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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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[Jul 24, 2021] Chaos Monkeys -- Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley, by Antonio Garcia Martinez

Jul 05, 2021 | www.amazon.com

Antonio García Martínez talks with Steven Levy Steven Levy is the editor-in-chief of Backchannel.

Steven Levy (SL): Antonio, why did you write this book?

Antonio García Martínez (AGM): You know, that's a good question because many would think that I'm committing career suicide by writing it. One of the most notable things about Silicon Valley is that nobody is writing those histories. Everyone in Silicon Valley lives in what I like to call 'the eternal present'. It's the urgent now of the next start-up, or the next cool technology or the next fundraising round or the next media event. No one ever pulls back and thinks: "What are they going to think of us in ten years or a hundred years?" So at the very highest, noblest level, recording that history is why I wrote the book.

SL: You did it, as you mentioned, in a pretty unmediated fashion, one which is probably going to ruffle some feathers. We were talking at one point earlier about doing pieces of this on Backchannel, and I was going to call this series 'You'll Never Eat Free Lunch in This Town Again'. Do you think you are going to be blackballed?

AGM: Oh, yeah. I think there are going to be one of two reactions to the book. One is from the Facebook founder, early employee, or anyone really vested in and part of the Silicon Valley establishment, who are going to be extraordinarily antagonistic to it. And then I think there's going to be the reaction of the mid-level or junior-level Facebook employee (what I was at Facebook), or the scarred veteran of many a start-up who is not believing in the fairy tale anymore -- they are going to read it and see what is basically a portrait of their own lives and laugh like hell.

SL: Your view of Silicon Valley seems to be a kind of den of scoundrels, and you don't exempt yourself from this. Yet there's a moment late in the book where you drop that pose for a second and say how you were drinking the Kool-Aid yourself. How swept up did you get in the Silicon Valley ethos while at the same time looking at a lot of things around you with a jaundiced eye?

AGM: Like I say in the book, "Inside every cynic lives a heartbroken idealist". So if I look at the Silicon Valley world with such a jaundiced eye, it's precisely because I at one point believed in it. I've definitely hammed up this persona of the swaggering rapscallion running amok through the Silicon Valley world, which I kind of did for a number of years. But that rapscallion did believe. I wore a little Facebook fleece every day, I lived at Facebook, I believed in the mission, I was as much a rank-and-file trooper as anybody else. Of course, I was disabused of that opinion as I saw the reality. But I absolutely was a believer at one point, no question.

Editorial Reviews Amazon.com Review An Amazon Best Book of July 2016: If you think you know the back-story of the founding of Facebook because you saw The Social Network, think again: Antonio Garcia Martinez's Chaos Monkeys tells a more complete and sometimes darker story about the founding and development of Mark Zuckerberg's multi-billion-dollar invention. This is not a whodunit (we know who did – Zuckerberg, those rowing twins, and assorted Harvard frenemies) so much as a procedural, a chronicle by the data-guru who was eventually forced out of Facebook (he went to Twitter) – but not before gathering some pretty interesting social data of his own: about Zuckerberg, about other Silicon valley "chaos monkeys," and about the culture that spawned all of them. Others who have toiled in tech will recognize some universal truths: for example, that despite the great wealth, most are not in it for the money so much as the mission; Facebook, Garcia Martinez asserts, was a "church of a new religion," its practitioners true believers. While there may be a little TMI for the casual reader, there are enough specific scenes and characters – Sheryl Sandberg included, of course -- that, geek or not, you can't help but be fascinated. Me, I can't help but wonder how many "likes" you'd get if you posted about it on your FB page --Sara Nelson, The Amazon Book Review Review "An irresistible and indispensable 360-degree guide to the new technology establishment.... A must-read." -- Jonathan A. Knee, New York Times

"Reckless and rollicking... perceptive and funny and brave.... The resulting view of the Valley's craziness, self-importance and greed isn't pretty. But it's one that most of us have never seen before and aren't likely to forget." -- Washington Post

"Michael Lewis was never a top Wall Street bond salesman, but in Liar's Poker he captured an era. Chaos Monkeys aims to do the same for Silicon Valley, and bracingly succeeds." -- New York Times Book Review

"Brilliant." -- Financial Times

"This year's best non-business book about business.... Garcia Martinez is a real writer.... A classic tale, well told." -- Techcrunch

"There are some books that are just too good to miss.... In his insider-tells-all book, García Martínez discusses everything from goofy stories to cultural secrets about some of the country's most powerful and influential businesses." -- Atlantic

"Incisive.... The most fun business book I have read this year.... Clearly there will be people who hate this book -- which is probably one of the things that makes it such a great read." -- Andrew Ross Sorkin, New York Times

"[García Martínez] is, by his own account, a dissolute character.... He is nonetheless, by the end of his account, a winning antihero, a rebel against Silicon Valley's culture of nonconformist conformity.... The reader can't help rooting for him." -- Jacob Weisberg, New York Review of Books

"Unlike most founding narratives that flow out of the Valley, Chaos Monkeys dives into the unburnished, day-to-day realities: the frantic pivots, the enthusiastic ass-kissing, the excruciating internal politics.... [García] can be rude, but he's shrewd, too." -- Bloomberg Businessweek

"An unvarnished account of Silicon Valley." -- CBS This Morning

"Romps through Martínez's wild trajectory from Wall Streeter to pre-IPO Facebook employee, with the dramatic sale of his Y Combinator-backed ad-tech startup (to Twitter) in between." -- Jillian D'Onfirio Business Insider

"Traces the evolution of social media and online marketing and reveals how it's become a part of our daily lives and how it will affect our future." -- Leonard Lopate, WNYC

"If you're in a startup or even plan to sue one, Chaos Monkeys is the book to read." -- John Biggs, TechCrunch

"This gossipy insider account from the former Twitter adviser, Facebook product manager, and start-up CEO dishes dirt while also explaining the ins and outs of Silicon Valley." -- Neal Wyatt, Library Journal

"[Garcia Martinez] reads like a philosopher and historian, the exact travel guide you'd want to walk you through the inner workings of Facebook. His tell-all memoir is the best writing out there on one of the world's most powerful companies. And he even manages to make the ins and outs of online advertising fascinating." -- Aarti Shahanti, npr.org


C. T. Goolsbee

Amazingly accurate coverage of Facebook's internal culture, the good, the bad, and the ugly. (Plus much, much more!)

