses were on their own on the floor, they should have known how to calculate the drip rate. Nursing education is not pure theoretical learning, they get a lot of hands on 'training' along with their math, science and anatomy curriculum and should arrive on the job with those skills and abilities. That said, I agree that on the job training is an important aspect of work and one that we don't do anymore. Now it is 'orientation and 'on boarding' by HR, company propaganda for the most part. One of my early part time jobs was a cashier in a grocery store. We were toured through every isle, seeing what was where. We learned how to identify produce (there were no stickers on fruit in those days). We actually had to go through the produce dept before every shift to see what was on sale and what seasonal produce was available so we could identify it and ring it in properly. We were even taught the proper way to open a roll of coins! Unroll carefully, do not bang on side of coin drawer at risk of coins falling everywhere if you were wondering ;

G , December 11, 2020 at 2:20 pm

I know of a university student in a teacher's ed program who asked the professor for help on an upcoming test: "I don't understand this adding fractions thing." No trace of embarrassment. Nor was the professor fazed. This is normal. This potential future teacher cannot add 2/3 + 1/2.

Many faculty have problems with writing. I'm not talking English as second language (ESL) problems – those I can understand – I'm talking native speakers who don't know how to use a comma.

Grading student writing, I decided to ignore most grammar errors. On the one hand, many ESL students were flat-out incapable of assembling correct sentences. I didn't particularly blame them: but I couldn't let them off the hook while penalizing native speakers (assuming I could even determine who was who, probably a no-no). On the other hand, many native speakers were at least as bad. I basically had a choice: fail half of them on English or grade them on the course content. I graded them on the course content.

There's an attitude problem too. There are students employed to edit writing for publication. When their errors are caught and corrected, they rise up in rebellion. "That's how I like to do it." "You need to respect my positionality."

Dictionary.com: "Positionality is the social and political context that creates your identity in terms of race, class, gender, sexuality, and ability status." Like my child in public school, I suppose they are being taught novel pronouns, but not English grammar; how many genders there are, but not how to count them. The consensus on multiplication tables with other parents I've talked to: learn them on your own, or not at all. (What happens to the kids of the often working class parents who haven't the time, patience or ability to do that?)

Universities are changing mottoes and mission statements. It's no longer about finding truth. It's about changing the world. My fear is that they will succeed.

Lambert Strether , December 11, 2020 at 2:25 pm

> "You need to respect my positionality."

No. Really? Seems like that's the attitude at the New York Times, though

G , December 11, 2020 at 3:23 pm

This is the story I heard from someone not familiar with the term, who had no idea it was an idpol thing. The main thing though is the sensitivity: whether they try out some ridiculous claim like that, or just act huffy or hurt, the students feel it's not ok to be corrected.

The Rev Kev , December 11, 2020 at 11:56 pm

Maybe they were just channeling their inner Eric Cartman-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XbebjUYItKw

CanCyn , December 11, 2020 at 4:25 pm

Students' sensitivity to correction is at unbelievable heights. I once explained the difference between a tattletale and a whistleblower to a student who called himself the the latter, saying, "I ain't no whistleblower" when he clearly meant tattletale. I was smiling and clearly not giving him 'heck' but his angry reaction was as though I had just yelled and called him stupid. I was shocked. That was quite a few years ago, it has only gotten worse. I can't even remember how long ago I was told that teachers shouldn't correct work with a red pen because it is considered too harsh! I don't understand how things have changed so much and it is not as though kids are particularly happy at school. They're constantly talking about all the stress they're under. I say this as someone who understands that the world has changed and there's is much to be stressed about, but still, it is school for goodness sake. I had a math teacher in high school who used to throw chalk at us when we were wrong and I am pretty sure I had way more fun in school than kids today.

G , December 11, 2020 at 4:43 pm

Some of my favourite teachers were mean. One took positvie evil glee in calling on students for answers and humiliating them when they got them wrong. But he was equal opportunity: the better the student, the harder he tried, until he got what he wanted. When one survived the attack and got it right (which was probably most of the time), he played all disappointment. Every right answer came with a flash of pride.

The effect was to make us study hard and build camaradarie. He was a dedicated teacher who truly loved his students, and I think we loved him back.

In my experience, there are few things more discouraging than praise for mediocre work. The best teachers make you work for it: but when you suceed (if you're just not very talented, success can be something others might consider minor), you own it, and it's worth it.

Today, a teacher like would probably be called up on abuse or something. But I bet his students would stand by him.

G , December 11, 2020 at 5:15 pm

It occurs to me that this dynamic of humiliation, pride, failure, triumph and camaradarie are only possible in a physical classroom.

As an introvert who is happy to read a book, I have long wondered why we spend so much on classes. This social and emotional framework is the best example I can think of of something a book or a video (or a Zoom call) cannot replace.

Of course universities are trying hard to commodify instruction. They want a course to be a package they can own, deliver, and reuse, while charging an arm and a leg. So the trend of draining all potential unpleasantness from education (even if in the long run it results in more stress) indirectly works to their advantage, making it even less likely that they would reverse course.

fajensen , December 12, 2020 at 12:23 am

There is a bright side to this: In 30 years no weapons designs will be possible because nobody will be able to do the figuring and manual writing without getting into duelling over where the decimal goes and which symbols to use. :p.

430MLK , December 11, 2020 at 8:12 am

I think I posted Part 1 of this community college look at the state of higher ed in the comments to this week's earlier post about universities. Here's part two, which looks at some different marketing strategies and my college's choice of a "Buy 9, get the 10th free" model.

https://noclexington.com/free-coffee-and-customer-retention/

As a side note to the piece posted above–I wonder how much universities are even related to the ideas of learning and scholarship anymore. Where I live, the flagship for the state of Kentucky has a $2 billion+ budget that spans running healthcare/hospitals and Top 10 basketball programs to accumulating a surprisingly large cache of city and state real estate.

Scholarship (mostly by Ivy and Ivy-adjacent trained scholars who have zero intellectual or emotional understanding of their city and region) is just how they get the tax breaks.

KLG , December 11, 2020 at 1:50 pm

Nice to see that North of Center has returned. The first iteration was an excellent counter to the local cheerleading in Lexington. Regarding the University of Basketball, yes, it has a huge budgetary footprint. Twenty-plus years ago something called the Research Challenge Trust Fund (RCTF) was implemented as part of an initiative to make UK a Top-20 Public Research University by 2020. Fine. When it was pointed out that would require running three times faster than those ahead of UK who were not standing still (UCLA, Michigan, Berkeley, Wisconsin even Florida and Georgia), crickets. And after all that money was spent UK is still the University of Basketball. But even that seems to be in disarray. Just the other day the Wildcats were taken absolutely apart by Georgia Tech. Oops.

Long but a good look at the asininity of the University of Basketball's plans, from the first iteration of North of Center , is also a good summary of what neoliberalization of everything education has produced:
https://noclexington.com/wages-of-a-top-20-education-nougat-re-post/

seabos84 , December 11, 2020 at 8:37 am

Sadly for us lowly peeee-on$, for decades The Noble Liberal Cla$$ has exalted their Tomes of Truth! & had pretty much nothing but contempt for the hard work of actually making stuff work. They have done a stellar job of looking out for themselves.

"There was, thus, a turning point, which had not yet reached a clarity of options. No country moves forward more by ideas than America. And one of the problems of 1972 was that the idea system had become clogged by its own excessive outpourings. American intellectuals had written the Constitution, engineered turn-of-the-century reform, provided Franklin Roosevelt with his blueprints of reorganization, armed America with marvels of technology during th Second World War. They had been rewarded with a gush of approval, with an outpouring of funds, private and public, that had all but choked off fresh ideas – like a garden over-seeded and over-fertilized. The American idea system poured out paper after paper, study after study, learned investigation after learned investigation on the race problem, the urban problem, the environment problem, the television problem, the violence problem, the identity problem, until clear thinking was suffocated by the mattress of scholary investigation."

Prologue – The End Of The Postwar World, xxviii

The Making of The President 1972, Theodore H. White, published 1973.

[Background – White's first "Making of the President 1960" won him a Pulitzer Prize. He grew up on Boston, went to Boston Latin & then Harvard, and was in Nationalist China during WW2 working for Time or Life? magazine.]

jefemt , December 11, 2020 at 8:38 am

Irony or paradox: banner ads accompanying this article on viewers right on my computer feature an ad for the sole four year university in the great state of Wyoming UW. Go Cowboys!

NB Wyoming made a strategic decision scores of years ago to have a single University, to gather any of the scarce resources for higher ed into a single grantee/ beneficiary.

CH , December 11, 2020 at 8:57 am

So, let me get this straight. Navigation of this system is considered to be the "meritocracy" and those who manage to do it are deserving of their riches while the rest of us deserve our precarious and part-time gig work? Just checking.

anon y'mouse , December 11, 2020 at 11:33 am

considering the number of tertiary degree and higher holders who enjoy p/t work at the local starbucks, it ain't just you!

i knew a chem degree holding pizza delivery man for awhile. eventually he packed it in for the Electrician's union.

Arizona Slim , December 11, 2020 at 1:27 pm

Same thing happened to me back in the 1980s. I found that my university economics degree qualified me for such lofty positions as dishwasher, cashier, and shelf stocker.

Color me as someone who is VERY skeptical of higher education.

John Wright , December 11, 2020 at 2:40 pm

I remember the words of my late father, who graduated with a Notre Dame business degree in the 1930's.

He told of spending sleepless nights wondering what he would do.

Eventually he interviewed for a job as a butcher at Safeway.

He believed he got the job, over many other applicants, because of his experience at my grandparents' small family grocery store.

During the interview, he related that his experience "could help Safeway sell more meat" and told them how he would do this.

He remained skeptical of investing too much in higher education.

Hepativore , December 12, 2020 at 1:05 am

An unlucky histologist here. I enjoyed my degree program and wanted to go into pure biotechnology research. To my chagrin I found out that most of the much-vaunted STEM fields particularly the S and E portions of it were being destroyed in the private sector by a combination of gig work, offshoring and insourcing with cheap guestworkers from overseas. This was part of process that has been happening since the Regan era.

Now, I work in retail at a pet store with the only thing my degrees have gotten me is several thousand dollars in student loan debt which I am still paying off in my meager income. I honestly do not think that my job prospects are going to improve for the forseeable future. I am 36 and most R&D companies consider anybody older than their early-30's to be over-the-hill.

In all honesty, if I knew then what I know now after graduating from high school I would not have bothered with college. After all, few people work in their intended fields after obtaining their degrees and you will be shackled with student loan debt that you may never pay off. Many of my coworkers also have advanced degrees in various subjects but many of us have resigned ourselves to being retail wage slaves for the rest of our lives. Retirement is probably out of the question for many people younger than Gen-X.

Likewise, I watched as my father had his tenured position as a university professor at the University of River Falls in Wisconsin instantly snatched away retroactively by governor Scott Walker. My father had been tenured for ten years and after Walker got rid of tenure for all public university professors within the state, many universities in Wisconsin responded by firing all of their older full-time faculty and replacing them with adjunct staff.

My father was made an offer by the president of the university to be hired as an adjunct the following semester. It would have been a one-semester position for $12,000 and no benefits or promises of returning to the school next year. There was no way my parents could live off of that so they were forced to sell their house and move to Missouribecause of the low cost of living there. My father now works as a manager at an Ace Hardware store as that was the only job he could find at 65 and being at academia all of his career.

The Rev Kev , December 12, 2020 at 1:35 am

So sorry to hear what happened to you and your family. The word disgusted does not even begin to cover it. Not surprised that Scott Walker's name comes into the mix though. There is no thought here about building up capacity in countries like the US and making use of talent. The sheer amount of talent and abilities going to waste must be staggering. Must be because most managers do not think much past this financial quarter.

Robert Gray , December 12, 2020 at 10:25 am

' and [a] after Walker got rid of tenure for all public university professors within the state, [b] many universities in Wisconsin responded by firing all of their older full-time faculty and replacing them with adjunct staff.'

This is total fantasy. Scott Walker was a disaster but neither 'a' nor 'b' ever happened.

Moreover, there is no such place as 'the University of River Falls'. And, in the UW system, 'the president of the university' does not make contract offers to individual faculty or academic staff members at the constituent campuses.

Hepativore , December 12, 2020 at 11:39 am

Yes, UWRF does exist.

https://www.uwrf.edu/

Scott Walker did indeed get rid of tenure for public university professors within the state as part of a 2015 budget deal just like he got rid of the right of collective bargaining for public employees in 2011. During his terms, Walker tried to systemically destroy higher education and the careers of academic faculty while in office.

https://www.politico.com/story/2015/07/scott-walker-college-professor-tenure-120009

My father was not given a "formal" offer by the UWRF president, it was an email circulated to all of the liquidated professors that they would be given priority hiring for the adjunct positions that their jobs were being replaced with.

cocomaan , December 11, 2020 at 9:05 am

As someone with experience in higher ed, and a couple of humanities degrees, Camille Paglia's criticisms of the humanities cut so deep, so great to see her referenced here.

https://vimeo.com/247848325

This is a good example of her talking about teaching the humanities and what modern humanities have come to. I was blown away by this.

I do agree that Paglia can be uneven, but that's what the humanities is all about.

lyman alpha blob , December 11, 2020 at 10:40 am

Thanks for that – I always enjoy listening to Paglia. Her criticism of the postmodernists as 'word choppers' is spot on. I think that may be one of the worst results of neoliberalism – destroying the meanings of words to the point it becomes difficult to communicate at a societal level. And while the rest of us argue over what the meaning of 'is' is, the criminals in power are robbing us blind.

Neoliberalism has also done a number on numbers. The article notes the overliance on assessments, presumably 'data driven' ones. We have had two successive school superintendents in my area who have openly admitted that math is not their strong point and yet they rely heavily on data driven assessments and will produce metrics for everything. I don't believe they have a clue what they're looking at. Our current superintendent was publicly embarrassed a couple years ago when a parent who does understand math pointed out at a well attended school board meeting that the grading software he relied on was a complete joke in dramatic fashion. As an accountant, I'm well aware that numbers can be manipulated to make them seem like they mean pretty much whatever the manipulator wants them to mean. Silicon Valley has made billions preying on people who don't understand math to the point where we have unnecessary software for everything, tracking and monetizing every little action we make, and we are obviously at this point not the better for it.

cocomaan , December 11, 2020 at 1:53 pm

I absolutely identify with the lousy data nonsense.

In my work, I often had to work with the Institutional Effectiveness Office, which should be called the "Statistics Office".

I respect them and their knowledge, but often, these offices are tasked with producing data for whatever pet project is being promoted by administration at the time. That's why I saw tons of turnover happen in that area, plus constant stress and alcoholism in the director. Lots of race-based statistics making that had to represent that the institution was failing to be accommodating to students of color on one hand, but also succeeding in every metric on the other. No wonder the poor woman turned to drink. "Let's bake a cake using flour, but it has to be keto-friendly."

Alrus , December 11, 2020 at 11:15 am

It's unfortunate that this is hosted by Peterson. He starts the interview off by asking about "Neomarxism" which starts the whole thing off on the wrong foot. I don't expect I'm going to hear about the corrupting influence of Capitalism and money in universities.

cocomaan , December 11, 2020 at 1:49 pm

Yeah, you have to accept that he's there if you're not a Peterson fan (I like him but many don't), but the interview does come across as Peterson interviewing her, and trying to understand her ideas, rather than him overwhelming the conversation with his usual.

Kouros , December 11, 2020 at 1:55 pm

I some – not few – aspects, Peterson is a hack. And he'll embrace the paradigm of the overseers, as long as he will have the ability to monetize his continuous gospel.

lyman alpha blob , December 11, 2020 at 1:57 pm

I've never really listened to or read much by Peterson before but about halfway through the interview it started getting pretty clear why he is widely disliked.

Paglia is uneven – at one point she's arguing that historically men and women never shared labor duties and my grandmother who milked a few dozen cows by hand twice a day along with my grandfather, and then went in and did all the housework too would surely disagree – but she hits the nail on the head on a lot and plus is always a hoot.

Nivek , December 12, 2020 at 10:34 am

A very, very thorough assessment (reaming) of Peterson's oeuvre by Nathan J. Robinson: The Intellectual We Deserve.

John B , December 11, 2020 at 9:10 am

On top of all that, the raw material that universities must work with -- high school students -- is about to become much, much worse due to the coronavirus, at least in the US. They will have even fewer study skills, and much more mental illness. Those who can afford it may add another post-graduate year before college to compensate, but there are very few such programs; community colleges should start them.

cocomaan , December 11, 2020 at 9:15 am

Yikes, you're right, and that's depressing.

My cousin is an English teacher in a rural area, economically challenged. He was telling me that the kids are getting stupider by the day. He is watching the assignments handed in degrade in quality.

The older I get, the more I realize that learning is not about facts, but understanding how you yourself can learn new things. School is as much about the habit of learning as it is the content and we now have an entire cohort of kids whose habits have been undone.

JWP , December 11, 2020 at 2:33 pm

By design. grades, grades, grades. That's all there is. taking time to enjoy learning, something I have worked on, has led to lower grades because it requires time and going outside of the textbook and homework. Kids are able to enjoy what they learn if given the opportunity, yet from a young age it never presents itself. The advent of tech dominated lives and short attention spans makes it all worse too.

Kurtismayfield , December 11, 2020 at 11:41 am

The quality of work has dropped off a cliff. The kids are fried, and they do not think they will be/should be held responsible for their actions or work.

Administrations are just doing a collective CYA exercise, because the failure rates have tripled.

Parents don't know what to do. At this point probably the most productive thing a parent can do with a remote/hybrid learning student is watch them work. Just watch them. See what they are doing, and how many distractions they have in their lives. One of the advantages of grade school environments is that the distraction is removed (for the most part) during class time. Not anymore.

Eudora Welty , December 11, 2020 at 7:35 pm

This is slightly tangential, but I was 7/8 years old in 1967, and I remember noticing all the popular culture things I had to be current on (the Monkees, etc), and I specifically thought that the powers-that-be are making up all these things to pay attention to so that we aren't paying attention to the things that actually matter. I was OK when I was a little kid.

Lou Mannheim , December 11, 2020 at 9:26 am

I spent a year as a "Career Coach" at an absurdly priced East Coast university. My job was a mix of office hours, hosting events for students/alumni/hiring managers, and creating Excel and Bloomberg training classes (there weren't any).

It was fun for a bit, until I realized the students had no concept of how competitive finance is. Everybody that came to me had big plans for a career on Wall Street – that's nothing new. However, hardly any of them were going to get a look – their grades were middling, their communication skills needed work, and not nearly enough evidenced critical thinking skills (although on a conference call a hiring manager explicitly stated they're not looking for that. Sigh).

And then I made a presentation to the Alumni Committee, and that's when I realized how this school is run. It was littered with wealthy PE and sell-side people, and the mantra was they wanted more alumni in the business. Why? Ego. It doesn't matter that they're ready or qualified, just get'r done or I'll donate elsewhere.

My brother has a PhD in History and taught for several years. He had to leave because he couldn't support his family. He was also very discouraged by student apathy and all the administrative BS.

I think this excellent post is part and parcel with the Great Inflation of the past 40 years. All the provosts and new layers, new buildings, coordination with private business, grade inflation, sports entertainment and the big contracts, all the bells and whistles that are entirely unnecessary for LEARNING.

There is no solution.

Anonymous , December 11, 2020 at 9:42 am

Most faculty are cowards and careerists and sycophants who just want to be comfortable or gain status with peers, but this neglects the institution. They are politically inept, like the progressives (as Matt Stoller has observed). Most of them do not know how to get anything done. They do not understand power.

I know this is tangential to the thrust of the article but I wish the writer had given examples of the evaluation of progressives?

1. I wonder who the writer would define as progressives. For example Neera Tanden is billing herself as a progressive but that is to laugh.
2. Maybe someone at NC could explain?
Matt never responds to me on Twitter or I'd go ask him. In fact I did do that.

I think Bernie (who is a Progressive), did an excellent job of speaking truth to power as well as organizing a movement. The fact that the powers that be ganged up on him to stomp on the movement is the reality of entrenched power these days. That is why I'm advocating for the formation of a new national party. The historical analogy I'm using is the anti-slavery movement. I would ask that people find everything they can and study up on that segment of American history as to how to proceed against today's entrenched neo-liberals.

freebird , December 11, 2020 at 10:24 am

Bernie did a fantastic job right up til they ganged up on him right before Super Tuesday. From then until he conceded, had he been more politically 'ept', he would have used the power he had from the support of many millions of people to demand a concession or two before conceding. Such as Medicare for All, a 2d round of stimulus, police reform, or something. But he didn't, instead he conceded and then campaigned harder for Biden than Biden did for himself. Pretending that he would get his 'good friend Joe' to actually do something progressive if asked nicely.

I think this is what the author is getting at, the failure to play hardball LBJ style to get some compromise deals done whenever possible. And you don't have to look only at 'real' progressives. If you look at the faux progressives like Nancy Pelosi etc., they have for many years started at the middle and allowed conservatives to call the tune. This is deliberate on behalf of donors/bribers, but some pundits still think it's because of ineptness.

Anonymous , December 11, 2020 at 12:16 pm

Thanks for the bit of analysis. And too, I just had my second cup of tea so I'm more wide awake now.

You're 100% correct about Bernie-he's never been one to dig in when the opposition mounts a concerted attack. That really makes him much like the other members of the Democratic party who are more adept at slugging it out in intramural sporting events with other Dems than they are with taking on the true opponents in the GOP and big business. And in fact the blood thirsty cheerleaders who are on the outside of government (at least officially); those are who we should all be pushing on in a steady and consistent manner until we force them to yield.

You're right too about Bernie conceding to not make waves-he did that with Hillary. So he tries to avoid real confrontations when he needs to take a stand. Even when its not fun. So there's a time to fight and a time to join. Bernie's too easily swayed to be a joiner.

Someday another Bernie Sanders type will come along and do what he did not-run as an independent and shred the Democratic Party: even if it means losing a battle to the GOP in order to win the larger war. Again, looking back at the formation of the Republican Party-the leaders gave up on the Whigs and that party finally died off but the new party-headed by Lincoln, carried the torch.

Oh of another Abraham Lincoln.

albrt , December 11, 2020 at 11:49 pm

"Someday another Bernie Sanders type will come along and do what he did not-run as an independent and shred the Democratic Party"

How much time do you think humans have?

tegnost , December 11, 2020 at 10:45 am

when I see progressive I think left leaning centrist. Incrementalism is the tell

Kouros , December 11, 2020 at 2:05 pm

Good luck with getting a third party running in the US. Since it is the states legislation that operationalize elections, you will probably find out that a third party to be put on the ballot (not for president, but for representatives), in many a state would need more supporters and signatures than there are democrats and republicans combined. Mobilizing such numbers is a daunting task that would be possible only if more than 50% of the population were to be unemployed AND HUNGRY.

And if that were to happen, other legal technicalities would be brought up.

And then the NSA, FBI, State Police, and the local sheriff would also be brought in. A lot of male candidates would start o be accused of childhood pornography, etc., etc., etc

Carolinian , December 11, 2020 at 9:43 am

Perhaps it's not just universities. Cities now compete with each other on the quality of their school systems. In my town a functional but aging 1960 high school was just replaced with a billion dollar megaplex complete with stadium, basketball "arena," and fully equipped performing arts center. This spare no expense approach is apparently seen as necessary to compete with charter schools and private schools not to mention other towns.

Which is to say that the neoliberals have introduced competitive pressure into the government/nonprofit world while seeking to reduce or eliminate it in the business world. I have no idea whether this change in culture is turning out better students but it almost seems as though these institutions have taken on a life of their own with education somewhere down the list.

Lou Mannheim , December 11, 2020 at 10:23 am

The competition is everywhere, I think. Government jobs are tough to come by, in fact anything that offers benefits and a stable wage is tough to get, and this was before the pandemic hit. There are a lot of people with advanced degrees and not nearly enough jobs.

But at least the Nation got sports entertainment this year.

J7915 , December 11, 2020 at 12:19 pm

Few years ago had to go north of Manhattan, nyc over the East River to yonkers anyway beyong 208 st stop on the Ind. Anyway was chocked at the Columbia U stadium on the east river it would have severly embarassed the Union HS in Tulsa, Ok. And that stadium is being remodelled an embellished, with skyboxes no doubt. Have to drive by and see.

Rod , December 11, 2020 at 9:57 am

from CanCyn, as seen with my own two eyes:
And yes the bloat of administration. And the contracting of private sector consultants to do everything from re-decorate to write curriculum. Assessments done by outside firms so that the college didn't own the data and was therefore not subject to Freedom of Information requests. More and more administrators who know or care nothing for education. Bloated grades and high school graduates who arrive incapable of doing the work – and thus a whole new wing of non-academic support personnel created to help them succeed.
Like Lampreys.

and cocoman, seeing the other part, with my bold:

the more I realize that learning is not about facts, but understanding how you yourself can learn new things. School is as much about the habit of learning as it is the content and we now have an entire cohort of kids whose habits have been undone.

imo -- the desire to Learn and acquire Knowledge must be developed first–any benefit–tangible or intangible–emanates from that center. It is not Performative.

cocomaan , December 11, 2020 at 1:54 pm

Thanks Rod! Agree with you 100%

CanCyn , December 11, 2020 at 6:54 pm

Yeps and absolutely. Curiosity and interest in the world are driven out early. And you can't really learn without them. Give me the wonder of a wide eyed child over the apathy and need to conform of teens and young adults with their focus on their phones and social media any day.

fajensen , December 12, 2020 at 3:51 am

To be honest, there has always been a trend in American education towards teaching "Facts", and "Procedures" rather than teaching "free-form"reasoning. At least within Engineering.

The ideal seemed to be to have a few really bright experts like Feynman figure out optimal solutions, then "communicate" their Thinking and Reasoning into checklists, nomographs, tabulated values and flowcharts for the lesser talents to follow. I believe it was considered to be some kind of efficient allocation of talent, not that "one didn't want too much thinking around the place".

The Electrical Code in America is prescribing how to reach the design goals, the European one is the opposite, stating the goals, and not how to get there. Many, many discussions will flow from that in a multinational project!

With "digitalisation" of course anything that can be packetised as binary choices will be boosted enormously by being very easy to digitise and once digital, costs nothing to distribute. Driving a tsunami of "rote learning" and "rote thinking" within all academic fields, meeting "the requirements" is what moves one forward, not understanding.

Exemplified with essay grading "AI", where Just mashing keywords into the text is what triggers the "learning objective", which now is The Grade and not The Writing and Making a Coherent Argument.

IMO, this way of learning allows too many to succeed. People with "frontal-lobe issues", expressed by weak self regulation, lack of internal motivation and brains glitching out when corrected, instead of maturing and then making progress, we now have "Gamegate" minds showing up "early" at university level!

Then they can use their credentials to move on into positions where they have authority and a budget.

It will be one hell of a ride!

David , December 11, 2020 at 10:01 am

I've followed this at first hand in universities in several countries. It's heartbreaking.
At least it is for me, but apparently not for lots of others. Why?
It has to do, I think, with what you think a university (or any form of education) is actually for. In Britain, which I know best, education of any type has always been seen by the ruling class as a ticket to a better life, and a means of preserving their privileges, but never as an end in itself. They sent their children to "public" (ie private) schools less for the education than to make social contacts and acquire a cachet which would financially benefit them for the rest of their lives. It was thus an investment with a promised return. The more intelligent of the ruling class's children would go to Oxford or Cambridge, again less for the education than for the fact of having been there and getting to know people. They would then be best placed to get high-paying jobs in the City, or elsewhere in the Establishment, so that the ruling class could perpetuate itself.

For the rest of us, especially those who studied humanities rather than subjects like law and medicine, education was an end in itself, and a way to escape from our origins into a better world. Fifty years ago, my Head of Department welcomed new students by posing the hypothetical question, Why Study Literature, as opposed to say, Engineering? It was, he said, a self-justifying activity. Such statements were as common then as they are unthinkable now. And more widely, successive governments then believed that an educated population was better than an uneducated one. But those were the days when the newly-elected Labour Prime Minister was a grammar-school educated economist who believed in technology. Twenty-five years later, the newly elected Labour leader was a public-school educated lawyer who believed in God.

So what happened was that British elites, for whom education was first and last an individual financial investment, wrested back control of education from the more progressive forces of the postwar boom years. Above all, if individuals had to pay for their education, if failing their exams was a disaster, and if a degree was a minimum passport to anything like a decent life, elites could be assured of generations of servile, well-behaved students, unlike the bolshy lot that I was part of.

Finally, this wouldn't have been so bad if it hadn't been for parallel social trends after the 1960s. The mindless worship of the individual, the infantilisation of young people and the move from seeing higher education as a privilege that had to be earned to a commodity that could be bought, has combined with the mangerialisation of institutions to produce something like a perfect storm. In my experience, students are less mature, intellectually and personally, less well-educated, more demanding of support and comfort, more frightened of failing and generally less well suited to university education than even twenty years ago. And the sterile managerialism and the cancerous growth of "administration" has actually exacerbated the problem. In the circumstances it's surprising that things are not worse than they are.

Not every country has suffered to the same extent. France, with its effectively free education, and its tradition of Republican education as a liberating device, was better until recently. But even there the poison is seeping in, as anglo-saxon management and grievance politics have started to take over French universities. The reaction of French student unions to the virus has been to demand better treatment, less to learn, less to write, more free time, and of course lower requirements for "vulnerable and marginalised groups" etc. etc.

And the end of all of this? Societies where people have worthless degrees, where they can't actually do the jobs they've been recruited for, where the best teachers leave, where the quality of teaching declines (never mind research) and the spiral goes ever downwards. As I said, it's heartbreaking.

SoCal Rhino , December 11, 2020 at 10:11 am

In an engineering program decades ago, several of my professors openly expressed contempt at the lack of demands being placed on current students, with far too little time spent in classes and out of class work, and the ridiculous notion of grading on a curve,(Thinking a bit, these were all in the Physics department) at a time when incoming students were warned not to try to hold part time jobs and to expect to spend at least 40 hours per week on work outside of class. My student experience confirms that this trend started a long time ago.

Robert Gray , December 11, 2020 at 10:14 am

'Erasmus' mentions in passing the late (d. 2002) lamented Prof Richard Mitchell. I subscribed to The Underground Grammarian back in the day and I will always remember an observation from Ben Jonson that Mitchell quoted as a sort of epigram:

Neither can his mind be thought to be in tune, whose words do jarre;
nor his reason in frame, whose sentence is preposterous.

flora , December 11, 2020 at 11:13 am

Great post! Thank you.

In tandem, China rises on the world stage.

JustAnotherVolunteer , December 11, 2020 at 11:23 am

The University of Oregon is currently offering a buy out package to long serving faculty and officers of administration:

https://hr.uoregon.edu/benefits/retirement/2021-retirement-incentive

This pool includes both tenured faculty and career faculty and OAs who fall into the PERS tier1/tier2 buckets. Current new hires come in at tier 4 – a very different critter.

Those who remember the IBM "voluntary transition" buyouts of the 90s will recognize the strategy. This undercuts tenure, may reduce some departments in ways that are not recoverable, and reduces pension liability since the sweetener here is a one time payout for health insurance rather then PERS support.

The target pool are skeptical but the long term health of the UO is also dicey.

Rock and a hard place.

juno mas , December 11, 2020 at 12:39 pm

These "retirement" buy-outs are happening in the California community college system (~1 million students). They are offered to both administrators and tenured profs alike. Cutting costs is imperative when the incoming high school enrollment is down an average of 7-8%; AND International (Chinese) enrollment (high fee students) is more than 50% lower. My local community college has a $4M shortfall. (That's huge, actually.)

Faculty members have lobbied for tenured backfill of their lost positions. Only five positions have been approved; but not yet funded. The faculty is now predominately adjuncts (gig workers) at 70%. Yet people still strive for that Ph Ed. (which is shortened to PhD in their resume' and administrative title).

I expect the educational game will return to normal as the emergency vaccines prove effective over the Spring and Summer. My college is planning on in-person instruction Fall 2021.

Calypso Facto , December 11, 2020 at 12:11 pm

I'm more well-known around these parts for attempting to demystify Big Tech's functional machinations thanks to being a tech worker this past miserable decade, but I actually left the industry over the summer. In an attempt to switch careers I enrolled in a US undergrad state program that is well-regarded for remote learning and girded myself for jumping on the undergrad wagon in my upper 30s. I had gone to a non-university school in my 20s for something utterly unrelated to tech – fashion design – and had a tech support job through that round of school. When I left in 2011 it made more sense to stay in tech than make clothes. Earlier this year it seemed to make more sense to learn soil science or botany remotely while doing lesser-grade tech work remotely.

Unfortunately I barely lasted two weeks because the remote learning experience – my own several years of working remotely and 2020's exceptional pandemic/political fireworks aside – was so bad I was immediately infuriated at the cost and teaching style that I knew I would not be able to complete years of it, it would not train me for a job in any way, and I would be better served to get out ASAP and avoid the debt.

Years of tech work has acutely attuned me to recognizing the software fabric behind any technical implementation, and the schools that were all recognized as remote learning leaders prior to the pandemic are firmly built on big tech's toolset. I'm less bothered in this specific case by the security/data issues inherent there than the understanding of how colossally bloated and sh!tty the apps running the schools (Canvas in the front, Gainsight in the back for student admin, Google Apps for document, a patchwork for branded tech services for things like authentication, library services, collaboration) – because that means multiple layers of the school are dependent on the bloat inherent in those tech platforms that make their ecampus work. That means it will never get better, it will never get cheaper, and it will always get worse year over year as bigger teams have to be hired by school admin to keep up with the sales quotas issued by all those tech services they're using.

And then the classes themselves were in some cases links to Youtube videos of history documentaries made for tv, for discussion in the Canvas forum app. I thought I was going to faint from rage the first time I saw it and then I realized this is just how it is now. If my goal is to do more meaningful work with soil and plants I can get there by planting a garden and designing some open source hardware for monitoring in my spare time. I don't know how to really comment effectively on what universities used to be – I know before I went in I thought they were still more-or-less a place where you went to learn and contribute to the body of human knowledge – fashion school was set up like an oldschool dressmaker's academy, we cut patterns and sewed and were judged on the quality of our work rather than lecture. But what I experienced was not in any way job training or teaching how to learn or think critically. It was standard big tech marketing magic laid over a combo powerpoint and commenting module-making application, and i was expected to pay tens of thousands for the privilege. No.

Arizona Slim , December 11, 2020 at 1:56 pm

If you're in an area where there's Master Gardener certification, go for it. Although it's a location-specific curriculum, the training is excellent. Link:

https://ahsgardening.org/gardening-resources/master-gardeners/

And I'm VERY impressed with your fashion school training. Sounds like practical education within a worthwhile body of knowledge.

Calypso Facto , December 11, 2020 at 3:24 pm

Thanks Slim!!

Yeah the apprentice-style model is vastly superior to teaching any kind of trade or skilled handiwork. For something like plant science I expected a lot of organic chemistry transitioning into greenhouse labs (that I'd be able to do in person after the pandemic ended). Imagine my disappointment to find that most upper level botany and plant biologist 'jobs' available now are computational (genomics). Years of learning to code for Big Tech and saving to leave for the verdant groves of academe only to find out that even the plant sciences are being driven to the software mines.

edit to add: probably the most revolutionary act one can do now is refuse to learn to code and reject the entire premise for software eating the world

Dirk77 , December 11, 2020 at 11:14 pm

Yet, I have found working as a coder useful for the same reason you have: I easily recognize the [family blog] in using software where it isn't needed and is actually harmful.

Brian Westva , December 11, 2020 at 1:47 pm

I agree that higher education is failing. Sports, buildings, administrators, and social life is much more important than the over-priced "education" that students get. I teach forestry at a very small college in a rural state that has been struggling financially for years mostly due to poor management and a focus on athletics. The college has been saddled with a tremendous amount of debt to renovate buildings and build new buildings (for athletics) despite declining enrollment. It surprises me that the college was able to sell so many bonds. I surely wouldn't buy any.

I've been leery of the online classes and entire programs that are online. How can the majority of students learn online? I know most of my students don't like online because they don't learn as much. I think that online classes are mostly bull****. Sure they might work for some motivated learners but most college kids don't fit into that category. When the history of our time is written online classes will be amongst TV, air conditioning, video games, fast food, cars, and neoliberalism that led to our demise.

The thing that really gets me about higher education is all of the assessment and accreditation that can apparently be so easily gamed by the colleges. There is a large consulting industry to help colleges meet the criteria. The amount of critical thinking and review that goes into the accreditation process is minimal. It is more about creating a narrative that the college is meeting the criteria than actually self-reflecting on how do we improve.

I know that many college students aren't learning very much while they are at our school. Yet those students are eligible for sports and even get scholarships. All the while other students are paying full tuition and working hard to pass their classes.

In our program we try to hold the line. We have expectations for our students. We make students do homework, papers, lab reports, lab activities, readings, projects, etc. we make students go out in the field even when it is cold or rainy. I'm always amazed to hear from students that professor X just has 4 tests in his/her class. That is shameful. Students have to interact with faculty and have to engage with the material. They have to think about what they are learning. They have to practice what they are learning. They have to demonstrate what they have learned. Not just pick one out of four answers on a multiple choice test.

COVID should be a wake up call to higher education. Colleges need to cut out the BS ( admin, sports, etc) and focus on rigorously preparing the next generation. They will face challenges greater than any in the 20th century.

Arizona Slim , December 11, 2020 at 3:37 pm

The part about making students go out into the field even when it's cold and rainy brought a smile to my face. Because, no matter how bad the weather, the trees have to stay outside and cope with it.

Alexandra , December 11, 2020 at 2:26 pm

Just some further observations from someone who has been in the trenches and is still trench-adjacent (lots of family and friends who are/were teachers or academics)–with apologies for length:

I taught for 10-ish years as an adjunct at a couple of public universities in the Midwest (science and social sciences). Over that time I saw a precipitate decline in students' ability to reason, learn, and communicate verbally.

By the end, I found them incapable of basic "if then" logical inference and they had little understanding of analogy. If I taught them that A + B = C, then asked on a test C – B = ?, they were totally lost. Their only learning skill was (poor) memorization, and they appeared to experience not just frustration but almost an existential terror when encountering subjects that either had no single answer, or where they were asked to discover the answer.

My closest friend, one of the few who actually managed to secure a tenure-track position*, was recently telling me how she has to stay absolutely au courant with political correctness and rigorously self-police her own language because a single offended student could end her career. A slip up as slight as addressing a group as "you guys" is all it could take to tank her life's work.

*I don't know of a single one of my former colleagues who has secured a tenure-track job unless they were (1) engaged in quantitative, scientific research or (2) male. If you're female and in the humanities/social sciences, I guess you better learn to code.

She has commented many times that her students can be ruthlessly judgmental and their judgments do not take context into account. This is how they've been trained to be from early childhood: totally literal, nuance-free memorizers of "content" and generators of "metrics," trusting in any so-called authority figure to give them "the answers" (so long as that authority doesn't use forbidden words), willing and eager to prove their own worth by policing their fellows Perfect Orwellian employees and citizens.

Are the universities broken or are they working as intended? I actually hope it's the former.

flora , December 11, 2020 at 7:10 pm

Their only learning skill was (poor) memorization, and they appeared to experience not just frustration but almost an existential terror when encountering subjects that either had no single answer, or where they were asked to discover the answer.

Congress passed the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001. It was promoted as a way to improve struggling schools, but it was soon clear the real payload was cutting public school funding for schools whose students did poorly on tests. This quickly created a 'teach to the test' k-12 public school evironment. So 10 years ago, say, students entering college were products of at least 7 or eight years of high-stakes, k-12, teach to the test teaching and memorization demands. Teaching was in too many cases replaced with rote drill; a change made necessary for public schools not to be docked funding and for teachers to keep their jobs. Silicon Valley digital education companies made money, of course. I think this form of teaching has had a very negative effect on students and teachers. It seems like a way to destroy what's best in public k-12 education. (The rationales used to pass NCLB were based on questionable international testing metrics.) My 2 cents.

https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1011096

Michael Fiorillo , December 11, 2020 at 10:20 pm

And the Common Core curriculum, largely funded by the Gates Foundation, explicitly rejected teaching context, instead focusing on sterile "close reading" of excerpts. Kids are barely reading short stories, let alone novels, in high school anymore. Increasingly, the kids don't have the attention span or cognitive stamina to do it.

Dirk77 , December 12, 2020 at 1:26 am

As a commenter stated in Lambert's column about academia last week: "You educate humans and train animals". Turning that around, if you train humans, but don't educate them, what you will get are animals.

JWP , December 11, 2020 at 2:29 pm

"The university is a corporation" can easily be turned into "the university is an extension of corporations" which is at the heart of why there's no learning. The courses, especially econ, business, and other FIRE precursor departments have their curriculum basically laid out by the largest local employers and wall street players. So now everyone is learning tailored curriculum that ignores fundamentals and denies criticism in favor of trends and profitable models. No one like to learn this, it is boring, time consuming, and inapplicable in daily life unless you are at work for one of these places. This leads the average student, who is made abundantly clear they need a 3.5 or above to land a job at one of those places (the only well playing jobs), to do anything possible to get the grade including cheating and streamlining studying to answer specific questions as opposed to understanding concepts. I myself have done this because the material is so boring and I merely want to get the grade and get out of the class.

Tack on the relentless pursuit of career centers, recruitment fairs, and emails with the subjects like "is your resume interview ready" every other day, it is an assembly line for turning students into corporate drones. Yet almost all students recognize it to some degree and either through economic, cultural, or familial pressures know its alm sot impossible to have a stable life without giving in, hence widespread depression and anxiety on campuses. I'd say upward of 80% of the student population has one of these at any given time.

Edward , December 11, 2020 at 3:03 pm

Higher education does have problems and it is not organized to tackle this situation. Everybody is absorbed with their own problems and responsibilities. It is easier just to contend with your immediate situation and put off the long-term and global problems. The government is in the best position to respond to this society-wide problem, but we haven't seen this kind of leadership in a long time. The demise of American education probably started under Reagan.

One factor in the financial problems of colleges might be the wars and the bailouts. Does giving vast sums of money to the banks and military make everyone else poorer? That is my suspicion.

An old carpenter , December 11, 2020 at 3:15 pm

This is an issue which has been discussed over a long time. One could start with Pitirim Sorokin's " Social and Cultural Mobility " (1959), followed by Neil Postman's " Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology " (1993) and " The End of Education: Redefining the Value of School " (1996) and, then, Christopher Lasch's " The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy " (1996). The concepts in these books could then be combined with Clark Kerr's analysis in " The Uses of the University " (1963). IMO such an exercise would show why the present situation, explained in detail by Benjamin Ginsberg in " The Fall of the Faculty and the Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why It Matters " (2011) was inevitable. Further cogitation might also show the part non-deplorable elites played/play in this saga.

dmc , December 11, 2020 at 4:01 pm

Best post on higher ed I have read in recent memory, and I have read a lot of them.

IMHO, cultural and organizational problems like these (and to this list I'd add the growth in student debt) are frequently the result of economic mistakes (misallocation of resources, ridiculous subsidies, etc.) We might as well admit it: in this case, the mistake is that there are too damned many universities in the US.

So Erasmus can recommend "reform," and he or she is correct, but the only reform that would make a difference is one that changes the economics. My recommendation would be for the Feds to get out of the student loan businesses and require the universities to make and hold the loans themselves. (Maybe the feds could stay in the game with needs-tested grants, or a program to buy down the interest rates.)

Wah-la! Fewer universities. Fewer slacker students wasting their money and ours. Better focus among the schools and the students that remain. Lesser burden on the taxpayer.

Major pain for faculty, I know, but there is major pain now, especially among underemployed and indebted graduates. Adjustment always hurts.

Extra bonus: Nice real estate available to retirees.

PS My Dad, a career K-12 superintendent, said that there is no such thing as higher ed, it's just later ed.

TBellT , December 11, 2020 at 4:16 pm

So Erasmus can recommend "reform," and he or she is correct, but the only reform that would make a difference is one that changes the economics. My recommendation would be for the Feds to get out of the student loan businesses and require the universities to make and hold the loans themselves. (Maybe the feds could stay in the game with needs-tested grants, or a program to buy down the interest rates.)

Maybe but first you have to change the economics that life in America without a college degree for most is cruelty stacked upon misery. Pretty much every other developed country treats non-college grads better than we do.

dmc , December 11, 2020 at 5:18 pm

Agreed but part of the point is that American misery is gradually extending to more and more of us and a college "education" is no prophylactic. Given a choice between minimum-wage-slavery-or-unemployment without debt, and with, I'd take the former. Most people would; we can read Hobbes and Proust on our own. Fewer worthless degrees and less educational debt are a loss to no one except the higher ed institutions themselves. The revolution may or not arrive; but in the meantime perhaps we can get our universities to stop lying to us about what we'll get in exchange for our dollars and our years and our hopes. And we can save our subsidy dollars, if any are left, for real bargains or the truly needy.