5.0 out of 5 stars Amazingly accurate coverage of Facebook's internal culture, the good, the bad, and the ugly. (Plus much, much more!) Reviewed in the United States on July 10, 2016 Verified Purchase I worked at Facebook from 2010 until 2015, and until now I have never seen the inner machinations as accurately portrayed as they are in 'Chaos Monkeys'. Facebook very carefully maintains a public relations campaign (almost more internally focused than external) to convince the world it is the best place to work ever. In reality it is just like any other large company, with plenty of political intrigue, infighting, silo-building, and collateral damage. Sure, the mini-kitchens have organic bananas, and pistachios that stressed slobby software engineers neither have to shell, nor leave a pile of shells littered all around the floor... but in reality they are shackled to an oar, pulling to the endless beat of a drum. Code. Code. Code. It is all here the creepy propaganda, the failed high-profile projects, the surreal manager/staff relationships, the cultivated cult-like atmosphere, the sharp divide between the have-it-all, and the "hope to have enough to escape" staff. The bizarro world of inside FB, around the IPO. I was there and experienced many of the same corporate events and milestones myself. Antonio Garcia Martinez captures it all perfectly.

That's only the last half of the book.

The rest is a tale of escaping from startup hell, making a go at reaching startup heaven, then making deals to salvage it all when reaching the critical trial-by-fire that every startup must face: die, execute flawlessly, or exit.

There are some who will find the tone, the voice, or the political incorrectness of both to be too harsh to digest. I've already seen that in a few of the reviews here. To them I say "grow up"... put on your big boy/girl pants and read this for the story. The tale it tells. The facts it presents. The data with which it backs it all up. Because it is all true. The exposition of complex systems are described using appropriate, and facile metaphors. Many of the standard Facebook tropes ("stealing/selling your data", "Zuck is evil", etc.) are explained for the misleading baloney that they are. Best of all it describes how the advertising media really operates, going back to the dawn of it, and how Facebook, Google, et al are merely extensions of a system that has existed for two centuries. It is worth the purchase price for that lesson alone, all wrapped in a great, and true story.

For myself, having lived through much of the same experience at Facebook (from onboarding, the devotion, the cynicism, to the inglorious, frustrated exit bungled by one of the legion of Facebook's incompetent and narcissistic manager corps) I found myself going from laughter, to nodding agreement, to gut-wrenching bouts of PTSD as I turned the pages of 'Chaos Monkeys'. Now I no longer have to justify myself to people who ask me why I left Facebook - I can just tell them to read this book, since it explains it better than I ever could. Read less 559 people found this helpful >

Stanislav Malyshev
Whiny

1.0 out of 5 stars Whiny Reviewed in the United States on October 20, 2019 Verified Purchase The author seems to be a very bitter and acerbic individual with huge collection of chips on his shoulder, from past coworkers to the capitalism itself. It is rare to encounter a character in his book to which he doesn't find something contemptuous or negative to say about. Even when describing genuinely positive things - like courage, loyalty or generosity - he seems to be astonished that these puny humans he despises so much are capable of such things. I can't remember any character (including the mother of his children) who is described with genuine warmth and affection, then best he could master is "that person could be useful to me in certain situations".

While the protagonist seems to be entirely driven by monetary incentives, he does not forget to regularly interrupt his quest for a lengthy tirade about how capitalism is the worst (usually on the way to convince some capitalists to give him some money so he could participate in capitalist venture and make some money for himself).

The author undoubtedly has a knack for storytelling and a keen eye (usually turned to finding faults in everything he sees), so there are many interesting and entertaining bits in the book. But the overall negativity and constant droning of the author about how everything around him is wrong from the mere atoms upwards is really wearing you down. I understand that's sort of "here's what I am without any makeup, take it or leave it" but I really wish the it wasn't a whiny narcissistic nihilist...

Gethin Darklord 5.0 out of 5 stars

Revelatory epistole from Silicon Valley Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 29, 2018

I really enjoyed this book which falls into two sections: before the author's employment with Facebook and afterwards until he is fired. Mr Martinez comes across as a very self centred but brilliant techy geek and whilst unappealing as a friend his frank discussions of his thoughts give an unusual degree of insight into his character; and of those like him. He actually manages to explain how Facebook makes its money which is something I have never understood before. His assertion they wouldn't share your data is charmingly Niaive in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal (2019) - the book was written some years before. Ultimately it takes bravery to write frankly about one's own failures and this makes it distinct from the hagiographies and self congratulatory books which characterise most business books. An interesting aside is his obvious erudition with well chosen classical quotations at the head of each chapter. Recommended highly.

Jason 5.0 out of 5 stars

A great insight into Silicon Valley Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 28, 2019

I don't read a great deal as I struggle to find books that capture me, 'Chaos Monkeys' had me within the first few pages.
A great account of Antonio's life chapters from Wall Street to Techie to startup and working with the big boys in Silicon Valley.
Really enjoyed the style of writing, very humorous in places, and great to get an insight into the large techie firms.
Couldn't wait to read more, read the book in a week which is excellent for me!
If you like the world of tech or IT, I recommend you read this book.