Edward , December 11, 2020 at 5:19 pm

I wonder if paying students a salary could change some of the negative dynamics. Being a student is somewhat like working at a job, but without renumeration, at least in the immediate term. It would allow teachers to demand more from the students and probably reduce or eliminate grade inflation.

doily , December 11, 2020 at 4:46 pm

This is a painful subject for me and there is much that resonates in the post and in a number of the comments (the decline of secondary education, reducing universities to garbage-in-garbage-out; the insolubility of treating students as customers while employers who call the shots want them to be products; the political naivete and cowardice of faculty who have abdicated university governance) . I have lived through the "rock and a hard place" dilemma between sticking with an academic career or taking the package, as one's university, indeed one's entire national system of universities, is ground into the neoliberal dust (I chose the hard place and learned to code).

There were a few comments under Lambert's original post from University of Chicago alumni. I am one as well (BA Economics class of 1982). The College of the University of Chicago was an incredible place in the late 1970s. There were fewer undergraduates than law school or MBA students, fewer even than some large suburban high schools. In my final year I had classes with fewer than a dozen students. It cost my parents and I very little (with financial aid and low interest loans). I started off determined to get to law school or get an MBA, but I was a student willing to be malleable, to be formed and produced by teachers who believed that inquiry was self-justifying and who controlled a core curriculum that included Marx, Freud, Dostoevsky, Joyce, Marcuse I don't know what's on the core curriculum these days. I think they teach you how to code.

Perry Anderson has a long historical perspective on the UK going back to Atlee's Labour government in the 1940s in a recent New Left Review. In a section on the vicissitudes of the intelligentsia (if that's what it can even be called anymore after the Blair era), I was struck solidly in the chest by this summary. In Blair's early years, Anderson writes:

"[In the Academy], hopes that [New Labour policies] would repair the damage left by the Thatcher period were soon gone, as it became clear that, on the contrary, the new regime was going not only to accept, but extend it, with still more far-reaching measures of managerial control and marketization. By the end of the New Labour era, the universities had been battered thrice over. First, with deep spending cuts and subjection of scholarship to crudely quantified targeting of output under Thatcher; then by imposition of corporate management systems, inflating bureaucracy at the expense of teaching and research; then by the introduction of fees converting students into customers, and of public -- sc. market -- 'impact' as a criterion of promotion and funding. No other country in the advanced capitalist world saw a reduction of higher education to commercial logic so extreme. What was the reaction? Within the academy, a single scholar, Stephan Collini, published two books of eloquent protest, each well received; outside it, a single independent researcher, Andrew McGettigan, produced two books dismantling the economics of the changes, each well documented.* Neither to the smallest visible effect. The intelligentsia on the receiving end of two decades of brutal neo-liberal assault lifted scarcely a finger of collective resistance to it. Finally, after twenty-five years, when even its pensions were cut, token strikes (absences of a fortnight at a time), bungled by the union, ignored the majority of university teachers, and shutting down not a single campus, began in fits and starts in 2018, petering out fruitlessly in 2020 -- all belated, all confined to narrowly economic issues, none raising broader structural questions."

* Stafan Collini, What are Universities For? , London 2012, and Speaking of Universities , London 2017; Andrew McGettigan, False Accounting , London 2012, and The Great University Gamble , London 2013.

Why did I quit? It wasn't because of the transparent stupidity of inflating bureaucracy at the expense of teaching and research, the transparent stupidity of treating students as customers, the transparent stupidity of the 'employability' cross-curricular themes. And it was not about the sycophants, the cowards, the dysfunctional union, and the complete absence of organised pushback. The last straw was the 'impact' thing. I remember sitting in an "impact case study session" looking an ass dean across the table in the eye while we were literally being taught how to fudge and make shit up on our case studies, surrounded by young lecturers earnestly taking notes. It felt like a hopeless, intellectually bankrupt place to be.

We could start all over with mutual aid societies, as Lambert suggested, but we would need to take over the libraries and the labs first.

Dirk77 , December 12, 2020 at 2:36 am

Given how all the factories that weren't shipped to China were sold pennies on the dollar, I'm sure you could get the library and labs cheap, as long as someone's bonus was tied to it.

HotFlash , December 11, 2020 at 4:51 pm

I was going to set this as a reply to Alexandra , but then it seemed a good response to JWP just below, Edward, and more up top. So yes, Alexandra, the universities and other educational institutions are working as intended, at least since 1971. That was the year that Lewis Powell wrote this memorandum (text courtesy of his alma mater, Washington and Lee University) at the request of his friend Eugene B. Sydnor Jr., who was education director of the US Chamber of Commerce, the original Big Business lobby. The program was accepted and carried out, funded by old-money tycoons like Richard Mellon Scaife and the cough-drop Smiths, as well as those johnny-come-lately oligarchs, the Kochs. They founded and funded business-oriented think tanks, speakers bureaus (available to college campuses and the 'rubber-chicken' circuit of Rotary, Lions, and other small-town service clubs, or really. They starteded magazines and, eventually, ALEC -- yes, that ALEC .

You see, they took Joe Hill's advice , and we did not.

HotFlash , December 11, 2020 at 4:58 pm

I was going to set this as a reply to Alexandra , but then it seemed a good response to JWP just below, Edward, and more up top. So yes, Alexandra, the universities and other educational institutions are working as intended, at least since 1971. That was the year that Lewis Powell wrote this memorandum (text courtesy of his alma mater, Washington and Lee University) at the request of his friend Eugene B. Sydnor Jr., who was education director of the US Chamber of Commerce, the original Big Business lobby. The program was accepted and carried out, funded by old-money tycoons like Richard Mellon Scaife and the cough-drop Smiths, as well as those johnny-come-lately oligarchs, the Kochs. They founded and funded business-oriented think tanks, speakers bureaus (available to college campuses and the 'rubber-chicken' circuit of Rotary, Lions, and other small-town service clubs, or really any group. They started magazines and, eventually, ALEC -- yes, that ALEC .

You see, they took Joe Hill's advice , and we did not.

Ep3 , December 12, 2020 at 9:01 am

First i want to thank YVes for the ability for me to run my mouth freely about the following:

In my mid 20s i quit my full time job to go back to college and finish my accounting degree, as that was supposedly better than a factory job with retirement. I wasn't totally blinded by teenage optimism. This is a big ten school. The professors all went on and on about the starting pay, and not to be tempted by leaving a firm too soon chasing that even bigger money. They laughed it off like everyone had such opportunity. They brought in former students to talk about this. Then when it came to the material, professors constantly waved off further lecture and questions about several topics, stating "you will learn that once you get working in a firm". Then when testing time came, the tests were overly complex and detailed. Materials were reviewed beforehand. But testing, like the grading, is being based on a curve. So while i was getting Cs & Ds on tests, i would end the class with a 3.0-3.5 final grade. I feel they were whittling us out to get only the smartest (maybe not fastest, but quickest to adapt) students, while not really teaching everyone in the class. Heck it was really a ranking for their benefactors, the top 4 firms. (Funny story, Arthur Anderson's name was everywhere one year. Then the next year it disappeared). Most professors were former employees who still maintained their connections in the firm.
I went there to get a great education from a top business school. But my intentions were never to go work at the Top 4 and spend half my time living in one town, while traveling the country the rest of the time.
I can only imagine what it's like now. I was attending in 2003-2006. Half my accounting professors were former alumni that had been teaching there for decades. Then the other ones were younger persons who spent the majority of their time doing research.

juno mas , December 12, 2020 at 12:05 pm

Here"s a link to a LA Times article about the current condition of the largest on-site research University system in the world:

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-12-12/uc-chancellors-tuition-increase

[Nov 02, 2020] Over half of college seniors who graduated from public and private nonprofit colleges in 2019 had student-loan debt averaging $28K

A decent state should provide for gifted student lodging and $400 a month so that they can graduate. Less gifted students need to pay.
Nov 02, 2020 | newsletter.chronicle.com

Institute for College Access & Success (Ticas) has just released its annual report on what college graduates owe in student debt . The latest: 62 percent of college seniors who graduated from public and private nonprofit colleges in 2019 had student-loan debt averaging $28,950, slightly lower than the previous year. Still, the rise in graduates' student-debt burden has far outpaced inflation over the 15 years Ticas has been tracking it.

[Oct 30, 2020] Tsunami Of Empty College Dorms Risks Student Housing Market Implosion

Did not most collages behaved like bandits raising tuition fees from 1980 till 2020. That's 40 years.
Oct 30, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Fall enrollment has plunged , some colleges are shuttering operations, revenues across the entire higher education industry are collapsing, and the shift from physical to virtual education due to the virus pandemic could prick the next bubble: the student housing debt market.

Our warning about the coming implosion of the higher education industry (see here from 2014) , as a whole, has become louder and louder over the last six-plus years as the student debt bubble has recently swelled to more than $1.6 trillion. Years ago, no one at the time, could've forecasted a virus pandemic would doom colleges and universities.

Credit rating agency Moody's recently downgraded the entire higher education sector to negative from stable, and the American Council on Education estimates colleges and universities will experience a $23 billion decline in revenues over the next academic year.

Bloomberg outlines the increase of virtual education in a virus pandemic has resulted in an abundance of empty dorms at colleges and universities, creating a $14 billion headache for the student housing debt market.

"West Virginia State University, already hit with a 10% enrollment drop, plans to give money to a school foundation so it can meet its bond covenants for residence hall debt. A community college in Ohio is using part of a $1.5 million donation for a financially-strapped student housing project. And officials at New Jersey City University, which serves largely first-generation and lower-income students and has recorded years of deficits, are prepared to shore up a dorm there," Bloomberg said.

The squeeze on university finances comes as the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center warned about a 16% drop in first-year undergraduate students enrolled for the fall semester. This means new revenue streams are quickly drying up for overleveraged colleges and universities.

"The limiting factor is some of these schools themselves are facing uncertainty with many of their revenue streams," S&P Global Ratings analyst Amber Schafer said in an interview. "It's a matter of not only willingness, but if they're able to support the project."

"Typically, privatized student housing debt is paid off by the revenue generated by the dorms -- meaning there's little recourse for bondholders if things go south," Bloomberg said. With occupancy rates already declining as coronavirus cases are surging, well, this could be bad news for colleges and universities heading into 2021.

"Borrowers have begun revealing how empty residence halls are as the pandemic spurs many campuses to keep classes online. According to the school foundation that sold the debt, West Virginia State University's dorm is 71% full, putting it about 20 percentage points from where it needs to be to satisfy debt covenants. Other privatized student housing projects, like two on Howard University's campus, are virtually empty due to online-only instruction there," Bloomberg said.

https://lockerdome.com/lad/13084989113709670?pubid=ld-dfp-ad-13084989113709670-0&pubo=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zerohedge.com&rid=www.zerohedge.com&width=890

Bloomberg warns: "Privatized dorms are struggling the most given that they weren't structured to withstand 20% to 30% drops in occupancy -- or no students at all."

"West Virginia State University may have to step in to help student housing bonds at risk of violating a debt service coverage ratio, Moody's warned this month. The historically-black college faces "considerable" challenges in backstopping the bonds, Moody's said.

The nearly 290-bed residence hall with rents of $3,881 per semester was just 71% occupied this fall, while it needed to be about 92% occupied, said Patricia Schumann, president of the university foundation that sold the debt. Schumann said the university is projected to provide a $75,000 payment in January. In the meantime, she said the school was working to bolster its financial position and boost recruitment and donations.

"We're not standing still," she said.

Ohio's Terra State Community College, which has more than 2,100 students, was downgraded deeper into junk over the risk posed by a dorm owned by a nonprofit, given that the school "appears to provide an unconditional guarantee" to meet the debt obligations, Moody's said. The project was financed through a bank note.

The dorm's occupancy fell to 62%, and the college is using a previously-received donation to cover a shortfall in project revenue amounting between $500,000 to $600,000, the ratings company said in a report this month.

At New Jersey City University, a student housing project financed though a separate entity will likely miss a required debt service coverage ratio. The public school having to step in to help the bonds would be a challenge, but a surmountable one, said Jodi Bailey, the university's associate vice president for student affairs. The student housing bonds aren't a debt of the university, so the school would be choosing to provide financial support, according to bond documents .

The school is working to cut expenses related to the dorm. "Is it a harder year? Most definitely," she said.

The student housing bonds, issued by West Campus Housing LLC in 2015, were slashed deeper into junk in September by S&P, which said in a report that residence halls' occupancy there had fallen to 56% so the school could accommodate social-distancing guidelines," said Bloomberg.

To summarize, plunging enrollments, resulting in falling occupancy rates for dorms, is a debt bomb waiting to go off for many overleveraged colleges and universities that are panicking at the moment to divert enough funds to service debts, as the usual revenue streams, that being rent checks from students, are nowhere to be found as virtual learning keeps young adults in their parents' basements and out of dorms.

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If occupancy rates continue to slide through 2021, then we must revisit what we said months before the virus pandemic began in the US:

"...20% of colleges and universities will shut down or merge in the next ten years , and probably more."

Absent of a federal bailout, things could get ugly for colleges and universities in 2021.

[Sep 26, 2020] From Conflict to Crisis - The Danger of U.S. Actions by Jeanne M. Haskin

A brilliant book !
Sep 26, 2020 | www.amazon.com

The rich understand that capitalism is a game of musical chairs. It's systemic class warfare conducted on a grand scale to discourage solidarity across lines that might otherwise threaten the system, and with each market re-set arranged by the Federal Reserve, more of the country's resources fall into wealthy hands.

Examining what happens when a society favors old money over new and breaks all the rules to make the world safe for finance, author Jeanne Haskin predicts increasing volatility and violence in the United States if we do not significantly change course.

For a preview of what lies ahead for the U.S., the author takes us for a quick exemplary trip through Central America.

A society that is reared on competition will face unsettling challenges to authority if it doesn't set certain functions outside the arena of battle, via systematic enrichment of the affluent minority that has always had the power to topple and ruin the system.

Today's preoccupation with America's revolutionary history is not just a piece of theater. At the heart of America's outrage is an inability to lash out and demand redemption from the source of its distress because the pain is inflicted, not by hatred, but by the fundamental lack of stability built into our way of life.

Now that a fifth of the population is suffering job loss, foreclosures, or exclusion from employment due to prejudice, poor credit, a lack of skills or education, a glut of competition and insufficient opportunity, the failure to provide for the helpless majority means the system is at an impasse. Because the system can't or won't perform, the Tea Party's rise was preemptive with all its implied violence and 'real' American theater as the means to channel our anger into voting out Obama so reform can proceed unimpeded...with all its inherent dangers.

After reviewing some foreign examples that erupted in the environments of colonialism and post-colonialism, neoliberalism, militarism and oligarchies, the author filters through the head-spinning social and political noise that stands in for responsible debate in America today. Ms. Haskin's richly documented essay sees a bonfire prepared as social tensions are increased and inter-group pressures are encouraged to mount. So much for "One nation..."

Title Pagev
Table of Contentsxi
Introduction1
Chapter One- Unearthing the Bones7
Chapter Two- Instilling the Illusion of Choice19
Chapter Three- Political Strategizing23
Chapter Four- Behavioral Economics27
Chapter Five- Favoring Old Money over New33
Chapter Six- Making the World Safe for Finance39
Chapter Seven- The Colonial History of Belize51
Chapter Eight- Belize -- Party Politics and Debt65
Chapter Nine- Belize -- Recommendations of the IMF83
Chapter Ten- Nicaragua 1522–193991
Chapter Eleven- Nicaragua -- The Somoza Dynasty107
Chapter Twelve- Nicaragua -- Opposition to the Sandinistas119
Chapter Thirteen- Nicaragua -- Implementing Neoliberalism133
Chapter Fourteen- El Salvador -- The Military and the Oligarchy151
Chapter Fifteen- El Salvador -- The War and Its Aftermath165
Chapter Sixteen- Honduras -- Land of Instability179
Chapter Seventeen- Honduras -- The Impact of the Contras191
Chapter Eighteen- Fast-Forward to a Volatile USA205
Bibliography227
Index25

[Sep 16, 2020] Harvard And Yale Under Continued Fire For Discrimination Against White, Asian Applicants

Sep 16, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Harvard and Yale are set to respond this week to a series of legal challenges accusing them of racial bias against Asian and White applicants during the admissions process, according to Bloomberg .

Protesters at a media conference held by Harvard lawyers following closing arguments in the Harvard-admissions trial, in November 2018 in Boston (via chronicle.com )

The universities will respond to two of those challenges to 'race-conscious admissions,' while two more make their way through the legal system against other universities. The controversy could make it all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled over 40 years ago in its Bakke decision that race is a valid factor in creating a diverse student body.

While the decision has been reaffirmed over the years, it's possible that the 'conservative' majority Supreme Court will strike Bakke down .

"Sandra Day O'Connor basically opined that we could have another 20 years or 25 years of affirmative action programs, but that they would not go on forever," said conservative Linda Chavez, chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity. " And yet we do see them going on forever ," she added.

O'Connor speculated in 2003 that the race-based consideration wouldn't go on 'forever.' 17-years later, it's still happening.

" We're now talking about kids who are getting into college on the basis of some racial or ethnic preference who are the grandchildren of people who first got those preferences. "

The Justice Department has threatened to sue Yale unless it agrees to stop considering race . " Unlawfully dividing Americans into racial and ethnic blocs fosters stereotypes, bitterness, and division ," the government wrote to the university in August. Yale, which has vowed to "vigorously defend" a process "endorsed repeatedly by the Supreme Court," is due to respond this week.

On Wednesday, Harvard goes before a federal appeals court over a case that it engages in "racial balancing" by holding Asian-American applicants to a higher standard than other minority groups. Harvard denies discriminating and won the case in federal district court last fall. - Bloomberg

The Harvard suit and two other pending lawsuitsagainst the University of North Carolin and the University of Texas were brought by activist Edward Blum - a longtime foe of affirmative action and founder of Students for Fair Admissions. The Justice Department filed in the Harvard case in support of the group , claiming that the school's admissions process is " infected with racial bias ."

me title=

Making a review by the Supreme Court even more likely is that there are now four challenges in four states against both public and private universities, meaning that conflicting rulings from different appeals courts would call for the higher court's opinion.

"That's what they want," said Audrey Anderson, former general counsel at Vanderbilt University. "They want it to go to the Supreme Court because the justices who upheld affirmative action are not on the court anymore."

Amid the flurry of court papers, a July study by the Education Trust , which advocates for educational opportunities for disadvantaged students, found that African Americans and Latinos continue to be underrepresented at 101 of the country's top public universities and that their representation has even regressed in many instances over the past two decades.

"I know that there's folks who are against affirmative action, of all backgrounds," who believe "that we are there, and it's not needed, and maybe there's even some over-representation or over-emphasis on race that we need to correct for," said Tiffany Jones , senior director of education policy at the Trust. That perception, she said, "is contradicted by the data and the research and the information about who has access to higher education." - Bloomberg

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Last year, US District Judge Allison Burroughs found that Harvard didn't set quotas or give undue consideration to race when reviewing applicants, and instead weighed race as one of over 200 factors which includes socioeconomic background, areas of study and letters of recommendation, according to the report.

Blum, on the other hand, says that the evidence in the Harvard case "compellingly proved Harvard's systematic discrimination against Asian-American applicants," and that "We assert the district court erred in its analysis of this evidence and, surprisingly, virtually ignored Harvard's own internal studies" that he says showed bias.

[Sep 02, 2020] Student life is reduced to a pixelated screen and the college experience is stripped of its self-realizations component and the role of pears in this process

Also " the number of students pursuing a college degree could be the smallest in two decades"
Sep 02, 2020 | nymag.com

student life is reduced to a pixilated screen and the college experience is stripped of its self-realizations and rites of passage...

The question now is whether and to what extent those changes will persist beyond the current crisis.

Will this mass experiment with online education turn more students on to lower-cost online degrees, or will it only make the in-person experience of college life seem all the more valuable?

The pandemic is a monkey wrench dropped into the middle of our cobbled-together public-private higher-education machine, freezing it up and, just possibly, breaking it.

Financially, colleges need to be open. Their operating budgets depend on tuition revenue, and schools need students on campus to be spending money in the bookstore or the dining hall or on sporting events. So there are a few different scenarios floating around right now for fall instruction. One is a hybrid of virtual and in person. This seems to be the most popular scenario, where colleges have larger classes being virtual and smaller classes in person in large spaces where they can better socially distance. We heard of a college considering turning an on-campus ballroom into a large classroom where students can be better spread out. They're also looking at adjusting the residential model. Dorms are pretty small, and they're densely populated. We've heard of schools that are considering buying up local hotels or even casino spaces in order to give students single rooms so they can better spread out.

[Sep 02, 2020] In my opinion, it's the American k-12 education which has failed miserably in teaching the American students the solid basics, has to be reformed."

Sep 02, 2020 | www.unz.com

Tom Welsh , says: August 24, 2020 at 9:26 am GMT

@Saggy n/no-division-required-in-this-school-problem.html

(27) In another televised beauty pageant, a high school girl was asked to explain a quote by Confucius. In response, she said: "Confucius was one of the men who invented confusion."

(28) https://www.unz.com/runz/the-myth-of-american-meritocracy/

(29) An article in Forbes magazine stated that "America's Millennials Are Among the World's Least Skilled". Specifically, they are short on literacy, numeracy, ability to follow simple orders, poor at solving problems.

[Aug 01, 2020] Everyone working in academia, the non-profit sector, and journalism is aware that there are many ideas broadly held which people hesitate to say because they are worried a group of their strident colleagues will try to destroy their career

Highly recommended!
Free speech is not a dimmer switch, its on or its off – you can’t have it both ways. Cancel culture is a reincarnation of Stalinist purges, or McCarthyism.
Notable quotes:
"... The sort of "lose your job for engaging in speech" thing happens in other contexts, too. Companies routinely censor their employees' speech in ways small and large, and this includes completely non-political speech about purely technical matters. ..."
"... the government severely punishes employers whose employees speak in ways the government/the identity politics left (they are working together here) dislike, and so effectively outsources speech regulation to employers. ..."
"... The concern about cancel culture is in my observation largely driven by this dynamic: the frequent tagline right-leaning speech is violence, while left-leaning violence is speech" reflects the fact that getting some particular approach to a topic defined as "discrimination" ..."
"... Think about Rebecca Long-Bailey's recent demotion from the Labour shadow cabinet over a tweet she made. Last month, she retweeted a newspaper interview with prominent Labour-supporting actress Maxine Peake, calling her an "absolute diamond." The interview included an inaccurate claim from Peake ( based apparently on information in a Morning Star article, and which Peake subsequently withdrew when she was challenged on it) that the specific knee restraint used on George Floyd had been taught to Mineapolis police by Israeli secret police consultants. ..."
"... Long-Bailey lost the Shadow Education role, and her political career is likely over, ostensibly on the basis of this one tweet. ..."
"... The RLB case also throws a spotlight on language. The various rationales for cancelling listed in the OP -- racism, transphobia, or (in this case) antisemitism -- are rarely clear-cut in real-world instances ..."
"... This, I would suggest, is also related to power. The purpose of an accusation like this is to demonstrate the power or dominance of the cancelling agent, and to intimidate others by example. ..."
"... These concepts are capable of apparently endless linguistic elasticity. Indeed, it's when they're at their most extended or diffuse, that these grounds for cancellation seem to have the most signifying power. ..."
"... Everyone working in academia, the non-profit sector, and journalism is aware that there are many ideas broadly held which people hesitate to say because they are worried a group of their strident colleagues will try to destroy their career ..."
"... it is unquestionable that "canceling from the left" is a bigger threat from the right. ..."
"... Remember that the academic institutions in which controversies about 'cancel culture' exist are bourgeois institutions, pretty much like corporations. It is a world of authority, hierarchy, and carefully controlled behavior. ..."
"... As the power and prestige of the bourgeoisie shrink, the inmates of that particular cage will fight more fiercely for what's left. One way of fighting is to get someone's job by turning up something disreputable, such as the use of an apparently racist epithet. ..."
"... It seems to me that "cancel culture" is based on the infosphere's equivalent of the technological progress that now allows a small group of determined people with AK-47s to render a region ungovernable. ..."
"... The arms dealers don't care – they sell to everyone, and the more ammunition they sell, the more you'll need. ..."
"... Whether justified or not, a significant minority of Americans, across multiple lines, are fearful that their political opinions could endanger their jobs; this suggests the problem might be more than just people getting "bent-out-of-shape that they can't be raging bigots" . ..."
"... Purveyors of what-aboutery will probably appreciate that Steve Salita now makes a living as a bus driver ; I have no reason to think that the Harpers Letter signers (even Bari Weiss) would regard that situation as any more just than other examples. ..."
"... My position on this is that individuals shouldn't face public opprobrium unless there is 1) Clear and convincing evidence they are motivated by fundamentally malicious ends and 2) They have no remorse about it. Even when these conditions are met the opprobrium they receive should be clearly proportional to the wrong they've committed. We should relax these rules somewhat for celebrities, and a great deal for politicians, who have implicitly agreed to face criticism as a consequence of their role. ..."
"... In that testing sense, cancel culture can be seen as a type of supplementary social defense mechanism compared to the standard immune system response of trying to prove the political cult wrong in the eyes of unbiased observers; in too many historical cases, the immune response is weakened by factors such as adverse economic or geopolitical circumstances (e.g., a lost war) ..."
"... Cancel culture then works as (a) tracking and removal in the form of boycotts and ostracism, in that the infected cells(individuals) are removed from positions of influence, and (b) as a type of lockdown measure (censorship) that is warranted when the infected individual is transmitting patently false versions of current events or past history, and is starting to infect others around him. ..."
"... As to Peter's argument that cancel culture disfigures the left, I would add that the only cases where the radical left has seized power took place in the brutal aftermath of right-wing pandemics: e.g. the hyper-nationalism that led Germany and Russia among others to war in 1914, or KMT/warlord attempts to violently and brutally suppress peasant demands in the case of China. In such situations, it is no surprise that the radical left becomes infected with political cultism. ..."
"... Between those two positions there's a large space where people get harassed, threatened, ostracised and silenced for minor slips, reasonable disagreements, details that were lost in translation and failures to recite the correct thought-terminating cliches with sufficient conviction – basically, things that don't threaten anyone else's ability to speak. ..."
Aug 01, 2020 | crookedtimber.org

J-D 07.30.20 at 9:16 am

When I read this, I got the idea that there'd been a related discussion here at Crooked Timber before, and indeed there was!

https://crookedtimber.org/2016/08/27/the-university-of-chicago-is-nothing-more-and-nothing-less-than-a-complex-of-safe-spaces/


Tim H. 07.30.20 at 11:21 am ( 8 )

Racism from my perspective, looks like an unwillingness to evaluate people on an individual basis, whether it's from sloth, contempt or disability and it's a terrible look for an intellectual.

CHETAN R MURTHY 07.30.20 at 1:08 pm ( 11 )

JQ @ 1: The sort of "lose your job for engaging in speech" thing happens in other contexts, too. Companies routinely censor their employees' speech in ways small and large, and this includes completely non-political speech about purely technical matters.

I know of a case where a famous chip designer got up at a conference and said "none of you people talking about Itanium [Intel's ia64 chip that was the future of microprocessors once upon a time] actually think it's going to succeed -- why don't any of you admit it?"

Within moments he was covered in PR and lawyers basically taping his mouth shut. When I worked in global enterprise IT, I didn't post blog comments (neither political nor technical) b/c it was clear that there would always be the possibility of career repercussions for making statements that would have post-hoc repercussions

Companies censor their employees speech before-and-after-the-fact for lots of reasons, sometimes political. This is a fact of life, and you're very right to point out that if people actually cared about this [as opposed to getting bent-out-of-shape that they can't be raging bigots] they'd support strong unions.

SamChevre 07.30.20 at 1:25 pm ( 13 )

This is mainly a problem in the US because of employment at will.

Employment at will may contribute, but a larger part of the problem is that the US laws around free speech are odd. Technically, the government cannot regulate speech at all (with very limited exceptions, not relevant here.) In practice, though, what has happened (via so-called "antidiscrimination" law) is that the government severely punishes employers whose employees speak in ways the government/the identity politics left (they are working together here) dislike, and so effectively outsources speech regulation to employers.

The concern about cancel culture is in my observation largely driven by this dynamic: the frequent tagline right-leaning speech is violence, while left-leaning violence is speech" reflects the fact that getting some particular approach to a topic defined as "discrimination" means that it is severely punished by government, at second-hand.

Musicismath 07.30.20 at 1:42 pm (16 )

One thing that might be useful is distinguishing "cancel culture" as a phenomenon from cancellation more narrowly defined as a tactic . So many of the discussions I've seen recently about the issue seem content to operate at the big-picture level, asking whether such a thing as cancel culture even exists (the New Statesman approach) or (if it does) whether it's a good thing or a bad thing. Focussing in on actual cases, and thinking about who (precisely) benefits from individual instances, might instead help us think about the specific function of cancel culture, and the role that language plays in it.

Think about Rebecca Long-Bailey's recent demotion from the Labour shadow cabinet over a tweet she made. Last month, she retweeted a newspaper interview with prominent Labour-supporting actress Maxine Peake, calling her an "absolute diamond." The interview included an inaccurate claim from Peake ( based apparently on information in a Morning Star article, and which Peake subsequently withdrew when she was challenged on it) that the specific knee restraint used on George Floyd had been taught to Mineapolis police by Israeli secret police consultants.

Long-Bailey lost the Shadow Education role, and her political career is likely over, ostensibly on the basis of this one tweet. This, to me, is a fairly clear instance of cancellation at work, but it would be inadequate to leave it at that. The complete lack of commensurability between the transgression and the outcome would be incomprehensible without asking how RLB's cancellation fits into Labour Party politics; that is, the function of cancelling in this specific instance. Absolutely no one I know thinks this tweet proved Long-Bailey was genuinely antisemitic, or that it was even the primary reason she was demoted. Instead, it's been broadly (and, I think, correctly) interpreted as a signal from the Starmer wing of the party that the Corbyn faction with which RLB is aligned has no future in Labour. Cancellation, in this case, is a naked piece of power politics: a way of getting political opponents out of the way.

The RLB case also throws a spotlight on language. The various rationales for cancelling listed in the OP -- racism, transphobia, or (in this case) antisemitism -- are rarely clear-cut in real-world instances. In fact, there's a kind of homeopathic logic at work, where the more tendentious the attribution is, the more cut-through it often seems to have.

This, I would suggest, is also related to power. The purpose of an accusation like this is to demonstrate the power or dominance of the cancelling agent, and to intimidate others by example. ("If RLB got cancelled for this , then how little would I need to do to suffer the same fate?") As Jonathan Dollimore has pointed out, there's a certain in-built "linguistic imprecision" in many of the terms that cancellation depends on, and it's from that imprecision that the capacity for intimidation or fear generation stems from.

These concepts are capable of apparently endless linguistic elasticity. Indeed, it's when they're at their most extended or diffuse, that these grounds for cancellation seem to have the most signifying power.

Anon For Obvious Reasons 07.30.20 at 5:31 pm (
23
)

I find this deliberately misleading. "Cancel culture" in practice refers to the idea that you shouldn't be ostracized by your peers, friends, or professional field for holding and voicing ideas that are essentially mainstream.

Everyone thinks that if you insult someone with a racial slur, there should be consequences.

But after that, what should be the proper "bound" that discourse should not cross? I would argue that "any idea which can be studied rigorously" and "any idea held by a reasonably broad cross section of society" is clearly within the bound, and we do ourselves a huge disservice by refusing to countenance ideas in those sets. Further, as a commenter above notes, most people in the world are not left-wing activists. Setting the norm that you shouldn't be friends with/work with/hire/buy from people with ideas you find acceptable, but which are not extreme, will be and has been a disaster for gay people, atheists, and many others.

Everyone working in academia, the non-profit sector, and journalism is aware that there are many ideas broadly held which people hesitate to say because they are worried a group of their strident colleagues will try to destroy their career. The Shor example comes up because, as Matt Yglesias pointed out yesterday, it is so obviously ridiculous to lose your job for linking to a paper in APSR by a prominent (young, black) political scientist, and yet there really are many people in that world, progressive political campaigns, who would refuse to work with you if you hired Shor . It wasn't just his boss or "workplace protections" – he was kicked out of the listserv that is the main vector for finding jobs in that sphere, and his new employer remains anonymous on purpose!

And yes, this is not just a lefty thing. I'm sure that right-wing media sites, and church groups, and the rest all have similar cases. Trump clearly "canceled" Kaepernick, with the NFL's help. Yet we all agree that is bad! And in the sphere many of us are in, academia, it is unquestionable that "canceling from the left" is a bigger threat from the right.

Anarcissie 07.30.20 at 8:35 pm ( 30 )

Trader Joe 07.30.20 at 2:17 pm @ 17 --
Remember that the academic institutions in which controversies about 'cancel culture' exist are bourgeois institutions, pretty much like corporations. It is a world of authority, hierarchy, and carefully controlled behavior. Obviously there is little expression which may not have adverse consequences.

As the power and prestige of the bourgeoisie shrink, the inmates of that particular cage will fight more fiercely for what's left. One way of fighting is to get someone's job by turning up something disreputable, such as the use of an apparently racist epithet.

This didn't start yesterday. There is a certain spillover into popcult as students emerge from academia into the outer, also declining world and repeat the patterns which they have observed. Numerous stories are available, but I'll spare you. Anyway, Mr. Taibbi has been ranting well, and you can go there.

kinnikinick 07.30.20 at 9:08 pm (
34
)

Surprising to see so little emphasis on social media as the main catalyst. Tribalism is the driver of "engagement" online, and if righteous anger at the out-group gets the clicks, so be it. Consider how any Twitter post can become a tiny gleaming tableau, a battle flag, an allegory of sin or virtue. Context and interpretation cannot be arbiters, and must only serve the self-evident cause of loyalty to one's synthetic tribe. Faith and bad faith merge; that's just optimal use of an app's system of influence. "We shape our tools and then our tools shape us".

It seems to me that "cancel culture" is based on the infosphere's equivalent of the technological progress that now allows a small group of determined people with AK-47s to render a region ungovernable. This does not imply that the region's current government is a good one. It does not imply anything about the group's views, except that debating them is not likely to be on the agenda when they visit your village. There will no doubt be some unpleasant people among the casualties; perhaps that counts as a silver lining.

The arms dealers don't care – they sell to everyone, and the more ammunition they sell, the more you'll need.

Kiwanda 07.31.20 at 12:00 am ( 45 )

John Quiggin:

"But the fact that the same example (David Shor) is cited every time the issue is raised " here is one attempt to tabulate cancellations, at least on the left identitarian side; I am not endorsing any particular example. (NB: Sophie Jane in this case, not Sophie Grace.)

I would be curious about whether Henry approves of the suppression of speech as much as the OP does.

Whether justified or not, a significant minority of Americans, across multiple lines, are fearful that their political opinions could endanger their jobs; this suggests the problem might be more than just people getting "bent-out-of-shape that they can't be raging bigots" .

Purveyors of what-aboutery will probably appreciate that Steve Salita now makes a living as a bus driver ; I have no reason to think that the Harpers Letter signers (even Bari Weiss) would regard that situation as any more just than other examples.

J-D 07.31.20 at 12:05 am ( 46 )

There have been occasions in my life when I have justly and rightly experienced adverse consequences as a result of things that I have said. The proposition that nobody should ever experience adverse consequences as a result of statements made is utterly indefensible.

de Pony Sum 07.31.20 at 2:16 am ( 48 )

Discussions over "cancellation" can make things unnecessarily difficult because it's a very hard term to define- exactly how badly does your public reputation have to be before you are cancelled. All too often debates turn into "well so and so wasn't cancelled because they still have a job/they still have a platform/they're still living their life." (Although your post does avoid this by describing it in terms of an attempt instead of outcome) So to avoid ambiguities that attend "cancellation", I prefer "opprobrium"

My position on this is that individuals shouldn't face public opprobrium unless there is 1) Clear and convincing evidence they are motivated by fundamentally malicious ends and 2) They have no remorse about it. Even when these conditions are met the opprobrium they receive should be clearly proportional to the wrong they've committed. We should relax these rules somewhat for celebrities, and a great deal for politicians, who have implicitly agreed to face criticism as a consequence of their role.

I support this anti-opprobrium position because being shamed publicly is extremely painful. I would rather lose a limb than be widely publicly shamed and reviled, and I think a lot of people feel the same way, so, by the golden rule and all of that

In terms of the position you outline it seems to me that we're going to agree on a lot of issues. Pre-meditated use of racial slurs, for example. But I think there are a lot of instances of cancel culture that we won't agree on.

Here's some people I think have been unfairly subject to vast amounts of pubic opprobrium that some people would call cancel culture:

The p**nstar ( I won't spell it out because I'm at work) who killed herself in part because of the criticism she received when tweeted out (homophobically) that she didn't want to work actors who had done gay male scenes. While criticism would have been appropriate, the torrent of backlash she received was disproportionate.

The woman who went to the Washington Post's cartoonist party in blackface in a very misguided but not malicious attempt to satirize blackface and subsequently lost her job when the Washington post named her in their paper. Natalie Wynn of Contrapoints – for many different things.

Glenn Greenwald over the age difference between him and his partner

Now I'm picking cases of opprobrium that came from the left broadly construed, because I think of this as an internal conversation on the left. However, one thing that frustrates me about this debate is that no one is acknowledging that the right are masters of excessive opprobrium. Some examples:

But maybe my position amounts to a silly apolitical wish that people would be nice to each other, unless there's a very, very good reason not to.

Andres 07.31.20 at 3:07 am ( 49 )

Chris: An interesting case can be made in favor of cancel culture if we start thinking of most political cults including communism, fascism, maga-Trumpism and other types of fake populism as pandemics.

For starters, there is the testing. A positive test result is indicated by

(a) the talking points or analysis are exclusionary toward one or more social groups that are being "othered" based on any common aspect other than political actions that are unethical by some well-defined criterion; the extent indicates the severity of the symptoms, and

(b) the speaker or commenter is repeating someone else's talking points or writing rather than their own attempts to understand the issue; the extent indicates the degree of infectiousness.

In that testing sense, cancel culture can be seen as a type of supplementary social defense mechanism compared to the standard immune system response of trying to prove the political cult wrong in the eyes of unbiased observers; in too many historical cases, the immune response is weakened by factors such as adverse economic or geopolitical circumstances (e.g., a lost war).

Cancel culture then works as (a) tracking and removal in the form of boycotts and ostracism, in that the infected cells(individuals) are removed from positions of influence, and (b) as a type of lockdown measure (censorship) that is warranted when the infected individual is transmitting patently false versions of current events or past history, and is starting to infect others around him.

I am not in complete agreement with the above political cults-as-pandemics theory, but it has some compelling aspects in exceptional situations. Normally, the political-economic-cultural discourse is sufficiently healthy that the standard "cure for bad speech is more good speech" response is sufficient. Commenters above such as Peter Dorman are assuming that the "body politic" has a healthy and undisrupted immune system, but I would argue that is far from being the case right now; the U.S. is afflicted by oligarchic politics, highly unequal and quasi-feudal economics that make appeals to the free market laughable, and by standard of living deterioration in a large number of inner urban areas as well as mid-tier and small cities. So the patient is immuno-compromised and additional interventions are called for.

As to Peter's argument that cancel culture disfigures the left, I would add that the only cases where the radical left has seized power took place in the brutal aftermath of right-wing pandemics: e.g. the hyper-nationalism that led Germany and Russia among others to war in 1914, or KMT/warlord attempts to violently and brutally suppress peasant demands in the case of China. In such situations, it is no surprise that the radical left becomes infected with political cultism.

The important thing is to know when to apply cancel culture (and other resistance measures including mass disobedience) to left-wing movements that are "infected". Post-1989 Eastern Europe is a good example, though now it is right-wing pandemics that are taking hold. That is, cancel culture is not just for Lost Cause racism and proto-fascism, but for all political movements that cross the border into cultism and "othering".

Aubergine 07.31.20 at 3:14 am ( 50 )

CB:

Much of the pushback against cancel culture has come from prominent journalists and intellectuals who perceive every negative reaction from ordinary people on social media as an affront.

I don't think this is fair. As EB says @22:

The (wealthy, high profile) signers of the Harper's letter were not complaining on their own behalf; they were complaining on behalf of the millions of people with no power or money who are also threatened with mobbing if they voice divergent (not racist, not transphobic, not misogyist) views.

JK Rowling is pretty hard to cancel; she has a mountain of cash, and her books are still selling. But people who don't have a mountain of cash are going to look at examples like children's author Gillian Philip, who appears to have been "let go" by her publisher after being targetted by a cancellation campaign for tweeting "#ISTANDWITHROWLING", and think very carefully about whether they can afford to stick their head over the parapet. Personally, I've made a number of comments on Crooked Timber which I don't think were at all outside the bounds of acceptable discourse – certainly not in the same category as the racist speech you refer to (and at least one moderator must have agreed, because they were posted) – but which I simply couldn't risk making without a pseudonym.

I often detect a bit of motte-and-bailey in the anti-anti-cancel culture argument. The outer bailey is something like "cancel culture isn't the problem it's made out to be; it's just how norms of acceptable behaviour are worked out these days"; the motte is "it's okay to deplatform hardcore racists and holocaust deniers".

Between those two positions there's a large space where people get harassed, threatened, ostracised and silenced for minor slips, reasonable disagreements, details that were lost in translation and failures to recite the correct thought-terminating cliches with sufficient conviction – basically, things that don't threaten anyone else's ability to speak. Often this is done with the assistance of the false-flag social media "activist" accounts that right-wing agitators use to pick away at fault lines on the left.

Even when there are no serious real-world consequences this tends to create a narrow, stifling intellectual environment, which is what a large part of the opposition to "cancel culture" is trying to prevent. You do realise, don't you, that Crooked Timber's willingness to acknowledge heterodox views, on certain subjects, from the broad left puts it radically out of step with most of the "progressive" Western Internet?

(There are other parts where cancel-culture tactics are used against different targets, such as apostates and feminists in general (not just the wrong kind of feminists), which hopefully we can all agree is not good.)

Basically, I don't think it's an adequate response to critique of cancel-culture to pick out the cases where relatively mild tactics were used against acceptable targets, without acknowledging that the critique is much broader than that.

[Aug 01, 2020] Black Lives Matter- An Immodest Suggestion -

Aug 01, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by MN Gordon via EconomicPrism.com,

Where will America's productivity miracle come from?

Public education is not teaching students what they need to know to compete in the global economy.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, math scores of U.S. students rank 30th in the world. The East Asian peers of today's American students will eat their lunch in the growth industries of tomorrow.

Here's where Black Lives Matter has a real opportunity.

The protests. The riots. The calls for reparation payments. Social justice wealth transfers. White privilege taxes. All the nonsense. Where's the strategy? Where's the long-range 'strategery'?

No doubt, those selling BLM T-shirts in Walmart parking lots are exercising gumption. But it's not gonna cut it. Moreover, like bingo winnings, reparation payments will be quickly squandered while the unhappiness remains.

And as far as we can tell the BLM movement is empty of ideas and without direction.

lay_arrow

chubbar , 14 minutes ago

"If BLM was strategic"?????? Holy ****, if they were strategic they'd be making damn sure that testing, like SAT scores, were no longer accepted as proof of accomplishment or learning. Oh, wait?.......

Let's all agree, blacks don't want a "head to head" test, EVER.

I don't give a crap what they say, they don't want to be judged on MERIT, they love the skin color test. That way they can always claim racism instead of ability.

libtears , 40 minutes ago

The BLM Movement is definitely empty of ideas and clear leadership. Their supposed goals are all over the map from day to day. They are rudderless mobs of filthy vagrants and criminal elements make up most of their movement.

What's going on which is credited to BLM has nothing to do with black people for the most part. Commies have co-opted this movement and are engaging in anarchy to take down the system of government. They will do whatever they want at all costs because they believe they have the moral high ground. They are radicals just like people call them.

The best thing that could happen is for these loser mayors and governors to enforce the law against these mobs of filthy scum.

How can you even reason with a mob of idiots that don't even have one, if not a hierarchy of leadership and clear goals that they agree upon?

These people are taking a page out of the Bolshevik book on revolution. And they're much weaker than the Bolsheviks, mentally and physically. One good thump on the head and these b!tches are crying.

The longer the public allows teaching institutions to promote BLM the worse this sh!t is going to get.

...

JaxPavan , 42 minutes ago

The Ford Foundation gave BLM $100 million to engage in terrorism. Who do you think bought all those ultra high end looting vehicles?

quanttech , 39 minutes ago

Indeed, the BLM organization is primarily funded by mostly white-run corporations and foundations. The money rules.

HopefulCynical , 22 minutes ago

And WHO is in control of the Ford Foundtion? WHO?!

[Jul 29, 2020] Meanwhile, great line from an infosec researcher and teacher here in San Francisco about whether university classes will reopen

Jul 29, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Richard Steven Hack , Jul 28 2020 5:39 utc | 122

Meanwhile, great line from an infosec researcher and teacher here in San Francisco about whether university classes will reopen:

Sam Bowne @sambowne Jul 26
Q: "When will this class be offered?" A: "Difficult to say, because there's a critical budget crisis at the college, city, state, and national level, and most if not all the officials at every level appear to be corrupt, incompetent, and insane."

[Jul 26, 2020] Young male tradesmen vs colledge graduates

There might be some extremely smart tradesmen, but exception does not justify the rule. Colledge is a nessesary step for a smart people to mature and obtain a wider worldview as well as some specific skills
Jul 26, 2020 | www.unz.com

Anonymous [194] Disclaimer , says: July 24, 2020 at 5:30 pm GMT

@Supply and Demand

Young male tradesmen I've met are the smartest of the bunch. Most of them have high test scores and could easily go to college, but they see the writing on the wall. They, rightfully, see no point in wasting 4 years of their life for a low paying office job in an environment of outright discrimination. I know several kids that finished highchool in 3 years and are making real money at the age of 18 with no debt involved. They don't have to worry about the system being stacked against them because none of the affirmative action types want to do actual work anyway.

Supply and Demand , says: July 24, 2020 at 7:07 pm GMT
@Anonymous

1. There is no "real money" -- this is all fiat currency and the gravy train is ending very soon.

2. Trump supports H1B visas being extended to "essential trades". These young men will be pushed out of these fields within 3-5 years by Indians and legalized aliens, DACA recpients, etc. My colleagues at my university think tank who advise our Republican Senator on public policy are advocating for explicitly this.

3. Unionized trade workers average between 84-97IQ nationally on the Stanford-Binet test. They are the definition of "Low IQ", which is what I asserted they were.

As the youth would say, "cope".

[Jul 24, 2020] At Animal Farm, all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

This all deflection from the oligarchy rule
Jul 24, 2020 | www.youtube.com
Tucker- There are two versions of the law - YouTube

America's shutdown exposed huge double standard.


I M , 1 month ago

I never understood why Americans are so protective of the Second Amendment and their right to bear arms. I get it now.

Victor Del Prete , 1 month ago

Tucker is the last best journalist in the U.S.A.

Stephen Tumlin , 1 month ago

If someone is treated special all the time, when they get treated normally, they feel oppressed.

blurglide , 1 month ago

At Animal Farm, all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

Metal Faced DOOM , 1 month ago

Tucker Carlson is vilified by leftists but his viewership is skyrocketing. Has to mean something

lil doe , 1 month ago

Trump didn't create the hate in the left. He exposed it

Tommy Brackett , 1 month ago

"To argue with someone who has renounced all reason, is like administering medicine to the dead"

See the Light , 1 month ago

When all else fails, there's still the Second Amendment. Why do we have a Second Amendment? In case all else fails.

Paul collins , 1 month ago

you talk from the heart and you never cave. Free speech is a rare thing these days and must be protected.

Lorry Camill , 1 month ago

No one ☝️ is above the law only Antifa and Pelosi and Maxine Watters 😂😂😂😂and there rioters

Casinoman , 1 month ago

The only truth teller on cable right now.

GutteralEviceration , 1 month ago

If we fall there will be "nowhere to escape to" - Ronald Reagan This is the last stand on earth.

danny adventurer , 1 month ago

I hope Tucker will be able to continue with his message. He's the only one left to communicate the truth.

Flamethrower82 , 1 month ago

The Democrats want their slaves back.

Martin Coté , 1 month ago

Am I the only one who hears the urgency in Tucker's voice, we are in real trouble and it's only going to get worse!!!

droneultimatum , 1 month ago

When a criminal shoots someone the left blames the gun. When a cop shoots a criminal the left blames the cop.

Loco Motives , 1 month ago

"No one is above the Law" Translation: 'You are not above the Law and... We, Are The Law'

Edward Oliver , 3 weeks ago

"All animals are equal. But some are more equal than others..." 🐖 🐕🐑 🐎🐄🐐🐓

Jackie Eastom , 1 month ago

ONCE AGAIN! THEY ARE "ELECTED " REPRESENTATIVES! NOT LEADERS!

FmnstsRDumb MAGAMAN , 1 month ago

It's hilarious hearing democrats say "no-one is above the law" as they cheat the system becoming multi millionaires via insider trading and selling their influence.

Andrey Kravets , 1 month ago

Over these last few weeks Tucker has been one of the few people to stand up to the mob and refuses to give in. Tremendous respect for people who refuse to give up their dignity.

[Jul 14, 2020] To lose 263,000 hostages in less than one year would be a devastating blow to American diplomacy.

Jul 14, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

vk , Jul 13 2020 18:57 utc | 2

Funny how the visa-free map from before the COVID-19 pandemic is roughly equal to the extent of the American Empire itself.

And the loss of foreign students signifies much more than the mere loss of income for the American universities: it also means the loss of grip over the provinces' regional elites.

Most of the foreign students in the USA are sons and daughters of the regional elites. They live the American way of life, get westernized, and go back to their countries (which they will likely rule) with a liberal ideology ingrained in their minds. They are the rough equivalent to what the hostage was during Antiquity. To lose 263,000 hostages in less than one year would be a devastating blow to American diplomacy.

Peter AU1 , Jul 13 2020 19:09 utc | 4

vk

One commenter mentioned a brain drain in relation to foreign students no longer coming to America but I guess the brain drain will occur when out of work professors start heading off to other countries like China in search of work.

[Jul 05, 2020] The American Plague- The Untold Story of Yellow Fever, The Epidemic That Shaped Our History- Crosby, Molly Caldwell- 9780425217757- Amazon.com- Books

Jul 05, 2020 | www.amazon.com

>

Gordon M. Verber

Mosquitoes, Fever, and America

4.0 out of 5 stars Mosquitoes, Fever, and America Reviewed in the United States on March 8, 2009 Verified Purchase Over three generations ago Hans Zinsser wrote "Rats, Lice and History" telling the story of lice and men (sorry) and the typhus Rickettsia.

He founded the literary genre marked by the examination of disease, history, and having tripartite titles; Recent examples: Guns, Germs, and Steel; Viruses, Plagues, and History.

Though Ms. Crosby did not call her book "Mosquitoes, Fever, and America," "The American Plague" nicely continues the tradition of this fascinating venue.

The subtitle (why must books so often have subtitles now?) claims this to be "The Untold Story of Yellow Fever, The Epidemic That Shaped Our History", which is more than a bit of a reach - Especially, given the existence of the very similarly themed and titled adolescent's book "An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793" (2003) by Jim Murphy (which, whatever your age, is also worth reading).

It is arguable that the subtitle means only to refer to the Memphis outbreak, but that single event did not "shape our history," it was the repeated outbreaks of Yellow Jack beginning with those in the northeast ports in 1699 that truly did change the history of all of North America. The subtitle is simply annoying marketing hyperbole - though such an unfounded, untrue, claim did nearly make me put the book back on the shelf unopened. Which would have been a shame, as I enjoyed the book greatly.

"(The) American Plague" details the impact of an outbreak of Yellow Fever (YF) in Memphis, Tennessee (the author's home) in the year 1878, and follows with an in-depth examination of the subsequent discovery of the means of transmission, prevention, vaccination, cause, and sad lack of cure for the disease.

This book also traces the origin of the disease, and reviews how it likely came to the Americas from its home in Africa as a consequence of the slave trade. The occurrence of YF epidemics in Europe (perhaps even dating back to the mid 500's) is not discussed, which is forgivable given the focus of the book, though the fact that 300,000 people perished from YF in Spain in the 1800's makes it clear that YF was (is) a scourge far beyond America's shores.

The author brings to life the horror and uncertainly of epidemic disease at the dawn of scientific medicine. She recounts the difficulty of seeing the true nature of a disease though the conflicting overlay of current knowledge and cultural belief (a current example: autism).

Further, she points to the mendacity of businessmen who may have, in their efforts to prevent disruption of commerce by quarantine, allowed this outbreak to spread from New Orleans to Memphis in the first place. She briefly touches on the ethics of human, of animal, and of self, experimentation. It is not a simple book, though it is clearly, if at times unevenly, written.

Unlike most popular science books, she includes an extensive source bibliography that points to precisely where her material has come from. This is a very welcome addition. Over all, this is a solidly written, well researched and interesting book. I strongly recommend it.

I also strongly recommend that you consider that the World Health Organization estimates that YF still kills 30,000 people a year. Most of these deaths could be prevented by vaccination and by mosquito control. Over the past few years Yellow Jack has been re-emerging and spreading in the western hemisphere. This spread is, as Ms. Crosby shows that to a degree the Memphis epidemic was, a political failure marked by primacy of business interests and of underfunded and inadequate public health measures.

Pray that it does not return to America.

[Jul 03, 2020] Is math unjust and grounded in discrimination ? Sometimes I wonder if the world is some kind of sitcom for aliens

Notable quotes:
"... This lady is sitting there lying trying to prove a point. I have been in enough arguments to kow when someone is just arguing to keep the discussion going ..."
Jul 03, 2020 | www.youtube.com

John Smith , 7 months ago

Crazy lady: Math is discriminatory!

Mia Light , 8 months ago (edited)

Sometimes I wonder if the world is some kind of sitcom for aliens.

Johnny West , 7 months ago

Comprehending mathematics requires IQ ! Not equality. Lord, this woman lives in a rabbit hole.

Ruttigorn Logsdon , 7 months ago

And son that's how America became a third world country over night!

L0nN13 , 8 months ago

The bottom line is, they want to take away any problem solving skills that might build character, because someone might get hurt! Victimhood culture run amuck.

Sal Pacheco , 8 months ago

Mathematics is the cornerstone of all forms of trade, communications, home economics and every other aspect of life. Truth is they're dumbing everyone down to control populations!

Oprah and Michael Jordan are black billionaires , 4 days ago

As a black American, this is so ignorant and offensive to me

Jewel Heart , 7 months ago

The brilliant NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson just proves what a load of bx this latest rubbish is.

Mach 1 , 2 years ago

I have Master's Degree in Mechanical Engineering and I'm 62-years old. I have never once cared about the history of mathematics, other than a curiosity. Knowing the history of mathematics never helped me once to solve an ordinary second order differential equation.

Aric Lyles , 8 months ago

When a person lies while giving an interview they should be shocked or something. This lady is sitting there lying trying to prove a point. I have been in enough arguments to kow when someone is just arguing to keep the discussion going. She has already lost the argument deflected and differed responsibility when confronted with the legitimacy of the paper.

Go exercise healthy body makes a healthy mind not the other way around.

[Jul 03, 2020] The world s economy is in contraction. Although capital, what actual capital exists, will have to try and do something productive, it is confronted by this fact, that everything is facing contraction.

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... I agree that globalism is/will be heading into the dumpers, but I see no chance that US-based manufacturing is going to make any significant come-back. ..."
"... What market will there be for US-manufactured goods? US "consumers" are heavily in debt and facing continued downward pressures on income. ..."
"... There will certainly be, especially given the eye-opener of COVID-19, a big push to have medical (which includes associated tech) production capacities reinvigorated in the US. ..."
"... More "disposable" income goes toward medical expenditures. Less money goes toward creating export items; wealth creation only occurs through a positive increase in balance of trade. And on the opposite end of the spectrum, death, the US will likely continue, for the mid-term, to export weaponry; but, don't expect enough growth here to mean much (margins will drop as competition increases, so figure downward pressure on net export $$). ..."
"... the planet cannot comply with our economic model's dependency on perpetual growth: there can NOT be perpetual growth on a finite planet. US manufacturing requires, as it always has, export markets; requires ever-increasing exports: this is really true for all others. Higher standards of living in the US (and add in increasing medical costs which factor into cost of goods sold) means that the price of US-manufactured goods will be less affordable to peoples outside of the US. ..."
"... I'll also note that the notion of there being a cycle, a parabolic curve, in civilizations is well noted/documented in Sir John Glubb's The Fate of Empires and Search for Survival (you can find electronic bootlegged copies on the Internet)- HIGHLY recommended reading! ..."
"... All of this is pretty much reflected in Wall Street companies ramp-ups in stock-buy-backs. That's money that's NOT put in R&D or expansion. I'm pretty sure that the brains in all of this KNOW what the situation is: growth is never coming back. ..."
"... Make no mistake, what we're facing is NOT another recession or depression, it's not part of what we think as a downturn in the "business cycle," as though we'll "pull out of it," it's basically an end to the super-cycle ..."
"... We are at the peak (slightly past peak, but not far enough to realize it yet) and there is no returning. Per-capita income and energy consumption have peaked. There's not enough resources and not enough new demand (younger people, people that have wealth) to keep the perpetual growth machine going. ..."
Jul 03, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Seer , Jul 3 2020 10:34 utc | 125

NemesisCalling @ 28

I agree that globalism is/will be heading into the dumpers, but I see no chance that US-based manufacturing is going to make any significant come-back.

The world's economy is in contraction. Although capital, what actual capital exists, will have to try and do something "productive," it is confronted by this fact, that everything is facing contraction. During times of contraction it's a game of acquisition rather than expanding capacity: the sum total is STILL contraction; and the contraction WILL be a reduction in excess, excess manufacturing and labor.

What market will there be for US-manufactured goods? US "consumers" are heavily in debt and facing continued downward pressures on income. China is self-sufficient (enough) other than energy (which can be acquired outside of US markets). Most every other country is in a position of declining wealth (per capita income levels peaked and in decline). And manufacturing continues to increase its automation (less workers means less consumers).

There will certainly be, especially given the eye-opener of COVID-19, a big push to have medical (which includes associated tech) production capacities reinvigorated in the US. One has to look at this in The Big Picture of what it means, and that's that the US population is aging (and in poor health).

More "disposable" income goes toward medical expenditures. Less money goes toward creating export items; wealth creation only occurs through a positive increase in balance of trade. And on the opposite end of the spectrum, death, the US will likely continue, for the mid-term, to export weaponry; but, don't expect enough growth here to mean much (margins will drop as competition increases, so figure downward pressure on net export $$).

Lastly, and it's the reason why global trade is being knocked down, is that the planet cannot comply with our economic model's dependency on perpetual growth: there can NOT be perpetual growth on a finite planet. US manufacturing requires, as it always has, export markets; requires ever-increasing exports: this is really true for all others. Higher standards of living in the US (and add in increasing medical costs which factor into cost of goods sold) means that the price of US-manufactured goods will be less affordable to peoples outside of the US.

And here too is the fact that other countries' populations are also aging. Years ago I dove into the demographics angle/assessment to find out that ALL countries ramp and age and that you can see countries' energy consumption rise and their their net trade balance swing negative- there's a direct correlation: go to the CIA's Factbook and look at demographics and energy and the graphs tell the story.

I'll also note that the notion of there being a cycle, a parabolic curve, in civilizations is well noted/documented in Sir John Glubb's The Fate of Empires and Search for Survival (you can find electronic bootlegged copies on the Internet)- HIGHLY recommended reading!

All of this is pretty much reflected in Wall Street companies ramp-ups in stock-buy-backs. That's money that's NOT put in R&D or expansion. I'm pretty sure that the brains in all of this KNOW what the situation is: growth is never coming back.

MANY years ago I stated that we will one day face "economies of scale in reverse." We NEVER considered that growth couldn't continue forever. There was never a though about what would happen with the reverse "of economies of scale."

Make no mistake, what we're facing is NOT another recession or depression, it's not part of what we think as a downturn in the "business cycle," as though we'll "pull out of it," it's basically an end to the super-cycle.

We will never be able to replicate the state of things as they are. We are at the peak (slightly past peak, but not far enough to realize it yet) and there is no returning. Per-capita income and energy consumption have peaked. There's not enough resources and not enough new demand (younger people, people that have wealth) to keep the perpetual growth machine going.

[Jul 01, 2020] The Sack Prof Priyamvada Gopal (the Cambridge Race Troll ) Petition is down

Cue bono? Not black people (actually she is an Indian, which until recently was a caste society). Is she a victim of "affirmative action" policy and occupies a position for which there are more worthy academically candidates. University is not sinecure, at least it should not be.
How good is she as an academic? Is she mentally stable?
The decision of Cambridge University to promote her after such an idiotic tweet creates several additional questions.
Jul 01, 2020 | www.reddit.com

https://www.change.org/p/cambridge-university-fire-cambridge-professor-for-racism

Petition against Prof Priyamvada Gopal now off line. Additionally I noticed earlier today that the comments given on the site voicing why they were signing had all been removed, but not on other petitions. As of yesterday evening these comments were peaceful, and not personal, just things like 'because it is racist' and 'do I even need to give a reason'?

The petition had nearly 25,000 signed supporters earlier today, and new signings were flooding in at over 1/sec when I checked.

In addition in an affront to common decency the University/College promoted her whilst they had stated earlier they were aware of the controversial nature of her tweets.

Her original tweet was deleted by Twitter as a breach of community guidelines. She also reports that, in spite of senselessly provoking people at a delicate time with racist tweets, that the extremely racist responses she got from some far right people was being looked at by the Police.

All in all this establishes a systematic problem. Being deliberately vague means you cannot use context as a defence, and the context of all her tweets shows some extreme patterns of thinking against certain groups that casts very considerable doubts on the validity of such a defense. Moreover, context hasn't been a defence when others have been prosecuted for far less. Nobody, including Cambridge academics, should be above the law.

To those people that think that what she said was justified because she was trying to defend BLM from supposed alternative movements, all she in fact did do was to achieve the opposite of that.

If one wishes to convey complex ideas a teacher of English in her position *must know* that this requires a long form medium to provide argumentation, and that Twitter is no such place to do it due to its character count. But taking in all the other comments she has made, its very clear the double standards and overall bias that really does amount to overt prejudice.

At the very least she is so contradictory, immature and incompetent as to make a mockery of her college and for that reason at minimum, she should lose her job. I'm sorry to say that as well.

But something about this whole episode feels like a jumping the shark moment. I don't think this is going away all that easily.

[Jun 21, 2020] Do not stop at renaming Berkeley schools; be consistent and rename Yale as it was named after slave trader

Standard "Pot calling cattle black" games played against and again ;-) Berkeley to rename George Washington, Thomas Jefferson schools after Black Lives Matter push - Washington Times
In this Black Maidan or Black bolshevism. And who finance it?
Jun 21, 2020 | www.rt.com

Conservatives got #CancelYale trending on Twitter and targeted liberals like Hillary Clinton in their effort to troll the left, calling for the Ivy League school to change its name because it's named after a slave trader .

[Jun 21, 2020] 'I used to push for working class kids to go to university, but no longer they are toxic institutions of prejudice' -- RT Op-ed

Jun 21, 2020 | www.rt.com

'I used to push for working class kids to go to university, but no longer: they are toxic institutions of prejudice' Dr Lisa McKenzie Dr Lisa McKenzie Dr Lisa McKenzie is a working-class academic. She grew up in a coal-mining town in Nottinghamshire and became politicized through the 1984 miners' strike with her family. At 31, she went to the University of Nottingham and did an undergraduate degree in sociology. Dr McKenzie lectures in sociology at the University of Durham and is the author of 'Getting By: Estates, Class and Culture in Austerity Britain.' She's a political activist, writer and thinker. Follow her on Twitter @redrumlisa . Dr Lisa McKenzie is a working-class academic. She grew up in a coal-mining town in Nottinghamshire and became politicized through the 1984 miners' strike with her family. At 31, she went to the University of Nottingham and did an undergraduate degree in sociology. Dr McKenzie lectures in sociology at the University of Durham and is the author of 'Getting By: Estates, Class and Culture in Austerity Britain.' She's a political activist, writer and thinker. Follow her on Twitter @redrumlisa . 21 Jun, 2020 07:11 Get short URL 'I used to push for working class kids to go to university, but no longer: they are toxic institutions of prejudice' © Getty Images / Joe Sohm / Visions of America/ Universal Images Group Follow RT on RT I've spent the last 20 years of my life working with and supporting working class people to get into higher education. Today I'm wondering whether I've been right to do so. I remember my first day at University. I was 31 and had gone to Nottingham University, part of the so-called elite Russell Group, from an access course for mature students. I had no idea what I was walking into. I didn't know anyone who had been to university, and had spent the years since I left school working mainly on piece work in a factory making women's tights.

I'd never ever been on the campus, even though I only lived only two miles away. I went to that university out of ignorance. I thought that wanting to study sociology was enough – I'd read a book about St Ann's, the part of Nottingham where I lived, authored by two researchers who had worked at the university. The book was called Poverty: The Forgotten Englishman and was based on research about poverty in Nottingham during the 1960s. It was written the year I was born, and I recognised my community in it; I wanted to study sociology, because I wanted to represent and fight for that community.

Read more Removing Rhodes statue would be a total whitewash of both British and African history Removing Rhodes statue would be a total whitewash of both British and African history

On that first day, two things happened. During the initial welcome speech, the vice chancellor welcomed all of the students to Nottingham and told them to enjoy the city and the university, but warned them that there were some areas of the town to avoid, that were not so welcoming – "Don't go to St Ann's," he said. Which, as it was where I lived and the reason why I was at the university, was going to be more than a little difficult for me. I remember being devastated and not feeling welcome at all.

Later that day, I sat in my first lecture. It was about women and work and the lecturer talked about how choice for working class women was never a "real choice" and that the idea of "choice" meant different things to different groups of people. I sat there and a wave of relief poured over me – not because I had learned something new, but because what I had suspected all of my life was being validated: that surely my poor status in life couldn't entirely be my own fault.

I realised from that day forwards that we working class people – whether we are black, white, men, women, transgender or no gender, Muslim, Christian or atheist – had something in common. Being working class meant you were individually held responsible for what you think is your failure. I later found out that the way the structure of our society is built is that working class people suffer unfair disadvantages, while the middle class benefit from equally unfair advantages.

Twenty years on from that first day at university, I've learned so much more about how society is structured and I have tried in any and every way to support other working class people to get into university so they, too, can have that knowledge that it's not their fault.

However, along that long route from student to lecturer, from no qualifications to a PhD, I have had some incredible experiences and students, but also some soul-destroying, awful experiences.

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One university I worked at refused to let young working class people from my estate, who were part of a community football club, use the university's sports' pitches as they were concerned they would come back "at night" , presumably to rob, or steal or worse. I was heartbroken. I knew those kids and felt so ashamed that I had thought that this would be ok, and they had been so excited about going onto the posh, manicured football pitches.

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Over the last twenty years, I have met and had emails and messages from hundreds of working class students and lecturers who have thanked me for speaking about working class experience at university.

But they also told me their own harrowing stories, such as being asked about "their poverty" in seminars, about sitting in lectures as professors have accused their communities - the places where they and their families live - as being dangerous/racist/stupid/violent/ignorant/criminal; take your pick, it's all been said. The prejudices that working class students, workers or lecturers suffer at these middle- and upper-class institutions are legion. And they only dare speak openly about it when they are together.

When I think about all of these instances of symbolic violence, of being passed over, and of having your work scrutinised in a way that I know is not done to the middle class in higher education... When I think about the awful and depressing conversations I've had to have with working class students who have sought me out to talk about how difficult it is to for them to sit in those lectures, to have their accents constantly commented on, to be asked "what school they went to" , and who don't understand the sly smirks and looks they get when they give the answer

When I think about those things I realise just how tired I am, and I have to ask myself: am I really doing the right thing by encouraging other working class people to put themselves through this toxic, anti-working class environment? I'm sad to conclude that I am probably not.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

[Jun 21, 2020] Ivy league universities and low cost state colleges will be OK, while private colleges in the middle are screwed

Notable quotes:
"... State universities have a much larger enrollment (the California State system has 23 campuses with an average of 22K students each) and the elites have featherbedded the Ivies, so both will survive, even if the former have some belt-tightening. ..."
Jun 21, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

grhabyt , , June 18, 2020 at 7:35 pm

Professor/Administrator in California State University here. I'm on the campus team trying to respond and thus reading everything current in Higher Ed on this. The conclusion is that high end and low end will be OK, but private colleges in the middle are screwed.
Students go to college for four reasons:

a) signalling;
b) networking;
c) skills acquisition; and
d) parties

With instruction online, b) and d) disappear. The elite universities can coast because of a) and endowments, the lower cost state universities like mine are seeing enrollment *increase* because, in a recession, many students on the line about attending college choose c) over unemployment. And as our tuition is only $7K ($12K for out-of-state/international), plenty of the cash-strapped middle class will dial down to us.

But expensive, tuition-driven (eg little endowment) private colleges are going to be hit very hard if they can't offer the whole traditional in-person experience. Most of these have announced that they will be meeting in-person, but the unspoken assumption is that they are lying to their prospective students, and will pull the football away at the last minute.

The media will dwell on "the death of higher education" at length, because these were the colleges that many of them went to.

But the reality is that their share of the pie is relatively small. State universities have a much larger enrollment (the California State system has 23 campuses with an average of 22K students each) and the elites have featherbedded the Ivies, so both will survive, even if the former have some belt-tightening.

Democrita , , June 19, 2020 at 7:16 am

To label 'd' partying is unfair. D is being with their peers, building their first independent relationships, falling in love.

Mine will be a soph in UC system, and is processing the announcement from the school yesterday that only some students will have classes, the rest will be online. They all read that to mean STEM majors will get the in person experience.

He and his friends are all deciding whether they will bother or take a term or two off -- because zoom school sucks. Or, as he put it, "why would we pay $20,000 for me to rent an apartment in Santa Cruz and attend Phoenix University?" Universities may find students not willing to waste resources on distance learning. Especially if there's no job at the end of the rainbow.

BUT if he skips a term, what to do in that time? Jobs hard to come by and risky.

I feel for the kids. Unlike that family blogger Joe Biden.

Re small biz and recovery: my employer got some PPP money, although the impact has not hit our magazine in a big way. Yet.

But we, like other business-niche publishers, made a good bit of money from conferences and such live events. Partly, it's direct earnings, but there are other ways live events fueled our biz. I believe Institutional Investor had basically ditched publishing for the conference business. We hadnt gone that far (we weren't that good at it).

Also, the boss is drooling over the idea that he can ditch the monthly rent for our manhattan offices. Our ship is so tight that I do not worry about getting laid off, only that the entire enterprise could go under. So far that's not happening, but past performance etc.

Yves Smith Post author , , June 19, 2020 at 1:04 am

I'm not as certain as you are that big name unis will not suffer too. I think this is them believing their own PR.

Harvard is already trying to get employees to take early retirement. And in a long interview, Larry Summers went on in a long Business Insider interview about how universities (clearly including Harvard) should close down entire operations that were losing money. He advocated that Harvard should largely abandon live instruction and instead should become a MOOC, since it could easily get 20 million students.

[Jun 20, 2020] Colleges will have a lot of trouble this fall

Another issue with all types of education is that lots of students, especially foreign students, depend very heavily on restarats temp jobs and casual hospitality work.
Jun 20, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

4. Colleges will have a lot of trouble this fall . First, they are losing nearly all their full-freight-paying Chinese students, between concern over US Covid-19 risks, Administration hostility, and travel restrictions. That alone is a big blow.

On top of that, some are planning to reopen but MIT's announcement yesterday, that it will not allow all students to return to campus, probably represents a new normal. Well-placed MIT alumni read the university's decision as driven significantly by a desire to protect faculty and staff; I hear from sources with contacts at other universities that administrators that they see no way to put kids in dorms without running unacceptably high Covid risks.

Remember, even though kids almost never die of Covid-19, but there is a risk of serious damage. 1/2 the asymptomatic cases on the Diamond Princess now show abnormal lungs. And remember those cruises have half the people on board as crew, and the crew skews young. College is a lot less appealing if you don't stay in a dorm.

Just as diminished activity in central business districts has negative knock-on effects to nearby business, so to do hollowed-out colleges and universities have for their communities, as described in more depth in a recent Bloomberg story .

Krystyn Podgajski , June 18, 2020 at 7:52 am

The coming college semester is a big question mark. The influx of students is entangled with real estate, shopping and the biggest in my town, restaurants and bars. Not to mention the college sports season which supported so many AirBnB's here.

They are starting the year early here (UNC Chapel Hill) and ending it early as well, on Thanksgiving! And up to 1000 new students will be learning from home instead of coming to campus.

Vastydeep , June 18, 2020 at 11:30 am

Big question mark -- MIT's president Reif yesterday noted that

"At least for the fall, we can only bring some of our undergraduates back to campus." and "Everything that can be taught effectively online will be taught online."

Courses are comparatively easy, but labs, research, and sports look doubtful if/when case counts start marching up again.

[Jun 20, 2020] 1984 -- The writer of Truth rewrites history to fit whatever they want. Read the book. That's the news media today.

Jun 20, 2020 | taibbi.substack.com

Sean Carson Jun 12

The toxicity that Matt writes about isn't just due to Trump - it's due to the left abandoning traditional liberal values in favor of political correctness and identity politics. This new Red Guard of ideological purity is the natural - shocking - evolution of that....

Lekimball Jun 13

1984 -- The writer of Truth rewrites history to fit whatever they want. Read the book. That's the news media today. A warning leftists: Stalin and Hitler controlled the media. It's not TRUMP controlling the media. Or ignoring the truth. And it should scare the hell out of every American.

Sherry Jun 13

The twitter lynch mobs have a great deal to answer for, except they never do answer for it.

TheMadKing59 Jun 13

Crazy times indeed. It is reminiscent of the Hollywood Terror. A tipping point will come when enough people are sickened of their arbitrary and capricious cultural fascism.

Horatio Flemm Jun 13

Mr. Taibbi fires a warning shot to alert us that the "instinct (in the American media) to shield audiences from views or facts deemed politically uncomfortable has been in evidence since Trump became a national phenomenon." I would say not "since" -- that vile instinct has merely been more in evidence. The media's fear and hatred for diversity of opinion, for the freedom of speech, has doubtless worsened ...

[Jun 18, 2020] Meritocracy Legitimizes, Deepens Existing Inequality

Exclusive access to the elite universities is the key for reproducing the "new aristocracy"
Notable quotes:
"... Meritocracy is supposed to function best when an insecure 'middle class' constantly strives to secure, preserve and augment their income, status and other privileges by maximizing returns to their exclusive education. But access to elite education – that enables a few of modest circumstances to climb the social ladder – waxes and wanes. ..."
"... Most middle class families cannot afford the privileged education that wealth can buy, while most ordinary, government financed and run schools have fallen further behind exclusive elite schools, including some funded with public money. In recent decades, the resources gap between better and poorer public schools has also been growing. ..."
"... Elite universities and private schools still provide training and socialization, mainly to children of the wealthy, privileged and connected. Huge endowments, obscure admissions policies and tax exemption allow elite US private universities to spend much more than publicly funded institutions. ..."
"... technological and social changes have transformed the labour force and economies greatly increasing economic returns to the cognitive, ascriptive and other attributes as well as credentials of 'the best' institutions, especially universities and professional guilds, which effectively remain exclusive and elitist. ..."
"... Welcome to cosmetic meritocracy to go along with your cosmetic democracy. And in America, you can have as much of either you can afford to buy ..."
"... I think several high cost colleges like U.C.Berkeley are replacing the SAT and ACT tests with the important Bank Balance test. (joke!) ..."
"... School maybe, but then admission to University was absolutely done on merit. at least where I grew up, in Romania, the admissions were based on multiple written exams, were completely anonymized, and there were two independent markers. If the grading of the two markers diverged by more than one point, another one was brought to check. ..."
"... I would argue that a real education is one that liberates the student to become a free citizen, to become someone who can think for herself or himself. ..."
Jun 18, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Yves here. Meritocracy is a pet topic, or perhaps more accurately, a pet peeve. This 2007 Conference Board Review article explains why meritocracy is unattainable , so the whole idea was always problematic.

Chinese mandarins, who won their positions via performance on the imperial examination, are an early, if not the first, example of a meritocratic system. Napoleon standardized education throughout France with the explicit goal of making it possible for poor but bright boys to be identified and further schooled to become bureaucrats.

This article includes issues regularly discussed in comments, such as how higher education has come to be mainly about credentialing. It provides a high-level, accessible discussion of how whatever value the idea of meritocracy had in theory, it has become perverted in practice.

By Jomo Kwame Sundaram, a former economics professor, who was United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, and received the Wassily Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought. Originally published at the Inter Press Service

How often have you heard someone lamenting or even condemning inequality in society, concluding with an appeal to meritocracy? We like to think that if only the deserving, the smart ones, those we deem competent or capable, often meaning the ones who are more like us, were in charge, things would be better, or just fine.

Meritocracy's Appeal

Since the 1960s, many institutions, the world over, have embraced the notion of meritocracy. With post-Cold War neoliberal ideologies enabling growing wealth concentration, the rich, the privileged and their apologists invoke variants of 'meritocracy' to legitimize economic inequality.

Instead, corporations and other social institutions, which used to be run by hereditary elites, increasingly recruit and promote on the bases of qualifications, ability, competence and performance. Meritocracy is thus supposed to democratize and level society.

Ironically, British sociologist Michael Young pejoratively coined the term meritocracy in his 1958 dystopian satire, The Rise of the Meritocracy. With his intended criticism rejected as no longer relevant, the term is now used in the English language without the negative connotations Young intended.

It has been uncritically embraced by supporters of a social philosophy of meritocracy in which influence is supposedly distributed according to the intellectual ability and achievement of individuals.

Many appreciate meritocracy's two core virtues. First, the meritocratic elite is presumed to be more capable and effective as their status, income and wealth are due to their ability, rather than their family connections.

Second, 'opening up' the elite supposedly on the bases of individual capacities and capabilities is believed to be consistent with and complementary to 'fair competition'. They may claim the moral high ground by invoking 'equality of opportunity', but are usually careful to stress that 'equality of outcome' is to be eschewed at all cost.

As Yale Law School Professor Daniel Markovits argues in The Meritocracy Trap, unlike the hereditary elites preceding them, meritocratic elites must often work long and hard, e.g., in medicine, finance or consulting, to enhance their own privileges, and to pass them on to their children, siblings and other close relatives, friends and allies.

Gaming Meritocracy

Meritocracy is supposed to function best when an insecure 'middle class' constantly strives to secure, preserve and augment their income, status and other privileges by maximizing returns to their exclusive education. But access to elite education – that enables a few of modest circumstances to climb the social ladder – waxes and wanes.

Most middle class families cannot afford the privileged education that wealth can buy, while most ordinary, government financed and run schools have fallen further behind exclusive elite schools, including some funded with public money. In recent decades, the resources gap between better and poorer public schools has also been growing.

Elite universities and private schools still provide training and socialization, mainly to children of the wealthy, privileged and connected. Huge endowments, obscure admissions policies and tax exemption allow elite US private universities to spend much more than publicly funded institutions.

Meanwhile, technological and social changes have transformed the labour force and economies greatly increasing economic returns to the cognitive, ascriptive and other attributes as well as credentials of 'the best' institutions, especially universities and professional guilds, which effectively remain exclusive and elitist.

As 'meritocrats' captured growing shares of the education pies, the purported value of 'schooling' increased, legitimized by the bogus notion of 'human capital'. While meritocracy transformed elites over time, it has also increasingly inhibited, not promoted social mobility.

A Different Elite

Thus, although meritocrats like to see themselves as the antithesis of the old 'aristocratic' elite, rather than 'democratize' society through greater inclusion, meritocracy may even increase inequality and further polarize society, albeit differently.

While the old 'aristocratic' elite was often unable to ensure their own children were well educated, competent and excellent, meritocrats – who have often achieved their status and privileges with education and related credentials – have often increased their significance.

Hence, a meritocratic system – seemingly open to inclusion, ostensibly based on ability – has become the new means for exclusion, which Chicago University Professor Raghuram Rajan attributes to the digital revolution.

Meritocrats have increased the significance of schooling, with credential attainment legitimizing growing pay inequality, as they secure even better education for thus own children, thus recreating and perpetuating inequalities.

Recent public doubts about, and opposition to rising executive remuneration, MBA education, professional guild cartels and labour remuneration disparities reflect the growing delegitimization of ostensibly meritocratic hierarchies and inequalities.

High Moral Ground

To add insult to injury, meritocratic ideology suggests that those excluded are undeserving, if not contemptible. With progressive options lacking middle class and elite support, those marginalized have increasingly turned to 'ethno-populism' and other 'communal' appeals in this age of identity politics.

Unsurprisingly, their opposition to educational and economic inequalities and marginalization is typically pitted against the ethnic 'Other' – real, imagined or 'constructed' – typically seen as 'foreign', even if domestic, as the 'alien within'.

Markovits argues that meritocracy undermines not only itself, but also democratic and egalitarian ideals. He insists that meritocracy also hurts the new 'meritocratic' and 'technocratic' elite, hoping to recruit them to the anti-meritocracy cause, perhaps reflecting his appreciation of the need to build broad inclusive coalitions to bring about social transformation.

"Progressives inflame middle-class resentment, and trigger elite resistance while demagogues and charlatans monopolize and exploit meritocracy's discontents. Meritocratic inequality therefore induces not only deep discontent but also widespread pessimism, verging on despair."

Reducing Inequality Possible

In the US and elsewhere, tax policy, other incentives and even Covid-19 will encourage replacing mid-skilled workers with automation and highly skilled professionals, e.g., facilitated by the growing use of artificial intelligence applications.

One alternative is to reform labour market as well as tax policies and regulations to promote more skilled, 'middle-class' employment. Those introducing new technologies would then be motivated to enable more productive, higher income, middle-class employment.

A more open, inclusive and broader educational system would also provide the workforce needed for such technologies. Thus, the transitions from school to work, which have tended to increase inequality, can be transformed to reduce inequality.

Rather than de-skill workers to be paid less in order to become more profitable, 'up-skilling' workers to be more productive can also be profitable. For example, an Indian cardio-thoracic hospital has trained nurses for many routine medical procedures, allowing specialist doctors to focus on tasks really requiring their expertise.

At relatively lower cost, using workers who are not fully trained doctors, but are paid and treated better, can cost-effectively deliver important healthcare services at lower cost at scale. Such innovations would strengthen the middle class, rather than undermine and erode it.


Sound of the Suburbs , June 18, 2020 at 5:02 am

New Labour talked about a meritocracy. A classless society where anyone could get to the top through their own hard work, drive and ambition. In a meritocracy those at the top do get their on their own merit and deserve their rewards.

In a meritocracy those at the bottom are there through their own lack of effort and others shouldn't feel responsible for them

But what happened? We adopted meritocratic ideas, but never created a meritocracy.

What does a meritocracy look like?

1) In a meritocracy everyone succeeds on their own merit. This is obvious, but to succeed on your own merit, we need to do away the traditional mechanisms that socially stratify society due to wealth flowing down the generations. Anything that comes from your parents has nothing to do with your own effort.

2) There is no un-earned wealth or power, e.g inheritance, trust funds, hereditary titles. In a meritocracy we need equal opportunity for all. We can't have the current two tier education system with its fast track of private schools for people with wealthy parents.
3) There is a uniform schools system for everyone with no private schools.

New Labour's meritocratic vision won a landslide victory in 1997, they just never followed through to actually create that meritocratic society where everyone has equal opportunity. All we got were the meritocratic ideas.

Those at the top got there on a playing field tilted in their favour, but they swan around thinking they got to the top in a meritocracy.
The poor suffer the legacy of New Labour's meritocratic ideas with people thinking we live in a meritocracy and the poor are poor through their own lack of effort.

This is the worst of both worlds, meritocratic ideas without a meritocracy.

Sound of the Suburbs , June 18, 2020 at 5:09 am

In a proper meritocracy you wouldn't be able to use your money to ensure your children succeeded. (Even someone like Boris can become Prime Minister, if you can afford the 30k a year fees for Eton. Look at Trump, inherited wealth personified.)

When you can't guarantee your own children's success, you are going to be a lot more concerned with the well being of those lower down the scale as that is where your own children might end up.

eg , June 18, 2020 at 5:32 am

Welcome to cosmetic meritocracy to go along with your cosmetic democracy. And in America, you can have as much of either you can afford to buy

Adam Eran , June 18, 2020 at 1:14 pm

+1000! Exactly. My favorite example (from NC?) is schools. By de-funding education (55% reduction in funding for higher education since 1972), public policy has made even public universities dependent on tuition (gosh! I wonder why it's been rising) or student loans (double gosh!) for an ever-growing portion of their budgets. Professors can't flunk the incompetent with impunity, then, since it might impair the financial viability of the institution that employs them.

A sensible society understands enhancing its human capital has merit in and of itself, so directs resources to it beyond what tuition students can pay.

Meanwhile, no study validates merit pay for teachers, charter schools, and testing as ways to improve educational outcomes. What does correlate with those outcomes? Answer: childhood poverty rates.

GM , June 18, 2020 at 5:36 am

This is a lot of BS when examined outside the unquestionable assumptions of the US situation.

In the US you have locally funded and geographically segregated schools, which in a rational world should be an absolute scandal that is a topic of constant discussion until the situation gets fixed. Instead people are taking it for granted as they only way things could be.

Well, if you are only allowed to go to the school in your neighborhood, which in turn is funded by whatever the tax base is the immediate vicinity, then of course a system based on educational achievement will very quickly cement existing inequalities into inherited class differences.

A problem with a very simple solution -- fund public schools at the federal level and fund them equally, and also ban all private schools.

That is what the USSR did back in the days, and it did in fact achieve very high level of social equality and mobility. It works. All that is needed is to properly identify the problem and work toward addressing it.

Going after the idea that those who are best educated should be the ones doing the decision making in society is not going to solve the problem and will in fact hurt society in the long run.

Then there is the problem of wealth inequality, which is in fact a separate one from that of status. There is no reason why social status has to be so tightly correlated with wealth. It has not been at many times and in many places throughout history.

And we are once again fighting the wrong battle if we go after "meritocracy" instead of the more concrete mechanismS that create wealth inequality.

Again, in the USSR there was no wealth inequality because the system redistributed very effectively and prevented accumulation of excess wealth by individuals. And before someone screams "but that was communism", we only have to go back to the situation in the 1950s in the US when you had a 90% top income tax rate and the various loopholes that exist now for hiding wealth derived from the wonders of financialization did not exist.

vlade , June 18, 2020 at 6:02 am

"That is what the USSR did back in the days, and it did in fact achieve very high level of social equality and mobility. It works. "

Except that there still were better and worse schools (for various reasons), and party members were better able to place their kids. Not to mention, that being a party member meant a better post-school placement of your kids int he first place, and goign to the uni w/o party membership in family as pretty hard.

And re the wealth distribution – hahahahah. Again, if you were a high-placed party official (which was not based on meritocracy, but on massive political infighting), you did not have to worry about "official" wealth. Because a lot of "state" assets were yours to use as you wished (depending on where in the hierarchy you were).

So you had your 90% of non-communist party members (in mid 80s, party membership was about 10% of populatin), then your 10% of party members, of which you had your 1% and 0.01% respectively.

Duh.

Franklin , June 18, 2020 at 1:27 pm

How does affirmative action affect meritocracy?

For every kid from the ghetto placed in a technical school, after lowering admission requirements, one fewer high testing child is placed.

U.C. Berkeley is no longer requiring SATs because they are "racist".

The affect of this is to elevate the status of the very privileged even higher and to create strife and infighting among the middle class and lower middle class.

flora , June 18, 2020 at 3:42 pm

I think several high cost colleges like U.C.Berkeley are replacing the SAT and ACT tests with the important Bank Balance test. (joke!)

flora , June 18, 2020 at 3:53 pm

more seriously: some rich people learned how to game the SAT and ACT test results. There was a huge scandal about this last year.

https://variety.com/2019/tv/news/lori-loughlin-felicity-huffman-college-admissions-scam-1203161229/

Left in Wisconsin , June 18, 2020 at 4:10 pm

It's not at all clear that affirmative action is at odds with merit, though it is clearly at odds with the credentialing (grade point averages, and all the resume padding) that one sees on the resumes of the PMG progeny. My neck of the academic woods is full of PMC grinders who don't really have much to offer and could use way more people with real life experience.

Which gets to the real problem with meritocracy: it is only concerned with ranking/allocation of of jobs, not the overall structure of the job market. If good jobs were less rare, there would be less infighting about who got to fill them, more social mixing, and we would all have an easier time dispatching the "meritocrats" who don't contribute.

Alex , June 18, 2020 at 7:08 am

The education system in the USSR was definitely meritocratic. There were 'special' schools with advanced curriculum (I studied in one) and you needed to pass exams to get into one. Likewise the admission to universities was also based on examinations and the alumni of these elite schools and universities were overrepresented in the Soviet and then Russian elite

GM , June 18, 2020 at 7:24 am

Yes, and it was based entirely on examinations. None of the "we ask for SAT but mostly decide based on subjective crtiria" BS that results in 75% of the undergraduate slots at the likes of Harvard going to children of alumni and the wealthy (which is mostly the same thing) BS, but a clear cutoff based on exam scores alone. I myself have passed through that exact same system too, so I know very well its virtues (and deficiencies too).

Perhaps even more importantly, kindergartens and primary schools provided as equal educational opportunities as possible. There were no private schools so when the time to pass those exams came, everyone was on as equal footing as possible, they had gone through the same classes together. Unfortunately, there was an exception -- the offspring of high party officials could bypass these barriers, which was deeply unfair and caused quite a bit of resentment, but other than that it was a true meritocracy.

Yes, it was still not a system in which where you were born played no role. The children of university professors will on average be academically far ahead of the children of agricultural workers, just by virtue of the environment they grew up in. There is no way around that other than taking kids away from their parents and raising them communally.

But it is important that everyone has the opportunity to rise through the ranks and that starts from the bottom of the educational pyramid.

We are stubbornly avoiding having that discussion though, instead we talk about how we should be giving preferential treatment to women and minorities when they are in their 20s and applying for jobs and positions. It is almost as if the latter serves the purposes of preventing us from talking about the former

vlade , June 18, 2020 at 8:25 am

That's not true. Party members had access to special schools for their own kids. Often these schools weren't "officially" special, but very often in a district there was a school that got more funding, first pick of teachers etc. and party members had preferential acceptance to those. As I say, it often might not have been an official party line (although I believe there were some schoold reserved for party member kids), but was a common local party office practice.