R. A. Mansfield 3.0 out of 5 stars

Frustrating and irritating Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 26, 2019

There were parts of this book I enjoyed. The insight into tech start-ups, a brief window into Facebook and the life in San Francisco were all interesting.

Sadly, these sections were marred by having to 'listen' to Martinez's overblown prose and sense of self-worth.

The self-deprecation doesn't sound genuine and - let's face it - he comes across as a complete tool. Not worth the money

Amazon Customer 5.0 out of 5 stars

Best bio read of the year Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 4, 2020 Verified Purchase

This book had been on my list for a couple of years but I'd kept moving it down because of the gimmicky sounding title. It's an amazing read, enhanced by the fact I personally know a couple of the people (briefly) mentioned. It presents an inside view that I don't think is available in print anywhere else. Learnt so much and truly grateful to the author for writing it. If you work in tech and read anything this year, it should be this.

T. Adshead 5.0 out of 5 stars

Liar's Poker for the second tech bubble Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 21, 2018

I cannot recommend this book enough - it reads as well as anything by Michael Lewis, perhaps better in some ways, as it's more erudite. It puts you in the room of what it's like to work in a start-up, what happens when you sell it, how compensation works in Silicon Valley and all those details you won't find in hagiographies of Jobs or Zuckerberg. And it really is well written.

[Jul 04, 2021] The most bitterly funny story of the week is that a defector from North Korea thinks that even her homeland is 'not as nuts' as the indoctrination now forced on Western students

Jul 04, 2021 | www.zerohedge.com


As Peter Hitchens noted recently "the most bitterly funny story of the week is that a defector from North Korea thinks that even her homeland is 'not as nuts' as the indoctrination now forced on Western students."

One of Yeonmi Park's initial shocks upon starting classes at Colombia University was to be met with a frown after revealing to a staff member that she enjoyed reading Jane Austen. "Did you know," Ms. Park was sternly admonished, "that those writers had a colonial mind-set? They were racists and bigots and are subconsciously brainwashing you."

But after encountering the new requirement for the use of gender-neutral pronouns, Yeonmi concluded: "Even North Korea is not this nuts North Korea was pretty crazy, but not this crazy." Devastatingly honest, but not exactly a compliment to what once might have been the land of her dreams.

Sadly, Hitchens reports that her previous experience served Yeonmi well to adapt to her new situation: "She came to fear that making a fuss would affect her grades and her degree. Eventually, she learned to keep quiet, as people do when they try to live under intolerant regimes, and let the drivel wash over her."

Eastern European readers will unfailingly understand what it is that Hitchens meant to say.

[Jul 03, 2021] Coalition policies and corporatization of universities are premised on shifting costs to students and staff. Part 2 - Pearls by Adam Lucas

Jun 17, 2021 | johnmenadue.com

Australia's tertiary education system is large, complex, and poorly regulated. Its government funding sources, governance structures and annual reporting requirements lack transparency and are inconsistent between and within jurisdictions. Distorted government priorities and discredited ideological fixations have created a dysfunctional system that devalues the work of academics and professional staff while imposing ever higher burdens on students to pay more for less.

Since it was returned to power in 2019, the Federal Coalition Government has made clear its determination to transform Australia's higher education system into a commercially focused entity whose primary function is the generation of economic growth through patents and intellectual property .

On the research front, Liberal Senator Jane Hulme recently summarised the Coalition's policy as 'patents, not publications'. On the teaching front, federal education minister Alan Tudge told delegates to a Universities Australia conference that he wants 10 million foreign students enrolled in Australian universities within a decade. He proposes this should be done through a mixture of online, hybrid and on-campus models that will create 'new revenue streams' at 'different price points for different customer segments'.

These statements and others like them reinforce a widely held perception that the Coalition is focused solely on higher education's economic contribution to the nation. At the same time as it has raised its expectations of commercial outcomes from higher education, it has imposed a wide range of additional funding cuts to teaching and research.

https://johnmenadue.com/adam-lucas-covid-cuts-highlight-intellectual-bankruptcy-of-coalition-higher-education-policies-part-1/embed/#?secret=XEievzqjRy

It is therefore clear that it is not the Federal Government that will primarily bear the burden of its tertiary education ambitions. That burden will continue to fall squarely upon Australian academics, students and professional staff. The ways governance and funding are currently structured virtually guarantees such an outcome.

The governance and funding of higher education are split between state and federal governments. The states are responsible for the governance provisions, constitutions and auditing of public universities as well as TAFE colleges . The Federal Government, on the other hand, imposes a wide range of legislative controls over public universities, including tuition fee-setting , ' quality assurance ', research grant funding , and the number of students universities are permitted to enrol .

Both federal and state governments provide funding for the TAFE system , around half of which comes from the states and territories. The largest proportion of public university funding comes from the Commonwealth .

However, the overall contribution to the higher education system from the Federal Government has halved over the last thirty years, from around 80% to less than 40% . It has been able to do this by clawing back a much higher proportion of universities' teaching costs from domestic students. Most of this transfer of the cost burden to students has happened under the Coalition.

Even though total government funding for the higher education system grew 114% in real terms since 1989, increasing from $5.6 billion to $12 billion in 2018-19 , the number of domestic students in the system grew by 165%, increasing from around 410,000 in 1989 to 1,087,850 in 2019 .

In 2017-18, total operating revenue for public universities was $31.5 billion, while total Federal Government expenditure on higher education was $13.86 billion . According to Universities Australia, total government outlays in higher education rose from $6.7 billion in 1989 to $18.4 billion in 2018-19 . It is important to note that most of that growth was in HECS-HELP loans (formerly known as HECS), which students are required to repay through progressive taxation upon graduation. Student loans increased as a share of total government outlays from less than 16% in 1989 to almost 40% in 2017.