I say this as someone who went through the system and actually had the advantage (which I did not understand until I was much older) as a grandson of an important party functionary and anti-nazi hero. It even managed to beat the fact that my uncle (from the other side of the family) emigrated to the US, which was often a fatal hit to anyone's college/uni dreams in the rest of the family.

Kouros , June 18, 2020 at 3:34 pm

School maybe, but then admission to University was absolutely done on merit. at least where I grew up, in Romania, the admissions were based on multiple written exams, were completely anonymized, and there were two independent markers. If the grading of the two markers diverged by more than one point, another one was brought to check.

I know children of really big party wigs that couldn't get into university under these circumstances

vlade , June 18, 2020 at 8:09 am

Or you needed to be a kid of a high-enough placed party hack, although in most cases, they didn't bother to put their kids there, as they could get them a job they wanted w/o the school. I _know_ (because I have seen it first hand numerous times) that who the parents were and who they knew played an important role.

That all said, the school system was way less about credentials than the US one. And also, because hard-science schools were not seen as a way to a (guaranteed large) career advancement, the people who went there were most people who really wanted to do it, not taking it as a soft option.

The career advancement path were the various "economic" schools, as that with a right set of connections would more or less guarantee a very cushy top job.

Kurtismayfield , June 18, 2020 at 9:41 am

This country doesn't value home grown STEM graduates.. if it did it wouldn't be undercutting them with H1-B's. So you would have to start there and show kids that getting into STEM is seen as equally valuable as getting an MBA.

Ian Ollmann , June 18, 2020 at 9:19 pm

Why should we value home grown workers if it is a meritocracy?

Jesper , June 18, 2020 at 5:42 am

IP-laws are the source of some/much of current inequality, those IP-laws are most definitely a political choice and they most definitely are not automatically benefitting the meritocratic. Sometimes they do, often they don't.

But as always this is seen as the 'cure':

Rather than de-skill workers to be paid less in order to become more profitable, 'up-skilling' workers to be more productive can also be profitable.

More training, more education .. The de-skilling is done to jobs which might, but does not have to, lead to de-skilling of workers. The stage is set to reduce the work-load and share the work, the de-skilled work is designed to make workers easily replaceable so the 'skill-shortage' stopping a reduction of the hours worked is not as valid of an excuse as it was 40 years ago.

The author does acknowledge the role that governments and legislation has but for some reason reducing the hours worked by an individual and sharing the work is not seen as a valid option. But then again this kind of futurists believe that in the future then there will not be enough resources to house and feed the retired. Another view might be that in the future there will be enough resources to house and feed the retired but those resources might, due to political choices , be spent on luxury for the few leaving homelessness and starvation for the rest.

The Rev Kev , June 18, 2020 at 10:57 am

McDonalds was a pioneer at the movement for de-skilling workers. When they first opened up you actually had people at the back peeling bag after bag of potatoes. Eventually they were able to replace the potatoes with bags of frozen fries which took no skill at all to use. They actually spent a huge amount of effort at de-skilling work there so that workers could be easily replaced and had no skills that they could bargain higher wages for.

stefan , June 18, 2020 at 6:38 am

I would argue that a real education is one that liberates the student to become a free citizen, to become someone who can think for herself or himself. This is what used to be called a liberal arts education. Vocational training may certainly be important, but ought not be confused with education. Vocational training is perhaps best left to the institutions that actually will employ the individual. An education in liberal arts prepares the student to learn how to learn. But we are not the employees of society. We are citizens.

juliania , June 18, 2020 at 1:08 pm

Indeed, stefan, that is entirely the point, and ought to be the goal. Society is only as good as the quality of education given to all its members, not just the elite. This country has forgotten how important education is to the stability of the state, education from the first steps in public schools, so that when time comes to go on with that education at more sophisticated levels, all minds (all minds!) whatever the parents' station in life, have the ability to go where their talents take them. We know how to do this; it's not rocket science!!

I say we know how to do this. But it is clear – this country is not doing it. And it is not doing it on purpose.

That is something to be out on the streets protesting against. One of the many, many things.

Ian Ollmann , June 18, 2020 at 9:13 pm

Maybe, but if you could tell in advance which kids are going to need it, it would be a lot cheaper and waste less of people's time to do advanced degrees for only the best and brightest. For most people, hitting the workforce at the tender young age of 31, for example, has a certain reproductive cost, not to mention lost income. It isn't for everyone.

Also, in my experience, education just gets your foot in the door. Once you get there, it is quite likely you are the worst guy on the factory floor (for some definition of factory) -- the greenhorn -- and whether or not you do well will eventually boil down to quality of work or maybe management potential. In this regard, some will shine and other will not, and at the end of the day, in a meritocracy those are the ones that will do well. In this environment, at least in most fields, the advance degree is quickly forgotten in the absence of law enforcing strict hierarchy (e.g. medicine).

This is as it should be.

Adam Eran , June 18, 2020 at 1:17 pm

In Rome, "liberal arts" were the courses forbidden to slaves.

anon50 , June 18, 2020 at 7:11 am

Ancient Israel had a meritocracy in that those (including women, e.g. Deborah) who had exceptional ability were looked to as Judges.

Yet, every Hebrew family owned a roughly-equal-in-value plot of land they could not permanently lose regardless of their merit (Leviticus 25).

So, per the Bible, meritocracy definitely has its limits and does NOT legitimize, for example, inequality in land ownership.

Adam Eran , June 18, 2020 at 1:18 pm

I'll add that orthodox Christianity does not endorse "salvation by works" (i.e. meritocracy). The orthodox position is "salvation by grace [i.e. gift]" A wise man once told me "Christianity is just Judaism for gentiles"

Amfortas the hippie , June 18, 2020 at 7:29 am

I discovered the idea/Ideal of a Liberal Education around fifth grade. That's what I wanted, due to the influence of Jefferson, Emerson, Whitman and Nietzsche(yes, i was rather strange as a child).
But as the Schooling continued, I was continually frustrated by the all but hidden fact that this was not what American Education was for,lol.
This frustration extended all the way into the college experience I got accepted(with a GED, no less) to Oberlin, Brown, etc but was told we didn't have the money so a state school it was which turned out to be a High School with ashtrays..and an indelible focus on "Getting a Job".
Registrar actually laughed when I said i wanted to major in Philosophy ""what good is that?"
35 or so years later, and I got my Liberal Education, on my own .and it's had zero(if not a negative) effect on my work-life.
we've raised up a generation or 3 of technicians and micromanagers and ladder-climbers who don't have the smash to Think, except in very narrow terms. A favorite trope-like example: "Biology"= "specialisation", not just in Beetles or even a specific Family of Beetles but on a specific Species of Beetle with little regard for the world that Beetle is embedded in.(I knew a guy like this. knew all about June Bugs)
While i understand the utility of specialisation, this laser focus has negated the ability for so many to "Think Outside the Box" or to obtain a broader perspective of our complex world.
State College, for me, was all about "Networking" and learning how to kiss ass and say "Yes Sir" .not about becoming a Citizen let alone a Better Human
I hated it,lol.
It took a long time to be able to articulate it and that articulation is still wanting.
But the critique of "actually existing Meritocracy" is a good place to begin.
It's not really "Meritocratic", at all.
Just another justification for privilege and inequality and the status quo(world without end).

Paul Kleinman , June 18, 2020 at 4:07 pm

I don't think specialization = narrow mindedness. A long time ago at the university I made the progression from philosophy to anthropology to genetics/cell biology and of course my graduate thesis answered a very specific question (about the extracellular effects on collagen synthesis.) It is a fact that that rapidly growing knowledge requires people to specialize in deeply understanding parts of that knowlege. But I have never stopped reading philosophy (existential), Dostoevsky's novels, along with political reading. Specialization is not the reason for people's horizons to be so narrow. It's the societal shift toward disregarding anything that cannot be immediately monetized. It's also the disregard for teaching all students the tools for critical thinking.

Amfortas the hippie , June 18, 2020 at 7:38 pm

I stated that specialisation is necessary it just feels like(30 years on, mind you) that there was a narrowness that was encouraged. The opposite of a "Liberal Education", where one expands and learns to Think.
I'm also biased, because i went to two community colleges, and a state school that was famous for Criminal Justice, and for being neighbors to a bunch of prisons,lol.
I'm certainly glad, for instance, that there are people who specialise in Grasshoppers, cancer meds and soil biota.
But we long ago stopped encouraging big picture broadness .and i think that lack is rather acute, at the moment.
My Da Vincian Renaissance tendencies were quite actively discouraged, over my entire primary and secondary school experience to the point that i hated school from 3rd grade on(a remarkable achievement, in retrospect). I had, therefore, high hopes for college which were similarly dashed, due to the sort of ineffable culture of the place.
again, i admit that all this may be merely a function of place and time .as well as of my own anomalousness and expectations.
I might feel differently if i had been allowed to go to some of the real colleges i managed to get accepted to(but, Amor Fati, and all,lol would i be me without all that BS?)

jake , June 18, 2020 at 8:09 am

Forget sham meritocracy. What's the value of *actual* meritocracy, when the underlying activity -- say, investment banking -- is worthless or injurious?

Are prisons repositories of merit, because they hold the most active and determined of criminals?

CH , June 18, 2020 at 8:11 am

Running through an endless gauntlet of test-taking in order to have something approaching a stable, non-precarious life does not sound like a very pleasant society either, even if it is sufficiently "meritocratic." Neither does constantly chasing credentials. You get all these wasteful arms races. This was the type of society that the Hunger Games depicted: a never-ending, unremitting competition, with the stakes being just the ability to ensure one's basic survival. It sounds awful, even for the "winners".

MT_Bill , June 18, 2020 at 9:17 am

Life on this planet is a never-ending, unremitting competition, with the stakes being just the ability to ensure one's genes survival.

This is true across a spectrum of geographic and temporal scales. The plants in the yard? And endless evolutionary game of attracting pollinators at the expense of others while simultaneously engaging in chemical warfare with their neighbors.

The trap is the thought that we should be able to do better. I think the Romans probably showed the limit of what was possible, everything else has just been a remake with different stage props.

We've spent 2000 years or so basically knocking around the limits of what humanity is capable of achieving in terms of societal structure. Lots of technological advances made and to be discovered, but the parallel attempts on the societal side seem to end up being inherently unstable.

m sam , June 18, 2020 at 1:02 pm

I can't see how the plants in your backyard are a good model for any society. We do not need to savagely compete by starving our neighbors, for instance, to get food or shelter. Any scarcity of the basic necessities of life are pretty much induced.

Competition is instead over quality of life, social status, and most importantly, who gets to decide. It is here where so-called meritocracy is supposed to be an "objective" measure (but really, that there can be an objective measure of merit is where the idea fails, and proves itself to be a Utopian value that really only the successful "meritocrats" can embrace).

I think the real trap is in thinking we can't do any better (and your thought that we haven't progressed farther than the Romans is telling). And in in the age of falling life expectancy, incomes (for the bottom 90%), and social mobility, I would go so far as to say such an idea forecloses on the reality that shared progress has actually happened.

Off The Street , June 18, 2020 at 10:50 am

Crab-in-a-bucket scenario: other crabs prevent that venturesome one from escaping.

Meritocracy, current version scenario: escaped arthropods act as guards to let in only their own preferred candidates.

The latter has been in use at any number of companies, where the wrong kind of applicant just isn't acknowledged. No need to write down any rules, as those unspoken ones will do just fine. That can lead to a type of in-breeding with associated dysfunctions, and relies heavily upon the upstream provider filtering mechanisms, such as they are. Game those mechanisms in various ways and see the results populate, or pollute, the downstream pools.

rob , June 18, 2020 at 8:31 am

in the US our "meritocracy" is akin to the old saying;
"those who win in a rigged game too long ,get stupid"

We are stuck as a society because so many of the positions of authority are filled by people , who may be "smart" in some sense . but are really just stupid.
Whatever the dynamic that enables a certain type of mindset and worldview, to rise within the power structures , as they are is utterly insane and a serious flaw in the system.
the evidence of this is look who will be "running the free world" . today, and after the next election all choices point to zero.
Look at our form of capitalism . we allow banks to create our money out of nothing . then they can fund wall street speculation and corporate behemoths who dictate the playing field(through control of the political class) all business must play on. and so the lives and fortunes of the people and the planet and all of its life forms must endure.
the question of how stupid are we .. pretty damn stupid.

km , June 18, 2020 at 10:46 am

We can discuss the advantages and disadvantages of capitalism all day long – but we don't have capitalism – we have crony capitalism.

We can discuss whether or not meritocracy is a good thing – but our "meritocracy" is in fact massively rigged.

That said, a society has got to have some way to select leaders. If it doesn't select based on some kind of merit, what's the alternative? Accident of birth? Random lottery? Footraces?

CuriosityConcern , June 18, 2020 at 8:11 pm

Actually, I think random lottery of a group of citizens would be much better than a president. Make the group big enough that a citizen has a good chance of assuming office at least once in their average lifespan. Renumeration should be median of income. A democratic executive body.
This would probably make the US more agreement capable.

Polar Socialist , June 18, 2020 at 8:56 am

Having worked in academia for 25+ years (and counting), I really can't agree with equating the capability and/or competence with level of education. Just doesn't happen.

We have a rule of thumb: the more PhDs are involved in a project the more confused and messier it'll be for us to sort out and make to work. If professors are involved, even we can't sort it out.

Of course there are exceptions: some people can retain their common sense and competence regardless of higher education. They just don't tend to climb very high in the academic meritocracy.

Arizona Slim , June 18, 2020 at 3:38 pm

My father, who had a PhD, was fond of saying that a PhD was no substitute for common sense.

shinola , June 18, 2020 at 10:00 am

With the emphasis on "elite" education, I think the article is describing credentialism which is not exactly the same as actual meritocracy.

Meritocratic hierarchies have their own built-in problems – those of us of a certain age may recall "The Peter Principle."

Carolinian , June 18, 2020 at 2:11 pm

Yes but for purposes of this discussion they are the same thing since TPTP have decided that in our complicated society with so many millions of citizens credentials are a the way to separate "the wheat from the chaff." There was a time when you had a lot more self made men (and they were men) but our ossified economic system now makes that less likely. A country where individualism was once the hallmark has been turned–elite division–into a homogenized, fearful "safe space."

For the rest of us there is at least the internet where individualism can still thrive. They are trying to stamp that out.

Tom , June 18, 2020 at 10:17 am

You should have a look at the role of the meritocracy in Singapore. its amazing!

Bufeng , June 18, 2020 at 1:26 pm

We have similar problems with meritocracy as the rest of the world. "Ownership" of public housing is 80+% of citizen households, but the figure in our top school is nearer 50% (the other 50% live in private housing – they are not homeless!): https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/education/can-a-taxi-driver-or-hawkers-son-still-make-it-to-raffles-institution

There are many legacy "socialist era" policies (free basic education, subsidised basic healthcare, high ownership of public housing, well-functioning utilities and public transport and public services that in spite of being ostensibly privatized are actually owned by a state-owned enterprise – Temasek Holdings) that still keep things from becoming too nasty. But we've been heading the same direction as you all.

Red , June 18, 2020 at 9:35 pm

That's because despite being semi authoritarian Singapore couldn't resist marketisation. Doesn't make any sense to include market value of land in the price of public houses if the government owns that land and you essentially rent it from them. Or the recent electricity market privatisation. Just gets to show you that democratic or authoritarian, governments are out of ideas.

David , June 18, 2020 at 10:17 am

OK, but then the alternative is . not very obvious.
I think in fact that the problems people have with meritocracy are more to do with the "cracy" than the "merit" part of the term. After all, there are only three possible ways of choosing people to fill positions and run organisations. The first is patronage, favouritism, family and wealth, which has been the rule for most of human history, and was the only way to make career in Europe until relatively recently. You might accidentally get a person of ability appointed to an important job, but you obviously couldn't guarantee it. The second is selection by lot, which worked OK in Athens for certain jobs, but is hard to generalise. The only other option is competitive selection by merit, depending on the qualities needed for the job, and for promotion. All modern states have ultimately gone for the third option.

When people say that they don't approve of meritocracy, then, they don't usually mean that they want a return to the days when government positions were in the personal gift of Ministers. They mean one of two things. First, that selection by merit doesn't always work well or fairly, because the selection criteria can in practice favour candidates from wealthier or more educated backgrounds, second that meritocracies can themselves become hereditary, selecting people like themselves, just as patronage systems used to do. It's also true that success in one field can generate a sense of individual and collective arrogance and a belief that you are qualified to do anything. All of these are very valid criticisms (and all can be addressed to some extent) but none of them is an argument against the principle of merit-based selection. It's also important to remember that "merit" here really means just "most suited"; It's not a value judgement or the equivalent of the keys to a selective club.

Left in Wisconsin , June 18, 2020 at 4:49 pm

Yes, this is the key problem. But I would suggest two other possibilities that also exist: A) wide acceptance to entry-level positions, lots of training/assessment and promotions from within, and promotion by seniority (above a threshold of competence) – a scheme which has ups and downs and is probably not a good fit anymore for a world in which long term employment with one employer is not the norm; and B) democratic control with promotion determined from below (by those to be managed) rather than above. All the evidence suggests that good management is a function of getting the best out of your subordinates (true leadership), not all the fact BS around star performers.

The big problem with merit is that many jobs have no suitable pre-employment or even current employment merit indicators (think of K-12 teaching, where test scores are used to judge reading and math teachers but there are no comparable measures for teachers of any other discipline), and the ones that are used can be gamed, and so merit becomes conflated with credentials or test scores, which have limited real-world applicability. Another example: in the old days, you could become a lawyer through "apprenticeship," which allowed lots of talented people to become lawyers without the gatekeeping of law schools. It is impossible to argue that the profession is now better with than it was in those days.

Left in Wisconsin , June 18, 2020 at 4:57 pm

"fake," not "fact"

anon in so cal , June 18, 2020 at 10:27 am

Anyone familiar with the notorious Kingsley Davis and Wilbur Moore stratification theory? The theory attempted to legitimize economic and political stratification (i.e. inequality) in modern societies by using quasi-Parsonian notions of meritocracy. There are standard rebuttals to the Davis-Moore theory and this article sounds as though it has attempted to regurgitate some of those rebuttals.

anon50 , June 18, 2020 at 12:58 pm

Also, however much merit one has, that should not allow her/him to steal from the lessor-so via the use of what is, due to government privilege, the PUBLIC'S credit but for private gain.

In other words, those with merit should not have to steal from the poor, should they? Kinda of diminishes their triumph, doesn't it? Knowing their success is built on oppression?

Dave in Austin , June 18, 2020 at 2:18 pm

NFL wide receivers; NBA centers; MIT physics PHDs; University of Texas Petroleum Engineering grads.

"Meritocracy legitimizes, deepens inequality"

"Meritocracy" based on gatekeeping (lawyers, civil service rules that say "must have a a BA"; 7 years to become a physical therapist) these are, in my opinion , bad. I want to measure outputs not inputs. And that means those hardworking, always dependable high school girls who always turn in perfect homework (an input unconnected to knowledge) may have a high class rank but I'll take the kid with the bad attitude, bad clothing and lousy social skills who gets in the 98% percentile in the SAT Math exam (an output) every time (unless I'm hiring people to be TV weathermen and weather girls- I like cute too).

What would happen in the NFL if we demanded a masters degree in wide receiver studies from a state accredited university? Fewer blacks; fewer drug bust and girl friends beaten up and fewer amazing catches.

Ian Ollmann , June 18, 2020 at 8:59 pm

Some of this rings with class warfare hogwash. I am very far from a conservative, but even I must resort to that old saw in this case. Anyone who has worked in the same field or company for 20 years will eventually come to realize that in time at the workplace the academic degree is like so much kindling used to start a bonfire, and what really matters in the long run is the contribution you make in your chosen field over that time. This can hardly be lost on a bunch of academics nurturing their own career over decades so I must only conclude that such an edgy interpretation is intended to make waves. Degrees don't matter for sh__ once leadership figures out you don't know what you are doing. The best shine no matter how much muck you throw on them.

Where education matters is getting your foot in the door in the first place. If you can't manage that, then you may be a really great auto mechanic, rising to the top of your field, but failing to really make the same splash as you might have from being a mechanical engineer or chemist. Nonetheless, in almost any industry there is a need for smart competent people to help make sure the endeavor doesn't go off the rails and those will do well. Maybe they can afford to send their kids, who may be smart too probably, on to a better school.

It isn't about justifying inequality. It is about getting the best people in the right places to produce he best outcomes. Consult your Napoleon. When good outcomes are needed, and we aren't just writing papers, good people are essential.

Henry , June 18, 2020 at 10:18 pm

It depends what those meritocrats are doing. MBA s are a good example. Plus nothing original and creative comes out of a culture that prioritises corporate career building over other aspects of human beings. That's why you see the children of these meritocrats are so shallow and boring.

[Jun 18, 2020] Cornell Law Prof Says There's a Coordinated Effort To Have Him Fired After He Criticized Black Lives Matter

Highly recommended!
This is a typical hunt on dissidents
Jun 12, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Recall, it was just days ago that we pointed out Cornell professor and friend of Zero Hedge Dave Collum was publicly shamed by Cornell for daring to express the "wrong" opinion about current events on social media. Now, there's a second Cornell professor coming under fire for his critique of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Cornell Law School professor William A. Jacobson has challenged any student or faculty member to a public debate about the Black Lives Matter movement after he says liberals on campus have launched a "coordinated effort" to have him fired from his job. At least 15 emails from alumni have been sent to the dean, demanding that action be taken, according to Fox News .

"There is an effort underway to get me fired at Cornell Law School, where I've worked since November 2007, or if not fired, at least denounced publicly by the school," Jacobson wrote on Thursday . "I condemn in the strongest terms any insinuation that I am racist."

Jacobson founded the website Legal Insurrection and says he's had an "awkward relationship" with the university for years as a result. The recent outrage comes as a result of two posts he recently made on his site:

"Those posts accurately detail the history of how the Black Lives Matters Movement started, and the agenda of the founders which is playing out in the cultural purge and rioting taking place now," Jacobson said.

Jacobson (Source: Jacobson's Blog, Legal Insurrection )

He recently wrote on his blog: "Living as a conservative on a liberal campus is like being the mouse waiting for the cat to pounce. For over 12 years, the Cornell cat did not pounce. Though there were frequent and aggressive attempts by outsiders to get me fired, including threats and harassment, it always came from off campus."

"Not until now, to the best of my knowledge, has there been an effort from inside the Cornell community to get me fired," he says.

"The effort appears coordinated, as some of the emails were in a template form. All of the emails as of Monday were from graduates within the past 10 years," he continued. Jacobson's "clinical faculty colleagues, apparently in consultation with the Black Law Students Association" drafted and published a letter denouncing 'commentators, some of them attached to Ivy League Institutions, who are leading a smear campaign against Black Lives Matter.'"

Cornell responded , backhandedly defending the Professor's right to his own opinion:

"...the Law School's commitment to academic freedom does not constitute endorsement or approval of individual faculty speech. But to take disciplinary action against him for the views he has expressed would fatally pit our values against one another in ways that would corrode our ability to operate as an academic institution."

"This is not just about me. It's about the intellectual freedom and vibrancy of Cornell and other higher education institutions, and the society at large. Open inquiry and debate are core features of a vibrant intellectual community," he stated.

"I challenge a representative of those student groups and a faculty member of their choosing to a public debate at the law school regarding the Black Lives Matter Movement, so that I can present my argument and confront the false allegations in real-time rather than having to respond to baseless community email blasts."

"I condemn in the strongest terms any insinuation that I am racist, and I greatly resent any attempt to leverage meritless accusations in hopes of causing me reputational harm. While such efforts might succeed in scaring others in a similar position, I will not be intimidated," Jacobson concluded.

[Jun 16, 2020] "That's why they call it the American Dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it." by George Carlin

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Old saying: A Recession is when your neighbor loses their Job. A Depression is when you lose your Job. ..."
"... A lot of mega wealthy people are cheats. They get insider info, they don't pay people and do all they can to provide the least amount of value possible while tricking suckers into buying their crap. Don't even get me started on trust fund brats who come out of the womb thinking they are Warren buffet level genius in business. ..."
"... There's a documentary about Wal-Mart that has the best title ever: The High Cost of Low Cost ..."
"... Globalism killed the American dream. We can buy cheap goods made somewhere else if we have a job here that pays us enough money. ..."
Jun 16, 2020 | www.youtube.com

Dave C , 4 days ago

"That's why they call it the American Dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it." -George Carlin

Robert Schupp , 4 days ago

You can't just move to American cities to pursue opportunity; even the high wages paid in New York are rendered unhelpful because the cost of housing is so high.


Dingo Jones
, 3 days ago

@JOHN GAGLIANO Cost of living is ridiculous too.

Dirtysparkles , 4 days ago

Our country has become the American Nightmare

Jean-Pierre S , 4 days ago

Martin Luther King, Jr. was vilified and ultimately murdered when he was helping organize a Poor People's Campaign. Racial justice means economic justice.

John Sanders , 3 days ago

Old saying: A Recession is when your neighbor loses their Job. A Depression is when you lose your Job.

Adriano de Jesus , 4 days ago

A lot of mega wealthy people are cheats. They get insider info, they don't pay people and do all they can to provide the least amount of value possible while tricking suckers into buying their crap. Don't even get me started on trust fund brats who come out of the womb thinking they are Warren buffet level genius in business.

Ammon Weser , 4 days ago

There's a documentary about Wal-Mart that has the best title ever: The High Cost of Low Cost

crazyman8472 , 4 days ago

Night Owl: "What the hell happened to us? What happened to the American Dream?"

Comedian: "What happened to the American Dream? It came true! You're looking at it."

-- Watchmen

David Tidwell , 4 days ago

Nailed it. As a millennial, I'm sick of being told to just "deal with it" when the cards have always been stacked against me. Am I surviving? Yes. Am I thriving? No.

D dicin , 4 days ago

When the reserve status of the American dollar goes away, then it will become apparent how poor the US really is. You cannot maintain a country without retention of the ability to manufacture the articles you use on a daily basis. The military budget and all the jobs it brings will have to shrink catastrophically.

farber2 , 4 days ago

American trance. The billionaires hypnotized people with this lie.

Michael D , 4 days ago (edited)

...and sometimes you CAN'T afford to move. You can't find a decent job. You certainly can't build a meaningful savings. You can't find an apartment. And if you have kids? That makes it even harder. I've been trying to move for years, but the conditions have to be perfect to do it responsibly. The American Dream died for me once I realized that no matter the choices I made, my four years of college, my years of saving and working hard....I do NOT have upward mobility. For me, the American Dream is dead. I've been finding a new dream. The human dream.

B Sim , 3 days ago

This is a very truncated view. You need to expand your thinking. WHY has the system been so overtly corrupted? It's globalism that has pushed all this economic pressure on the millennials and the middle class. It was the elites, working with corrupt politicians, that rigged the game so the law benefited them.

This is all reversible. History shows that capitalism can be properly regulated in a way that benefits all. The answer to the problem is to bring back those rules, not implement socialism.

Trump has:

The result? before COVID hit the average American worker saw the first inflation adjusted wage increase in over 30 years!

This is why the fake news and hollywood continue to propagandize the masses into hating Trump.

Trump is implementing economic policies good for the people and bad for the elites

Sound Author , 3 days ago

The dream was never alive in the first place. It was always bullshit.

Julia Galaudet , 4 days ago

Maybe it's time for a maximum wage.

Scott Clark , 4 days ago

Private equity strips the country for years! It's the AMERICAN DREAM!!!

Siri Erieott , 4 days ago

A dream for 1%, a nightmare for 99%.

andrew kubiak , 4 days ago

Globalism killed the American dream. We can buy cheap goods made somewhere else if we have a job here that pays us enough money.

[Jun 16, 2020] Krystal Ball: The American dream is dead, good riddance

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Debt-free is the new American dream ..."
Jun 12, 2020 | www.youtube.com

Krystal Ball exposes the delusion of the American dream.

About Rising: Rising is a weekday morning show with bipartisan hosts that breaks the mold of morning TV by taking viewers inside the halls of Washington power like never before. The show leans into the day's political cycle with cutting edge analysis from DC insiders who can predict what is going to happen.

It also sets the day's political agenda by breaking exclusive news with a team of scoop-driven reporters and demanding answers during interviews with the country's most important political newsmakers.

Owen Cousino , 4 days ago

Debt-free is the new American dream

poppaDehorn , 4 days ago

Got my degree just as the great recession hit. Couldn't find real work for 3 years, not using my degree... But it was work. now after 8 years, im laid off. I did everything "right". do good in school, go to college, get a job...

I've never been fired in my life. its always, "Your contract is up" "Sorry we cant afford to keep you", "You can make more money collecting! but we'll give a recommendation if you find anything."

Now I'm back where i started... only now I have new house and a family to support... no pressure.

[Jun 16, 2020] History is often more complex that we think and textbooks often present one-sided story

I doubt that the opinion below is right, but it creates certain concerns about treatment of Great Britain behaviour in India as cruel and ruthless colonialism, at least on initial stages. One interesting nuance that British brutality was almost matched by several other players during this period.
Jun 16, 2020 | www.unz.com

Malla , says: Show Comment June 13, 2020 at 4:24 pm GMT

@karel

asymmetry of the relationship between India, or its various provinces, to be more accurate, and the GB.

Agreed but the Europeans wanted a way to the Indies (East Indies – a territorial description in those days which included South Asia and South East Asia all the way to Indonesia.) Indeed it was Indonesia which was the first prize (spices) which the Dutch got. India was the second best price, some spices yes but most importantly garments. And they Western Europeans (Portuguese, Spanish, French, Dutch, British, Danish [very small players]) wanted a way to the Indies to beat the monopoly of this trade by the Muslims and Venice. And when Constantinople fell to the Turks, this desire to find an alternative route increased further. I did not ask the Turks to conquer Constantinople. The whole colonial Empire chapter of mankind started thanks to the actions of the Turks.

a bit of eastern civilization to the savage people of these dismal islands.

Savage people? Abu Taleb Khan's book on British Society gives the opposite picture.

The eastern devil had also a little chance to gang up with the worst segments of the British ruling class to suck even more blood from its indigenous slaves. Had he made it, then Nawab Siraj Ud Daulah would have been awarded by haveing a nice statue of him erected in every major town of GB.

The East India Company itself stamped out all such corrupt practices with time. That is why Robert Clive was sent for a second time.

The British came to India to trade. But rivalry with other European powers especially the French led to the conquest of India. The earliest conquest of Indian regions of India by the English was primarily because of rivalry with France. It was originally France which started interfering in Indian affairs forcing the British to do the same in response out of fear of losing trade rights in India. Before that the English policy was to not interfere in local affairs much but just concentrate on trade. India for a while (especially) South India was going more French than British. However French ambitions depended on one person Joseph François Dupleix, a Napoleonic type figure of whom Empire builders are made of. However the French East India Company Directors lambasted Dupleix to not waste energy on conquests and empire buildings but concentrate on trade.

Must add that many Indian powers like Hyder Ali of Mysore were friends of Dupleix, unlike the French East India Company directors, the local powers were not complaining about his actions.

And how can we forget the Maratha Empire. It were the Maratha raids which would give the best help to the conquest and expansion of the British Empire in India. Marathas raided and decimated Bengal. They looted it out by their heavy taxation of Chouth (1/4th taxation i.e. 25% of the conquered/raided ) as well as killed many. So heavy were the impact of these Maratha raids, that the fierce Rajput Kings themselves voluntarily signed an alliance with the British East Indian Company for protection. Travancore Kingdom in South India signed a similar treaty with the English to save them from Tipu Sultan's invasions. Also must add that Nawab Shiraj Ud Daulah, the Nawab of Bengal crushed the Borgees, Maratha raiders who would raid and kill and rape and loot Bengal. One must add that a Peshwa (Prime Minister of the Royal Maratha Bhosle Family but defacto rulers) of the Marathas tried to stop all this raiding but before he could take any action in Bengal he had to return to Pune (the capital of the Peshwas and Maratha power center).

And what about Nader Shah the brave Sultan of Iran. Nadir Shah looted out of India multiple times of what the British East India Company earned in India till the mutiny. During the course of one day (March 22) 20,000 to 30,000 Indians were brutally killed by Iranian troops and as many as 10,000 women and children were taken as slaves, forcing Indian Mughal Emperor Mohammad Shah to beg Nader Shah for mercy.

In response, Iranian Emperor Nader Shah agreed to withdraw, but Indian Emperor Mohammad Shah paid the consequence in handing over the keys of his royal treasury, and losing even the fabled Peacock Throne to the Iranian emperor. The Peacock Throne, thereafter, served as a symbol of Iranian imperial might. It is estimated that Nader took away with him treasures worth as much as seven hundred million rupees. Among a trove of other fabulous jewels, Nader also looted the Koh-i-Noor (meaning "Mountain of Light" in Persian) and Darya-ye Noor (meaning "Sea of Light") diamonds. The Iranian troops left Delhi at the beginning of May 1739, but before they left, he ceded back to Muhammad Shah all territories to the east of the Indus which he had overrun. The booty they had collected was loaded on 700 elephants, 4,000 camels, and 12,000 horses.

I let us not even start about Ahmed Shah Abdali, the Lord of the Afghans who had his own lootings in India. The British East India Company got peanuts compared to the above two Empires. LOL.

You think Iranian Emperor Nadir Shah, would feel guilty about slavery? LOL. Imagine a bunch of pussyboy leftist SJWs & anti fa thugs going to manly Nadir Shah's court and calling him evul because he enslaved people. Nadir Shah would roar with laughter so hard, the SJWs/anti-fas would collectively pee in their pants. He would probably keep the male SJWs & anti fas as nautch boys and females would be forced into his harem or distributed to his courtiers.

Malla , says: Show Comment June 13, 2020 at 5:06 pm GMT
@Anon

British empire wasn't run by Indian merchants.

It was run by White British 'gentlemen.'

British Empire had its own Jew lobby just like how Jews control America today.

But the people whos topped that evil trade were all British Protestant missionaries. No Indian Baniya or Parsi or Bengali cared about the Chinese dying. Do you really think the typical Indian baniya trader would give a rats ass about the deaths of chinkis (East Asians) or Goras (Whites) or Kalus (Blacks)? They would not Giva a f ** k. The Jews definitely did not care about Chinese dying. It were evul Whitey Anglos who led a campaign to stop this trade.

The opium trade faced intense enmity from the later British Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone. As a member of Parliament, Gladstone called it "most infamous and atrocious" referring to the opium trade between China and British India in particular . Gladstone was fiercely against both of the Opium Wars and ardently opposed to the British trade in opium to China. He lambasted it as "Palmerston's Opium War" and said that he felt "in dread of the judgments of God upon England for our national iniquity towards China" in May 1840. Gladstone criticized it as "a war more unjust in its origin, a war more calculated in its progress to cover this country with permanent disgrace,".

In the 1890s, the effects of opium use were still largely undocumented by science. Protestant missionaries in China compiled data to demonstrate the harm of the drug, which they had observed. They were outraged that the British Royal Commission on Opium visited India but not China. They created the Anti-Opium League in China among their colleagues in every mission station, for which the American missionary Hampden Coit DuBose served as the first president. This organization was instrumental in gathering data from Western-trained medical doctors in China, most of whom were missionaries. They published their data and conclusions in 1899 as Opinions of Over 100 Physicians on the Use of Opium in China. The survey included doctors in private practices, particularly in Shanghai and Hong Kong, as well as Chinese who had been trained in medical schools in Western countries.

In England, the home director of the China Inland Mission, Benjamin Broomhall, was an active opponent of the opium trade; he wrote two books to promote banning opium smoking: Truth about Opium Smoking and The Chinese Opium Smoker. In 1888 Broomhall formed and became secretary of the "Christian Union for the Severance of the British Empire with the Opium Traffic" and editor of its periodical, National Righteousness. He lobbied the British Parliament to stop the opium trade. He and James Laidlaw Maxwell appealed to the London Missionary Conference of 1888 and the Edinburgh Missionary Conference of 1910 to condemn the trade. As he lay dying, the government signed an agreement to end the opium trade within two years.

Malla , says: Show Comment June 13, 2020 at 10:13 pm GMT
@Anon

A lot of those Jewish and Indian traders brought valuable goods to Britain,

The valuable goods were brought to Britain by the East India Company itself.

Indians made a lot of money, it's because they were better traders than British.

http://www.ibtimes.co.in/chinas-opium-war-was-completely-indian-enterprise-not-british-indian-author-amitav-ghosh-628177

China's Opium War Was 'Completely Indian Enterprise', not British: Indian Author Amitav Ghosh

At this juncture he found that the first opium war in China was an Indian undertaking. " The first opium war (was) planned in India, it was financed by Indian money, it was fought with Indian soldiers. But it has all completely vanished from our historical memory ," Ghosh, whose third book of Ibis series 'Flood of Fire' is all about migration in the 1830s, told IANS.

" The putting together of the expeditionary force took place in India. The British naval ships for the expedition were accompanied by 50 supply ships, all provided for by Parsi merchants in Bombay (now Mumbai). From top to bottom, it was a completely Indian enterprise; all the wherewithal for it came from India," he added.

http://epaperbeta.timesofindia.com/Article.aspx?eid=31808&articlexml=SPOILS-OF-WAR-History-of-capitalism-is-written-27112016018050

What role did India Inc play in the opium trade war?

They [Indian companies] played a pioneering part. In large parts, the opium war was financed by Indian money – by old Bombay money. Many of t he big Indian families made their money in opium. This is equally true about America.

Many American companies and families have made their money in opium -President Franklin Roo sevelt's family, t he C a l v i n Coolidge family, Forbes family from where you get the current secretary of state, John Kerry, even institutions like Yale and Brown. Singapore and Hong Kong wouldn't exist today without opium.Essentially opium was the most important commodity of the 19th century.

Are companies hesitant to acknowledge their past connections to opium?

Very hesitant . Jardine Matheson was one of the most important opium trading companies in the 19th century. Their closest partner was Sir Jamsetji Jeejeebhoy, who built half of Bombay. To this day, Jardine Matheson does not like this connection mentioned. In fact, they've been known to threaten journalists. Similarly, people who've been trying to work with papers of various Indian companies find it very difficult to access documents. Let me just say it tactfully that several companies don't like this to be spoken of in public.

Would it have been difficult for companies to hide their past if there was social media at that time?

The opium war was a very modern war. It was sold to the British government by merchants. They collected money and sent William Jardine to London to bribe politicians into starting this war. It's a collusion between the State and the private sector, which benefited not only from the policies of the opium trade, but also from the whole war being sub-contracted to them, in terms of provisions, supply ships etc. It was the template of the Iraq war. First, you pick up something, drum it up by publishing some articles about it, the people will get worked up, then you start the war. You keep hidden what is actually happening.

Malla , says: Show Comment June 13, 2020 at 10:15 pm GMT
@Malla

But the people whos topped that evil trade were all British Protestant missionaries.

Sorry dangerous typo.
It is
But the people who stopped that evil trade were all British (& American) Protestant missionaries.

[Jun 16, 2020] The so called History Websites I used to read are 50% BS, and so are their Professors that are writing them.

Jun 16, 2020 | www.unz.com

GMC , says: Show Comment June 14, 2020 at 8:02 am GMT

There is one War that is being waged on the populace of the world , especially in the West, and it's the War on Knowledge, Truths and Common Sense. Ask a previous forged history question to a person who has read extensively Alternate Websites like Unz Rev. , ICH, the Late Robt. Parry etc. and then ask someone who hasn't – and the war on knowledge, truth is quite visible. When the Author shows his history lessons from the British Educational system, { the same as the American ones } with regards to the India history, the Brits are always in the right . But real knowledge and truth are just the opposite. The so called History Websites I used to read are 50% BS, and so are their Professors that are writing for them.

[Jun 16, 2020] There's never been any reality in 20th Century US history, at least since WWII ended.

Jun 16, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Richard Steven Hack , Jun 16 2020 1:44 utc | 79

Posted by: vk | Jun 15 2020 22:29 utc | 58

I can't explain, but you can certainly feel in the air that the October Revolution and the USSR still haunt the American people - from Alabama to California; from North Dakota to New York.

I think that, deep down, every American knows they are a capitalist empire - it's "popular wisdom", as they say.

Agreed. You had to have lived from 1949 to now, i.e., the Cold War. *Everyone* in that period remembers certain things: the Kennedy assassination, Khrushchev pounding his shoe in the UN, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Berlin Airlift, the Vietnam War (and the opposition to it). Maybe not clearly, but they remember it was in their history.

Most people under 50 only remember things from the 1970's on. Economically, things only started going bad in the 1970's with the oil crisis, the Nixon corruption, then the '80s, '90s. Then 9/11 and the bogus "War on Terrorism" takes over for the last twenty years.

The conflict between the Soviet Empire and the US Empire pretty much controls how the US perception was created. The media had a hand in it, too. In the '50s everything was "Ozzie and Harriet" (does anyone even remember that show existed?) In the '60s it was "Father Knows Best." In the '70s it was Archie Bunker - the first sign of a change. In the '80s it was "Cheers". In the '90s it was "middle class black" shows like "Fresh Prince". You can see the progression just from Google searching "TV icons" of each period.

There's never been any reality in 20th Century US history, at least since WWII ended.

[Jun 14, 2020] Anonymous Berkeley Professor Shreds BLM Injustice Narrative With Damning Facts And Logic

Highly recommended!
A strange mixture of Black nationalism with Black Bolshevism is a very interesting and pretty alarming phenomenon. It proved to be a pretty toxic mix. But it is far from being new. We saw how the Eugène Pottier famous song International lines "We have been naught we shall be all." and "Servile masses arise, arise." unfolded before under Stalinism in Soviet Russia.
We also saw Lysenkoism in Academia before, and it was not a pretty picture. Some Russian/Soviet scientists such as Academician Vavilov paid with their life for the sin of not being politically correct. From this letter it is clear that the some departments already reached the stage tragically close to that situation.
Lysenkoism was "politically correct" (a term invented by Lenin) because it was consistent with the broader Marxist doctrine. Marxists wanted to believe that heredity had a limited role even among humans, and that human characteristics changed by living under socialism would be inherited by subsequent generations of humans. Thus would be created the selfless new Soviet man
"Lysenko was consequently embraced and lionized by the Soviet media propaganda machine. Scientists who promoted Lysenkoism with faked data and destroyed counterevidence were favored with government funding and official recognition and award. Lysenko and his followers and media acolytes responded to critics by impugning their motives, and denouncing them as bourgeois fascists resisting the advance of the new modern Marxism." The Disgraceful Episode Of Lysenkoism Brings Us Global Warming Theory
Notable quotes:
"... In the extended links and resources you provided, I could not find a single instance of substantial counter-argument or alternative narrative to explain the under-representation of black individuals in academia or their over-representation in the criminal justice system. ..."
"... any cogent objections to this thesis have been raised by sober voices, including from within the black community itself, such as Thomas Sowell and Wilfred Reilly. These people are not racists or 'Uncle Toms'. They are intelligent scholars who reject a narrative that strips black people of agency and systematically externalizes the problems of the black community onto outsiders . Their view is entirely absent from the departmental and UCB-wide communiques. ..."
"... The claim that the difficulties that the black community faces are entirely causally explained by exogenous factors in the form of white systemic racism, white supremacy, and other forms of white discrimination remains a problematic hypothesis that should be vigorously challenged by historians ..."
"... Would we characterize criminal justice as a systemically misandrist conspiracy against innocent American men? I hope you see that this type of reasoning is flawed, and requires a significant suspension of our rational faculties. Black people are not incarcerated at higher rates than their involvement in violent crime would predict . This fact has been demonstrated multiple times across multiple jurisdictions in multiple countries. ..."
"... If we claim that the criminal justice system is white-supremacist, why is it that Asian Americans, Indian Americans, and Nigerian Americans are incarcerated at vastly lower rates than white Americans? ..."
"... Increasingly, we are being called upon to comply and subscribe to BLM's problematic view of history , and the department is being presented as unified on the matter. In particular, ethnic minorities are being aggressively marshaled into a single position. Any apparent unity is surely a function of the fact that dissent could almost certainly lead to expulsion or cancellation for those of us in a precarious position , which is no small number. ..."
"... The vast majority of violence visited on the black community is committed by black people . There are virtually no marches for these invisible victims, no public silences, no heartfelt letters from the UC regents, deans, and departmental heads. The message is clear: Black lives only matter when whites take them. Black violence is expected and insoluble, while white violence requires explanation and demands solution. Please look into your hearts and see how monstrously bigoted this formulation truly is. ..."
"... The claim that black intraracial violence is the product of redlining, slavery, and other injustices is a largely historical claim. It is for historians, therefore, to explain why Japanese internment or the massacre of European Jewry hasn't led to equivalent rates of dysfunction and low SES performance among Japanese and Jewish Americans respectively. ..."
"... Arab Americans have been viciously demonized since 9/11, as have Chinese Americans more recently. However, both groups outperform white Americans on nearly all SES indices - as do Nigerian Americans , who incidentally have black skin. It is for historians to point out and discuss these anomalies. However, no real discussion is possible in the current climate at our department . The explanation is provided to us, disagreement with it is racist, and the job of historians is to further explore additional ways in which the explanation is additionally correct. This is a mockery of the historical profession. ..."
"... Donating to BLM today is to indirectly donate to Joe Biden's 2020 campaign. This is grotesque given the fact that the American cities with the worst rates of black-on-black violence and police-on-black violence are overwhelmingly Democrat-run. Minneapolis itself has been entirely in the hands of Democrats for over five decades ; the 'systemic racism' there was built by successive Democrat administrations. ..."
"... The total alliance of major corporations involved in human exploitation with BLM should be a warning flag to us, and yet this damning evidence goes unnoticed, purposefully ignored, or perversely celebrated. We are the useful idiots of the wealthiest classes , carrying water for Jeff Bezos and other actual, real, modern-day slavers. Starbucks, an organisation using literal black slaves in its coffee plantation suppliers, is in favor of BLM. Sony, an organisation using cobalt mined by yet more literal black slaves, many of whom are children, is in favor of BLM. And so, apparently, are we. The absence of counter-narrative enables this obscenity. Fiat lux, indeed. ..."
"... MLK would likely be called an Uncle Tom if he spoke on our campus today . We are training leaders who intend, explicitly, to destroy one of the only truly successful ethnically diverse societies in modern history. As the PRC, an ethnonationalist and aggressively racially chauvinist national polity with null immigration and no concept of jus solis increasingly presents itself as the global political alternative to the US, I ask you: Is this wise? Are we really doing the right thing? ..."
Jun 12, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Dear profs X, Y, Z

I am one of your colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley. I have met you both personally but do not know you closely, and am contacting you anonymously, with apologies. I am worried that writing this email publicly might lead to me losing my job, and likely all future jobs in my field.

In your recent departmental emails you mentioned our pledge to diversity, but I am increasingly alarmed by the absence of diversity of opinion on the topic of the recent protests and our community response to them.

In the extended links and resources you provided, I could not find a single instance of substantial counter-argument or alternative narrative to explain the under-representation of black individuals in academia or their over-representation in the criminal justice system. The explanation provided in your documentation, to the near exclusion of all others, is univariate: the problems of the black community are caused by whites, or, when whites are not physically present, by the infiltration of white supremacy and white systemic racism into American brains, souls, and institutions.

Many cogent objections to this thesis have been raised by sober voices, including from within the black community itself, such as Thomas Sowell and Wilfred Reilly. These people are not racists or 'Uncle Toms'. They are intelligent scholars who reject a narrative that strips black people of agency and systematically externalizes the problems of the black community onto outsiders . Their view is entirely absent from the departmental and UCB-wide communiques.

The claim that the difficulties that the black community faces are entirely causally explained by exogenous factors in the form of white systemic racism, white supremacy, and other forms of white discrimination remains a problematic hypothesis that should be vigorously challenged by historians . Instead, it is being treated as an axiomatic and actionable truth without serious consideration of its profound flaws, or its worrying implication of total black impotence. This hypothesis is transforming our institution and our culture, without any space for dissent outside of a tightly policed, narrow discourse.

A counternarrative exists. If you have time, please consider examining some of the documents I attach at the end of this email. Overwhelmingly, the reasoning provided by BLM and allies is either primarily anecdotal (as in the case with the bulk of Ta-Nehisi Coates' undeniably moving article) or it is transparently motivated. As an example of the latter problem, consider the proportion of black incarcerated Americans. This proportion is often used to characterize the criminal justice system as anti-black. However, if we use the precise same methodology, we would have to conclude that the criminal justice system is even more anti-male than it is anti-black .

Would we characterize criminal justice as a systemically misandrist conspiracy against innocent American men? I hope you see that this type of reasoning is flawed, and requires a significant suspension of our rational faculties. Black people are not incarcerated at higher rates than their involvement in violent crime would predict . This fact has been demonstrated multiple times across multiple jurisdictions in multiple countries.

And yet, I see my department uncritically reproducing a narrative that diminishes black agency in favor of a white-centric explanation that appeals to the department's apparent desire to shoulder the 'white man's burden' and to promote a narrative of white guilt .

If we claim that the criminal justice system is white-supremacist, why is it that Asian Americans, Indian Americans, and Nigerian Americans are incarcerated at vastly lower rates than white Americans? This is a funny sort of white supremacy. Even Jewish Americans are incarcerated less than gentile whites. I think it's fair to say that your average white supremacist disapproves of Jews. And yet, these alleged white supremacists incarcerate gentiles at vastly higher rates than Jews. None of this is addressed in your literature. None of this is explained, beyond hand-waving and ad hominems. "Those are racist dogwhistles". "The model minority myth is white supremacist". "Only fascists talk about black-on-black crime", ad nauseam.

These types of statements do not amount to counterarguments: they are simply arbitrary offensive classifications, intended to silence and oppress discourse . Any serious historian will recognize these for the silencing orthodoxy tactics they are , common to suppressive regimes, doctrines, and religions throughout time and space. They are intended to crush real diversity and permanently exile the culture of robust criticism from our department.

Increasingly, we are being called upon to comply and subscribe to BLM's problematic view of history , and the department is being presented as unified on the matter. In particular, ethnic minorities are being aggressively marshaled into a single position. Any apparent unity is surely a function of the fact that dissent could almost certainly lead to expulsion or cancellation for those of us in a precarious position , which is no small number.

I personally don't dare speak out against the BLM narrative , and with this barrage of alleged unity being mass-produced by the administration, tenured professoriat, the UC administration, corporate America, and the media, the punishment for dissent is a clear danger at a time of widespread economic vulnerability. I am certain that if my name were attached to this email, I would lose my job and all future jobs, even though I believe in and can justify every word I type.

The vast majority of violence visited on the black community is committed by black people . There are virtually no marches for these invisible victims, no public silences, no heartfelt letters from the UC regents, deans, and departmental heads. The message is clear: Black lives only matter when whites take them. Black violence is expected and insoluble, while white violence requires explanation and demands solution. Please look into your hearts and see how monstrously bigoted this formulation truly is.

No discussion is permitted for nonblack victims of black violence, who proportionally outnumber black victims of nonblack violence. This is especially bitter in the Bay Area, where Asian victimization by black assailants has reached epidemic proportions, to the point that the SF police chief has advised Asians to stop hanging good-luck charms on their doors, as this attracts the attention of (overwhelmingly black) home invaders . Home invaders like George Floyd . For this actual, lived, physically experienced reality of violence in the USA, there are no marches, no tearful emails from departmental heads, no support from McDonald's and Wal-Mart. For the History department, our silence is not a mere abrogation of our duty to shed light on the truth: it is a rejection of it.

The claim that black intraracial violence is the product of redlining, slavery, and other injustices is a largely historical claim. It is for historians, therefore, to explain why Japanese internment or the massacre of European Jewry hasn't led to equivalent rates of dysfunction and low SES performance among Japanese and Jewish Americans respectively.

Arab Americans have been viciously demonized since 9/11, as have Chinese Americans more recently. However, both groups outperform white Americans on nearly all SES indices - as do Nigerian Americans , who incidentally have black skin. It is for historians to point out and discuss these anomalies. However, no real discussion is possible in the current climate at our department . The explanation is provided to us, disagreement with it is racist, and the job of historians is to further explore additional ways in which the explanation is additionally correct. This is a mockery of the historical profession.

Most troublingly, our department appears to have been entirely captured by the interests of the Democratic National Convention, and the Democratic Party more broadly. To explain what I mean, consider what happens if you choose to donate to Black Lives Matter, an organization UCB History has explicitly promoted in its recent mailers. All donations to the official BLM website are immediately redirected to ActBlue Charities , an organization primarily concerned with bankrolling election campaigns for Democrat candidates. Donating to BLM today is to indirectly donate to Joe Biden's 2020 campaign. This is grotesque given the fact that the American cities with the worst rates of black-on-black violence and police-on-black violence are overwhelmingly Democrat-run. Minneapolis itself has been entirely in the hands of Democrats for over five decades ; the 'systemic racism' there was built by successive Democrat administrations.

The patronizing and condescending attitudes of Democrat leaders towards the black community, exemplified by nearly every Biden statement on the black race, all but guarantee a perpetual state of misery, resentment, poverty, and the attendant grievance politics which are simultaneously annihilating American political discourse and black lives. And yet, donating to BLM is bankrolling the election campaigns of men like Mayor Frey, who saw their cities devolve into violence . This is a grotesque capture of a good-faith movement for necessary police reform, and of our department, by a political party. Even worse, there are virtually no avenues for dissent in academic circles . I refuse to serve the Party, and so should you.

The total alliance of major corporations involved in human exploitation with BLM should be a warning flag to us, and yet this damning evidence goes unnoticed, purposefully ignored, or perversely celebrated. We are the useful idiots of the wealthiest classes , carrying water for Jeff Bezos and other actual, real, modern-day slavers. Starbucks, an organisation using literal black slaves in its coffee plantation suppliers, is in favor of BLM. Sony, an organisation using cobalt mined by yet more literal black slaves, many of whom are children, is in favor of BLM. And so, apparently, are we. The absence of counter-narrative enables this obscenity. Fiat lux, indeed.

There also exists a large constituency of what can only be called 'race hustlers': hucksters of all colors who benefit from stoking the fires of racial conflict to secure administrative jobs, charity management positions, academic jobs and advancement, or personal political entrepreneurship.

Given the direction our history department appears to be taking far from any commitment to truth , we can regard ourselves as a formative training institution for this brand of snake-oil salespeople. Their activities are corrosive, demolishing any hope at harmonious racial coexistence in our nation and colonizing our political and institutional life. Many of their voices are unironically segregationist.

MLK would likely be called an Uncle Tom if he spoke on our campus today . We are training leaders who intend, explicitly, to destroy one of the only truly successful ethnically diverse societies in modern history. As the PRC, an ethnonationalist and aggressively racially chauvinist national polity with null immigration and no concept of jus solis increasingly presents itself as the global political alternative to the US, I ask you: Is this wise? Are we really doing the right thing?

As a final point, our university and department has made multiple statements celebrating and eulogizing George Floyd. Floyd was a multiple felon who once held a pregnant black woman at gunpoint. He broke into her home with a gang of men and pointed a gun at her pregnant stomach. He terrorized the women in his community. He sired and abandoned multiple children , playing no part in their support or upbringing, failing one of the most basic tests of decency for a human being. He was a drug-addict and sometime drug-dealer, a swindler who preyed upon his honest and hard-working neighbors .

And yet, the regents of UC and the historians of the UCB History department are celebrating this violent criminal, elevating his name to virtual sainthood . A man who hurt women. A man who hurt black women. With the full collaboration of the UCB history department, corporate America, most mainstream media outlets, and some of the wealthiest and most privileged opinion-shaping elites of the USA, he has become a culture hero, buried in a golden casket, his (recognized) family showered with gifts and praise . Americans are being socially pressured into kneeling for this violent, abusive misogynist . A generation of black men are being coerced into identifying with George Floyd, the absolute worst specimen of our race and species.

I'm ashamed of my department. I would say that I'm ashamed of both of you, but perhaps you agree with me, and are simply afraid, as I am, of the backlash of speaking the truth. It's hard to know what kneeling means, when you have to kneel to keep your job.

It shouldn't affect the strength of my argument above, but for the record, I write as a person of color . My family have been personally victimized by men like Floyd. We are aware of the condescending depredations of the Democrat party against our race. The humiliating assumption that we are too stupid to do STEM , that we need special help and lower requirements to get ahead in life, is richly familiar to us. I sometimes wonder if it wouldn't be easier to deal with open fascists, who at least would be straightforward in calling me a subhuman, and who are unlikely to share my race.

The ever-present soft bigotry of low expectations and the permanent claim that the solutions to the plight of my people rest exclusively on the goodwill of whites rather than on our own hard work is psychologically devastating . No other group in America is systematically demoralized in this way by its alleged allies. A whole generation of black children are being taught that only by begging and weeping and screaming will they get handouts from guilt-ridden whites.

No message will more surely devastate their futures, especially if whites run out of guilt, or indeed if America runs out of whites. If this had been done to Japanese Americans, or Jewish Americans, or Chinese Americans, then Chinatown and Japantown would surely be no different to the roughest parts of Baltimore and East St. Louis today. The History department of UCB is now an integral institutional promulgator of a destructive and denigrating fallacy about the black race.

I hope you appreciate the frustration behind this message. I do not support BLM. I do not support the Democrat grievance agenda and the Party's uncontested capture of our department. I do not support the Party co-opting my race, as Biden recently did in his disturbing interview, claiming that voting Democrat and being black are isomorphic. I condemn the manner of George Floyd's death and join you in calling for greater police accountability and police reform. However, I will not pretend that George Floyd was anything other than a violent misogynist, a brutal man who met a predictably brutal end .

I also want to protect the practice of history. Cleo is no grovelling handmaiden to politicians and corporations. Like us, she is free. play_arrow

LEEPERMAX , 12 seconds ago

Donations to Black Lives Matter are funneled through a Democratic fundraising group ...

seryanhoj , 36 seconds ago

This guy is not playing by the rules of US political discourse. His sins are:

1). Using real facts

2). Making logical deductions from the facts

3) Making assertions not in line with the script from his party, social group or race.

There is no future for such a man. We are in a time which prefers hysteria , lies and epic partisanship

simpson seers , 36 minutes ago

white muricans aren't racist, they kill equally....

https://www.fort-russ.com/2020/01/u-s-regime-has-killed-20-30-million-people-since-world-war-ii/

https://www.fort-russ.com/2020/02/former-american-drone-operator-us-military-worse-than-nazis/

Aubiekong , 36 minutes ago

Blacks will always be poor and fucked in life when 75% of black infants are born to single most likely welfare dependent mothers... And the more amount of welfare monies spent to combat poverty the worse this problem will grow...

taketheredpill , 37 minutes ago

Anonymous....

1) Is he really a Professor at Berkeley?

2) Is he really a Professor anywhere?

3) Is he really Black?

4) Is he really a He?

LEEPERMAX , 44 minutes ago

BLM is an international organization. They solicit tax free charitable donations via ActBlue. ActBlue then funnels billions of dollars to DNC campaigns. This is a violation of campaign finance law and allows foreign influence in American elections.

CRM114 , 44 minutes ago

I've pointed this out before:

In 2015, after the Freddie Gray death Officers were hung out to dry by the Mayor of Baltimore (yes, her, the Chair of the DNC in 2016), active policing in Baltimore basically stopped. They just count the bodies now. The clearance rate for homicides has dropped to, well, we don't know because the Police refuse to say, but it appears to be under 15%. The homicide rate jumped 50% almost immediately and has stayed there. 95% of homicides are black on black.

The Baltimore Sun keeps excellent records, so you can check this all for yourself.

Looking at killings by cops; if we take the worst case and exclude all the ones where the victim was armed and independent witnesses state fired first, and assume all the others were cop murders, then there's about 1 cop murder every 3 years, which means that since has now stopped and the homicide rate's gone up...

For every black man now not murdered by a cop, 400 more black men are murdered by other black men.

taketheredpill , 46 minutes ago

"As an example of the latter problem, consider the proportion of black incarcerated Americans. This proportion is often used to characterize the criminal justice system as anti-black. However, if we use the precise same methodology, we would have to conclude that the criminal justice system is even more anti-male than it is anti-black ."

It is the RATIO of UNARMED BLACK MALES KILLED to UNARMED WHITE MALES KILLED in RELATION TO % OF POPULATION. RATIO.

RATIO. UNARMED.

BLACK % POPULATION 13% BLACK % UNARMED MEN KILLED 37%

WHITE % POPULATION 74% BLACK % UNARMED MEN KILLED 45%

Is there a trend of MORE Black people being killed by police?

No. But there is an underlying difference in the numbers that is bad.

>>>>> As of 2018, Unarmed Blacks made up 36% of all people UNARMED killed by police. But black people make up 13% of the (unarmed) population.

UNARMED KILLINGS BY POLICE

UNARMED KILLINGS BY POLICE

YEAR Black Hispanic White

2015 36 19 31

2016 18 9 20

2017 19 12 24

2018(Apr) 7 1 10

2019 15 11 25

YEAR Black Hispanic White

2015 42% 22% 36%

2016 38% 19% 43%

2017 35% 22% 44%

2018(Apr) 39% 6% 56%

2019 29% 22% 49%

AVG 37% 18% 45%

% POPN 13% 16% 72%

ARMED > 18 YRS OLD TOY WEAPON

Black Hispanic White

2019 5 3 11

26% 16% 58%

https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/fatal-police-shootings-of-unarmed-people-have-significantly-declined-experts-say/2018/05/03/d5eab374-4349-11e8-8569-26fda6b404c7_story.html

radical-extremist , 47 minutes ago

There's a massive Silent Majority of Americans , including black Americans, that are fed up with this absurd nonsense.

While there's a Vocal Minority of Americans : including Democrats, the media, corporations and race hustlers, that wish to continue to promulgate a FALSE NARRATIVE into perpetuity...because it's a lucrative industry.

Gaius Konstantine , 57 minutes ago

A short while ago I had an ex friend get into it with me about how Europeans (whites), were the most destructive race on the planet, responsible for all the world's evil. I pointed out to him that Genghis Khan, an Asian, slaughtered millions at a time when technology made this a remarkable feat. I reminded him the Japanese gleefully killed millions in China and that the American Indian Empires ran 24/7 human sacrifices with some also practicing cannibalism. His poor libtard brain couldn't handle the fact that evil is a human trait, not restricted to a particular race and we parted (good riddance)

But along with evil, there is accomplishment. Europeans created Empires and pursued science, The Asians also participated in these pursuits and even the Aztec and Inca built marvelous cities and massive states spanning vast stretches of territory. The only race that accomplished little save entering the stone age is the Africans. Are we supposed to give them a participation trophy to make them feel better? Is this feeling of inferiority what is truly behind their constant rage?

Police in the US have been militarized for a long time now and kill many more unarmed whites than they do blacks, where is the outrage? I'm getting the feeling that this isn't really about George, just an excuse to do what savages do.

lwilland1012 , 1 hour ago

"Truth is treason in an empire of lies."

George Orwell

You know that the reason he is anonymous is that Berkley would strip him of his teaching credentials and there would be multiple attempts on his life...

Ignatius , 1 hour ago

" The vast majority of violence visited on the black community is committed by black people . There are virtually no marches for these invisible victims, no public silences, no heartfelt letters from the UC regents, deans, and departmental heads. The message is clear: Black lives only matter when whites take them. Black violence is expected and insoluble, while white violence requires explanation and demands solution. Please look into your hearts and see how monstrously bigoted this formulation truly is."

PhD thesis, right there. ..

Templar X , 1 hour ago

Ex-fed who trained Buffalo cops says shoved activist 'got away lightly'

By Craig McCarthy

June 12, 2020 | 12:31pm

A former fed who trained the police in Buffalo believes the elderly protester who was hospitalized after a cop pushed him to the ground "got away lightly" and "took a dive," according to a report.

The retired FBI agent, Gary DiLaura, told The Sun he thinks there's no chance Buffalo officers will be convicted of assault over the now-viral video showing the longtime peace activist Martin Gugino fall and left bleeding on the ground.

" I can't believe that they didn't deck him. If that would have been a 40-year-old guy going up there, I guarantee you they'd have been all over him, " DiLaura said.

" He absolutely got away lightly. He got a light push and in my humble opinion, he took a dive and the dive backfired because he hit his head. Maybe it'll knock a little bit of sense into him, " added the former fed, who trained Buffalo police on firearms and defensive tactics, according to the report...

https://nypost.com/2020/06/12/ex-fed-who-trained-buffalo-cops-elderly-activist-got-away-lightly/

NanoRap , 17 minutes ago

It's a great brainwashing process, which goes very slow[ly] and is divided [into] four basic stages. The first one [is] demoralization ; it takes from 15-20 years to demoralize a nation. Why that many years? Because this is the minimum number of years which [is required] to educate one generation of students in the country of your enemy, exposed to the ideology of the enemy. In other words, Marxist-Leninist ideology is being pumped into the soft heads of at least three generations of American students, without being challenged, or counter-balanced by the basic values of Americanism (American patriotism).

The result? The result you can see. Most of the people who graduated in the sixties (drop-outs or half-baked intellectuals) are now occupying the positions of power in the government, civil service, business, mass media, [and the] educational system. You are stuck with them. You cannot get rid of them. T hey are contaminated; they are programmed to think and react to certain stimuli in a certain pattern. You cannot change their mind[s], even if you expose them to authentic information, even if you prove that white is white and black is black, you still cannot change the basic perception and the logic of behavior. In other words, these people... the process of demoralization is complete and irreversible. To [rid] society of these people, you need another twenty or fifteen years to educate a new generation of patriotically-minded and common sense people, who would be acting in favor and in the interests of United States society.

Yuri Bezmenov

American Psycho , 16 minutes ago

This article was one of the most articulate and succinct rebuttals to the BLM political power grab. I too have been calling these "allies" useful idiots and I am happy to hear this professor doing the same. Bravo professor!

[Jun 14, 2020] America looks like a hybrid of Stephen King, Brave New World, and 1984 and the US elites and intel agencies love it.

Jun 14, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

AriusArmenian , Jun 13 2020 19:27 utc | 22

This is looking like another 1960's type insurrection that will end up the same way: it will be used by the rich and powerful elites (notice how the corporate controlled media has gone on one knee for BLM and has gone outright anti-white?), there will be a back lash that will crush it (right after the election), and its leaders will be either absorbed into the establishment or offed.

America looks like a hybrid of Stephen King, Brave New World, and 1984 and the rich and powerful US elites and intel agencies stroke it and love it. Notice that the US super rich have been raking it in since January 2020? While at the same time Trump is busy making the US a vassal state of Israel and accelerating the roll-out of Cold War v2 which is just fine with US elites that will not change with the election of moron Biden (if the people elect Biden they are electing his VP as Biden will not last long; he is a lot like Yeltsin that was pumped up on mental stimulants and nutriments to perform for short periods until the next treatment).

What a country, what a ship of fools.

[Jun 13, 2020] Already-Broke Colleges Being Bullied Into Hosting Costly White Privilege Workshops Amid Virus Crisis

Jun 13, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Already many families are opting out of sending their recent high school graduates off to college as a potential second wave COVID-19 crisis looms. Many students are no doubt thinking it's a good time for a 'gap year' .

This is a trend likely to only grow, especially given the degree to which universities stop actually educating in Literature, History, Science, Business, Math, and the Classics - and instead focus on dubious and highly elastic concepts like "privilege" and "systemic racism".

[Jun 12, 2020] How Do We Fight The Woke Militants

Jun 12, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

UPDATE.3: From a professor in the comments section:

I am a full professor in the humanities at a major private university. Everyone on this blog would likely recognize my name if I published it here.

I've decided that at this point my life–I am in my late 50s–that proactively fighting is just not worth it for me. Over a decade ago I suffered a severe depressive episode after a student at my school sought to destroy me online by publishing, without my permission, a kindly penned private note to her. (It involved a "woke" topic. But I'll just leave it at that). In any event, it seemed like hell for about two weeks, suffering night terrors, severe insomnia, excruciating brain zaps in the middle of the night, etc. I could have turned her into the provost's office for violating the university's honor code. But I knew if I did that I would create my own Streisand effect. Thus, I thought to myself, just suffer for a little while and it will go away. It did. But the episode changed me immensely.

So, with BLM and its insane sycophantic Jonestown-like disciples, I will not go out of my way to cause trouble, such as asking my university president difficult questions, boycotting the school's required diversity training, and so forth. However, I will not lie, and I will not confess things I do not believe. That, of course, may be enough to attract negative attention from "the Woman." (Take note: it's not "the Man" anymore). So be it. I have a nice chunk of change in savings, retirement, and investments, and I am confident that I can find work at lower ranked institutions that would be more than happy to hire me. So for me, it's not a question of money or finding work. It's the emotional toll. I want to continue writing, doing first rate scholarship, and try as best I can to contribute to my discipline.

As far as my students go, I will continue to teach in a "Benedict Option" way, trying the best I can to "strengthen the things that remain" (Rev. 3) and pass on to them the best that has been thought, believed, and lived in Western Civilisation. My experience has been that students are hungry for such direction, but you have to present it to them in a way what meets them where they are at. You cannot presuppose anything. For this reason, I have found creative ways to introduce them to ancient and modern ideas that do not directly address contemporary concerns. As they say, I try to find "the thin edge of the wedge" and pound away, using self-deprecating humor, personal anecdotes, and a sense of joy in my teaching. (Don't ever, I mean ever, underestimate the attractiveness and power of exhibiting love for one's students). This results in them letting their guard down. (We used to call it in the old days "being open minded." Back then "being closed minded" was considered disgraceful. Now it's an essential qualification for employment at the New York Times. Go figure). On the other hand, I will not compromise in my lectures or acquiesce to altering my curricular plan to meet the non-academic demands of the Office of Diversity and Equity (if such demands in fact arise, though they have not yet). I realize that I can not avoid them forever, that at some point they will likely try to force me to confess my allegiance to their bizarre Uncivil Religion. At that point, I will be among my blessed predecessors, including Socrates, Jesus, St. Peter, St. Paul, and Dante. What an honor.

SB 7 hours ago

One weapon in the arsenal of progressives has been, for generations, popular media. (How many were encouraged by Lennon's "Heaven" to leave the faith? How many people did U2 get to join amnesty International?)

I wonder whether it might not be useful to assemble a catalog of art/media that (a) is universally acknowledged as genuinely good, decent, and true, and (b) tends to undermine some of the worst excesses of the woke.

These should be works that do not in any obvious way present themselves as "conservative" or even as proposing what you would call specific policy positions; instead, they would model resistance to the sort of compulsory conformity that we are dreading.

I'll start the list:

A Man for All Seasons (1966 film), specifically for Thomas More's thoughts concerning silence and the freedom of conscience.

L RNY 7 hours ago
The militants have chosen the most sympathetic states, governors and mayors for these protests, riots, arson, assault, etc and most recently urban takeovers but success against pacifist mayors and governors breads hubris and conceit and over confidence. Eventually they are going to try this in a less sympathetic state and the national guard or the military will be called in to secure the areas possibly with real bullets and with a totality of securing Baghdad or Kabul. The domestic terrorism laws and treason laws will be dusted off and applied to those arrested.

[Jun 11, 2020] The silver lining in the dark cloud: the COVID Crisis Canceled Many Graduation Speeches. Thank Goodness...

Jun 11, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

As with allmost everything that occurs as a university, the purpose of the commencement speech is not to provide a service to the students, but to make the institution's faculty and staff feel important...

...It should be noted that most students who attend commencement ceremonies couldn't care less who the celebrity speaker is. Most of them are there because they like the ritualistic aspects of it, and virtually no one remembers what is said at commencement speeches in any case.

The fact that most students (i.e., paying customers) just want to "feel graduated" by going to these ceremonies should be a tip to the faculty that speakers should be non-controversial. But, because these administrators want attention and influence, they often insist on bringing in controversial political figures and causing even more grief for their customers, as if four years of over-priced classes and social conditioning wasn't enough.

The fact colleges and universities couldn't care less about the people who pay the bills was reinforced all the more this year when most universities shut down as a result of the COVID-19 panic. Most higher education institutions insisted on charging students full price even though "college" was reduced to series of Zoom meetings and online assignments. Obviously, that's not what most students paid for. College administrators, of course, were adamant that the students keep paying through the nose for services not rendered

...

Fortunately, some of the more intelligent university trustees have already done away with it altogether. Cep notes:

As Jason Song of The Los Angeles Times noticed, current Washington and Lee President Kenneth Ruscio explained in 2009: "The wise and fiscally prudent Board determined that in future years our graduates and families should rest easy knowing that if they had to endure a worthless Commencement address, it would at least be inexpensive," meaning the president gives the only speech.


Tennessee Patriot , 4 minutes ago

Best example I ever heard of describing a graduation ceremony:

Imagine you are sitting there in the hot sun, wrapped in a shower curtain, listening to someone read a NYC Phone book for 3 hours.

I had to do that for HS, two Bachelor's Degrees, a Masters, two daughters & two out of 7 Grandbabies.

No thanks. Highly overrated ********. If it was up to me, they can mail it to me and lets go straight to the party afterwards.

Handful of Dust , 1 hour ago

" I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man."

Joe Biden, referring to the Kenyan at the beginning of the 2008 Democratic primary campaign, Jan. 31, 2007.

"He's like magic. Some day they'll be calling him The Magic *****!"

Yen Cross , 1 hour ago

The longer these kids are away from their indoctrination camps, the better.

Bear , 1 hour ago

"As many colleges struggle with tight budgets" ... what a crook, they have so much money they can pay their professors 250,000 to toe the line and they a support staff of thousands ... America's most corrup institution (after the FED)

[Jun 11, 2020] History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce: The replay on the new level of slogans Viva proletarian science. Down with Bourgeoisie lackeys in academia

Politicized science makes a strong comeback.
Notable quotes:
"... Who is Amy Siskind going to call to arrest Tucker Carlson and bring him to a tribunal? The defunded police? ..."
Jun 11, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Look at what's happening to Harald Uhlig, a prominent University of Chicago economist, who posted:

Harald Uhlig @haralduhlig

Too bad, but # blacklivesmatter per its core organization @ Blklivesmatter just torpedoed itself, with its full-fledged support of # defundthepolice : "We call for a national defunding of police." Suuuure. They knew this is non-starter, and tried a sensible Orwell 1984 of saying,

603 11:43 PM - Jun 8, 2020 Twitter Ads info and privacy

281 people are talking about this

Uhlig now faces a social media campaign, led by a prominent University of Michigan economist, to get him booted as editor of the Journal of Political Economy . Here is another leader of the professional lynch mob:

Max Auffhammer @auffhammer

I am calling for the resignation of Harald Uhlig ( @ haralduhlig ) as the editor of the Journal of Political Economy. If you would like to add your name to this call, it is posted at https:// forms.gle/9uiJVqCAXBDBg6 8N9 . It will be delivered by end of day 6/10 (tomorrow).

Letter calling for the resignation of Harald Uhlig as Editor of the Journal of Political Economy

To: The editors of the Journal of Political Economy and President of The University of Chicago Press We, the undersigned, call for the resignation of Harald Uhlig, the Bruce Allen and Barbara...

docs.google.com
413 5:34 PM - Jun 9, 2020 Twitter Ads info and privacy

216 people are talking about this

These are academics.


Jack 19 hours ago

Amy Siskind sounds like a Pol Pot in waiting.

Civis Romanus Sum 19 hours ago

There has been a rash of firings of editors this week. One interesting thing - judging by the publications listed and by the cringing, groveling apologies given by these editors, they are liberals who are being eaten by up-and-coming radicals. It's like the liberals had no idea what hit them.

Wilfred 18 hours ago

I used to worry the future would be like "1984". Then the Soviet Union fell, things seemed OK tor awhile. After 9/11, I worried the future would be like "Khartoum". But now, it looks like it is going to be a weird combination of "Invasion of the Body-Snatchers" and "Planet of the Apes".

Seoulite 18 hours ago

Now seeing reports on Twitter that the Seattle Autonomous Zone now has its first warlord. America truly is a diverse place. You have hippie communes, religious sects, semi-autonomous Indian reservations, a gerontocracy in Washington, and now your very own Africa style fiefdom complete with warlord.

I really am sorry. This must be so depressing to watch as an American.

RBH 18 hours ago • edited

Arizona State journalism school retracts offer to new dean because of an "insensitive" tweets and comments - by insensitive we mean, not sufficiently zealous and not hip to the full-spectrum wokeness. Online student petitions follow, and you know the rest of the story.

This is madness. The true late stages of a revolution where they start eating their own.

https://www.azcentral.com/s...

SatirevFlesti 18 hours ago

Those tweets above (and countless others like them) just demonstrate the absolute intellectual and moral rot that now reigns in academia. I saw one yesterday by an attorney for a prominent activist organization who said he couldn't understand why the Constitution isn't interpreted as "requiring" the demolition of the Robert E. Lee statue in Virginia, and others like it. I'm having a harder time understanding how he ever graduated from an accredited law school.

Forget "defund the police," perhaps "defund universities" would be the best place to start healing what ails contemporary culture. The rot started there, not only with the "anti-racist" (as opposed to "mere" non-racism) cant, it with gender ideology (Judith Butler), Cultural Marxism, etc. When "pc" first became a common term in the early '90s I thought it passing fad. We now see the result of the decades long radical march through the institutions bearing fruit, and it's more strange and rotten fruit than ever.

Raskolnik 17 hours ago

Woke leftists are the people who believe in the myth of aggregate Black intellectual parity with Whites and Asians the least. That's why they constantly do absolutely everything in their power to juke the statistics, like allowing Black students to not have to take exams, which is really just an extension of this same principle at work in "affirmative action."

lohengrin 17 hours ago • edited

The French Revolution, the Bolshevik Revolution, the Great Leap Forward, the Khmer Rouge--100,000,000 people were murdered in the name of extreme egalitarianism across the 20th century. When leftism gets out of control, tragedy happens.

I have no idea why you believe hard totalitarian methods aren't coming. I'm not sure what the answer is. We can expect no help from the Republican party. That much is certain. A disturbing number of people have not yet awoken from their dogmatic slumber.

Mr. Karamazov 17 hours ago

People are going to have to stand up to these bullies. If you back down they will just beat you up again tomorrow.

Fyodor D 16 hours ago

Who is Amy Siskind going to call to arrest Tucker Carlson and bring him to a tribunal? The defunded police?

It seems to me that the left has gone about this bassackwards. First you ashcan the Second Amendment, THEN you take away their First Amendment Rights. You most certainly do not go around silencing people with political correctness, then go around announcing your intention to kulak an entire group of very well-armed people. But that's just my opinion...

Rod, I disagree that a "soft totalitarianism" is what awaits us if these barbarians are allowed to run around unopposed. The notion of human rights is a product of the religion they despise, so I see no reason why they would respect this ideal when dealing with vile white wreckers of the multi-cultural utopia they have envisioned.

[Jun 08, 2020] Global Crisis- The Convergence Of Marx, Kafka, Orwell, Huxley -

Notable quotes:
"... This is where Orwell enters the convergence , for the State masks its stripmining and power grab with deliciously Orwellian misdirections such as "the People's Party," "democratic socialism," and so on. ..."
"... Orwell understood the State's ontological imperative is expansion, to the point where it controls every level of community, markets and society. Once the State escapes the control of the citizenry, it is free to exploit them in a parasitic predation that is the mirror-image of Monopoly capital. For what is the State but a monopoly of force, coercion, data manipulation and the regulation of private monopolies? ..."
"... Aldous Huxley foresaw a Central State that persuaded its people to "love their servitude" via propaganda, drugs, entertainment and information-overload. In his view, the energy required to force compliance exceeded the "cost" of persuasion, and thus the Powers That Be would opt for the power of suggestion. ..."
"... "My own belief is that the ruling oligarchy will find less arduous and wasteful ways of governing and of satisfying its lust for power, and these ways will resemble those which I described in Brave New World . ..."
"... As Marx explained, the dynamics of state-monopoly-capitalism lead to the complete dominance of capital over labor in both financial and political "markets," as wealth buys political influence which then protects and enforces capital's dominance. ..."
Jun 08, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Global Crisis: The Convergence Of Marx, Kafka, Orwell, & Huxley by Tyler Durden Mon, 06/08/2020 - 16:45 Twitter Facebook Reddit Email Print

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

The global crisis is not merely economic; it is the result of profound financial, sociological and political trends described by Marx, Kafka, Orwell and Huxley.

The unfolding global crisis is best understood as the convergence of the dynamics described by Marx, Kafka, Orwell and Huxley. Let's start with Franz Kafka , the writer (1883-1924) who most eloquently captured the systemic injustices of all-powerful bureaucratic institutions--the alienation experienced by the hapless citizen enmeshed in the bureaucratic web, petty officialdom's mindless persecutions of the innocent, and the intrinsic absurdity of the centralized State best expressed in this phrase: "We expect errors, not justice."

If this isn't the most insightful summary of the current moment in history, then what is? A lawyer by training and practice, Kafka understood that the the more powerful and entrenched the institution and its bureaucracy, the greater the collateral damage rained on the innocent, and the more extreme the perversion of justice.

We are living in a Kafkaesque nightmare where suspicion alone justifies the government stealing from its citizens, and an unrelated crime (possessing drug paraphernalia) is used to justify state theft.

As in a Kafkaesque nightmare, the state is above the law when it needs an excuse to steal your car or cash. There is no crime, no arrest, no due process--just the state threatening that you should shut up and be happy they don't take everything you own.

All these forms of civil forfeiture are well documented. While some would claim the worst abuses have been rectified, that is far from evident. What is evident is how long these kinds of legalized looting have been going on.

Taken: Under civil forfeiture, Americans who haven’t been charged with wrongdoing can be stripped of their cash, cars, and even homes. Is that all we’re losing? (2013)

Stop and Seize (six parts) (2013)

When the state steals our cash or car on mere suspicion, you have no recourse other than horrendously costly and time-consuming legal actions. So you no longer have enough money to prove your innocence now that we've declared your car and cash guilty?

Tough luck, bucko--be glad you live in a fake democracy with a fake rule of law, a fake judiciary, and a government with the officially sanctioned right to steal your money and possessions without any due process or court proceedings-- legalized looting .

They don't have to torture a confession out of you, like the NKVD/KGB did in the former Soviet Union, because your cash and car are already guilty.

This is where Orwell enters the convergence , for the State masks its stripmining and power grab with deliciously Orwellian misdirections such as "the People's Party," "democratic socialism," and so on.

Orwell understood the State's ontological imperative is expansion, to the point where it controls every level of community, markets and society. Once the State escapes the control of the citizenry, it is free to exploit them in a parasitic predation that is the mirror-image of Monopoly capital. For what is the State but a monopoly of force, coercion, data manipulation and the regulation of private monopolies?

What is the EU bureaucracy in Brussels but the perfection of a stateless State?

As Kafka divined, centralized bureaucracy has the capacity for both Orwellian obfuscation (anyone read those 1,300-page Congressional bills other than those gaming the system for their private benefit?) and systemic avarice and injustice.

The convergence boils down to this: it would be impossible to loot this much wealth if the State didn't exist to enforce the "rules" of parasitic predation.

Aldous Huxley foresaw a Central State that persuaded its people to "love their servitude" via propaganda, drugs, entertainment and information-overload. In his view, the energy required to force compliance exceeded the "cost" of persuasion, and thus the Powers That Be would opt for the power of suggestion.

He outlined this in a letter to George Orwell :

"My own belief is that the ruling oligarchy will find less arduous and wasteful ways of governing and of satisfying its lust for power, and these ways will resemble those which I described in Brave New World .

Within the next generation I believe that the world's rulers will discover that infant conditioning and narco-hypnosis are more efficient, as instruments of government, than clubs and prisons, and that the lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude as by flogging and kicking them into obedience."

As prescient as he was, Huxley could not have foreseen the power of mobile telephony, gaming and social media hypnosis/addiction as a conditioning mechanism for passivity and self-absorption. We are only beginning to understand the immense addictive/conditioning powers of 24/7 mobile telephony / social media.

What would we say about a drug that caused people to forego sex to check their Facebook page? What would we say about a drug that caused young men to stay glued to a computer for 40+ hours straight, an obsession so acute that some actually die? We would declare that drug to be far too powerful and dangerous to be widely available, yet mobile telephony, gaming and social media is now ubiquitous.

... ... ...

Last but not least, we come to Marx. As Marx explained, the dynamics of state-monopoly-capitalism lead to the complete dominance of capital over labor in both financial and political "markets," as wealth buys political influence which then protects and enforces capital's dominance.

Marx also saw that finance-capital would inevitably incentivize over-capacity, stripping industrial capital of pricing power and profits. Once there's more goods and services than labor can afford to buy with earnings, financialization arises to provide credit to labor to buy capital's surplus production and engineer financial gains with leveraged speculation and asset bubbles.

But since labor's earnings are stagnant or declining, there's an end-game to financialization. Capital can no longer generate any gain at all except by central banks agreeing to buy capital's absurdly over-valued assets. Though the players tell themselves this arrangement is temporary, the dynamics Marx described are fundamental and inexorable: the insanity of central banks creating currency out of thin air to buy insanely over-priced assets is the final crisis of late-stage capitalism because there is no other escape from collapse.

Having stripped labor of earnings and political power and extracted every last scrap of profit from over-capacity (i.e. globalization) and financialization, capital is now completely dependent on money-spewing central banks buying their phantom capital with newly printed currency, a dynamic that will eventually trigger a collapse in the purchasing power of the central banks' phantom capital (i.e. fiat currencies).

When there is no incentive to invest in real-world productive assets and every incentive to skim profits by front-running the Federal Reserve, capitalism is dead. Paraphrasing Wallerstein, "Capitalism is no longer attractive to capitalists."

We can see this for ourselves in the real world: if "renewable energy" was as profitable as some maintain, private capital would have rushed in to fund every project to maximize their gains from this new source of immense profits. But as Art Berman explained in Why the Renewable Rocket Has Failed To Launch , this hasn't been the case. Rather, "green energy" remains dependent on government subsidies in one form or another. If hydropower is removed from "renewables," all other renewables (solar, wind, etc.) provide only 4% of total global energy consumption.

Japan's stagnation exemplifies Marx's analysis: Japan's central bank has created trillions of yen out of thin air for 30 years and used this phantom capital to buy the over-valued assets of Japan's politically dominant state-capitalist class, a policy that has led to secular stagnation and social decline. If it weren't for China's one-off expansion, Japan's economy would have slipped into phantom capital oblivion decades ago.

Kafka, Orwell, Huxley and Marx called it, and we're living in the last-gasp stage of the cruel and unsustainable system they described. So sorry, but investing your phantom capital in FANG stocks, Tik-Tok and virtual-reality games will not save phantom capital from well-deserved oblivion.

[Jun 08, 2020] Much of the rest of the world is in the same situation as the US

Jun 08, 2020 | www.unz.com

Anonymous [139] Disclaimer , says: Show Comment June 5, 2020 at 9:52 am GMT

Not a bad article. Much of the rest of the world is in the same situation as the US, so it's going to reorganize itself at about the same time as the US does. Your Russia has already reorganized itself, events may force that again, but I'd hope not. Russia has suffered enough, in my opinion.

Suggested reading:

Caldwell, _The Entitlement Society_ -- effect of Civil Rights legislation on the US. Caldwell suggests that implementing Civil Rights as interpreted by the Judicial Branch is physically impossible and has been a proximate cause of the situation Saker describes.

Copley, _Uncivilization_ -- The US situation of megacities destroying their hinterlands is not limited to the US, but is worldwide. Copley considers this a strategic weakness should there be a central war, but the current situation suggests that the weakness may make cities unable to get resources needed for urban survival even without a central war.

Martin von Creveld, "The Fate of the State', _Parameters_, 1996 (search Google Scholar for original article). Shows that decline is not limited to the West, but is a retreat of civilization worldwide, both in terms of a reduction of civilized territory and in terms of governmental control/legitimacy within governmental boundaries. So far, the decline von Creveld described in 1996 has continued unabated. Few predictions in the field of strategic analysis have been as successful.

Levinson, _The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger_, In passing, Levinson recounts how the cities lost their natural monopoly on shipping and manufacturing to container ports and distributed manufacturing.

Harper, _The Fate of Rome: Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire (The Princeton History of the Ancient World) _. Demonstrates that social failure was not responsible for the fall of Rome, but that physical factors (disease, end of the Roman Climate Optimum was). Club of Rome, _Limits to Growth_, was an early attempt to find physical limiting factors for industrial societies.

[Jun 06, 2020] Peter Thiel calls for top universities to lose non-profit status

There are no longer non-profit. They are for-profits disguised as non-profits. How else you can explain salaries of top bureaucrats?
Jul 31, 2019 | video.foxnews.com

Billionaire and Facebook board member Peter Thiel on his fight against Ivy League schools receiving tax exempt status.

[May 30, 2020] Trump kicking out all China PHD students

May 30, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Susan , May 29 2020 17:51 utc | 60

I just can't imagine the stupidity of Trump kicking out all the PHD students!
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/05/29/chin-m29.html

[May 28, 2020] US Lawmakers Propose Total Ban On STEM Visas For Chinese Students

May 28, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

US Lawmakers Propose Total Ban On STEM Visas For Chinese Students by Tyler Durden Thu, 05/28/2020 - 10:45 As the White House prepares to eject Chinese graduate students with ties to the PLA, three US lawmakers are taking things a step further - proposing a bill which would ban mainland Chinese students from studying STEM subjects in the United States .

Chinese and other international students wave flags at 2018 Columbia University commencement ceremony.

Two senators and one House member said on Wednesday that the Secure Campus Act would bar Chinese nationals from obtaining visas for graduate or postgraduate studies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Students from Taiwan and Hong Kong would be exempt , according to SCMP .

"The Chinese Communist Party has long used American universities to conduct espionage on the United States," said Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK), one of the bill's sponsors, adding "What's worse is that their efforts exploit gaps in current law. It's time for that to end."

"The Secure Campus Act will protect our national security and maintain the integrity of the American research enterprise."

The proposed legislation comes as diplomatic relations have fractured between the world's two largest economies. The fissures started to show during a trade war that has been rumbling on for almost two years and have only widened amid accusations about the handling of the Covid-19 disease outbreak , and the treatment of ethnic minority groups in China.