Allocated funding for higher education in the 2019‒2020 Federal Budget was $17.7 billion. But again, this included funding of $5.8 billion for HECS-HELP loans. Therefore, actual government funding was only $11.9 billion out of total revenue for the higher education system of $36.73 billion for that financial year. In other words, less than a third of the system's total revenue was provided by the Commonwealth that year, yet it continues to behave as though its contribution is far higher.

Between 2011 and 2017, the overall contribution from domestic and international students went up, from 23% to 29%. In the wake of the Coalition's latest 'reforms' of student tuition fees, cost-shifting from the Government to students has become even more egregious. As of this year, the average student contribution to course-related revenue has been increased from 42% to 48% , while the contribution from the Commonwealth has been reduced from 58% to 52% .

The ongoing effects of COVID on student enrolments are mixed. While domestic student enrolments have seen a nationwide increase of around 6% in 2021, international student commencements across Australia are down around one-third, while re-enrolments have reduced by an average of 16% . Across the board, the March 2021 higher education commencement figures were down 21%, while total enrolments were down 12% . Preliminary data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics has revealed that international tuition fees totalled $3.3 billion in 2020 : approximately the same level as ten years earlier , but one-third of their 2019 peak .

The combination of reduced revenue from domestic tuition fees due to government funding cuts and from international students due to COVID has inevitably forced all of Australia's public universities to cut expenditure over the last twelve months.

The majority initially responded by reducing spending on capital works, significant projects, travel, consultancies and marketing, all of which have seen major increases over the last decade. Several also pressured staff to accept wage freezes and reduced leave conditions for two years as job protection measures .

By late March 2020, however, cost savings in the core functions of teaching and research were being sought by university executives, even though the full financial implications of the pandemic were still far from clear.

COVID has subsequently been used as a pretext for further 'rationalisation' of the number of staff, faculties, schools, courses , subject offerings and programs . The stated reasons for these moves have ranged from the obvious downturn in international student revenue to government funding cuts for local students . However, vice-chancellors have also drawn on more traditional, managerial justifications, such as 'too complex' , ' too niche ' or ' not financially viable ' to axe that which has been deemed surplus to requirements.

It is nevertheless ironic that the same standards of performance and budgetary rectitude are rarely applied reflexively by executives and senior management . On the contrary, they have grown significantly in numbers while awarding themselves enormous salary increases and shielding themselves from accountability to staff, students and the public .

Because labour costs have sat at around 57% of total university expenditure for the last decade, they are always at the top of managerial priorities for cost-cutting, rather than their own inflated wages or latest pet projects . Executives have imposed early retirement and redundancies on thousands of staff with little or no consultation. Many more casual and contracted staff have been laid off or had their positions terminated at the end of their contracts. All the indications from university executives are that many more jobs are on the chopping block .

Universities made at least 17,000 full-time equivalent positions redundant in 2020 . This constitutes around 13% of the total tertiary workforce. However, given that around half of that workforce is employed casually or on contract , and has been for at least a decade, the total job losses probably translate to around 50-60,000 in total. In other words, these job cuts need to be grasped in the context of the massive casualisation of university teaching and administration over the last few decades.

The academic workforce has been casualised to such an extent that casuals now do more than 70% of teaching at some of our universities . In 2010, just over half of all university employees (51.4%) had continuing employment on an equivalent full-time basis. That situation has continued to worsen over the last decade. It has encouraged the worst kinds of management excesses. For example, at least ten Australian universities have been engaged in wage theft from casuals, and have recently been forced to repay what they had stolen.

According to Universities Australia (UA), there was 130,000 full-time equivalent staff directly employed in the system in 2017 . However, like the universities themselves, UA is unwilling to publicly acknowledge the number of casuals working in the system. In 2018, there were 94,500 people employed on a casual basis at Australian universities . It would seem reasonable on that basis to conclude that as many as half of all casuals have either totally lost any work they had, or have had their work hours significantly reduced. However, most universities steadfastly refuse to make employee headcount data public, so the data we do have is inaccurate.

This has been borne out by a recent study of Victorian public university job losses in 2020 published by accounting professors James Guthrie and Brendan O'Connell. They have found that even in Victoria, where universities are obligated to publish their casual workforce figures, universities used inconsistent terminology and different techniques for recording their staffing numbers at the end of 2020 . One estimate from early May that 7,500 university employees in Victoria lost their jobs in 2020 is therefore almost certainly an underestimate. Guthrie and O'Connell also found that universities are using accounting losses to justify reducing employment.

The release of twenty-one university annual reports over the last few weeks strongly reinforces their observations. UTS professor John Howard argues that the figures reported in these annual reports raise serious questions about the extent to which the financial crisis of the tertiary system has been exaggerated . He points out that all but one of these universities recorded cash surpluses, which averaged around 3% of total revenue. However, eight of them posted deficits after they included 'non-cash' expenses such as depreciation, amortisation and changes in investment valuations: none of these categories of 'expenses' constitute tangible revenue losses. The bulk of university 'losses' were in decreased returns on investments (around $600 million) and the depreciation of assets, which totalled more than $1.4 billion.

Howard also points out that Australian universities had accessible cash or cash equivalent reserves of $4.6 billion at the beginning of the pandemic . Their own estimates indicate revenue losses in 2020-21 of $3.8 billion. In other words, most of Australia's public universities have ample financial assets at their disposal to offset any short- to medium-term loss of revenue.

However, rather than focusing on their core business of teaching and research, and saving operating surpluses for contingencies such as COVID, university executives have engaged in imprudent expenditure on new buildings and facilities, and the creation of offshore and satellite campuses. At the same time, they have poured vast financial resources into international marketing and public relations efforts to improve their universities' international rankings . Many universities have leveraged high debt levels to fund these activities and are already being forced to unload some of their property assets due to liquidity problems from reduced international student revenue.