Hong Kong is the latest flashpoint after Beijing drew up a national security law that Washington says tramples on the city's mini-constitution. The US threatened retaliation over the move. -SCMP

The bill will also tackle China's efforts to recruit talent overseas through their Thousand Talents Program , an operation launched in 2008 by the CCP which seeks out international experts in scientific research, innovation and entrepreneurship. It proposes that participants in China's recruitment of foreigners be made to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) , and would prohibit Chinese nationals and those participating in China-sponsored programs from receiving federal grants or working on federally funded R&D in STEM fields .

Any university, research institute or laboratory receiving federal funding would be required to attest that they are not knowingly employing participants in China's recruitment programs - a list of which the US Secretary of State would publish.

US law enforcement and educational agencies have raised red flags about undisclosed ties between federally funded researchers and foreign governments. A crackdown has included indictments and dismissals.

In January, Charles Lieber, 60, chairman of the chemistry and chemical biology department at Harvard University, was arrested and charged for lying about his involvement in the Thousand Talents Programme . -SCMP

Meanwhile, earlier this month a professor at the University of Arkansas who received millions of dollars in research grants, including $500,000 from NASA, was arrested and charged with one count of wire fraud.

According to the FBI, Ang failed to disclose that he was getting paid by a Chinese university and Chinese companies in violation of university policy. He is accused of making false statements while failing to disclose his extensive ties to China as a member of the "Thousand Talents Scholars" program.

63-year-old Simon Saw-Teong Ang is the director of the school's High Density Electronics Center, which received funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Defense (DOD) and NASA. Since 2013, Ang has been the primary investigator or co-investigator on US government-funded grants totaling over $5 million, according to the Washington Examiner .

In November, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations chaired by Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) released a 109-page bipartisan report which concluded that foreign nations "seek to exploit America's openness to advance their own national interests," the most ambitious of which "has been China," according to the Examiner . According to the report, Chinese academics involved in their so-called 'Thousand Talents' program have been exploiting access to US research labs .

Backlash

According to SCMP , members of the US scientific community see the US as unfairly targeting Chinese colleagues , and that the campaigns will discourage talented individuals from pursuing studies at US universities.

"While we must be vigilant to safeguard research, we must also ensure that the US remains a desirable and welcoming destination for researchers from around the world," wrote members of 60 groups - including the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Federation of American Scientists, in a 2019 letter to science policy officials.

The US lawmakers' proposal follows China's March decision to revoke the press credentials for US journalists from three major US newspapers - declaring five US media outlets to be foreign government proxies. In February, the Trump administration labeled five Chinese state media groups as "foreign missions" (via SCMP ).

[May 27, 2020] Life in Hell: Online Teaching by Paul Street

Online lectures generally require more work from the instructor, but if good written notes are created this is not that bad as described
May 27, 2020 | www.counterpunch.org
I had long heard rumors from academicians about how "online teaching is a nightmare," "online teaching ruined my life," "online teaching sucked the brains out of my head," "online teaching is a new and insidious form of labor degradation," and the like.

I foolishly tended to write these complaints off as hyperbole, saying "it can't be that bad."

No more. I get it now. The COVID-19 era, which turned my formerly in-person adjunct class into an online course, has been instructive.

If anything, by my experience, online teaching is worse than anything I had heard or read. It has been a nightmare.

Online teaching the first time through became a health menace for me this spring. It has been lethal, both mentally and physically, to have been hit with a massive requirement of extra, unpaid online labor, requiring energy I didn't have for hours and hours of typing, typing, typing, into a computer screen and calling, calling, and calling tech people and internet providers and computer companies on the phone.

Unpaid and extra new online tasks and madness? Oh, indeed :

... ... ...

# Hours writing comments on papers via Track Changes. (Yes, grading papers is part of the job, but the online method of doing this has been a big time-adder for me. Track Changes is new to me as an editor [though not as a writer] and [for me at least] far more time-consuming than marking and writing with a red pen. It also gave me an intimate new look at how shockingly awful many students' writing skills are, something that has added considerably to the amount of time I have spent doing comments.)

# Hours and hours spent trying to somehow make Zoom work via XXX.edu (this after my wife and numerous friends told me that private Zoom was "super-hack-able").

# Hours spent filming Panopto video lectures that were erased until I got the hang of the idiosyncratic process (this had me nearly in tears during the second week).

# Hours spent trying to edit a couple of Panopto videos that had been marred by household and neighborhood noise and interruptions.

# Hours spent taking my computer down to sit outside the (closed) University of Iowa library in effort to hijack its powerful Wi-Fi to upload videos after Zoom (seemed to have) crashed my upload capacity (exactly why that crash occurred in Week 6 is still a mystery).

# Hours spent trying to explain to students how D2L works (as if I really knew).

Especially taxing have been he hours I've spent emailing with students like X1, who was angry over the creation of Facebook group for the class and who told me (no joke) that I have no right to comment on his failure to copy-edit his paper because he found a typo in one of my many group emails.

Another good soul-crushing online time-suck was student X2, who handed in a paper brazenly stolen from an online Website (with a few small word changes). He denied his plagiarism and then confessed by saying that "I frankly think that writing papers is a waste of time ."

(I would have reported X2, but I decided not to since I could not stomach yet more time typing, typing, typing into a computer screen, as would have been required if I'd gone to Academic Integrity.)

It gets worse. I have also now spent hours and hours responding to false charges lodged against me online (how else?) by (an) unnamed student(s) and sadly taken seriously by a university dean. One such charge claims that I am "unreachable." That is nonsense: I have made my XXX.edu email and two of my private emails fully available to all students. I check each one of these email accounts twice daily.

Another bogus charge claims that I gave a bad and punishing grade to a student's online comment because I disagreed with it. That is sheer nonsense. Online comments have no "grade" in my class. And I have explained again and again to students (and I reiterated my explanation quite clearly in the instance in question) that there is no grading penalty for disagreeing with me or any of my assigned authors – and no grading boost for agreeing with me or my assigned authors. I merely require that students show some meaningful engagement with my arguments and those of my assigned authors.

Another false complaint relayed to me and taken seriously by a dean claims that I told students that they "all write like fifth graders." Nope: I said I would no longer read papers handed in without students having first done an elementary copy-edit. I sent a few papers back to students, asking them to use the editing function in Word and suggesting that they read their first drafts aloud to themselves. I recommended the university's first-rate Writing Center as a student resource and I added a few specific comments on things like punctuation and paragraph breaks.

I had to explain all this in a long email to the academic authorities, who took the charges seriously because the Dean of Students took them seriously. In a recent email, I asked if any student or the dean had provided any actual evidence for their charges. The response: crickets.

There is no extra pay for the time spent responding to absurd charges, just as there is no extra pay for the endless hours I've spent trying to work with the instructional technology, the tech staff, computer and printer companies, and so on .

Online teaching for me has been a bad dream, even more base and cruel than what I had heard. I would only wish it on my very worst enemies .

Three things have made it especially horrific in my experience this spring:

(1) The inherent awfulness of online teaching has been significantly exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis, which has made coordination exceedingly difficult and has all kinds of collateral consequences.

(2) I already spend a lot of time on a computer due to my ongoing writing career. The last thing a writer wants is another job that involves hours and hours and hours of typing, typing, typing into a computer screen. Give me a janitorial position before that!

(3) As a teacher I am employed as an adjunct, paid per course, not by the hour. Prior to the online transition, the hourly rate was decent. With the extra work involved in Covid-era online instruction, it is more like sweatshop labor. By my best guess, the labor time has at the very least doubled (it may have tripled in my case). Along the way, the work requirements have interfered with the other paid work I do, which now earns at a higher hourly rate (it did not before).

As Daniel Falcone writes, paraphrasing the political scientist Stephen Zunes, "the work has doubled and the rewards have been diminished." And, I would respectfully add, the harassment and abuse have escalated.

I've been searching through my long employment record trying to recall a worse occupational experience: my second job ever, as an 18-year-old dishwasher in a diner (Augie's) on Chicago's North Clark St. The dishes and silverware and plates piled up endlessly, far beyond my capacity to load and wash them. Every ten minutes or so, the restaurant's Greek owner would come back and yell at me. This went on for weeks until one Friday night, when it was especially bad, I just put my coat on and walked out the back door into a black alley and never returned. I sacrificed two week's pay and it was worth it.

Walking out of an online curse (I am going to leave that typo – this course is a curse ) is not an option: students are depending on a grade for this quarter and their folks have paid (absurdly) big tuition, so I will stick it out.

Thank God it is almost over – the nightmare ends in two weeks and I have some serious and relevant intellectual and political work to do full time when it does. We are living and dying, after all, under a new American and global neo-fascism in a period of dire capitalogenic epidemiological, ecological, and economic crisis. This no freaking time to be spending hours online and on the phone trying to make yet another idiosyncratic XXX.edu program work, trying to rally alienated students who have other priorities, and arguing with people who think it is authoritarian bullying to want college-level students to edit their papers and write complete sentences that end with a period instead of a comma.

[May 26, 2020] 6 ways a drop in international students could set back US higher education by David L. Di Maria

May 26, 2020 | theconversation.com

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, fewer and fewer international students were coming to study in the United States.

While the number of international students who newly enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities during the 2015-2016 school year stood at more than 300,000 , by the 2018-2019 school year, that number had fallen by about 10% to less than 270,000.

This trend will undoubtedly accelerate in the fall of 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The American Council on Education predicts that overall international enrollment for the next academic year will decline by as much as 25% . That means there could be 220,000 fewer international students in the U.S. than the approximately 870,000 there are now.

One reason is that the U.S. has more COVID-19 cases than any other country . Other reasons include disapproval among international students regarding the U.S. response to COVID-19 compared to other nations, the ongoing suspension of the processing of U.S. visas and negative perceptions of the Trump administration's immigration policies and rhetoric .

As an international education professional, I foresee six major ways that the expected steep decline in international enrollment will change U.S. higher education and the economy.

1. Higher tuition

International students often pay full tuition , which averages more than US$26,000 per year at public four-year institutions and $36,000 at private nonprofit four-year institutions. That matters because the tuition from foreign students provides extra funds to subsidize the costs of enrolling more students from the U.S. At public colleges and universities, the revenue generated from international enrollment also helps to make up for cuts in state funding for higher education.

One study found that for every 10% drop in state funding for higher education, international enrollment increased by 12-17% at public research universities from 1996 to 2012.

According to the Institute of International Education's 2019 Open Doors Report , 872,214 international students are enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities.

As states cut budgets due to the loss of tax revenue brought on by the economic crisis caused by COVID-19, many institutions of higher education will be forced to raise tuition . While this may help college and university finances in the short term, in the long term it will make it more difficult for international students to be able to afford to study in the U.S., which in turn will make the U.S. a less attractive study destination.

... ... ...

Associate Vice Provost for International Education, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

[May 23, 2020] Neoliberalism promised freedom instead it delivers stifling control by George Monbiot

Highly recommended!
From comments: " neoliberalism to be a techno-economic order of control, requiring a state apparatus to enforce wholly artificial directives. Also, the work of recent critics of data markets such as Shoshana Zuboff has shown capitalism to be evolving into a totalitarian system of control through cybernetic data aggregation."
"... By rolling back the state, neoliberalism was supposed to have allowed autonomy and creativity to flourish. Instead, it has delivered a semi-privatised authoritarianism more oppressive than the system it replaced. ..."
"... Workers find themselves enmeshed in a Kafkaesque bureaucracy , centrally controlled and micromanaged. Organisations that depend on a cooperative ethic – such as schools and hospitals – are stripped down, hectored and forced to conform to suffocating diktats. The introduction of private capital into public services – that would herald a glorious new age of choice and openness – is brutally enforced. The doctrine promises diversity and freedom but demands conformity and silence. ..."
"... Their problem is that neoliberal theology, as well as seeking to roll back the state, insists that collective bargaining and other forms of worker power be eliminated (in the name of freedom, of course). So the marketisation and semi-privatisation of public services became not so much a means of pursuing efficiency as an instrument of control. ..."
"... Public-service workers are now subjected to a panoptical regime of monitoring and assessment, using the benchmarks von Mises rightly warned were inapplicable and absurd. The bureaucratic quantification of public administration goes far beyond an attempt at discerning efficacy. It has become an end in itself. ..."
Notable quotes:
"... By rolling back the state, neoliberalism was supposed to have allowed autonomy and creativity to flourish. Instead, it has delivered a semi-privatised authoritarianism more oppressive than the system it replaced. ..."
"... Workers find themselves enmeshed in a Kafkaesque bureaucracy , centrally controlled and micromanaged. Organisations that depend on a cooperative ethic – such as schools and hospitals – are stripped down, hectored and forced to conform to suffocating diktats. The introduction of private capital into public services – that would herald a glorious new age of choice and openness – is brutally enforced. The doctrine promises diversity and freedom but demands conformity and silence. ..."
"... Their problem is that neoliberal theology, as well as seeking to roll back the state, insists that collective bargaining and other forms of worker power be eliminated (in the name of freedom, of course). So the marketisation and semi-privatisation of public services became not so much a means of pursuing efficiency as an instrument of control. ..."
"... Public-service workers are now subjected to a panoptical regime of monitoring and assessment, using the benchmarks von Mises rightly warned were inapplicable and absurd. The bureaucratic quantification of public administration goes far beyond an attempt at discerning efficacy. It has become an end in itself. ..."
"... The other point to be made is that the return of fundamentalist nationalism is arguably a radicalized form of neoliberalism. ..."
"... Therefore, neoliberal hegemony can only be perpetuated with authoritarian, nationalist ideologies and an order of market feudalism. In other words, neoliberalism's authoritarian orientations, previously effaced beneath discourses of egalitarian free-enterprise, become overt. ..."
"... The market is no longer an enabler of private enterprise, but something more like a medieval religion, conferring ultimate authority on a demagogue. Individual entrepreneurs collectivise into a 'people' serving a market which has become synonymous with nationhood. ..."
Apr 10, 2019 | www.theguardian.com

Thousands of people march through London to protest against underfunding and privatisation of the NHS. Photograph: Wiktor Szymanowicz/Barcroft Images M y life was saved last year by the Churchill Hospital in Oxford, through a skilful procedure to remove a cancer from my body . Now I will need another operation, to remove my jaw from the floor. I've just learned what was happening at the hospital while I was being treated. On the surface, it ran smoothly. Underneath, unknown to me, was fury and tumult. Many of the staff had objected to a decision by the National Health Service to privatise the hospital's cancer scanning . They complained that the scanners the private company was offering were less sensitive than the hospital's own machines. Privatisation, they said, would put patients at risk. In response, as the Guardian revealed last week , NHS England threatened to sue the hospital for libel if its staff continued to criticise the decision.

The dominant system of political thought in this country, which produced both the creeping privatisation of public health services and this astonishing attempt to stifle free speech, promised to save us from dehumanising bureaucracy. By rolling back the state, neoliberalism was supposed to have allowed autonomy and creativity to flourish. Instead, it has delivered a semi-privatised authoritarianism more oppressive than the system it replaced.

Workers find themselves enmeshed in a Kafkaesque bureaucracy , centrally controlled and micromanaged. Organisations that depend on a cooperative ethic – such as schools and hospitals – are stripped down, hectored and forced to conform to suffocating diktats. The introduction of private capital into public services – that would herald a glorious new age of choice and openness – is brutally enforced. The doctrine promises diversity and freedom but demands conformity and silence.

Much of the theory behind these transformations arises from the work of Ludwig von Mises. In his book Bureaucracy , published in 1944, he argued that there could be no accommodation between capitalism and socialism. The creation of the National Health Service in the UK, the New Deal in the US and other experiments in social democracy would lead inexorably to the bureaucratic totalitarianism of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.

He recognised that some state bureaucracy was inevitable; there were certain functions that could not be discharged without it. But unless the role of the state is minimised – confined to defence, security, taxation, customs and not much else – workers would be reduced to cogs "in a vast bureaucratic machine", deprived of initiative and free will.

By contrast, those who labour within an "unhampered capitalist system" are "free men", whose liberty is guaranteed by "an economic democracy in which every penny gives a right to vote". He forgot to add that some people, in his capitalist utopia, have more votes than others. And those votes become a source of power.

His ideas, alongside the writings of Friedrich Hayek , Milton Friedman and other neoliberal thinkers, have been applied in this country by Margaret Thatcher, David Cameron, Theresa May and, to an alarming extent, Tony Blair. All of those have attempted to privatise or marketise public services in the name of freedom and efficiency, but they keep hitting the same snag: democracy. People want essential services to remain public, and they are right to do so.

If you hand public services to private companies, either you create a private monopoly, which can use its dominance to extract wealth and shape the system to serve its own needs – or you introduce competition, creating an incoherent, fragmented service characterised by the institutional failure you can see every day on our railways. We're not idiots, even if we are treated as such. We know what the profit motive does to public services.

So successive governments decided that if they could not privatise our core services outright, they would subject them to "market discipline". Von Mises repeatedly warned against this approach. "No reform could transform a public office into a sort of private enterprise," he cautioned. The value of public administration "cannot be expressed in terms of money". "Government efficiency and industrial efficiency are entirely different things."

"Intellectual work cannot be measured and valued by mechanical devices." "You cannot 'measure' a doctor according to the time he employs in examining one case." They ignored his warnings.

Their problem is that neoliberal theology, as well as seeking to roll back the state, insists that collective bargaining and other forms of worker power be eliminated (in the name of freedom, of course). So the marketisation and semi-privatisation of public services became not so much a means of pursuing efficiency as an instrument of control.

Public-service workers are now subjected to a panoptical regime of monitoring and assessment, using the benchmarks von Mises rightly warned were inapplicable and absurd. The bureaucratic quantification of public administration goes far beyond an attempt at discerning efficacy. It has become an end in itself.

Its perversities afflict all public services. Schools teach to the test , depriving children of a rounded and useful education. Hospitals manipulate waiting times, shuffling patients from one list to another. Police forces ignore some crimes, reclassify others, and persuade suspects to admit to extra offences to improve their statistics . Universities urge their researchers to write quick and superficial papers , instead of deep monographs, to maximise their scores under the research excellence framework.

As a result, public services become highly inefficient for an obvious reason: the destruction of staff morale. Skilled people, including surgeons whose training costs hundreds of thousands of pounds, resign or retire early because of the stress and misery the system causes. The leakage of talent is a far greater waste than any inefficiencies this quantomania claims to address.

New extremes in the surveillance and control of workers are not, of course, confined to the public sector. Amazon has patented a wristband that can track workers' movements and detect the slightest deviation from protocol. Technologies are used to monitor peoples' keystrokes, language, moods and tone of voice. Some companies have begun to experiment with the micro-chipping of their staff . As the philosopher Byung-Chul Han points out , neoliberal work practices, epitomised by the gig economy, that reclassifies workers as independent contractors, internalise exploitation. "Everyone is a self-exploiting worker in their own enterprise."

The freedom we were promised turns out to be freedom for capital , gained at the expense of human liberty. The system neoliberalism has created is a bureaucracy that tends towards absolutism, produced in the public services by managers mimicking corporate executives, imposing inappropriate and self-defeating efficiency measures, and in the private sector by subjection to faceless technologies that can brook no argument or complaint.

Attempts to resist are met by ever more extreme methods, such as the threatened lawsuit at the Churchill Hospital. Such instruments of control crush autonomy and creativity. It is true that the Soviet bureaucracy von Mises rightly denounced reduced its workers to subjugated drones. But the system his disciples have created is heading the same way.

George Monbiot is a Guardian columnist


Pinkie123 , 12 Apr 2019 03:23

The other point to be made is that the return of fundamentalist nationalism is arguably a radicalized form of neoliberalism. If 'free markets' of enterprising individuals have been tested to destruction, then capitalism is unable to articulate an ideology with which to legitimise itself.

Therefore, neoliberal hegemony can only be perpetuated with authoritarian, nationalist ideologies and an order of market feudalism. In other words, neoliberalism's authoritarian orientations, previously effaced beneath discourses of egalitarian free-enterprise, become overt.

The market is no longer an enabler of private enterprise, but something more like a medieval religion, conferring ultimate authority on a demagogue. Individual entrepreneurs collectivise into a 'people' serving a market which has become synonymous with nationhood.

A corporate state emerges, free of the regulatory fetters of democracy. The final restriction on the market - democracy itself - is removed. There then is no separate market and state, just a totalitarian market state.

glisson , 12 Apr 2019 00:10
This is the best piece of writing on neoliberalism I have ever seen. Look, 'what is in general good and probably most importantly what is in the future good'. Why are we collectively not viewing everything that way? Surely those thoughts should drive us all?
economicalternative -> Pinkie123 , 11 Apr 2019 21:33
Pinkie123: So good to read your understandings of neoliberalism. The political project is the imposition of the all seeing all knowing 'market' on all aspects of human life. This version of the market is an 'information processor'. Speaking of the different idea of the laissez-faire version of market/non market areas and the function of the night watchman state are you aware there are different neoliberalisms? The EU for example runs on the version called 'ordoliberalism'. I understand that this still sees some areas of society as separate from 'the market'?
economicalternative -> ADamnSmith2016 , 11 Apr 2019 21:01
ADamnSmith: Philip Mirowski has discussed this 'under the radar' aspect of neoliberalism. How to impose 'the market' on human affairs - best not to be to explicit about what you are doing. Only recently has some knowledge about the actual neoliberal project been appearing. Most people think of neoliberalism as 'making the rich richer' - just a ramped up version of capitalism. That's how the left has thought of it and they have been ineffective in stopping its implementation.
economicalternative , 11 Apr 2019 20:42
Finally. A writer who can talk about neoliberalism as NOT being a retro version of classical laissez faire liberalism. It is about imposing "The Market" as the sole arbiter of Truth on us all.
Only the 'Market' knows what is true in life - no need for 'democracy' or 'education'. Neoliberals believe - unlike classical liberals with their view of people as rational individuals acting in their own self-interest - people are inherently 'unreliable', stupid. Only entrepreneurs - those close to the market - can know 'the truth' about anything. To succeed we all need to take our cues in life from what the market tells us. Neoliberalism is not about a 'small state'. The state is repurposed to impose the 'all knowing' market on everyone and everything. That is neoliberalism's political project. It is ultimately not about 'economics'.
Pinkie123 , 11 Apr 2019 13:27
The left have been entirely wrong to believe that neoliberalism is a mobilisation of anarchic, 'free' markets. It never was so. Only a few more acute thinkers on the left (Jacques Ranciere, Foucault, Deleuze and, more recently, Mark Fisher, Wendy Brown, Will Davies and David Graeber) have understood neoliberalism to be a techno-economic order of control, requiring a state apparatus to enforce wholly artificial directives. Also, the work of recent critics of data markets such as Shoshana Zuboff has shown capitalism to be evolving into a totalitarian system of control through cybernetic data aggregation.


Only in theory is neoliberalism a form of laissez-faire. Neoliberalism is not a case of the state saying, as it were: 'OK everyone, we'll impose some very broad legal parameters, so we'll make sure the police will turn up if someone breaks into your house; but otherwise we'll hang back and let you do what you want'. Hayek is perfectly clear that a strong state is required to force people to act according to market logic. If left to their own devices, they might collectivise, think up dangerous utopian ideologies, and the next thing you know there would be socialism. This the paradox of neoliberalism as an intellectual critique of government: a socialist state can only be prohibited with an equally strong state. That is, neoliberals are not opposed to a state as such, but to a specifically centrally-planned state based on principles of social justice - a state which, to Hayek's mind, could only end in t totalitarianism. Because concepts of social justice are expressed in language, neoliberals are suspicious of linguistic concepts, regarding them as politically dangerous. Their preference has always been for numbers. Hence, market bureaucracy aims for the quantification of all values - translating the entirety of social reality into metrics, data, objectively measurable price signals. Numbers are safe. The laws of numbers never change. Numbers do not lead to revolutions. Hence, all the audit, performance review and tick-boxing that has been enforced into public institutions serves to render them forever subservient to numerical (market) logic. However, because social institutions are not measurable, attempts to make them so become increasingly mystical and absurd. Administrators manage data that has no relation to reality. Quantitatively unmeasurable things - like happiness or success - are measured, with absurd results.

It should be understood (and I speak above all as a critic of neoliberalism) that neoliberal ideology is not merely a system of class power, but an entire metaphysic, a way of understanding the world that has an emotional hold over people. For any ideology to universalize itself, it must be based on some very powerful ideas. Hayek and Von Mises were Jewish fugitives of Nazism, living through the worst horrors of twentieth-century totalitarianism. There are passages of Hayek's that describe a world operating according to the rules of a benign abstract system that make it sound rather lovely. To understand neoliberalism, we must see that it has an appeal.

However, there is no perfect order of price signals. People do not simply act according to economic self-interest. Therefore, neoliberalism is a utopian political project like any other, requiring the brute power of the state to enforce ideological tenets. With tragic irony, the neoliberal order eventually becomes not dissimilar to the totalitarian regimes that Hayek railed against.

manolito22 -> MrJoe , 11 Apr 2019 08:14
Nationalised rail in the UK was under-funded and 'set up to fail' in its latter phase to make privatisation seem like an attractive prospect. I have travelled by train under both nationalisation and privatisation and the latter has been an unmitigated disaster in my experience. Under privatisation, public services are run for the benefit of shareholders and CEO's, rather than customers and citizens and under the opaque shroud of undemocratic 'commercial confidentiality'.
Galluses , 11 Apr 2019 07:26
What has been very noticeable about the development of bureaucracy in the public and private spheres over the last 40 years (since Thatcher govt of 79) has been the way systems are designed now to place responsibility and culpability on the workers delivering the services - Teachers, Nurses, social workers, etc. While those making the policies, passing the laws, overseeing the regulations- viz. the people 'at the top', now no longer take the rap when something goes wrong- they may be the Captain of their particular ship, but the responsibility now rests with the man sweeping the decks. Instead they are covered by tying up in knots those teachers etc. having to fill in endless check lists and reports, which have as much use as clicking 'yes' one has understood those long legal terms provided by software companies.... yet are legally binding. So how the hell do we get out of this mess? By us as individuals uniting through unions or whatever and saying NO. No to your dumb educational directives, No to your cruel welfare policies, No to your stupid NHS mismanagement.... there would be a lot of No's but eventually we could say collectively 'Yes I did the right thing'.
fairshares -> rjb04tony , 11 Apr 2019 07:17
'The left wing dialogue about neoliberalism used to be that it was the Wild West and that anything goes. Now apparently it's a machine of mass control.'

It is the Wild West and anything goes for the corporate entities, and a machine of control of the masses. Hence the wish of neoliberals to remove legislation that protects workers and consumers.

[May 23, 2020] Academies are unaccountable bureaucracies with very expensive layers of management while teachers are badly paid and are being laid off

Notable quotes:
"... Meanwhile - as Public Services are devalued and denuded in this system the private sector becomes increasingly wealthy at the top while its workers become poorer and less powerful at the bottom ..."
"... Education is a prime example of where neoliberalism has had a negative effect. ..."
May 23, 2020 | discussion.theguardian.com

Luxgeoff , 11 Apr 2019 12:42

It's the same in education. Academies are unaccountable bureaucracies with very expensive layers of management while teachers are being laid off in some of the most deprived areas of the country, exemplified by this story from Sheffield

https://www.thestar.co.uk/news/latest/strike-at-sheffield-school-over-plans-to-make-15-teachers-redundant-1-9653749

JohnS58 , 11 Apr 2019 06:15
Only the greedy, selfish, well off, egotistical and share holders believe that Public Services should, could and would benefit from privatisation and deregulation.

Education and Health for example are (in theory) a universal right in the UK. As numbers in the population rise and demographics change so do costs ie delivery of the service becomes more expensive.As market force logic is introduced it also becomes less responsive - hence people not able to get the right drugs and treatment and challenging and challenged young people being denied an education that is vital for them in increasing numbers.

Meanwhile - as Public Services are devalued and denuded in this system the private sector becomes increasingly wealthy at the top while its workers become poorer and less powerful at the bottom.

With the introduction of Tory austerity which punishes the latter to the benefit of the former there is no surprise that this system does not work and has provided a platform for the unscrupulous greedy and corrupt to exploit Brexit and produce conditions which will take 'Neiliberalism' to where logic suggests it would always go - with the powerful rich protected minority exerting their power over an increasingly poor and powerless majority.

Olympia1881 -> Centrecourt , 11 Apr 2019 05:46
Education is a prime example of where neoliberalism has had a negative effect. It worked well when labour was pumping billions into it and they invested in early intervention schemes such as sure start and nursery expansion. Unfortunately under the tories we have had those progressive policies scaled right back. Children with SEND and/or in care are commodities bought and sold by local authorities. I've been working in a PRU which is a private company and it does good things, but I can't help but think if that was in the public sector that it would be in a purpose built building rather than some scruffy office with no playground. The facilities aren't what you would expect in this day in age. If we had a proper functioning government with a plan then what happens with vulnerable children would be properly organised rather than a reactive shit show.

[May 23, 2020] The wristband and microchip sound fab for children under 18 so we monitor to ensure their safety

May 23, 2020 | discussion.theguardian.com

fredmb , 11 Apr 2019 06:49

The wristband and microchip sound fab for children under 18 so we monitor to ensure their safety, especially in educational settings and on school trips. It would enable them to be located if lost or snatched. If it can be used to monitor language and aspects of behaviour then they could not be falsely accused of of antisocial actions. If they don't comply then child care benefits or access to higher education could be withdrawn as a sanction. It may even improve road safety if they drive illegally or badly. Any chance of a tiny electric shock feature to the microchip?

[May 21, 2020] The neoliberal globalization myth fostered the delusion of labour in which Western societies could prosper from the ideas and computer startups, while the dirty work of actually making things is left to low-wage countries. One result: a drastic shortage of face masks

Notable quotes:
"... In France, confinement has been generally well accepted as necessary, but that does not mean people are content with the government -- on the contrary. Every evening at eight, people go to their windows to cheer for health workers and others doing essential tasks, but the applause is not for President Macron. ..."
"... What we have witnessed is the failure of what used to be one of the very best public health services in the world. It has been degraded by years of cost-cutting. In recent years, the number of hospital beds per capita has declined steadily. Many hospitals have been shut down and those that remain are drastically understaffed. Public hospital facilities have been reduced to a state of perpetual saturation, so that when a new epidemic comes along, on top of all the other usual illnesses, there is simply not the capacity to deal with it all at once. ..."
"... The neoliberal globalization myth fostered the delusion that advanced Western societies could prosper from their superior brains, thanks to ideas and computer startups, while the dirty work of actually making things is left to low-wage countries. One result: a drastic shortage of face masks. The government let a factory that produced masks and other surgical equipment be sold off and shut down. Having outsourced its textile industry, France had no immediate way to produce the masks it needed. ..."
"... In late March, French media reported that a large stock of masks ordered and paid for by the southeastern region of France was virtually hijacked on the tarmac of a Chinese airport by Americans, who tripled the price and had the cargo flown to the United States. There are also reports of Polish and Czech airport authorities intercepting Chinese or Russian shipments of masks intended for hard-hit Italy and keeping them for their own use. ..."
"... The Covid–19 crisis makes it just that much clearer that the European Union is no more than a complex economic arrangement, with neither the sentiment nor the popular leaders that hold together a nation. For a generation, schools, media, politicians have instilled the belief that the "nation" is an obsolete entity. But in a crisis, people find that they are in France, or Germany, or Italy, or Belgium -- but not in "Europe." The European Union is structured to care about trade, investment, competition, debt, economic growth. Public health is merely an economic indicator. For decades, the European Commission has put irresistible pressure on nations to reduce the costs of their public health facilities in order to open competition for contracts to the private sector -- which is international by nature. ..."
"... Scapegoating China may seem the way to try to hold the declining Western world together, even as Europeans' long-standing admiration for America turns to dismay. ..."
"... The countries that have suffered most from the epidemic are among the most indebted of the EU member states, starting with Italy. The economic damage from the lockdown obliges them to borrow further. As their debt increases, so do interest rates charged by commercial banks. They turned to the EU for help, for instance by issuing eurobonds that would share the debt at lower interest rates. This has increased tension between debtor countries in the south and creditor countries in the north, which said nein . Countries in the eurozone cannot borrow from the European Central Bank as the U.S. Treasury borrows from the Fed. And their own national central banks take orders from the ECB, which controls the euro. ..."
"... The great irony is that "a common currency" was conceived by its sponsors as the key to European unity. On the contrary, the euro has a polarizing effect -- with Greece at the bottom and Germany at the top. And Italy sinking. But Italy is much bigger than Greece and won't go quietly. ..."
"... A major paradox is that the left and the Yellow Vests call for economic and social policies that are impossible under EU rules, and yet many on the left shy away from even thinking of leaving the EU. For over a generation, the French left has made an imaginary "social Europe" the center of its utopian ambitions. ..."
"... Russia is a living part of European history and culture. Its exclusion is totally unnatural and artificial. Brzezinski [the late Zbigniew Brzezinski, the Carter administration's national security adviser] spelled it out in The Great Chessboard : The U.S. maintains world hegemony by keeping the Eurasian landmass divided. ..."
"... But this policy can be seen to be inherited from the British. It was Churchill who proclaimed -- in fact welcomed -- the Iron Curtain that kept continental Europe divided. In retrospect, the Cold War was basically part of the divide-and-rule strategy, since it persists with greater intensity than ever after its ostensible cause -- the Communist threat -- is long gone. ..."
"... The whole Ukrainian operation of 2014 [the U.S.–cultivated coup in Kyiv, February 2014] was lavishly financed and stimulated by the United States in order to create a new conflict with Russia. Joe Biden has been the Deep State's main front man in turning Ukraine into an American satellite, used as a battering ram to weaken Russia and destroy its natural trade and cultural relations with Western Europe. ..."
"... I think France is likelier than Germany to break with the U.S.–imposed Russophobia simply because, thanks to de Gaulle, France is not quite as thoroughly under U.S. occupation. Moreover, friendship with Russia is a traditional French balance against German domination -- which is currently being felt and resented. ..."
"... "Decades of indoctrination in the ideology of "Europe" has instilled the belief that the nation-state is a bad thing of the past. The result is that people raised in the European Union faith tend to regard any suggestion of return to national sovereignty as a fatal step toward fascism. This fear of contagion from "the right" is an obstacle to clear analysis which weakens the left and favors the right, which dares be patriotic." ..."
"... Since WWII the US has itself been occupied by tyrants, using Russophobia to demand power as fake defenders. ..."
"... " French philosophy .By constantly attacking, deconstructing, and denouncing every remnant of human "power" they could spot, the intellectual rebels left the power of "the markets" unimpeded, and did nothing to stand in the way of the expansion of U.S. military power all around the world " ..."
"... From her groundbreaking work on the NATO empire's sickening war on sovereign Serbia, the dead end of identity politics and trans bathroom debates, to her critique of unfettered immigration and open borders, and her dismissal of the absurd Russsiagate baloney, better than anyone else, Johnstone has kept her intellect carefully honed to the real genuine kitchen table bread and butter issues that truly matter. She recognized before most of the world's scholars the perils of rampant inequality and saw the writing on the wall as to where this grotesque economic system is taking us all: down a dystopian slope into penury and police-state heavy-handedness, with millions unable to come up with $500 for an emergency car repair or dental bill. ..."
"... The mask competition and fiasco shows the importance of a country simply making things in their own country, not on the other side of the world, it's not nationalism it's just a better way to logistically deliver reliable products to the citizens. ..."
"... Some hold that they never departed, but mutated tools including CFA zones and "intelligence" relations in furtherance of "changing" to remain qualitatively the same. Just as "The United States of America" is a system of coercive relations not synonymous with the political geographical area designated "The United States of America", the colonialism of former and present "colonial powers" continues to exist, since the "independence" of the colonised was always, and continues to be, framed within linear systems of coercive relations, facilitated by the complicity of "local elites" on the basis of perceived self-interest, and the acquiescence of "local others" for myriad reasons. ..."
"... After reading Circle in the Darkness, I have ordered and am now reading her books on Hillary Clinton (Queen of Chaos) and the Yugoslav wars (Fool's Crusade), which are very worthwhile and important. I would recommend that her many articles over the years, appearing in such publications such as In These Times, Counterpunch and Consortium News, be reprinted and published together as an anthology. Through Circle in the Darkness, we have Diana Johnstone's "Life", but it would be good also to have her "Letters". ..."
"... Mr. de Gaulle like other "leaders" of colonial powers did understand that the moment of overt coercive relations of colonialism had passed and that colonialism to remain qualitatively the same, required covert coercive relations facilitated by the complicity of local "elites" on the basis of perceived self-interest. ..."
May 21, 2020 | consortiumnews.com

In France, confinement has been generally well accepted as necessary, but that does not mean people are content with the government -- on the contrary. Every evening at eight, people go to their windows to cheer for health workers and others doing essential tasks, but the applause is not for President Macron.

Macron and his government are criticized for hesitating too long to confine the population, for vacillating about the need for masks and tests, or about when or how much to end the confinement. Their confusion and indecision at least defend them from the wild accusation of having staged the whole thing in order to lock up the population.

What we have witnessed is the failure of what used to be one of the very best public health services in the world. It has been degraded by years of cost-cutting. In recent years, the number of hospital beds per capita has declined steadily. Many hospitals have been shut down and those that remain are drastically understaffed. Public hospital facilities have been reduced to a state of perpetual saturation, so that when a new epidemic comes along, on top of all the other usual illnesses, there is simply not the capacity to deal with it all at once.

The neoliberal globalization myth fostered the delusion that advanced Western societies could prosper from their superior brains, thanks to ideas and computer startups, while the dirty work of actually making things is left to low-wage countries. One result: a drastic shortage of face masks. The government let a factory that produced masks and other surgical equipment be sold off and shut down. Having outsourced its textile industry, France had no immediate way to produce the masks it needed.

Meanwhile, in early April, Vietnam donated hundreds of thousands of antimicrobial face masks to European countries and is producing them by the million. Employing tests and selective isolation, Vietnam has fought off the epidemic with only a few hundred cases and no deaths.

You must have thoughts as to the question of Western unity in response to Covid–19.

In late March, French media reported that a large stock of masks ordered and paid for by the southeastern region of France was virtually hijacked on the tarmac of a Chinese airport by Americans, who tripled the price and had the cargo flown to the United States. There are also reports of Polish and Czech airport authorities intercepting Chinese or Russian shipments of masks intended for hard-hit Italy and keeping them for their own use.

The absence of European solidarity has been shockingly clear. Better-equipped Germany banned exports of masks to Italy. In the depth of its crisis, Italy found that the German and Dutch governments were mainly concerned with making sure Italy pays its debts. Meanwhile, a team of Chinese experts arrived in Rome to help Italy with its Covid–19 crisis, displaying a banner reading "We are waves of the same sea, leaves of the same tree, flowers of the same garden." The European institutions lack such humanistic poetry. Their founding value is not solidarity but the neoliberal principle of "free unimpeded competition."

How do you think this reflects on the European Union?

The Covid–19 crisis makes it just that much clearer that the European Union is no more than a complex economic arrangement, with neither the sentiment nor the popular leaders that hold together a nation. For a generation, schools, media, politicians have instilled the belief that the "nation" is an obsolete entity. But in a crisis, people find that they are in France, or Germany, or Italy, or Belgium -- but not in "Europe." The European Union is structured to care about trade, investment, competition, debt, economic growth. Public health is merely an economic indicator. For decades, the European Commission has put irresistible pressure on nations to reduce the costs of their public health facilities in order to open competition for contracts to the private sector -- which is international by nature.

Globalization has hastened the spread of the pandemic, but it has not strengthened internationalist solidarity. Initial gratitude for Chinese aid is being brutally opposed by European Atlanticists. In early May, Mathias Döpfner, CEO of the Springer publishing giant, bluntly called on Germany to ally with the U.S. -- against China. Scapegoating China may seem the way to try to hold the declining Western world together, even as Europeans' long-standing admiration for America turns to dismay.

Meanwhile, relations between EU member states have never been worse. In Italy and to a greater extent in France, the coronavirus crisis has enforced growing disillusion with the European Union and an ill-defined desire to restore national sovereignty.

Corollary question: What are the prospects that Europe will produce leaders capable of seizing that right moment, that assertion of independence? What do you reckon such leaders would be like?

The EU is likely to be a central issue in the near future, but this issue can be exploited in very different ways, depending on which leaders get hold of it. The coronavirus crisis has intensified the centrifugal forces already undermining the European Union. The countries that have suffered most from the epidemic are among the most indebted of the EU member states, starting with Italy. The economic damage from the lockdown obliges them to borrow further. As their debt increases, so do interest rates charged by commercial banks. They turned to the EU for help, for instance by issuing eurobonds that would share the debt at lower interest rates. This has increased tension between debtor countries in the south and creditor countries in the north, which said nein . Countries in the eurozone cannot borrow from the European Central Bank as the U.S. Treasury borrows from the Fed. And their own national central banks take orders from the ECB, which controls the euro.

What does the crisis mean for the euro? I confess I've lost faith in this project, given how disadvantaged it leaves the nations on the Continent's southern rim.

The great irony is that "a common currency" was conceived by its sponsors as the key to European unity. On the contrary, the euro has a polarizing effect -- with Greece at the bottom and Germany at the top. And Italy sinking. But Italy is much bigger than Greece and won't go quietly.

The German constitutional court in Karlsruhe recently issued a long judgment making it clear who is boss. It recalled and insisted that Germany agreed to the euro only on the grounds that the main mission of the European Central Bank was to fight inflation, and that it could not directly finance member states. If these rules were not followed, the Bundesbank, the German central bank, would be obliged to pull out of the ECB. And since the Bundesbank is the ECB's main creditor, that is that. There can be no generous financial help to troubled governments within the eurozone. Period.

Is there a possibility of disintegration here?

The idea of leaving the EU is most developed in France. The Union Populaire Républicaine, founded in 2007 by former senior functionary François Asselineau, calls for France to leave the euro, the European Union, and NATO.

The party has been a didactic success, spreading its ideas and attracting around 20,000 active militants without scoring any electoral success. A main argument for leaving the EU is to escape from the constraints of EU competition rules in order to protect its vital industry, agriculture, and above all its public services.

A major paradox is that the left and the Yellow Vests call for economic and social policies that are impossible under EU rules, and yet many on the left shy away from even thinking of leaving the EU. For over a generation, the French left has made an imaginary "social Europe" the center of its utopian ambitions.

" Europe" as an idea or an ideal, you mean.

Decades of indoctrination in the ideology of "Europe" has instilled the belief that the nation-state is a bad thing of the past. The result is that people raised in the European Union faith tend to regard any suggestion of return to national sovereignty as a fatal step toward fascism. This fear of contagion from "the right" is an obstacle to clear analysis which weakens the left and favors the right, which dares be patriotic.

Two and a half months of coronavirus crisis have brought to light a factor that makes any predictions about future leaders even more problematic. That factor is a widespread distrust and rejection of all established authority. This makes rational political programs extremely difficult, because rejection of one authority implies acceptance of another. For instance, the way to liberate public services and pharmaceuticals from the distortions of the profit motive is nationalization. If you distrust the power of one as much as the other, there is nowhere to go.

Such radical distrust can be explained by two main factors -- the inevitable feeling of helplessness in our technologically advanced world, combined with the deliberate and even transparent lies on the part of mainstream politicians and media. But it sets the stage for the emergence of manipulated saviors or opportunistic charlatans every bit as deceptive as the leaders we already have, or even more so. I hope these irrational tendencies are less pronounced in France than in some other countries.

I'm eager to talk about Russia. There are signs that relations with Russia are another source of European dissatisfaction as "junior partners" within the U.S.–led Atlantic alliance. Macron is outspoken on this point, "junior partners" being his phrase. The Germans -- business people, some senior officials in government -- are quite plainly restive.

Russia is a living part of European history and culture. Its exclusion is totally unnatural and artificial. Brzezinski [the late Zbigniew Brzezinski, the Carter administration's national security adviser] spelled it out in The Great Chessboard : The U.S. maintains world hegemony by keeping the Eurasian landmass divided.

But this policy can be seen to be inherited from the British. It was Churchill who proclaimed -- in fact welcomed -- the Iron Curtain that kept continental Europe divided. In retrospect, the Cold War was basically part of the divide-and-rule strategy, since it persists with greater intensity than ever after its ostensible cause -- the Communist threat -- is long gone.

I hadn't put our current circumstance in this context. US-backed, violent coup in Ukraine, 2014.

The whole Ukrainian operation of 2014 [the U.S.–cultivated coup in Kyiv, February 2014] was lavishly financed and stimulated by the United States in order to create a new conflict with Russia. Joe Biden has been the Deep State's main front man in turning Ukraine into an American satellite, used as a battering ram to weaken Russia and destroy its natural trade and cultural relations with Western Europe.

U.S. sanctions are particularly contrary to German business interests, and NATO's aggressive gestures put Germany on the front lines of an eventual war.

But Germany has been an occupied country -- militarily and politically -- for 75 years, and I suspect that many German political leaders (usually vetted by Washington) have learned to fit their projects into U.S. policies. I think that under the cover of Atlantic loyalty, there are some frustrated imperialists lurking in the German establishment, who think they can use Washington's Russophobia as an instrument to make a comeback as a world military power.

But I also think that the political debate in Germany is overwhelmingly hypocritical, with concrete aims veiled by fake issues such as human rights and, of course, devotion to Israel.

We should remember that the U.S. does not merely use its allies -- its allies, or rather their leaders, figure they are using the U.S. for some purposes of their own.

What about what the French have been saying since the G–7 session in Biarritz two years ago, that Europe should forge its own relations with Russia according to Europe's interests, not America's?

At G7 Summit in Biarritz, France, Aug. 26, 2019. (White House)

I think France is likelier than Germany to break with the U.S.–imposed Russophobia simply because, thanks to de Gaulle, France is not quite as thoroughly under U.S. occupation. Moreover, friendship with Russia is a traditional French balance against German domination -- which is currently being felt and resented.

Stepping back for a broader look, do you think Europe's position on the western flank of the Eurasian landmass will inevitably shape its position with regard not only to Russia but also China? To put this another way, is Europe destined to become an independent pole of power in the course of this century, standing between West and East?

At present, what we have standing between West and East is not Europe but Russia, and what matters is which way Russia leans. Including Russia, Europe might become an independent pole of power. The U.S. is currently doing everything to prevent this. But there is a school of strategic thought in Washington which considers this a mistake, because it pushes Russia into the arms of China. This school is in the ascendant with the campaign to denounce China as responsible for the pandemic. As mentioned, the Atlanticists in Europe are leaping into the anti–China propaganda battle. But they are not displaying any particular affection for Russia, which shows no sign of sacrificing its partnership with China for the unreliable Europeans.

If Russia were allowed to become a friendly bridge between China and Europe, the U.S. would be obliged to abandon its pretensions of world hegemony. But we are far from that peaceful prospect.

Patrick Lawrence, a correspondent abroad for many years, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune , is a columnist, essayist, author and lecturer. His most recent book is "Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century" (Yale). Follow him on Twitter @thefloutist . His web site is Patrick Lawrence . Support his work via his Patreon site .


Josep , May 19, 2020 at 02:04

It recalled and insisted that Germany agreed to the euro only on the grounds that the main mission of the European Central Bank was to fight inflation, and that it could not directly finance member states.

I once read a comment elsewhere saying that, back in 1989, both Britain (under Margaret Thatcher) and the US objected to German reunification. Since they could not stop the reunification, they insisted that Germany accept the incoming euro. A heap of German university professors jumped up and protested, knowing fully well what the game was: namely the creation of a banker's empire in Europe controlled by private bankers.

Thorben Sunkimat , May 20, 2020 at 13:45

France and Britain rejected the german reunification. The americans were supportive, even though they had their demands. Mainly privatisation of german public utilities. After agreeing to those demands the americans persuaded the british and pressured the french who agreed to german reunification after germany agreed to the euro.

So why did france want the euro?

The German central bank crashed the European economy after reunification with high interest rates. This was because of above average growth rates mainly in Eastern Germany. Main function of the Bundesbank is to keep inflation low, which is more important to them than anything else. Since Germany's D Mark was the leading currency in Europe the rest of Europe had to heighten their interest rates too, witch lead to great economic problems within Europe. Including France.

OlyaPola , May 21, 2020 at 05:30

"namely the creation of a banker's empire in Europe controlled by private bankers."

Resort to binaries (controlled/not controlled) is a practice of self-imposed blindness. In any interactive system no absolutes exist only analogues of varying assays since "control" is limited and variable. In respect of what became the German Empire this relationship predated and facilitated the German Empire through financing the war with Denmark in 1864 courtesy of the arrangements between Mr. von Bismark and Mr. Bleichroder. The assay of "control of bankers" has varied/increased subsequently but never attained the absolute.

It is true that finance capital perceived and continues to perceive the European Union as an opportunity to increase their assay of "control" – the Austrian banks in conjunction with German bank assigning a level of priority to resurrecting spheres of influence existing prior to 1918 and until 1945.

One of the joint projects at a level of planning in the early 1990's was development of the Danube and its hinterland from Regensburg to Cerna Voda/Constanta in Romania but this was delayed in the hope of curtailment by some when NATO bombed Serbia in 1999 (Serbia not being the only target – so much for honesty-amongst-theives.)

This project was resurrected in a limited form primarily downstream from Vidin/Calafat from 2015 onwards given that some states of the former Yugoslavia were not members of the European Union and some were within spheres of influence of "The United States of America".

As to France, "Vichy" and Europa also facilitated the resurrection of finance capital and increase in its assay of control after the 1930's, some of the practices of the 1940's still being subject to dispute in France.

mkb29 , May 18, 2020 at 16:33

I've always admired Diana Johnstone's clear headed analyses of world/European/U.S./ China/Israel-Palestine/Russia/ interactions and the motivation of its "players". She has given some credence to what as been known as French rationalism and enlightenment. (Albeit as an American expat) Think Descartes, Diderot, Sartre , and She loves France in her own rationalist-humanist way.

Linda J , May 18, 2020 at 13:21

I have admired Ms. Johnstone's work for quite awhile. This enlightening interview spurs me to get a copy of the book and to contribute to Consortium News.

Others may be interested in the two-part video discovered yesterday featuring Douglas Valentine's analysis of the CIA's corporate backers and their global choke-hold on governments and their influencers in every region of the world.

Part 1
see:youtu(dot)be/cP15Ehx1yvI

Part 2
see:youtu(dot)be/IYvvEn_N1sE

worldblee , May 18, 2020 at 12:26

Not many have the long distance perspective on the world, let alone Europe, that Diana Johnstone has. Great interview!

Drew Hunkins , May 18, 2020 at 11:03

"Decades of indoctrination in the ideology of "Europe" has instilled the belief that the nation-state is a bad thing of the past. The result is that people raised in the European Union faith tend to regard any suggestion of return to national sovereignty as a fatal step toward fascism. This fear of contagion from "the right" is an obstacle to clear analysis which weakens the left and favors the right, which dares be patriotic."

Bingo! A marvelous point indeed! Quick little example -- Bernard Sanders should have worn an American flag pin on his suit during the 2020 Dem primary campaign.

chris , May 18, 2020 at 04:46

A very good analysis. As an American who has relocated to Spain several years ago, I am always disappointed that discussions of European politics always assume that Europe ends at the Pyrenees. Admittedly, Spanish politics is very complicated and confusing. Forty years of an unreconstructed dictatorship have left their mark, but the country´s socialist, communist and anarchic currents never went away. I like to say that the country is very conservative, but at least the population is aware of what is going on.

Perhaps what Ms. Johnston says about the French being just worn out, with no stomach for more violent conflict also applies to the Spanish since their great ideological struggle is more recent. The American influence during the Transition (which changed little – as the expression goes: The same dog but with a different collar) was very strong, and remains so. Even so, there is popular support for foreign and domestic policies independent of American and neoliberal control, but by and large the political and economic powers are not on board. I do not think Spain is willing to make a break alone, but would align itself with an European shift away from American control.

As Ms. Johnston says, Europe currently lacks leaders willing to take the plunge, but we will see what the coming year brings.

Sam F , May 17, 2020 at 17:45

Thank you Diana, these are valuable insights. Since WWII the US has itself been occupied by tyrants, using Russophobia to demand power as fake defenders.

1. Waving the flag and praising the lord on mass media, claiming concern with human rights and "Israel"; while
2. Subverting the Constitution with large scale bribery, surveillance, and genocides, all business as usual nowadays.
In the US, the form of government has become bribery and marketing lies; it truly knows no other way.

It may be better that Russia and China keep their distance from the US and maybe even the EU:
1. The US and EU would have to produce what they consume, eventually empowering workers;
2. Neither the US nor EU are a political or economic model for anyone, and should be ignored;
3. Neither the US nor EU produces much that Russia and China cannot, by investing more in cars and soybeans.

It will be best for the EU if it also rejects the US and its "neolib" economic and political tyranny mechanisms:
1. Alliance with Russia and China will cause substantial gains in stability and economic strength;
2. Forcing the US to abandon its "pretensions of world hegemony" will soon yield more peaceful prospects; and
3. Isolating the US will force it to improve its utterly corrupt government and society, maybe 40 to 60 years hence.

Drew Hunkins , May 17, 2020 at 15:40

" French philosophy .By constantly attacking, deconstructing, and denouncing every remnant of human "power" they could spot, the intellectual rebels left the power of "the markets" unimpeded, and did nothing to stand in the way of the expansion of U.S. military power all around the world "

Brilliant. Exactly right. This was the progenitor to our contemporary I.D. politics which seems to be solely obsessed with vocabulary, semantics and non-economic cultural issues while rarely having a critique of corporate capitalism, militarism, massive inequality and Zionism. And it almost never advocates for robust economic populist proposals like Med4All, U.B.I., debt jubilee, and the fight for $15.

Drew Hunkins , May 17, 2020 at 15:10

The book is phenomenal. I posted a customer review over on Amazon for this stupendous work. Below is a copy of my review:

(5 stars) One of the most important intellects pens her magisterial lasting legacy
Reviewed in the United States on March 31, 2020

Johnstone's been an idol of mine ever since I started reading her in the 1990s. She's clearly proved her worthiness over the decades by bucking the mainstream trend of apologetics for corporate capitalism, neoliberalism, globalism and imperialistic militarism her entire career and this astonishing memoir details it all in what will likely be the finest book of 2020 and perhaps the entire decade.

Her writing style is beyond superb, her grasp of the overarching politico-socio-economic issues that have rocked the world over the past 60 years is as astute and spot-on as you will find from any global thinker. She's right up there with Michael Parenti, James Petras, John Pilger and Noam Chomsky as seminal figures who have documented and brought light to tens of thousands (millions?) of people across the globe via their writings, interviews and speaking engagements.

Johnstone has never been one to shy away from controversial topics and issues. Why? Simple, she has the facts and truth on her side, she always has. Circle in the Darkness proves all this and more, she marshals the documentation and lays it out as an exquisite gift for struggling working people around the world.

From her groundbreaking work on the NATO empire's sickening war on sovereign Serbia, the dead end of identity politics and trans bathroom debates, to her critique of unfettered immigration and open borders, and her dismissal of the absurd Russsiagate baloney, better than anyone else, Johnstone has kept her intellect carefully honed to the real genuine kitchen table bread and butter issues that truly matter. She recognized before most of the world's scholars the perils of rampant inequality and saw the writing on the wall as to where this grotesque economic system is taking us all: down a dystopian slope into penury and police-state heavy-handedness, with millions unable to come up with $500 for an emergency car repair or dental bill.

Whenever she comes out with a new article or essay I immediately drop everything and devour it, often reading it twice to let her wisdom really soak in. So too Circle of Darkness is an extremely well written beautiful work that will scream out to be re-read every few years by those with a hunger to know exactly what was going on since the Korean War era through today regarding liberal thought, neocon and neoliberal dominance with its capitalist global hegemony and the take over of Western governments by the parasitic financial elite.

There will never be another Diana Johnstone. Circle in the Darkness will stand as her lasting legacy to all of us.

Bob Van Noy , May 17, 2020 at 14:43

"As our circle of knowledge expands, so does the circumference of darkness surrounding it" ~Albert Einstein

Many Thanks CN, Patrick Lawrence, and Joe Lauria. Once again I must commend CN for picking just the appropriate response to our contemporary dilemma.

The quote above leads Diana Johnstone's new book and succinctly describes both the universe and our contemporary experience with our digital age. President Kennedy and Charles de Gaulle of France would agree that colonialism was past and that a new world (geopolitical) approach would become necessary, but that philosophy would put them against some great local and world powers. Each of them necessarily had different approaches as to how this might be accomplished. They were never allowed to present their specific proposals on a world stage. Let's hope a wiser population will once again "see" this possibility and find a way to resolve it

Aaron , May 17, 2020 at 14:18

Well over the span of all of those decades, the consistent, inexorable theme seems to be a trend of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, a small number of individuals, not really states, gaining wealth and power, so everybody else fights over the crumbs, blaming this or that party, alliance, event or whatever, but behind it all there are two flower gardens, indeed the rich are all flowers of their golden garden, and the poor are all flowers of their garden.

It's like the Europeans and the 99 percent in America have all fallen for the myth of the American dream, that if we are just allowed more free, unfettered economic opportunity, it's just up to us to pick ourselves up by the bootstraps and become a billionaire.

The mask competition and fiasco shows the importance of a country simply making things in their own country, not on the other side of the world, it's not nationalism it's just a better way to logistically deliver reliable products to the citizens.

AnneR , May 17, 2020 at 13:42

Regarding French colonialism – as I recall the French were especially brutal in their forced withdrawal from Algeria, both toward Algerians in their homeland and to Algerians within France itself.

And the French were hardly willing, non-violent colonialists when being fought by the Vietnamese who wanted to be free of them (quite rightly so).

As for the French in Sub-Saharan Africa – they have yet to truly give up on their presumed right to have troops within these countries. They did not depart any of their colonies happily, willingly – like every other colonial power, including the UK.

And, as for WWII – she seems, in her reminiscences, to have mislaid Vichy France, the Velodrome roundups of French Jews, and so on ..

Ms Johnstone clearly has been looking backwards with rose-tinted specs on when it comes to France.

Randal Marlin , May 18, 2020 at 13:00

There may be some truth to AnneR's claim that Ms Johnstone has been looking with rose-tinted specs when it comes to France, but it is highly misleading for her to talk about "the French" regarding Algeria. I spent 1963-64 in Aix-en-Provence teaching at the Institute for American Universities and talked with some of the "pieds-noirs," (French born in Algeria).

After French President Charles de Gaulle decided to relinquish French control over Algeria, having previously reassured the colonial population that "Je vous ai compris" ("I have understood you"), there followed death threats to many French colonizers who had to flee Algeria immediately within 24 hours or get their throats slit – "La valise ou le cercueil" (the suitcase or the coffin).

In the fall of 1961, I saw Parisian police stations with machine-gun armed men behind concrete barriers, as an invasion by the colonial French paratroopers against mainland France was expected. The "Organisation Armée Secrète," OAS, (Secret Armed Organization) of the colonial powers, threatened at the time to invade Paris.

As an aside, giving a sense of the anger and passion involved, when the death of John F.Kennedy in November 1963 was announced in the historic, right-wing café in Aix, Les Deux Garçons, a huge cheer went up when the media announcer proclaimed "Le Président est assassinée. Only, that was because they thought de Gaulle was the president in question. A huge disappointment when they heard it was President Kennedy. To get a sense of the whole situation regarding France and Algeria I recommend Alistair Horne's "A Savage War of Peace."

OlyaPola , May 19, 2020 at 11:23

"They did not depart any of their colonies happily"

Some hold that they never departed, but mutated tools including CFA zones and "intelligence" relations in furtherance of "changing" to remain qualitatively the same. Just as "The United States of America" is a system of coercive relations not synonymous with the political geographical area designated "The United States of America", the colonialism of former and present "colonial powers" continues to exist, since the "independence" of the colonised was always, and continues to be, framed within linear systems of coercive relations, facilitated by the complicity of "local elites" on the basis of perceived self-interest, and the acquiescence of "local others" for myriad reasons.

Despite the "best" efforts of the opponents and partly in consequence of the opponents' complicity, the PRC and the Russian Federation like "The United States of America" are not synonymous with the political geographical areas designated as "The People's Republic of China and The Russian Federation", are in lateral process of transcending linear systems of coercive relations and hence pose existential threats to "The United States of America".

The opponents are not complete fools but the drowning tend to act precipitously including flailing out whilst drowning; encouraging some to dispense with rose- tinted glasses, despite such accessories being quite fashionable and fetching.

OlyaPola , May 20, 2020 at 04:32

" .. their colonies "

Perception of and practice of social relations are not wholly synonymous. A construct whose founding myths included liberty, egality and fraternity – property being discarded at the last moment since it was judged too provocative – experienced/experiences ideological/perceptual oxymorons in regard to its colonial relations, which were addressed in part by rendering their "colonies" department of France thereby facilitating increased perceptual dissonance.

Like many, Randal Marlin draws attention below to the perceptions and practices of the pied-noir, but omits to address the perceptions and practices of the harkis whom were also immersed in the proselytised notion of departmental France, and to some degree continue to be.

This understanding continues to inform the practices and problems of the French state.

Lolita , May 17, 2020 at 12:05

The analysis is very much inspired from "Comprendre l'Empire" by Alain Soral.

Dave , May 17, 2020 at 11:27

Do not fail to read this interview in its entirety. Ms Johnstone analyzes and describes many issues of national and global importance from the perspective of an USA expat who has spent most of her career in the pursuit of what may be termed disinterested journalism. Whether one agrees or disagrees in whole or in part the perspectives she presents, particularly those which pertain to the demise (hopefully) of the American Empire are worthy of perusal.

Remember that this is not a polemic; it's a memoir of a lifetime devoted to reporting and analyzing and discussion of most of the significant issues confronting global and national politics and their social ramifications. And a big thanks to Patrick Lawrence and Consortium News for posting the interview.

PEG , May 17, 2020 at 09:11

Diana Johnstone is one of the most intelligent, clear-minded and honest observers of international politics today, and her book "Circle in the Darkness" – which expands on the topics and insights touched on in this interview – is certainly among the best and most compelling books I have ever read, putting the events of the last 75 years into objective context and focus (normally something which only historians can do, if at all, generations after the fact).

After reading Circle in the Darkness, I have ordered and am now reading her books on Hillary Clinton (Queen of Chaos) and the Yugoslav wars (Fool's Crusade), which are very worthwhile and important. I would recommend that her many articles over the years, appearing in such publications such as In These Times, Counterpunch and Consortium News, be reprinted and published together as an anthology. Through Circle in the Darkness, we have Diana Johnstone's "Life", but it would be good also to have her "Letters".

Herman , May 17, 2020 at 09:00

Interesting comparison between the aspirations of De Gaulle and Putin.

"Having a sense of history, de Gaulle saw that colonialism had been a moment in history that was past. His policy was to foster friendly relations on equal terms with all parts of the world, regardless of ideological differences. I think that Putin's concept of a multipolar world is similar. It is clearly a concept that horrifies the exceptionalists."

Agree with Johnstone.

OlyaPola , May 19, 2020 at 11:55

"Having a sense of history, de Gaulle saw that colonialism had been a moment in history that was past. "

Mr. de Gaulle like other "leaders" of colonial powers did understand that the moment of overt coercive relations of colonialism had passed and that colonialism to remain qualitatively the same, required covert coercive relations facilitated by the complicity of local "elites" on the basis of perceived self-interest.

The exceptions to such strategies lay within constructs of settler colonialism which were addressed primarily through warfare – "The United States of America", Vietnam/Laos/Cambodia, Indonesia, Algeria, Kenya, Rhodesia, Mozambique, Angola refer – to facilitate such future strategies.

"I think that Putin's concept of a multipolar world is similar."

As outlined elsewhere the concept of a multi-polar world is not synonymous with the concept of colonialism except for the colonialists who consistently seek to encourage such conflation through myths of we-are-all-in-this-togetherness.

[May 21, 2020] Orwell's career was a lot more complicated than that. Basically, he came from a relatively prosperous middle-class family, which allowed him to play the game of the writer, when it worked, and to come back to the family when things were thin

May 21, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , May 20 2020 18:51 utc | 26

If you thought you knew everything about Eric Blair/George Orwell, I suggest reading this essay as a test. Hopefully, you'll discover many facets not known before as I did.

H.Schmatz , May 20 2020 21:40 utc | 33

Posted by: oldhippie | May 20 2020 20:23 utc | 30

Orwell's career was a lot more complicated than that. Basically, he came from a relatively prosperous middle-class family, which allowed him to play the game of the writer, when it worked, and to come back to the family when things were thin. Of course he exploited his own experiences, as every writer does. That doesn't detract from the great creations. Animal Farm and 1984 don't have direct origins.

Posted by: Laguerre | May 20 2020 21:39 utc | 32 @Posted by: karlof1 | May 20 2020 18:51 utc | 26

That essay is a real shame, an impossible intend of whitewashing and redime Orwell, just another intent on rewritting of history, and try to paint what is black as white. Neo-language
This intent could be inscribed along the rescues of Stepan Bandera and the Forest Brothers as new heroes of NATO world in their offensive against reviving socialist ideas.

That Orwell did not change even a bit after returning from Burma is proven by the fact that he came to Spain, and strolled around there with the Trotskyites of POUM, to elaborate black lists of communists which then were provided to Franco, at result of which many people was tortured and summarily executed. He, this way, contributed greatly to decimate the resistance in the side of the legitimate republican government, and thus, to help the fascists in their way to power, well supported by the US with arms and fuel and by the air forces of fascist Italy and Nazi Germany.

... ... ...

https://twitter.com/ciudadfutura/status/1263150511412346881

Orwell: Sneak sighting of British secret services in the Cold War (is declassified by MI-5 and documented). Its function: to expose communists. He even betrayed Charles Chaplin, exiled in his native England for FBI persecution. "Referrer". "Always loyal"

https://twitter.com/ciudadfutura/status/1262794482963091460

Albert Escusa: Who was George Orwell really? Orwellian myths: from the Spanish Civil War to the Soviet holocaust

H.Schmatz , May 20 2020 22:08 utc | 36

@Posted by: H.Schmatz | May 20 2020 21:40 utc | 33

In the essay by Alert Escusa linked above, it is studied the historical context in which Orwell published his most famous works, at all innocent, debunking the legend on that he was kinda an outsider and was about to self-publish Animal Farm , being the checked reality that he had full support of the birgueoisie to publish his influential works when the time was more propice for the capitalists.

As a sample, a button:

What was happening that year of 1943, while Orwell was writing his Animal Farm? It was not exactly, as Pepe Gutiérrez says "the distribution of the world", but something quite different that he hides from us: the Nazis had invaded the USSR two years ago, exterminating millions of Russians and devastating much of the country. The greatest battle of the war, Stalingrad, had taken place, and it was not yet known who would win the conflict, whether Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union. No one could safely predict that Nazism would be extirpated from Europe, the Nazi death camps had not yet been discovered, but Orwell was obsessed with his anti-Soviet writings. What did Orwell want to portray with his Farm Rebellion? Nothing more and nothing less than the following: "The specific purpose Orwell threw into it with a sense of urgency was the desire to exploit the "myth" of the Soviet Union, as a paradigm of the socialist state".

There are plenty of comments about it. It is only worth reflecting on who benefited from Orwell's position in 1943. The victory was precisely achieved by the Soviet people and the Red Army at the price of innumerable human sacrifices, also easily forgotten in the West, where the true character of the anti-fascist war is hidden. It is logical that the USSR, which had suffered a war of extermination unprecedented in history, and which also defeated the collaborationist and fascist regimes of Eastern Europe, along with the popular and communist guerrillas, was seen as a liberating power by broad sectors of local populations. In addition, the communist guerrillas, ideologically linked to the USSR, had come to have great prestige throughout Europe: so much so that, in the first French general elections after Nazism, the French Communist Party was the most voted party, achieving more out of 5 million votes representing 30% of the electorate [7]. As we will see later, the USSR had very well-founded reasons to believe that a new war was being prepared against him, this time with the country devastated, so it was logical and legitimate that he try to win allies against the possibility of a new world war. This is a long way from "distribution of the world" and trying to equate imperialism with socialism, as will be seen later.


karlof1 , May 20 2020 22:47 utc | 42
I must say the replies to my 26 go in many directions. As to Martin Sieff's essay, it's fundamentally a well deserved critique of the BBC that segues into a discussion about how George Orwell would easily recognize its Fake News for what it is that draws on Finding George Orwell in Burma for some of its content. (A very short preview's available at the link and it can be borrowed if you're an Archive member, for which there's no excuse as it's free.) IMO, the comments fit Sieff's intent quite well. Judging from book excerpts offered here , the book's more a critique of Myanmar than Orwell, although the additional sources provided at page bottom leads to credibility questions. I also note that most websites promoting Finding lead with the NY Times jacket blurb which is more about dissing Myanmar than revealing what was found regarding Orwell. Sieff says he knows the author but doesn't speculate on why he chose a female nom de plume; I too wonder why as I don't see what purpose it could serve unless it's anti-Myanmar propaganda that Orwell would recognize or something similar.

Curious--an innocuous comment becomes a can of worms. Also curious how Orwell and his writing still generate an intense level of controversy.

karlof1 , May 20 2020 22:47 utc | 42 H.Schmatz , May 20 2020 22:52 utc | 43
@Posted by: H.Schmatz | May 20 2020 22:08 utc | 36

A bit more from the must read essay linked, even related to current events...

2. THE HISTORICAL ENVIRONMENT OF "ANIMAL FARM" AND "1984"

What events were taking place in the western world at that time, which caused a favorable change of attitude towards Orwell's publications, of those who were previously reticent? Neither more nor less than the imminent offensive against socialism, which had already lost almost thirty million lives during the anti-fascist war and had suffered appalling material destruction.

While the first copies of Animal Farm were being printed and bound, some extremely disturbing events were taking place. Just at the end of the war, Nazi spies and war criminals were being recycled by the American spy services, such as the German SS General Reinhard Genhlen, whose spy network passed entirely to the Americans and was used in Eastern Europe to promote the anti-Soviet uprisings in East Berlin in 1953 and Hungary in 1956. Clandestine networks were created to evade thousands of Nazi criminals towards Latin America and the USA. Later, with Japan defeated, the operation was repeated with the Japanese scientists who are experts in bacteriological weapons, responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of allied prisoners, but who were secretly brought to the United States. Meanwhile, during the 1945 Potsdam conference, which brought together Hitler's victorious allies - where the alleged "honeymoon" took place to "divide the world" - US President Truman and English Churchill had speculated before Stalin about the power the western allies had with a new secret weapon. On August 6, 1945, the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. According to Ian Gray, Stalin's biographer: "Stalin and the majority of Russians immediately understood the terrible meaning of this fact ... Stalin realized that the Americans had used the bomb mainly to impress and threaten Russia". Stalin and the Soviets were right: the American Secretary of State, James Byrnes, recognized that the bomb was necessary not against Japan, but "to make Russia moldable to Europe".

As the historian Pauwels has explained, the initial will of the Soviets in Europe was not to have like-minded regimes and their own zone of influence, but to intervene in Germany to prevent it from engaging in a second war, this time together with its former allies against the USSR. This is demonstrated by the fact that until well into the post-war period, the Soviets did not help to make any political-social change in the liberated countries. It was Truman's nuclear policy that forced the Soviets to stand face to face with the Americans in Eastern Europe, thus deterring American aviation: from this way they would have to carry out a long trip until arriving at the Soviet cities where they had to drop their bombs. This caused the political and social changes in Eastern Europe to accelerate, which, however, were already taking place autonomously since the end of the war thanks to the triumph of the popular anti-fascist forces. This fact not only saved the USSR from a new war and enabled socialism to survive: stability in Eastern Europe laid the foundations for a development of national liberation struggles and for socialism throughout the world: in 1949 the victory of the Chinese Revolution heralded the triumph of many others, putting all capitalism in danger of death.

In parallel, just after the Cold War started by imperialism, the conservative British leader Churchill theorized about the need to build an Iron Curtain to contain the communists and allegedly asked the American President Truman to attack the USSR with the atomic bomb by means of a preemptive attack. Churchill was not just any character, but one of the most influential leaders of the British Empire, champion of English colonialism and the participation of his country in World War I, therefore responsible for many millions of deaths and suffering of peoples.

That was the real reason for the delay in publishing Animal Farm . Orwell, naturally, during the anti-fascist war could not see his anti-Soviet work published until the end of the conflict, since it would have been quite awkward for the Western governments allied to the USSR, who were risking their lives against the Nazis, to criminalize in this way a friendly government. On the other hand, at that time, from the Orwellian model, it would be difficult for western and world public opinion to understand how it was possible that the Soviet people fought with such a degree of sacrifice and heroism, expelling the Nazis from Europe: all the other bourgeois regimes, where there was freedom, had collapsed rapidly and had collaborated with the Nazis.
It was in connection with these events that the first copies of Animal farm were placed on the shelves of bookstores. Precisely the publication coincided with the end of World War II and the dissolution of the anti-fascist alliance between England, USA, and the USSR. The first edition is exactly from 1945 in England, published by Secker & Wargburg, from London, and from 1946 in the USA, published by Harcourt, from New York. The capitalist governments, which were imminently going to promote Animal Farm , were evaluating different options to attack the USSR: from rearming German units as shock brigades to attack the Soviets, to the launch of "preventive" atomic bombs. The prestige that the USSR had among all the workers of the world, fundamentally the Europeans who suffered the Nazi atrocities, was enormous, as well as among the intellectual and popular sectors, whose reflection could be followed in the great influence that some communist parties had. It was necessary to dismantle this prestige to sweep the opposition of the world public opinion to an armed aggression against those who liberated Europe from Nazism, and Orwell's novels came as a ring to a finger for this purpose, since they were a good instrument to spread among the so called mass culture, just as later were the film versions of his works.


H.Schmatz , May 20 2020 22:59 utc | 46
@Posted by: karlof1 | May 20 2020 22:47 utc | 42

Albert Escusa, gives in his essay a good semblance of what kind of person could Orwell really be:

Orwell was above all a great individualist, with some important personal contradictions and prejudices that led him to oscillate along various paths without being able to commit himself in a stable and permanent way to anything that was not himself, in such a way that, when he became disenchanted with some social processes that he was unable to interpret correctly and scientifically, ended up ranting against what he believed to be the object of his anger.

We can see it in Corbière's sharp description: "Who was Orwell? A sniper, a skeptic who devoted his efforts to Manichean criteria describing the great social and political contradictions of our time. Anarchist, Semitrotskyist in Spain, Labor in England, free thinker, undercover anti-Semite, his real ideas reveal a kind of elitism.

He had an intense imagination but his methodology of thought was restricted, one-sided.

H.Schmatz , May 20 2020 23:05 utc | 47
@Posted by: Kerry | May 20 2020 22:44 utc | 38

No that I am aware, but, if interested, you could translate it with a translator.
Since the essay is quite long, you could translate paragraph by paragraph, then read the whol thing once assembled.

A bit complicated, but worth the effort, the essay is a well researched work, wu¡ith several referecnes as weel worth reading, like a disection of Orwell, his epoch and motives.

oldhippie , May 20 2020 23:13 utc | 48
Oh dear. Relatively prosperous middle class means descended from Earls of Westmorland, family tree of Fanes, de Veres, Grosvenors, at a little reach basically related to the entire peerage. True, Orwell's father was a bit of a dope, he did manage to contract a marriage to a very wealthy woman. Jacintha Buddicom's memoir, Eric and Us, about growing up living next door to the Blairs, will tell you what 'middle class' life was like.

Orwell maintained the friendships from St. Cyprians and Eton for life. Pretty much everyone on the roster could be considered as spooks and agents. All of them tied to old money, old family, government service. Government as MI6 and CIA.

I think he's a great writer. My copy of the four volumes of Collected Essays Letters & Journalism is still right here next to the fireplace. All the rest of it around here somewhere, even the minor novels from the 30s. But no illusions what team he is on or what station he was born to.

Winston Smith means 'maker of Winston', as in broadcasting from Room 101 and forging the myth of Winston Churchill. Orwell was a big boy when he did that and was far past having any illusions. He created the myth that Room 101 of Broadcasting House was the worst place in the world. And talked of how the war years were the best years of his life.

H.Schmatz , May 20 2020 23:31 utc | 49
@Posted by: oldhippie | May 20 2020 23:13 utc | 48
I think he's a great writer

Not even so, more proper a plagiarist and propagandist at the service of Western totalitarian imperialism.

Since we are in the task of deconstructing Orwell, let´s go to the end...

In addition to the Animal Farm , one of the works that most influenced the construction of Western totalitarianism against the Communists was 1984 . It shows an overview of socialism in the USSR similar to a delusional totalitarian and monstrous drama, with a Big Brother (Stalin) who had absolute social control over the individuals under his rule, through a sophisticated mind control mechanism. This work became a must-read for CIA officers and a dependent body called the Council for Psychological Strategies, in addition to the fact that NATO used the entire vocabulary of this novel during the 1950s in its anti-communist strategy.12 It is interesting to know how He conceived this book, since it was apparently a plagiarism Orwell did to another disenchanted of Bolshevism, in this case a Russian writer, in the opinion of the writer Emilio J. Corbière: "Orwell's was a conscious plagiarism, since he explained it himself in another of his works. The plot, the main characters, the symbols and the climate of its narration, belonged to a completely forgotten Russian writer of the beginning of the century: Evgeny Zamyatin. In his book We , the Russian disillusioned with socialism after the failure of the 1905 revolution, devoted his efforts to anathematizing the Social Democratic Workers Party founded by Jorge Plejanov. When the October revolution happened - in 1917 - Zamyatin went into exile in Paris, where he wrote his posthumous anti-communist work"

This opinion is also shared by the historian Isaac Deutscher in his work The Mysticism of Cruelty , an essay about 1984 , where he states that Orwell "borrowed the idea of ​​1984, the plot, the main characters, the symbols and the whole plot situation from the work We of Evgeny Zamyatin"

We see how behind the image of a great writer, lies the reality of a plagiarist of stories, which served to elaborate theoretical and academic models on the functioning of socialism in the Soviet Union totally adjusted to the requirements of imperialism in the anti-communist Cold War. The impact of 1984 was tremendous among the population, creating an atmosphere of anti-communist and anti-Soviet paranoia that was very effective among the masses, as the disturbing personal testimony of Isaac Deutscher demonstrates: "Have you read that book? You have to read it, sir. Then you will know why we have to drop the atomic bomb on the Bolsheviks! With those words, a miserable blind newspaper vendor recommended me in New York 1984 , a few weeks before Orwell's death".


arby , May 20 2020 23:45 utc | 50
H. Schmatz.
I am not a good book reader but I did read 1984 and it definitely seemed to be a veiled critique on Communism.
However it seems the story is now more fitting to capitalism.

[May 21, 2020] How the British Empire Created and Killed George Orwell by Martin Sieff

May 20, 2020 | www.strategic-culture.org

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), happily amplified by the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) in the United States which carries its World News, continues to pump out its regular dreck about the alleged economic chaos in Russia and the imagined miserable state of the Russian people.

It is all lies of course. Patrick Armstrong 's authoritative regular updates including his reports on this website are a necessary corrective to such crude propaganda.

But amid all their countless fiascoes and failures in every other field (including the highest per capita death rate from COVID-19 in Europe, and one of the highest in the world) the British remain world leaders at managing global Fake News. As long as the tone remains restrained and dignified, literally any slander will be swallowed by the credulous and every foul scandal and shame can be confidently covered up.

None of this would have surprised the late, great George Orwell. It is fashionable these days to endlessly trot him out as a zombie (dead but alleged to be living – so that he cannot set the record straight himself) critic of Russia and all the other global news outlets outside the control of the New York and London plutocracies. And it is certainly true, that Orwell, whose hatred and fear of communism was very real, served before his death as an informer to MI-5, British domestic security.

But it was not the Soviet Union, Stalin's show trials or his experiences with the Trotskyite POUM group in Barcelona and Catalonia during the Spanish Civil War that "made Orwell Orwell" as the Anglo-America Conventional Wisdom Narrative has it. It was his visceral loathing of the British Empire – compounded during World War II by his work for the BBC which he eventually gave up in disgust.

And it was his BBC experiences that gave Orwell the model for his unforgettable Ministry of Truth in his great classic "1984."

George Orwell had worked in one of the greatest of all world centers of Fake News. And he knew it.

More profoundly, the great secret of George Orwell's life has been hiding in plain sight for 70 years since he died. Orwell became a sadistic torturer in the service of the British Empire during his years in Burma, modern Myanmar. And as a fundamentally decent man, he was so disgusted by what he had done that he spent the rest of his life not just atoning but slowly and willfully committing suicide before his heartbreakingly premature death while still in his 40s.

The first important breakthrough in this fundamental reassessment of Orwell comes from one of the best books on him. "Finding George Orwell in Burma" was published in 2005 and written by "Emma Larkin", a pseudonym for an outstanding American journalist in Asia whose identity I have long suspected to be an old friend and deeply respected colleague, and whose continued anonymity I respect.

"Larkin" took the trouble to travel widely in Burma during its repressive military dictatorship and her superb research reveals crucial truths about Orwell. According to his own writings and his deeply autobiographical novel "Burmese Days" Orwell loathed all his time as a British colonial policeman in Burma, modern Myanmar. The impression he systematically gives in that novel and in his classic essay "Shooting an Elephant" is of a bitterly lonely, alienated, deeply unhappy man, despised and even loathed by his fellow British colonialists throughout society and a ludicrous failure at his job.

This was not, however, the reality that "Larkin" uncovered. All surviving witnesses agreed that Orwell – Eric Blair as he then still was – remained held in high regard during his years in the colonial police service. He was a senior and efficient officer. Indeed it was precisely his knowledge of crime, vice, murder and the general underside of human society during his police colonial service while still in his 20s that gave him the street smarts, experience, and moral authority to see through all the countless lies of right and left, of American capitalists and British imperialists as well as European totalitarians for the rest of his life.

The second revelation to throw light on what Orwell had to do in those years comes from one of the most famous and horrifying scenes in "1984." Indeed, almost nothing even in the memoirs of Nazi death camp survivors has anything like it: That is the scene where "O'Brien", the secret police officer tortures the "hero" (if he can be called that) Winston Smith by locking his face to a cage in which a starving rat is ready to pounce and devour him if it is opened.

I remember thinking, when I was first exposed to the power of "1984" at my outstanding Northern Irish school, "What kind of mind could invent something as horrific as that?") The answer was so obvious that I like everyone else missed it entirely.

Orwell did not "invent" or "come up" with the idea as a fictional plot device: It was just a routine interrogation technique used by the British colonial police in Burma, modern Myanmar. Orwell never "brilliantly" invented such a diabolical technique of torture as a literary device. He did not have to imagine it. It was routinely employed by himself and his colleagues. That was how and why the British Empire worked so well for so long. They knew what they were doing. And what they did was not nice at all.

A final step in my enlightenment about Orwell, whose writings I have revered all my life – and still do – was provided by our alarmingly brilliant elder daughter about a decade ago when she too was given "1984" to read as part of her school curriculum. Discussing it with her one day, I made some casual obvious remark that Orwell was in the novel as Winston Smith.

My American-raised teenager then naturally corrected me. "No, Dad, " she said. "Orwell isn't Winston, or he's not just Winston. He's O'Brien too. O'Brien actually likes Winston. He doesn't want to torture him. He even admires him. But he does it because it's his duty."

She was right, of course.

But how could Orwell the great enemy of tyranny, lies and torture so identify with and understand so well the torturer? It was because he himself had been one.

"Emma Larkin's" great book brings out that Orwell as a senior colonial police officer in the 1920s was a leading figure in a ruthless war waged by the British imperial authorities against drug and human trafficking crime cartels every bit as vicious and ruthless as those in modern Ukraine, Columbia and Mexico today. It was a "war on terror" where anything and everything was permitted to "get the job done."

The young Eric Blair was so disgusted by the experience that when he returned home he abandoned the respectable middle class life style he had always enjoyed and became, not just an idealistic socialist as many in those days did, but a penniless, starving tramp. He even abandoned his name and very identity. He suffered a radical personality collapse: He killed Eric Blair. He became George Orwell.

Orwell's early famous book "Down and Out in London and Paris" is a testament to how much he literally tortured and humiliated himself in those first years back from Burma. And for the rest of his life.

He ate miserably badly, was skinny and ravaged by tuberculosis and other health problems, smoked heavily and denied himself any decent medical care. His appearance was always abominable. His friend, the writer Malcolm Muggeridge speculated that Orwell wanted to remake himself as a caricature of a tramp.

The truth clearly was that Orwell never forgave himself for what he did as a young agent of empire in Burma. Even his literally suicidal decision to go to the most primitive, cold, wet and poverty-stricken corner of creation in a remote island off Scotland to finish "1984" in isolation before he died was consistent with the merciless punishments he had inflicted on himself all his life since leaving Burma.

The conclusion is clear: For all the intensity of George Orwell's experiences in Spain, his passion for truth and integrity, his hatred of the abuse of power did not originate from his experiences in the Spanish Civil War. They all flowed directly from his own actions as an agent of the British Empire in Burma in the 1920s: Just as his creation of the Ministry of Truth flowed directly from his experience of working in the Belly of the Beast of the BBC in the early 1940s.

George Orwell spent more than 20 years slowly committing suicide because of the terrible crimes he committed as a torturer for the British Empire in Burma. We can therefore have no doubt what his horror and disgust would be at what the CIA did under President George W. Bush in its "Global War on Terror." Also, Orwell would identify at once and without hesitation the real fake news flowing out of New York, Atlanta, Washington and London today, just as he did in the 1930s and 1940s.

Let us therefore reclaim and embrace The Real George Orwell: The cause of fighting to prevent a Third World War depends on it.

[May 20, 2020] The American Mission and the Evil Empire The Crusade for a Free Russia Since 1881 by Foglesong

Highly recommended!
Paperback: 364 pages Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (October 15, 2007)
"Foglesong's book provides a panoramic view of American popular attitudes toward Russia, one that is illustrated with many arresting cartoons and magazine covers. It should provoke a wider debate about the rationality of evaluating Russia with reference to an idealized view of the United States, as well as the deeper sources of this tendency." -Deborah Welch Larson, H-Diplo
"In the 21st century, the American debate on the prospects of modernizing Russia and on the Americans' role in this process is still going strong even though it began more than a century ago. This is why David Foglesong's book aimed at elucidating the mechanisms of misrepresentations which threaten both Russian-American relations and the world security as a whole is of equal importance for the academic community and for the policy makers in both Russia and the United States."
-Victoria Zhuravleva, H-Diplo
"Foglesong demonstrates that powerful Americans have again and again seen the possibility, even necessity, of spreading the word to Russia, and then, when Russia fails to transform itself into something resembling the US, have recoiled and condemned Russia's perfidious national character or its leaders-most recently Putin. The author's singular achievement is to show that well before the cold war, Russia served as America's dark double, an object of wishful thinking, condescension and self-righteousness in a quest for American purpose-without much to show for such efforts inside Russia. The author thereby places in context the cold war, when pamphleteers like William F Buckley Jr and politicians like Ronald Reagan pushed a crusade to revitalise the American spirit. Russia then was a threat but also a means to America's end (some fixed on a rollback of the alleged Soviet "spawn" inside the US-the welfare state-while others, after the Vietnam debacle, wanted to restore "faith in the United States as a virtuous nation with a unique historical mission"). Foglesong's exposé of Americans' "heady sense of their country's unique blessings" helps make sense of the giddiness, followed by rank disillusionment, vis-...-vis the post-Soviet Russia of the 1990s and 2000s." -Stephen Kotkin, Prospect Magazine -Stephen Kotkin, Prospect Magazine
Notable quotes:
"... For example, Foglesong argued that "a vital factor in the revival of the crusade in the 1970s was the need to expunge doubts about American virtue instilled by the Vietnam War, revelations about CIA covert actions, and the Watergate scandal." ..."
"... By tracing American representations of Russia over the last 130 years, Foglesong illuminated three of the strongest notions that have informed American attitudes toward Russia: (1) a messianic faith that America could inspire sweeping overnight transformation from autocracy to democracy; (2) a notion that despite historic differences, Russia and America are very much akin, so that Russia, more than any other country, is America's "dark double;" (3) an extreme antipathy to "evil" leaders who Americans blame for thwarting what they believe to be the natural triumph of the American mission. These expectations and emotions continue to effect how American journalists and politicians write and talk about Russia. "My hope," Foglesong concluded, "is that by seeing how these attitudes have distorted American views of Russia for more than a century, we may begin to be able to escape their grip." ..."
"... The usefulness of Russia as bogeyman for all that is wrong in the world - a contrasting foil to the virtues of "us" - has defined this relationship ever since the first democratic stirrings in Russia following the Emancipation of '61. In this it followed Britain, who'd long demonized Russia since imperial rivalries over the Crimea. ..."
"... This trope was also successful for reactionaries in blocking progressive legislation at home. Ronald Reagan was perhaps the most successful in this linkmanship: "socialized medicine" was the first step to the gulags. ..."
"... T he flak over Pus*y Riot following this book's publication - while ignoring the crucifixion of the Dixie Chicks - demonstrates the double standard is too convenient to be allowed to wither. The empire must always be evil, precisely because it reflects our own image like a Buddhist truth mirror. ..."
May 20, 2020 | www.amazon.com

"By 1905," Foglesong stated, "this fundamental reorientation of American views of Russia had set up a historical pattern in which missionary zeal and messianic euphoria would be followed by disenchantment and embittered denunciation of Russia's evil and oppressive rulers." The first cycle, according to Foglesong, culminated in 1905, when the October Manifesto, perceived initially by Americans as a transformation to democracy, gave way to a violent socialist revolt. Foglesong observed similar cycles of euphoria to despair during the collapse of the tsarist government in 1917, during the partial religious revival of World War II, and during the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s

Crucial to Foglesong's analysis was how these cycles coincided with a contemporaneous need to deflect attention away from America's own blemishes and enhance America's claim to its global mission.

For example, Foglesong argued that "a vital factor in the revival of the crusade in the 1970s was the need to expunge doubts about American virtue instilled by the Vietnam War, revelations about CIA covert actions, and the Watergate scandal."