Depreciation, amortisation and finance costs have seen the most significant growth in 'expenses' over the last decade. According to Deloitte, this category of expenses has seen the highest growth, at 7.5% as a year-on-year average . Universities' adoption of accrual accounting has enabled them to write off the value of fixed assets more quickly to inflate their expense claims every year. These inflated expenses are used as an excuse to sack staff and cut programs. Howard argues that if public universities did not use this business accounting convention, none of the twenty-one universities he studied would have recorded any earnings deficit in 2020 .

It should therefore be clear that the main problem public universities face is not a lack of revenue, or a lack of disposable assets to ride through a crisis. Their main problem is a lack of transparency and accountability at the executive level which has enabled them to misallocate financial resources, together with a corporate governance regime that has empowered executives to behave in this fashion. These two issues need to be front and centre of reform of the Australian higher education system.

This will be the topic of my third contribution.

Adam Lucas

Dr Adam Lucas is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Wollongong. Adam's contemporary research focuses on energy policy responses to anthropogenic climate change and obstacles to a sustainable energy transition.

[Jul 03, 2021] The authoritarian academy- corporate governance of Australia's universities exploits staff and students and degrades academic standards. Part 3 by Adam Lucas

Jun 18, 2021 | johnmenadue.com

The corporatization of Australia's public universities has been driven by government funding cuts and regressive changes to how universities are governed. The rationale for corporatization was that it would encourage universities to become more entrepreneurial by turning vice-chancellors into CEOs and governing bodies into corporate boards. The resulting hybrid has been very successful at promoting university 'brands' to international students but has utterly failed to maintain a supportive and collegial work environment for staff and students on university campuses.

Pandemic-related border closures have forced an abrupt reassessment of universities' internationalization ambitions . But they have not yet led to any acknowledgement that the exploitative culture that now dominates the management and organization of Australian universities also needs to change.

In the wake of the current crisis, university leaders have, on the whole, demonstrated no willingness to question any aspect of the dysfunctional forms of funding and governance that have been imposed on Australia's higher education system over the last three decades. They have been almost totally silent in response to the Coalition's latest efforts to reshape higher education and the commercialization of research . They have likewise shown very little willingness to question or criticize the additional funding cuts to the system announced in last month's Federal Budget .

While it is indisputable that most Australian universities have experienced huge growth in international student revenues over the last decade, the billions of dollars in 'operating surpluses' that have flowed through the system during this time have not been invested in expanding and developing academic workforces, or lowering staff-student ratios , or increasing teaching and learning support for students. Instead, those responsible for making these decisions have spent billions of dollars on construction and marketing programs that laud their institutions' world-class status (usually in the techno-sciences), while systematically degrading the working conditions of academic and professional staff and the quality of education received by students.

High levels of casualization , widespread wage theft , less face-to-face time between academics and students, and steadily increasing workloads for academic and professional staff characterize the contemporary Australian university . A constant churn of pseudo-consultations, new bureaucratic procedures and online administrative platforms maintain employee compliance.

Resources critical to the performance of a wide range of tasks and initiatives are regularly withheld for no good reason. Hiring freezes and the imposition of annual staff performance assessments further contribute to the general atmosphere of fear and anxiety promoted by senior management, who never appear to have the same performance metrics applied to them. Student and staff services that had previously been free or subsidized have been monetized and privatized. Professional services and expertise that could easily be sourced 'in-house' are routinely outsourced to external consultants.

In the Brave New World of 'digitally-enhanced learning', online delivery and 'new revenue streams' not only has there been more casualization of teaching over the last decade , but academics are also being required to teach larger classes over fewer weeks in each semester. They are also being forced to move lectures, tutorials and seminars online, not just during COVID, but permanently .

Few of these negative trends are captured in the metrics senior management regularly deploy to spruik the virtues of their universities to students, parents and potential donors. Preoccupied with 'cost recovery', 'performance metrics' and 'efficiency dividends', senior managers and executives have reconstructed staff and students as revenue-generators who are surplus to requirements if not producing financial surpluses and/or 'measurable outcomes' that contribute to improved university rankings. International league tables, performance monitoring, teaching and research excellence awards, and all the other 'metrics of excellence' with which university executives and managers are currently obsessed are means to these ends.

At least ten public universities failed to put aside sufficient reserves in the event of an external crisis and are now highly vulnerable financially. At least twenty others achieved modest operating surpluses at the end of 2020 , if the inclusion of depreciation, amortization and employee redundancy costs is omitted.

It has become very clear from the operating results that even those universities with adequate reserves to ride through the loss of revenue from international students still made cuts to staff levels, degree programs and coursework offerings .

In the wake of COVID, most universities, including those that were not struggling financially have combined or dissolved a number of their own faculties, departments and schools. Hundreds of programs, courses and subjects have been or will be deleted . A number of university executives and senior managers have nevertheless seen fit to further inflate their already excessive salaries while subjecting their employees to the harshest of austerity measures.

It is therefore inaccurate and misleading to describe the current situation as a financial crisis, when it is, in fact, a governance crisis.

But what few people realize is that the secretive, punitive and authoritarian management culture that now dominates most contemporary universities has been nurtured and institutionalized through a series of legislative changes by state and federal governments over the last thirty years .

These legislative changes have been primarily motivated by a long-held belief within the Coalition and certain elements of the Labor Party that universities should be run like corporations. Those who have embraced this belief are convinced that business and industry provide the best models for university governance because they always perform better than public sector institutions.

Following the Dawkins reforms of Australia's higher education system in the early 1990s, this item of faith has been progressively embedded in all of the administrative and managerial functions of universities. As successive state and federal governments have continued to reduce funding to the system they have sought to graft an increasingly Frankensteinian model of 'corporate governance' onto Australia's public universities.

Under the traditional collegial model of university governance , which still operates in many European universities , academics and students are democratically elected by their peers to represent the common interests of the university, while also fulfilling the institution's broader responsibilities to improve society and enrich culture . But according to the main architects of the current higher education system, John Dawkins and Brendan Nelson , academics are too 'self-interested' to govern universities sensibly. They argued that, under the old collegial model, the parochial interests of individuals, disciplines and schools too often conflicted with the broader goals of the university.

Consequently, one of the unspoken goals of the enabling legislation incorporated into state-based university acts has been to reduce elected staff and student representation on university governing bodies . These bodies, generally known as university councils, are supposed to exercise scrutiny over executive proposals and decisions. In practice, executives have played a major role in selecting and appointing most members of council , who therefore have no incentive to disagree with executive decisions, and who are more often than not given insufficient information about major decisions by their executives to make informed judgements.

The vast majority of corporate appointees to most of Australia's current governing bodies have no history of working in tertiary education and no experience in teaching or research . The Coalition has been particularly active over the last decade in undermining a diversity of representation on academic boards.

For example, in 2012 the NSW Coalition Government inserted specific clauses in the enabling NSW legislation concerning university governance and finances which specify that appointed members require financial and management experience, while those sub-clauses specifying requirements for tertiary, professional and community experience have been removed. Similar changes to university acts were made by the WA Coalition Government in 2016 .

Corporatization is primarily aimed at empowering university leaders with the autonomy to run universities like corporate CEOs. These changes continue to be justified on the basis that the vice-chancellors of Australia's largest universities run enormous, multi-billion dollar enterprises that involve tens of thousands of people. Granted they now have to raise half of their operating costs due to government funding cuts, but their remuneration is not benchmarked to their performance . Furthermore, Australian vice-chancellors earn twice the average salaries of their UK counterparts . Many of those currently in office are originally from the UK.

In a public corporation, the executive is accountable to shareholders and the board of directors. Poor performance is questioned, and senior executives and managers can be removed if the board or shareholders are unhappy with that performance. However, unlike corporate boards, which are answerable to their shareholders, and to some extent, the public as 'clients' or 'consumers' of their goods and services, the accountability of university governing bodies is effectively restricted to financial issues.

The auditors-general of each state and territory are empowered to annually scrutinize the financial accounts of all universities under their jurisdiction . Even so, it is highly unusual for them to call universities to account for anything other than minor infringements of accounting rules and standards. They have rarely shown any willingness to delve deeply into university finances under their jurisdiction, despite some clear cases of maladministration, mismanagement and even corruption . There is no evidence that any audits have ever uncovered wrongdoing, conflicts of interest, or incidents of malfeasance, even though we know from our own colleagues in administrative positions at multiple universities that such behaviour is not at all uncommon.

Likewise, state tertiary education ministers are able to fall back on the 'autonomous institution' argument when quizzed about their knowledge of such practices and the lack of accountability of university leaders . This is because the legislation – which in many cases they helped to create – enshrines both university autonomy and restricted external accountability.

Universities, therefore, have the worst of both worlds as far as their governance is concerned. Staff and students have little or no say over how priorities are set and strategies are pursued. They are subject to the whims of management, who generally regard academics as an obstacle to the efficient running of 'their' universities, and who have no legitimate contributions to make as far as they are concerned. They rarely admit to having made mistakes or demonstrate any willingness to learn from them.

To illustrate this point, in the wake of COVID, it would make sense to proportionally cut back on staffing and resources in those areas that had the highest proportions of international students, and those related to their support and recruitment. However, there is no evidence from any decisions made to date by university executives that these disciplines or activities have borne the brunt of 'cost savings'. On the contrary, even prior to the current pandemic, the arts, humanities and social sciences have been targeted for job cuts, including non-replacement of tenured academics that have retired or resigned. In most of these instances, the financial cases for these cuts have been based on decisions that have little or no evidence to support them.

Many academics and students feel that senior managers target disciplines in these fields because those who work and study in them are willing to speak out against management and executive excesses. Critical thinking, teaching and research is deemed by university leaders to be acceptable within those contexts, but not when reflexively applied to their decision-making .

Academics who dare to call out lax admission standards for international students and other questionable practices which undermine academic integrity are punished with litigation and threats of termination . Not only does such behaviour constitute an attack on academic freedom , it indicates that those who initiate such measures are deluded if they believe they are acting in the best interests of the institutions employing them.

All of the distorted priorities that universities manifest today are an outcome of the inappropriate and dysfunctional corporate governance and reporting models that successive governments have imposed on universities throughout the country over many years. It is noteworthy that Coalition governments throughout the country have made successive changes to university acts that have the clear intention of disenfranchising staff and students from any meaningful input into university governance.

It should be abundantly clear from all this that the existing legislation concerning university governance is deeply flawed. It is an obstacle to better university governance and degrades the value and quality of education for our young people and the next generation of professionals. It also devalues the work of academic and professional staff and demonstrates no capacity for critical self-reflection. It is therefore completely inadequate to the task of confronting the enormous challenges that humanity faces in the twenty-first century.

We need to start a national conversation about the kinds of changes that are needed to bring about genuine reform of Australia's higher education system. A good start would be to focus on the ways in which university governing bodies are organized and constituted, with a particular focus on how and why different categories of members are selected and represented.

Democratic accountability and transparency should be embedded in every new process and structure.

These three articles are the product of many discussions, comments and feedback from colleagues at more than a dozen universities over the last several years. They are intended to provide background for a national campaign for reform of Australia's higher education system involving Academics for Public Universities , the Australian Association of University Professors , the National Higher Education Action Network and the National Tertiary Education Union . Please feel free to contact any of these organizations if you are interested in becoming involved.

Adam Lucas

Dr Adam Lucas is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Wollongong. Adam's contemporary research focuses on energy policy responses to anthropogenic climate change and obstacles to a sustainable energy transition.