By tracing American representations of Russia over the last 130 years, Foglesong illuminated three of the strongest notions that have informed American attitudes toward Russia: (1) a messianic faith that America could inspire sweeping overnight transformation from autocracy to democracy; (2) a notion that despite historic differences, Russia and America are very much akin, so that Russia, more than any other country, is America's "dark double;" (3) an extreme antipathy to "evil" leaders who Americans blame for thwarting what they believe to be the natural triumph of the American mission. These expectations and emotions continue to effect how American journalists and politicians write and talk about Russia. "My hope," Foglesong concluded, "is that by seeing how these attitudes have distorted American views of Russia for more than a century, we may begin to be able to escape their grip."

The Adventures of Straw Man Reviewed in the United States on September 27, 2013 This has been the essential function of US Russia policy, as David Foglesong shows in his century-long tour.

The usefulness of Russia as bogeyman for all that is wrong in the world - a contrasting foil to the virtues of "us" - has defined this relationship ever since the first democratic stirrings in Russia following the Emancipation of '61. In this it followed Britain, who'd long demonized Russia since imperial rivalries over the Crimea.

This trope was also successful for reactionaries in blocking progressive legislation at home. Ronald Reagan was perhaps the most successful in this linkmanship: "socialized medicine" was the first step to the gulags.

The crusade against US civil rights - of which Reagan was also a part in his early career - as Communist-inspired tinkering with the Constitution was much less successful. His support for free trade unions in the Soviet Bloc while crushing them at home underscored the irony.

But Foglesong is much too generous in evaluating Reagan's human decency as a policy motive. Reagan pursued his grand rollback strategy by any means necessary, mixing hard tactics (contras, death-squad funding, mujahadin, Star Wars) with soft (democracy-enhancement, human rights, meeting with Gorbachev). Solidarity activists in Poland might remember his crusading fondly; survivors of the Salvadoran civil war will not.

The "crisis" with the Putin regime currently empowered shows the missionary impulse yet alive: projecting one's reforming instincts upon others rather than at home. T he flak over Pus*y Riot following this book's publication - while ignoring the crucifixion of the Dixie Chicks - demonstrates the double standard is too convenient to be allowed to wither. The empire must always be evil, precisely because it reflects our own image like a Buddhist truth mirror.

I do find it puzzling that Foglesong made no mention of Maurice Hindus, the prolific popular "explainer" of Russia in over a dozen mid-century books; and the notorious defector Victor Kravchenko and his best-selling memoir of the 1940s (ghost-written by Eugene Lyons, another popular anti-Soviet scribe). Both were much more influential in the public and political mind than many of the more obscure missionary authors Foglesong does cite. Nevertheless, Foglesong has offered a generous helping of cultural/political history that shows no signs of growing stale.

>

indah nuritasari , Reviewed in the United States on October 24, 2012

A Good Book About America and The Cold War

This book tells a fascinating story of American efforts to liberate and remake Russia since the 1880s. It starts with the story of Tsar Alexander II's asasination on March 1, 1881 and how James William Buel, a Missoury Journalist wrote it in his book "Russian Nihilism and Exile Life in Siberia."

The story continues until The Reagan era and "the Evil Empire," 1981-1989.

This book is very interesting and useful for history lovers, students, journalists, or general public. Here you can find all the "dark and exciting stuff" about the cold war, including the involvement of the journalists, political activists, diplomats, and even engineers.

It is really helpful for me as a new immigrant in the US to help me understand the US position and role in the Cold War Era. The language used in this book, though, is " kind of dry". A little editing for the next edition could be really helpful!!

[May 19, 2020] If the American Dream is alive and well, why would MSM need to repeat it again and again?

Notable quotes:
"... 1978 was the last year real wages showed significant growth in real terms in the USA. After that, came the great stagnation of the neoliberal era (1978-2008), 30 consecutive years of frozen earns for the American working classes. This era is not marked by a slow down in consumption, though. On the contrary: consumption continued to rise, but, this time, it was mainly debt-fueled. Americans wages stagnated, but they didn't want to give up their hyperconsumption privileges, so they contracted debt after debt. ..."
"... As the timeline shows, it is a myth neoliberalism begun in the USA only with Reagan's election in 1980. Most neoliberal reforms begun during Jimmy Carter's second half of his lonely term (1978-1980). It was Jimmy Carter, for example, who hired (nominated) Paul Volcker to the Fed. Other essential Acts that paved the way to neoliberalism were also passed during Jimmy Carter's later part of the reign. ..."
"... I heard some politician suggest that while many of the jobs will never come back that people can learn to code. We need drug testing for our politicians. I 'code' and I'm wetting my pants. It's not because I think that it's so easy I an be easily replaced but but we still need demand. If everyone is losing their jobs ... terrifies me. ..."
May 19, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org
If it were true why would they need to repeat it again and again?

vk , May 19 2020 13:22 utc | 21

If it were true why would they need to repeat it again and again? The American Dream died in 1969 - the last year of the post-war miracle in the USA. For the following five years, the country continued to flourish, but at a clear slower pace. With the oil crisis of 1974-5, the American Dream definitely died, albeit some indicators (e.g. real wages) still showed some improvements.

1978 was the last year real wages showed significant growth in real terms in the USA. After that, came the great stagnation of the neoliberal era (1978-2008), 30 consecutive years of frozen earns for the American working classes. This era is not marked by a slow down in consumption, though. On the contrary: consumption continued to rise, but, this time, it was mainly debt-fueled. Americans wages stagnated, but they didn't want to give up their hyperconsumption privileges, so they contracted debt after debt.

As the timeline shows, it is a myth neoliberalism begun in the USA only with Reagan's election in 1980. Most neoliberal reforms begun during Jimmy Carter's second half of his lonely term (1978-1980). It was Jimmy Carter, for example, who hired (nominated) Paul Volcker to the Fed. Other essential Acts that paved the way to neoliberalism were also passed during Jimmy Carter's later part of the reign.


Jen , May 19 2020 10:58 utc | 6

Not only does the headline "The American Dream is Alive and Well" need to be repeated ad nauseam but also the narrative it promotes, of the immigrant family that succeeds through sheer hard work and dedication and nothing else - no help from government subsidies or relatives already in the country, no dependence on bank loans that help start a business or put teenagers through college, no discrimination whatsoever - has to be hammered constantly over and over, even when everyone can see that the story template no longer has any legs if it ever had any.

For all the sophisticated techniques and tools of propaganda that the likes of Edward Bernays and his followers in the PR industry bequeathed to the US, the elites and their mass media lackeys can't even get the repetition to look and sound more than banal and one-dimensional.

William Gruff , May 19 2020 12:58 utc | 18
Jen @6: "For all the sophisticated techniques and tools of propaganda that the likes of Edward Bernays and his followers in the PR industry bequeathed to the US, the elites and their mass media lackeys can't even get the repetition to look and sound more than banal and one-dimensional."

Nice observation that incompetence is pervasive even among the empire's most important servants. It must be asked, though, if better talent is really necessary? The propaganda and brainwashing may be ham fisted and blunt as a hammer, but it does seem to work nonetheless.

Anyway, the more sophisticated brainwashing is not in the infotainment field but rather in the supposedly pure entertainment domain. Redneck dynasties built upon the monster retail bonanza from selling duck lures, for example. Those implant "The American Dream" directly into the subconscious without the need for awkward capitalist ideological exposition, bypassing any potential bullshit filters that the typical media consumers might possess.

lizard , May 19 2020 12:56 utc | 17
I wonder what America would have become if sociopaths like Allen Dulles hadn't relocated to Nazi braintrust after WWII. maybe it was inevitable that we would become the 4th reich.

David Talbot's book The Devil's Chessboard should be required reading for all Americans.

William Gruff , May 19 2020 12:58 utc | 18
Jen @6: "For all the sophisticated techniques and tools of propaganda that the likes of Edward Bernays and his followers in the PR industry bequeathed to the US, the elites and their mass media lackeys can't even get the repetition to look and sound more than banal and one-dimensional."

Nice observation that incompetence is pervasive even among the empire's most important servants. It must be asked, though, if better talent is really necessary? The propaganda and brainwashing may be ham fisted and blunt as a hammer, but it does seem to work nonetheless.

Anyway, the more sophisticated brainwashing is not in the infotainment field but rather in the supposedly pure entertainment domain. Redneck dynasties built upon the monster retail bonanza from selling duck lures, for example. Those implant "The American Dream" directly into the subconscious without the need for awkward capitalist ideological exposition, bypassing any potential bullshit filters that the typical media consumers might possess.

Linda Amick , May 19 2020 12:59 utc | 19
We all know these main stream media outlets do little more than pump out propaganda to the ignorant masses who need someone to tell them what they want to hear.
Christian J Chuba , May 19 2020 13:01 utc | 20
May 2020, seriously???

Wow, those guys were phoning it in. 1. Their dreamland pieces were identical to the ones in 2015, 2. the bottom 20% who they claim either don't have it so bad or can easily improve their lot, have been gutted like a fish and left out to dry. Did people write these opinion pieces or robots, robots could easily replace their jobs, pity their jobs won't be automated but I really don't see why they couldn't be. Actually Neocons could be replaced by automatons.

Recent contributions, burger flippers => code slingers

I heard some politician suggest that while many of the jobs will never come back that people can learn to code. We need drug testing for our politicians. I 'code' and I'm wetting my pants. It's not because I think that it's so easy I an be easily replaced but but we still need demand. If everyone is losing their jobs ... terrifies me.

Richard Steven Hack , May 19 2020 12:02 utc | 15
As an aside that is nonetheless relevant, dealing as it does with issues of the responsibility that banks have for the mess in this world, I recommend watching the TV series, "Devils", described here on Wikipedia:

Devils (TV series)
https://tinyurl.com/yb8cbwsq


Plot

London, 2011. The Italian Massimo Ruggero is the head of trading at the banking giant American New York - London Bank (NYL). While the financial crisis is raging across Europe, Massimo is making hundreds of millions thanks to speculation. His mentor is Dominic Morgan, the American CEO of NYL and the closest thing to a father Massimo has ever had. He fully supports it, the talented trader seems to be the first choice in the run for vice-CEO. But when Massimo is unwillingly involved in a scandal that sees his ex-wife implicated as an escort, Dominic denies him the promotion, instead choosing the old school banker Edward Stuart.

Massimo is amazed: his father turns his back on him. Convinced that he has been set up, Massimo is determined to bring out the truth, but when Edward suddenly dies, Massimo realizes that something bigger is at stake. With the help of his team and a group of hackers, Massimo will discover the plot hidden behind apparently unrelated events such as the Strauss-Kahn scandal, the war in Libya and the PIIGS crisis. Finding himself in front of the Devils who pull the ropes of the world, Massimo will have to choose whether to fight them or join them.

The series is well-written and well-acted. If you have access to it (I get it off the Internet, but it does not appear to be available in the US market yet), it's well worth watching. It is in some ways better than "Deep State", the spy series that was on a season or two ago. It has already been renewed for a second season.

[May 14, 2020] Interesting book "Deadly Medicines and Organized Crime " published in 2013 by PETER C G TZSCHE

May 14, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Pft , May 12 2020 23:01 utc | 186

Interesting book "Deadly Medicines and Organized Crime " published in 2013 by PETER C GØTZSCHE

He points out "Science philosopher Karl Popper in "The Open Society and Its Enemies" depicts the totalitarian, closed society as a rigidly ordered state in which freedom of expression and discussion of crucial issues are ruthlessly suppressed. Most of the time, when I have tried to publish unwelcome truths about the drug industry, I have been exposed to the journal's lawyers, and even after I have documented that everything I say is correct and have been said before by others, I have often experienced that important bits have been removed or that my paper was rejected for no other reason than fear of litigation. This is one of the reasons I decided to write this book, as I have discovered that I have much more freedom when I write books. Popper would have viewed the pharmaceutical industry as an enemy of the open society.

Rigorous science should put itself at risk of being falsified and this practice should be protected against those who try to impede scientific understanding, as when the industry intimidates those who discover harms of its drugs. Protecting the hypotheses by ad hoc modifications, such as undeclared changes to the measured outcomes or the analysis plan once the sponsor has seen the results, or by designing trials that make them immune to refutation, puts the hypotheses in the same category as pseudoscience.

In healthcare, the open democratic society has become an oligarchy of corporations whose interests serve the profit motive of the industry and shape public policy, including that of weakened regulatory agencies. Our governments have failed to regulate an industry, which has become more and more powerful and almighty, and failed to protect scientific objectivity and academic curiosity from commercial forces."

Thats about it in a nutshell. Too bad the good scientists are all muzzled. Only the politicized fraudsters get the good press.

[May 12, 2020] Coronavirus To Decimate Colleges and Universities

May 12, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Coronavirus To Decimate Colleges and Universities Posted on May 12, 2020 by Yves Smith "Decimate" might be too charitable a forecast for American higher educational institutions, since the word originated with the Roman army practice of killing one man in ten. Coronavirus is hitting pretty much all of the bad aspects of their business models at once.

Let's list them:

Dependence on/preference for foreign students, often not for their accomplishments but for their ability to pay full and even premium fees . Chinese students accounted for one-third of the total. Their enrollment was already falling as of 2019.

.

But Chinese students' contribution to revenues is out of proportion to their numbers. From the New York Times in March :

Universities in English-speaking countries, especially Britain, Australia and the United States, have grown increasingly dependent on tuition from Chinese students, a business model that the virus could dismantle.

With qualifying exams postponed, travel bans spreading and anger rising among Chinese students and parents at the West's permissive attitude toward public health, enrollment could plummet in the coming years, experts said, potentially leaving countries with multibillion- dollar holes in their universities' budgets.

Foreign students were dismayed by the way US schools shut down abruptly and gave little to no help in helping get them back home.

Skyrocketing prices leading more students to question college or emphasize "practical" degrees . As with mortgages, access to debt has led to higher prices. And with student debt terms so draconian, more and more students are trading down: going to cheaper schools or focusing on programs that teach harder skills that hopefully translate into market value.

Bloated adminispheres and gold plated facilities . MBA parasites have colonized universities, with the justification often that they increase fundraising. For what purpose? To pay themselves better, and to create naming opportunities for donors with new buildings, and to justify high charges via plush dormitories. Apparently swanky gyms are common.

All those expensive buildings have become an albatross.

Now consider the impact of coronavirus.

Litigation over terminating on-campus instruction . This is probably the least of their worries. Plaintiffs are seeking refunds for the degradation of the educational product. The schools argue quite explicitly that they are not in the business of educating but of conferring credentials, and it is they alone that determine what is adequate for them to hand out a degree. There is precedent supporting the universities' arguments, albeit with less bad facts than these.

Low likelihood of resuming classes on campus this fall . My colleagues with contacts among university administrators say no one has any idea how to make dorms safe if coronavirus is still on the loose. This has many negative implications.

Why should students and/or their parents be willing to pay full prices for a degraded product? They won't get interaction with instructors. For science and engineering classes, they won't get lab work. They won't get to make connections and meet potential mates. They won't get tips from other students on career and summer job strategies. They won't get to participate in extracurricular activities, which is a low-stakes way to learn to work with other people. They won't learn how to grow up in a somewhat protected environment.

There is the very real possibility that employers will downgrade the value of degrees conferred during the plague years.

It's hard to see how colleges and universities escape cutting tuition, save perhaps the most elite. I can't see any schools besides the most elite can maintain their charges without seeing a big falloff in enrollment. And with them administering classes remotely, the cost of delivery has fallen. And that's before seeing students postponing or abandoning degrees due to the horrible state of the economy.

And what happens to university budgets due to the loss of room and board income?

Schools already looking at probable downgrades . Standard & Poors is already put a long list of higher educational institutions on its negative watch list. Bear in mind that S&P and Moody's tend not to downgrade before Mr. Market already has the bond trading at a lower rating level. From an April 30 Ratings Action :

The public and private colleges and universities affected by these actions include primarily those with lower ratings ('BBB' rating category and below), but also those entities that, in our opinion, have less holistic flexibility (from both a market position and financial standpoint) at their current rating level

While S&P Global Ratings' outlook on the U.S. not-for-profit higher education sector has been negative for three consecutive years now, we believe that the COVID-19 pandemic and related economic and financial impacts exacerbate pressures already facing colleges and universities. The financial impact on institutions from the loss of auxiliary revenue from housing and dining fees, and parking fees; as well as revenues from athletics, theater, and other events, is material for many. For schools with health care systems, lost revenue from cancelled elective surgical procedures could also be significant. The recently passed CARES Act will provide some budgetary relief to higher education institutions; however, despite this aid, we expect to see stressed operating budgets, the scope of which will ultimately be determined by the magnitude of lost revenues, the duration of the pandemic, fall 2020 mode of instruction, and ultimate enrollment figures.

Colleges and universities have reacted rapidly to the challenges presented by the pandemic. They have moved classes online to adhere to social-distancing rules, adjusted admission policies to accommodate disruptions to high school exams, and suspended academic conferences and travel. At the same time, many have implemented material expense cuts, including deferring capital expenditures, and imposing furloughs and layoffs, in some cases, with plans to continue to ramp up cost containment under various fall scenarios. Many colleges and universities have disclosed estimates of 2020 budget shortfalls, despite the inclusion of CARES stimulus funds. We expect that the colleges and universities we rate will face an unprecedented level of operating stress and tightened liquidity, which will worsen the longer and deeper the pandemic lasts.

It's bizarre to see S&P depict sports programs as a financial plus; college football programs in fact are money losers and I doubt basketball programs are enough to bring college sports into the black.

It is also not clear how much more help the Federal government will be willing to provide. Even though Congresscritters will be under pressure to help institutions in their district, the flip side is the Republicans know well that higher educational institutions are a Democratic party province, so they won't be high on their list of rescue priorities.\\

This section seems very much behind the curve, as if S&P talks to too many Wall Street types who are betting on a V shaped recovery:

Many of the colleges and universities that we rate have some headroom to absorb the impacts associated with COVID-19 at their current credit ratings, as they have built up reserves over recent years, hold solid balance sheets, and have relatively low debt levels. However, colleges and universities will face increased downward pressure on their current ratings depending on the extent to which economic disruptions associated with COVID-19 persist. If global travel restrictions are prolonged, or the imminent recession diminishes foreign students' financial means, then some could opt to study or work in their home countries instead. In our opinion, a fall 2020 with significantly fewer international students, as well as lower domestic enrollments overall, will cause serious operational pressures. At the same time, most U.S. colleges and universities depend on endowments and fundraising for a significant portion of revenues, and declining investment performance and endowment market values along with weaker fundraising results could negatively affect credit metrics during the outlook period.

I strongly suggest you look at the list. You'll see many familiar names. In particular, the ones at the very bottom group, which already had a negative outlook before coronavirus, are the most downgrade exposed. Interestingly, Northwestern, which went to the "hedge fund with a university attached" model early and has an AAA rating, is in that cohort. Did they have an even bigger than typical blow up in their portfolio?

Needless to say, this isn't cheery reading. While the universities set themselves for a big fall, a lot of people who had nothing to do with the bad policies will get hurt.


PlutoniumKun , May 12, 2020 at 7:16 am

As an aside, this is another reason why the 'we should relax lockdown as soon as possible' crowd are so very misguided. The education business, along with so many others, gears up after the August holidays right across the northern hemisphere. For many countries, there is a good chance of suppressing the virus between now and the summer so that there can be at least some sort of normalcy restored from August onwards. At the very least, this gives a chance of a normal academic year for students. But this is only a possibility if infection rates can be brought down to a 'track and trace' level over the summer. Failing to do this by September will be devastating for all education providers. The UK third level sector, already hit by Brexit, will be similarly wiped out if the virus is visibly not under control by then.

Another Scott , May 12, 2020 at 7:21 am

Regarding football programs.

Although they are unprofitable for almost all schools, I'm not sure that the impact from cancelling the season is as clear cut, especially for the large D-I programs. Many of the costs like million-dollar coaches, hundred million-dollar stadiums are fixed. Scholarships will likely continue as well. Schools can probably cut costs of the lower paid employees without contracts, like assistant coaches and trainers, but I don't think those are the biggest drivers of costs.

Gameday revenues are almost certainly cashflow positive for the schools (ushers and cleaners aren't paid very much); without them the football teams will be even bigger money losers for the school. The schools might even get fees from their broadcast partners, as is the case with many professional teams.

The Rev Kev , May 12, 2020 at 9:32 am

What happens with all these high-cost games like football and basketball if they cannot get crowds to watch them? Do these crowds off-set much of the costs of staging these games? I suppose that the institutes would be loath to drop them as they are such a "status" program to have but I fail to understand how a coach in such a place is entitled to a multi-million dollar salary as that money has to come from somewhere.

kevin , May 12, 2020 at 10:04 am

Most of their money is made through TV broadcasting rights, not in game ticket sales. People will still watch them. Arguably even more people will watch them, although I don't think that matters because the deals are already locked in with the various networks.

Left in Wisconsin , May 12, 2020 at 6:27 pm

TV is the king but game day revenues are not insignificant for most of the big programs that count on 70,000+ spectators times 7-8 home games a year.

Also agree with Another Scott that big-time college football especially has a lot of fixed costs that will not go away if the season is cancelled. On the other hand, once you get outside the big D1 programs, I do think cancelling football would be net cash flow positive.

SAKMAN , May 12, 2020 at 12:08 pm

Comments like, "Football programs lose money" are so poorly thoughtout I just cant believe they are posted here.

Honestly. . .

Huge amounts of dollars go through those programs and the benefit of that circulating money to sooo many people and companies is enormous. There are many people who want to see those programs continue.

If a Florida school thinks the price tag is too high, it is the begining of a series of price negotiations. . . thats it. Come on!

curlydan , May 12, 2020 at 1:07 pm

first, your "quoted" material wasn't a quote in this write up or comments, so you can take the quotes off. Second, look at the link Yves posted to see how football is a money pit for many D1 schools. Third, I think I understand what you're trying to say that there's tons of money flowing in and around college football, but the gist is that we're talking about the impact to and financial ratings of colleges and universities and not the impact to the Purple Porpoise in Gainesville, FL or similar establishments.

m sam , May 12, 2020 at 2:04 pm

You make it sound like it doesn't matter if they lose money, because with all that money sloshing around there then it's a net positive. The only problem is those universities aren't there to slosh money around in their football programs, they are there so our society can be an educated one. And when instead people start to think that the money sloshing around is more important (as in all areas of human life) the part that was point of the whole endeavor (as in, the education at the university) comes to look more like a cost. And what costs is what is cut. And what is cut is degraded, given a higher price, and otherwise forced to submit to those market forces that looks so good (well, at least when you have dollar signs tattooed on your eyes).

The point is, whether football programs lose money or make lots of money slosh around, this model is exactly the thing that is destroying our society, and exactly what needs to be dismantled. So comments like "Football programs lose money" are exactly why people come around here in the first place, and it seems you must be confused if you "can't believe they are posted here."

Merf56 , May 12, 2020 at 2:17 pm

AS A PSU grad and active alumnus I can attest that Penn State uses its massive football revenues to fund ALL other of the school's sports programs. Though not part of the topic being discussed, football Game day revenues also basically fund theTown of State College's Downtown businesses FOR THE YEAR. And the full fare Chinese student contingent absolutely 'makes' the bottom line there. Those of us involved in alumni activities and meet with Board members and others often are VERY worried .

Duke of Prunes , May 12, 2020 at 3:49 pm

If one reads the article, the key part of the statement about "most football programs lose money" is that it's referring to FCS (Football Championship Series) schools which are the "lower tier" Division 1 schools. Not Big10, SEC, etc. I don't think there's much in the way of TV revenue for FCS either, except when they get a cut of the deal when playing a major team (once or maybe twice a year).

Kirk Seidenbecker , May 12, 2020 at 5:56 pm

https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ncaaf/2020/04/14/college-football-major-programs-could-see-billions-revenue-go-away/2989466001/

Larry , May 12, 2020 at 7:25 am

My cousin attends Union and decided she'll take a leave of absence in the fall if they are still remote.

Northeastern in Boston has stated they'll be back in the fall. I believe they are deeply dependent on tuition revenue and have massive debts due to a campus expansion that must have been costly due to Boston real estate prices.

Colonel Smithers , May 12, 2020 at 7:58 am

Thank you, Yves.

Readers may be interested in this from the Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/may/06/coronavirus-uk-university-finances-student-numbers .

In the UK, Queen Mary, Manchester (labouring under at least a billion pound debt for a state of the art campus by the canals) and (private) Buckingham are teetering. Oxford is also experiencing some discomfort.

Yves Smith Post author , May 12, 2020 at 8:14 am

I made this post unduly US focused due to having the S&P analysis, so thanks for additional input on the UK. The New York Times article above made it clear that UK unis were even more dependent than American ones on Chinese students paying hefty fees.

Colonel Smithers , May 12, 2020 at 8:43 am

Thank you, Yves.

If I have time today and it's still "live", I will pipe up again.

Biologist , May 12, 2020 at 10:16 am

Thanks for that article. I've also heard that rumour about Queen Mary, is there any public information about them?

I wonder how many other UK universities will announce redundancies in the coming months. Would be interesting to know numbers of current vs. normal (last year) applications from Asia for the coming year.

oliverks , May 12, 2020 at 10:35 am

I believe Edinburgh university has already announced things look a bit bleak.

Musicismath , May 12, 2020 at 1:06 pm

Yes, Edinburgh's situation is well known. Other prominent Scottish universities are in similar positions, having gone all-in on rich international students to subsidise their "free tuition for Scottish students" model. They're all very exposed now.

In England, I've heard of a number of institutions this week setting up voluntary severance and redundancy schemes, with rather alarming stated goals for how many staff they want to shed. Big, prestigious universities, too -- again, it's that reliance on international students. The word I'm hearing repeatedly is "bloodbath."

rtah100 , May 12, 2020 at 8:38 pm

Interesting NYT article about Bath. We live on campus (our house is a former uni property) of another southwestern University, famous in no particular order for its campus being a botanic garden, its current vice chancellor being about to retire after 20 years of market-leading pay and it having closed its chemistry department, among others, 20 years ago to make savings to pay for other priorities.

Again in no particular order, we gave remarked in the last few months:
– just how many east Asian students and junior faculty the place has attracted. We have Japanese student lodgers!
– just how many purpose built student factory farms are being built in the city and, more financially perilously, on the campus (building a massive student dorm extension campus on farmland that was prime city centre green space and materially upgrading facilities at other student blocks) and how distorted the local housing market is
– just how long the grass is getting since lockdown. There's little infection risk on a single seater ride-on mower – the groundstaff, botanic garden not withstanding, have been furloughed / laid off to save money. One vice chancellor's salary could pay for them all. Austerity for thee, public subsidy for me.
– just how tone deaf the University is to assert its campus is now closed to the public, when public roads run through it and it is used as a cycling and pedestrian right of way to cross the northern half of the city. The buildings are closed and the students are in their hutches. There is no danger of infection from people taking a walk from their confines .

There is a big reckoning coming, with these bullying institutions suddenly acknowledging their public and local obligations in return for a bailout.

Ps: I don't think the reaction of bath students to avoid sharing an elevator with a Chinese student was racist. Just prudent. On a risk adjusted basis, a Chinese ethnicity student is most likely a Chinese expat and if returning from Christmas or CNY to campus represented a higher risk than a non-Chinese. I was very wary on my weekly commute in January from London, of the Chinese students with big suitcases tagged Heathrow who were all getting off at my stop . Tables have turned now, of course!

Steve H. , May 12, 2020 at 8:03 am

> They won't get to make connections and meet potential mates.

: Sherri Tepper: See. The word Festival. In the Onomasticon it carries the meaning 'opportunity for reproduction.' We talk of School House, but the book says, 'Protection of Genetic Potential.' We say True Game. The book says 'Population control.'

The university of my town had moved from offering professions to Learning How To Learn in the last couple decades. Along with that was the gilting, providing a shared cultural experience, more in line with Tepper's definitions than educational outcomes. The incoming cash provided support for community culture as well, restaurants, arts, weird shops. The fallout for our cosmopolitan lifestyle in a small city is unfathomable.

Deeper even still, in the middle of the last century, educator Frank Templeton wrote from the perspective that every citizen was like a brick, in the structure called a nation, and schools made for strong bricks.

The harsh partial truth is that primary and secondary schools were hollowed out as daycare centers to increase the labor pool. And many parents who were willing to pay to get the older kids out of the house are now forced with a calculation: what's the roi on the educational/professional dimension, and what's the roi on the social/Tepper dimension? If both are low, why pay in this time of great uncertainty?

ChrisPacific , May 12, 2020 at 4:59 pm

I would like to re-read The True Game sometime, but I can't find it anywhere.

nick , May 12, 2020 at 8:17 am

Chinese student applications are well down this year–this from direct knowledge at one school and anecdotal at a few more. Companies that operate in China to connect students to US institutions are laying off. And if numbers at any given school don't absolutely crater (50%+), know that the discounting will have had to have been ramped up to make that possible. Obviously there are health and safety concerns, but there is also a nasty political climate with racist/xenophobic stuff coming from the Republicans that has been in some cases matched by e.g. Biden campaign or NYT and that might clear the way for disastrous bans on student/post-grad visas, if not increased violence.

Shiloh1 , May 12, 2020 at 1:44 pm

University of Illinois "flagship" was prescient to purchase insurance from Lloyds Of London for fortuitous Chinese student reduction risk. International students pay top dollar rate. All good, their insurance broker should be commended!

Duke of Prunes , May 12, 2020 at 8:18 am

Yesterday, Northwestern announced they are laying off ~250 personnel and cutting administrative salaries 10 – 20% (so it must be serious). So much for the "safety" of a higher education job.

polecat , May 12, 2020 at 11:31 am

On a tangential tack, locally, a slight majority of voters in our city passed a school levy to firm-up/construct school dist. infrastructure – elementary/middle-school .. with the future goal of a new shiny high school to replace the old/failing one. In the recent years past, the school board and their boosters would put forth levies that amounted to Taj Maschool 'wish-lists' .. which the community rightfully voted down. Same for the towns within close proximity. So, the result of said measure .. even though it is lower that the previous ones, is the rise, by hundreds of $$ annually (a bond floated, to be pay off in X years .. only to have new one's brought forth after), to every property owner to achieve these goals .. dollars that many would find a true burden Before the pandemic will be hit even harder going forward. We are not what one would call a rich community .. unless one only considers the movers/shakers/boosters. We rely less and less on timber exports – happening in spades now! – with incoming revenue predicated on the vaunted idea of 'Tourism'. 'Sigh'
I see a failure of those same movers/shakers/boosters to consider that the whole college track gristmill is the wrong approach .. bring back hands-on vocational training instruction that was nixed years ago, having left it to the local college to do, with the added $-stream THAT entails .. and put much less emphasis on 'college for college sake' There are a plethora of skills that young folk are not being taught, that they will need for their very survival, in a conflicted and low resource world! Imo, the Federal Dept. Of Ed needs to be abolished, thus putting a end to it's often onerous 4 to 8 year changing 'mandates', and allow state and local communities to come up with their own models of instruction. Sure, some will no doubt fail, but I believe many others would in fact, thrive. There should of course be iron-clad restrictions on just who has sway on funding and 'pull' (no hedgefunds/private equity/ scoundrels, rakes, and thieves !) Leave to the locals to hash out!
A little over a century ago, we had that kind of evironment, where children actually learned of the world, whilst also becomeing proficient in the basics .. as well as taking on truly practical skillsets .. from often small school settings – just look at an any exam test-sheet from back then to get an idea of how badly we've handled things since. This pandemic has brought to light our learned follies for sure.

SouthSideGT , May 12, 2020 at 12:24 pm

Very true. I read that in EvanstonNow. Also saw a story from about a month ago about the Wildcats 2020 prospects which IIRC previewed the 2020 schedule. So I guess college football will go on even as colleges are decimated by the coronavirus. Priorities, indeed.

Jeff N , May 12, 2020 at 3:06 pm

I saw that. At least for now, those people are retaining their benefits and health insurance.

kareninca , May 12, 2020 at 4:55 pm

I looked this up. It does not appear to be as dire as you describe it. The staff members are being temporarily furloughed, not laid off. And it is "university leaders" and deans that are taking pay cuts. That is not administrative salaries generally. I am not saying it won't get worse, just that it is not quite so terrible yet.

"University leadership said approximately 250 staff members will be temporarily furloughed, the university will suspend 5% automatic and 5% match contributions to staff retirement plans, and university leaders will take a 20% pay cut.
NU deans will also take a 10% pay cut reduction."

https://abc7chicago.com/education/northwestern-university-furloughs-250-staff-announces-pay-cuts-due-to-covid-19-pandemic/6175678/

Kirk Seidenbecker , May 12, 2020 at 5:59 pm

https://dailynorthwestern.com/2019/05/23/sports/report-northwestern-received-big-ten-payout-of-roughly-54-million-for-fiscal-year-2018/

rusti , May 12, 2020 at 8:30 am

MBA parasites have colonized universities, with the justification often that they increase fundraising. For what purpose? To pay themselves better, and to create naming opportunities for donors with new buildings, and to justify high charges via plush dormitories. Apparently swanky gyms are common.

I wish it were unique to the Anglosphere. Even here in Sweden one of the technical universities in my city is in the midst of a big economic crisis. My friends who work there as researchers attribute it to obscene administrative bloat that they've seen growing rampant in the past decade. This is also after the implementation of big tuition fees for non-EU students in 2011 (there were no tuition fees before that) which dramatically lowered the quality of international applicants.

KLG , May 12, 2020 at 8:40 am

Athletic budgets (public institutions) in context:
https://sports.usatoday.com/ncaa/finances/
The far right column is the key: percent of athletic budget that is "allocated," which means the part of the budget that comes directly out of the hide of the institution and its students. About two dozen of the usual suspects make a "profit." My alma mater is way profitable but still takes several million from captives in "student fees." Private institutions in the black would include Notre Dame, Stanford, USC, and probably Duke (basketball, which disappeared this spring). Note what the athletic budget does to schools like UCONN, Rutgers, and UMASS, not to mention the smaller state schools. Something's gotta give. It won't be the athletic departments.

When I bring up these data with academic colleagues, especially from smaller institutions that have reestablished football as the prime money pit over the past 25 years, all I ever get is the bovine stare of disbelief.

kevin , May 12, 2020 at 10:13 am

To be fair, what this analysis doesn't take into account is how many students are going to the school (or how much more they are paying) who would not have gone if there were no sports teams

I know thats a dumb reason to choose a college, but remember these are 18 year olds making a decision. I suspect many more than you would assume include going to a "winner" and additional social tailgating events as part of their criteria

MLTPB , May 12, 2020 at 10:51 am

Good point. I was going to ask about that.

Additionally, I think there is a mentality, or pride, that you too can be like Duke in basketball or Notre Dame in football. But, first you have to commit to winning, or invest early.

KLG , May 12, 2020 at 11:09 am

Yes, this is the "intangibles, school spirit" argument, a perennial favorite of presidents and athletic directors and boards of trustees. It may be somewhat valid at the larger schools of the Power Five conferences (SEC; Big-10, where they apparently can't count to 14; ACC; Pac-12; Big-12, actually 10) but absolutely nowhere else except Notre Dame. And even in these conferences, the financial drain on some schools is huge. Way past time to realize the sunk costs associated with college sports are simply lost. Georgia Tech and Berkeley need big time college sports (i.e., football)? Really? Georgia Southern and Illinois State? Connecticut and Rutgers? Robert Maynard Hutchins to the white courtesy phone, please. Yes, I am unreasonable, but these are unreasonable times.

And except for a brief renascence under Lou Holtz, Notre Dame football hasn't been much since Ara Parseghian retired and the Boys from Chicago are still and forever nonplussed about that.

John Wright , May 12, 2020 at 1:19 pm

And there is the small irony of educational institutions promoting a sport that can cause serious head and bodily injury (American football).

Maybe some football programs do eventually pay for themselves via alumni contributions, but one wonders if there is a herd mentality in colleges NEEDING to have a football team.

I know of one University of Calif campus (UC Santa Barbara) that dropped its football team in the late 1960's, weakly woke it up in 1987 and then dropped it again in 1992.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UC_Santa_Barbara_Gauchos

"1985 a student referendum approved funding for a Division III, non-scholarship team. The team began play in 1987,.. with a 33-15 record from 1987 to 1991. However, in 1992 the NCAA decided to forbid schools playing in Division I in other sports from maintaining a lower level football program, and UCSB dropped the sport again."

Maybe other schools can learn from UCSB's experience?

juno mas , May 12, 2020 at 5:54 pm

My high school buddy played on the last 1960's football team at UCSB. As a student there, many of us were too busy protesting the war and burning the IV bank than attending football games.

John Wright , May 12, 2020 at 5:49 pm

I looked at the ncaa/finances link and saw the "allocated" section.

I find that focusing on the allocated % is misleading as a school with an athletic budget of only $100 that is not covered by gate receipts would show as %100 allocated.

This could be put in more perspective if the allocated dollar amount is divided by the number of students.

For example, the University of California, Davis shows up at a high 81.90% allocated with the allocated amount of $30,680,083.

UC Davis shows as having a student population of 35,186 per Google.

Per student, this is about $872 per student per year.

While Connecticut shows up at a seemingly better 49.23% allocation, but spreading the shortfall over the 32183 student body size of Connecticut gives a cost of $1213 per student per year.

One can wonder why the document did not give the per student cost and instead published a %allocation figure.

Bob's Your Uncle , May 12, 2020 at 9:38 am

These are historic times and one of the biggest sacrifices this generation of college students will have to make is sitting through Zoom classes.

Let's keep this in perspective. Missing college because you've been drafted to fight in a war across the Pacific is not the same as delaying your college education because you can't get drunk with your frat. In the coming years employers will look much favorably on students that stuck to their 4 year plan regardless of the troubles they were (or thought they were) facing.

PNWarriorWoman , May 12, 2020 at 9:50 am

The Chronicle is tracking individual colleges' plans. Currently the vast majority say they are planning for an in-person fall semester. This database is not behind a paywall Here's a List of Colleges' Plans for Reopening in the Fall We'll see when August rolls around.

CGKen , May 12, 2020 at 11:49 am

At my university, the Registrar calculated that our campus has only ONE room large enough to seat more than 50 students maintaining 6 feet of separation.

The rule of thumb is that covid capacity is 25-30% of normal capacity, so most classes will need to be capped at 20 students or fewer. Probably better for education, but very much not compatible with business as usual.

I don't see any way we reopen in any way approaching normal.

WJ , May 12, 2020 at 12:16 pm

My university is probably going to be requiring us to teach half of the students in a class in the classroom, then half of the students in the class online, alternating which group is taught in a classroom and online throughout the semester. Unless this doesn't work, in which case we might go all online, or all in person. What is being suggested–I kid you not–is that we design each of our courses for the Fall to be taught in any one of three, or more, ways. We're also taking pay cuts and losing the university's contribution to our 403b plans. Good news though, we're still going through with our application to the NCAA for division 1 status!!

The rot at the top of the university structure runs deep, I am afraid.

P.S. And, of course, our annual evaluations–usually the basis for a raise of between 1-1.5%–will continue, even though we're all taking pay cuts. Lol

David , May 12, 2020 at 10:16 am

Thank you for this, Yves. The problem is much bigger – and with more ramifications – than most people realise, even in the education world itself .

The Guardian article linked to by CS talks about some of the immediate financial problems this year. IN addition, huge numbers of students are going to consider putting off going to University, even in their own country, let alone abroad, because they can't be sure that the classes will start on time, or even at all. There's an increasing tendency, especially in Europe, for Universities to have highly complex exchange agreements with each other, especially at Master's level: I've taught classes with fifteen nationalities, the majority on exchange from elsewhere. At the best of times that's a logistic nightmare, and requires complex software to juggle. It's worse because the tendency over recent decades has been to replace traditional degrees with a few options, by Starbucks-style hand-made degrees assembled from bits and pieces. This works, as long as all the students who have signed up to come can and do arrive. Otherwise, it can mean empty classrooms or teachers with one student. Chaos is the kindest word one can use to describe what might happen in September. Courses will have to be cancelled and lecturers' contracts torn up. It's also going to make it permanently much more problematic to run courses on the expectation that you can attract foreign students and send your own abroad. I'm not sure, for example that I would now sign up for a four-year degree in (let's say) Japanese or Latin American Studies including a year abroad that might not materialise. Language degrees, indeed, are likely to be among the first casualties: it's almost impossible for one person to teach, say, Japanese grammar on line.

I've taught courses using Zoom, and to be honest it's better than nothing but not a lot better. It only works if everybody is approximately on the same timezone, and even then, once you get above twenty students you can't actually see all of them on the screen and you have no idea who's listening and who's doing their Facebook page. The students get no interaction with you, and if you are using Powerpoint or similar they may hardly see your face the whole time. It's not clear that students in future years will sign up for courses where face to face teaching could be suspended at any moment because the virus comes back. Remember that the virus is now pretty much everywhere and could reappear pretty much everywhere over the next few years. When you add to that that, even today, students expect to "go to" University rather than have it come to them, and to at least start to mature and find their feet, you have to wonder how attractive University is going to seem, especially given the frightening costs involved.

The situation is no better in Europe. In France, governments over the last decade have made a huge push to attract foreign students, not just at Universities, but at the elite Grandes Écoles like Sciences Po in Paris, where a third of the student body is from abroad and many courses are taught in English. (You can study for some degrees in France without speaking the language). Not many people will pay for the privilege of hearing French teachers teaching in English while cooped up in their parents' home in a country a long way away. For some institutions this is going to be catastrophic.

I have to say, though, as somebody who's been involved with Universities most of my life, that this isn't all bad. In the UK, for example, there are simply too many degree courses, and people who aren't really up to it are paying lots of money they can't afford for courses they don't need and won't use. This could be the start of a sanity check. It's interesting that the two universities mentioned in the Guardian article, including that of the author, didn't used to be universities at all. They were both Polytechnics, specialising in vocational teaching, magically transformed into universities about 25 years ago by giving them a new name. This has led to too many graduates chasing university jobs, and too many, frankly, sub-standard courses. There'll be some winnowing out. Partly for bad reasons – you can't put engineering courses entirely on line – and partly for good ones: do I really need that Master's degree in Intersectional Theory?

There's a lot more to say but that'll do for now.

PlutoniumKun , May 12, 2020 at 11:13 am

Thanks for the insight, David. As someone who did a Masters in one of the former Poly's (in Oxford) back in the 1990's I was astonished at the commercialisation and pressure on teachers in comparison to what I'd experienced doing under and post grad study in pre-crapified (if very under-resourced) Irish Universities in the 1980's. Even then, the pressure the junior lecturers were put under seemed extreme. I'm told by lecturer friends that its gotten much worse over the years. And don't get them started on the standard of some of the fee paying students .

I hope you are wrong, btw, about Japanese grammar, as I've just started online classes in precisely that topic!

David , May 12, 2020 at 12:44 pm

Sorry, badly expressed.You can indeed study languages online – in fact I've done so, including Japanese as it happens. What I was suggesting is that actually teaching languages at degree level entirely on line, and especially when you've got three writing systems to worry about, or when you have tonal systems, or non-standard sounds to memorise and practice, is going to be a hell of a problem. I think there's a substantial difference between studying a language online to use it, and studying it to degree level, which at least in theory qualifies you to teach it.

PlutoniumKun , May 12, 2020 at 1:08 pm

Don't worry, I know what you meant!

In fact, I was just thinking of that yesterday, when watching an online conversation between two YouTuber Japanese teachers who were discussing the different ways of approaching the language. It seems to me to be a golden age for language learning, there are so many great resources available cheap or almost free online (I'm still picking and choosing which method works best for me and which ones are worth supporting), but at the same time, I was wondering if this is positive or negative for the old fashioned academic method.

John Saari , May 12, 2020 at 11:39 am

Newton spent two years on the farm during the plague years and invented the calculus and some ground breaking physics. Not to be too optimistic but perhaps there are some young folks who can profit from a bit of time alone to think and tinker.

SouthSideGT , May 12, 2020 at 12:30 pm

Thanks, David. Lots to unpack there. Much appreciated. And my two cents is that out of this historic pandemic, maybe our great established universities and colleges will drive online huckster "universities" out of business.

ambrit , May 12, 2020 at 1:11 pm

In a general view from the cheap seats, the real bottleneck here is the elite's usage of "degrees" as gateway metrics for employment decision making. Thus, the above mentioned transformation of "Trades Schools" into "Universities." I personally have encountered marginally competent managers who owe their positions to their credentials, and not any displayed skills. I have also encountered grossly incompetent managers who are not replaced by upper management because said upper management will not consider slotting "up from the ranks" workers into positions that they are manifestly qualified for by virtue of hands on working experience, but lacked credentials.
This also highlights the mingling of both "Higher Education" programs with "Trade School" ones. As a rule of thumb, when one tries to be all things to all people, one ends up being nothing to anyone.

allan , May 12, 2020 at 10:25 am

One to keep an eye on is the University of Austrian Economics Chicago.
Under its current president, they have been spending like crazy, are heavily tuition dependent,
and (like Northwestern) have a large medical center which will have taken a massive hit
from the pause on elective surgeries.

But six years ago, Chicago already an outlier:

University of Chicago Is Outlier With Growing Debt Load [Bloomberg, 2014]

While the University of Chicago has about the same amount of debt as Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, its $6.7 billion endowment is a third the size of the Ivy League school's $20.8 billion. Chicago's debt as a percentage of its endowment is 54 percent, compared with 17 percent for Yale.

Harvard, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Stanford University, near Palo Alto, California, have the most notes and bonds among the 20 richest schools. Yet as a percentage of their endowments, the obligations represe