[Jun 26, 2021] Can Vivek Ramaswamy Put Wokeism Out of Business

Highly recommended!
The book that is discussed is Woke, Inc.- Inside Corporate America's Social Justice Scam- Ramaswamy, Vivek
Notable quotes:
"... He defines "wokeism" as a creed that has arisen in America in response to the "moral vacuum" created by the ebbing from public life of faith, patriotism and "the identity we derived from hard work." He argues that notions like "diversity," "equity," "inclusion" and "sustainability" have come to take their place. ..."
"... "Our collective moral insecurities," Mr. Ramaswamy says, "have left us vulnerable" to the blandishments and propaganda of the new political and corporate elites, who are now locked in a cynical "arranged marriage, where each partner has contempt for the other." Each side is getting out of the "trade" something it "could not have gotten alone." ..."
"... Wokeness entered its union with capitalism in the years following the 2008 financial panic and recession. Mr. Ramaswamy believes that conditions were perfect for the match. "We were -- and are -- in the midst of the biggest intergenerational wealth transfer in history," he says. Barack Obama had just been elected the first black president. By the end of the crisis, Americans "were actually pretty jaded with respect to capitalism. Corporations were the bad guys. The old left wanted to take money from corporations and give it to poor people." ..."
"... The birth of wokeism was a godsend to corporations, Mr. Ramaswamy says. It helped defang the left. "Wokeism lent a lifeline to the people who were in charge of the big banks. They thought, 'This stuff is easy!' " They applauded diversity and inclusion, appointed token female and minority directors, and "mused about the racially disparate impact of climate change." So, in Mr. Ramaswamy's narrative, "a bunch of big banks got together with a bunch of millennials, birthed woke capitalism, and then put Occupy Wall Street up for adoption." Now, in Mr. Ramaswamy's tart verdict, "big business makes money by critiquing itself." ..."
"... Davos is "the Woke Vatican," Mr. Ramaswamy says; Al Gore and Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock , are "its archbishops." CEOs "further down the chain" -- he mentions James Quincey of Coca-Cola , Ed Bastian of Delta , Marc Benioff of Salesforce , John Donahoe of Nike and Alan Jope of Unilever -- are its "cardinals." ..."
"... He describes this sort of corporate imposition -- "a market force supplanting open political debate to settle the essence of political questions" -- as one of the "defining challenges" America faces today. "If democracy means anything," he adds, "it means living in a one-person-one-vote system, not a one-dollar-one-vote system." Voters' voices "are unadjusted by the number of dollars we wield in the marketplace." Open debate in the public square is "our uniquely American mechanism" of settling political questions. He likens the woke-corporate silencing of debate as akin to the "old-world European model, where a small group of elites gets in a room and decides what's good for everyone else." ..."
"... The wokeism-capitalism embrace, Mr. Ramaswamy says, was replicated in Silicon Valley. Over the past few years, "Big Tech effectively agreed to censor -- or 'moderate' -- content that the woke movement didn't like. But they didn't do it for free." In return, the left "agreed to look the other way when it comes to leaving Silicon Valley's monopoly power intact." This arrangement is "working out masterfully" for both sides. ..."
"... Coca-Cola follows the same playbook, he says: "It's easier for them to issue statements about voting laws in Georgia, or to train their employees on how to 'be less white,' than it is to publicly reckon with its role in fueling a nationwide epidemic of diabetes and obesity -- including in the black communities they profess to care about so much." (In a statement, Coca-Cola apologized for the "be less white" admonition and said that while it was "accessible through our company training platform," it "was not a part of our training curriculum.") ..."
"... Nike finds it much easier to write checks to Black Lives Matter and condemn America's history of slavery, Mr. Ramaswamy says, even as it relies on "slave labor" today to sell "$250 sneakers to black kids in the inner city who can't afford to buy books for school." All the while, Black Lives Matter "neuters the police in a way that sacrifices even more black lives." (Nike has said in a statement that its code of conduct prohibits any use of forced labor and "we have been engaging with multi-stakeholder working groups to assess collective solutions that will help preserve the integrity of our global supply chains.") ..."
"... Mr. Varadarajan, a Journal contributor, is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and at New York University Law School's Classical Liberal Institute. ..."
"... Seems to me in a nutshell he is saying that these woke corporations are all hypocrites. No surprise there hypocrisy is a defining characteristic of the woke left and you need to assume that characteristic yourself to be able to work within their bounds. ..."
"... Wokeists argue that theirs is not a religion because it doesn't center on a transcendent being. I see Wokeism as a religion that gathers multiple Secularist sects into a big tent. These sects include Environmentalism, Genderism, Anti-Racism, and more. ..."
"... One thing all religions share in common is the elevation of questionable premises to unassailable truths which they defend with religious zeal. Some questionable premises elevated to unassailable truths by Wokeism are that humans are making the Earth uninhabitable, gender is an individual choice, and race is the most important human characteristic. There are more. ..."
Jun 26, 2021 | www.wsj.com

A self-made multimillionaire who founded a biotech company at 28, Vivek Ramaswamy is every inch the precocious overachiever. He tells me he attended law school while he was in sixth grade. He's joking, in his own earnest manner. His father, an aircraft engineer at General Electric, had decided to get a law degree at night school. Vivek sat in on the classes with him, so he could keep his dad company on the long car rides to campus and back -- a very Indian filial act.

"I was probably the only person my age who'd heard of Antonin Scalia, " Mr. Ramaswamy, 35, says in a Zoom call from his home in West Chester, Ohio. His father, a political liberal, would often rage on the way home from class about "some Scalia opinion." Mr. Ramaswamy reckons that this was when he began to form his own political ideas. A libertarian in high school, he switched to being conservative at Harvard in "an act of rebellion" against the politics he found there. That conservatism drove him to step down in January as CEO at Roivant Sciences -- the drug-development company that made him rich -- and write "Woke, Inc," a book that takes a scathing look at "corporate America's social-justice scam." (It will be published in August.)

Mr. Ramaswamy recently watched the movie "Spotlight," which tells the story of how reporters at the Boston Globe exposed misconduct (specifically, sexual abuse) by Catholic priests in the early 2000s. "My goal in 'Woke, Inc.' is to do the same thing with respect to the Church of Wokeism." He defines "wokeism" as a creed that has arisen in America in response to the "moral vacuum" created by the ebbing from public life of faith, patriotism and "the identity we derived from hard work." He argues that notions like "diversity," "equity," "inclusion" and "sustainability" have come to take their place.

"Our collective moral insecurities," Mr. Ramaswamy says, "have left us vulnerable" to the blandishments and propaganda of the new political and corporate elites, who are now locked in a cynical "arranged marriage, where each partner has contempt for the other." Each side is getting out of the "trade" something it "could not have gotten alone."

Wokeness entered its union with capitalism in the years following the 2008 financial panic and recession. Mr. Ramaswamy believes that conditions were perfect for the match. "We were -- and are -- in the midst of the biggest intergenerational wealth transfer in history," he says. Barack Obama had just been elected the first black president. By the end of the crisis, Americans "were actually pretty jaded with respect to capitalism. Corporations were the bad guys. The old left wanted to take money from corporations and give it to poor people."

The birth of wokeism was a godsend to corporations, Mr. Ramaswamy says. It helped defang the left. "Wokeism lent a lifeline to the people who were in charge of the big banks. They thought, 'This stuff is easy!' " They applauded diversity and inclusion, appointed token female and minority directors, and "mused about the racially disparate impact of climate change." So, in Mr. Ramaswamy's narrative, "a bunch of big banks got together with a bunch of millennials, birthed woke capitalism, and then put Occupy Wall Street up for adoption." Now, in Mr. Ramaswamy's tart verdict, "big business makes money by critiquing itself."

Mr. Ramaswamy regards Klaus Schwab, founder and CEO of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, as the "patron saint of wokeism" for his relentless propagation of "stakeholder capitalism" -- the view that the unspoken bargain in the grant to corporations of limited liability is that they "must do social good on the side."

Davos is "the Woke Vatican," Mr. Ramaswamy says; Al Gore and Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock , are "its archbishops." CEOs "further down the chain" -- he mentions James Quincey of Coca-Cola , Ed Bastian of Delta , Marc Benioff of Salesforce , John Donahoe of Nike and Alan Jope of Unilever -- are its "cardinals."

Mr. Ramaswamy says that "unlike the investigative 'Spotlight' team at the Boston Globe, I'm a whistleblower, not a journalist. But the church analogy holds strong." He paraphrases a line in the movie: "It takes a village to raise a child, then it takes a village to abuse one. In the case of my book, the child I'm concerned about is American democracy."

In league with the woke left, corporate America "uses force" as a substitute for open deliberation and debate, Mr. Ramaswamy says. "There's the sustainability accounting standards board of BlackRock, which effectively demands that in order to win an investment from BlackRock, the largest asset-manager in the world, you must abide by the standards of that board."

Was the board put in place by the owners of the trillions of dollars of capital that Mr. Fink manages? Of course not, Mr. Ramaswamy says. "And yet he's actually using his seat of corporate power to sidestep debate about questions like environmentalism or diversity on boards."

The irrepressible Mr. Ramaswamy presses on with another example. Goldman Sachs , he says with obvious relish, "is a very Davos-fitting example." At the 2020 World Economic Forum, Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon "issued an edict from the mountaintops of Davos." Mr. Solomon announced his company would refuse to take a company public if its board wasn't sufficiently diverse. "So Goldman gets to define what counts as 'diverse,' " Mr. Ramaswamy says. "No doubt, they're referring to skin-deep, genetically inherited attributes."

He describes this sort of corporate imposition -- "a market force supplanting open political debate to settle the essence of political questions" -- as one of the "defining challenges" America faces today. "If democracy means anything," he adds, "it means living in a one-person-one-vote system, not a one-dollar-one-vote system." Voters' voices "are unadjusted by the number of dollars we wield in the marketplace." Open debate in the public square is "our uniquely American mechanism" of settling political questions. He likens the woke-corporate silencing of debate as akin to the "old-world European model, where a small group of elites gets in a room and decides what's good for everyone else."

The wokeism-capitalism embrace, Mr. Ramaswamy says, was replicated in Silicon Valley. Over the past few years, "Big Tech effectively agreed to censor -- or 'moderate' -- content that the woke movement didn't like. But they didn't do it for free." In return, the left "agreed to look the other way when it comes to leaving Silicon Valley's monopoly power intact." This arrangement is "working out masterfully" for both sides.

The rest of corporate America appears to be following suit. "There's a Big Pharma version, too," Mr. Ramaswamy says. "Big Pharma had an epiphany in dealing with the left." It couldn't beat them, so it joined them. "Rather than win the debate on drug pricing, they decided to just change the subject instead. Who needs to win a debate if you can just avoid having it?" So we see "big-time pharma CEOs musing about topics like racial justice and environmentalism, and writing multibillion-dollar checks to fight climate change, while taking price hikes that they'd previously paused when the public was angry about drug pricing."

Coca-Cola follows the same playbook, he says: "It's easier for them to issue statements about voting laws in Georgia, or to train their employees on how to 'be less white,' than it is to publicly reckon with its role in fueling a nationwide epidemic of diabetes and obesity -- including in the black communities they profess to care about so much." (In a statement, Coca-Cola apologized for the "be less white" admonition and said that while it was "accessible through our company training platform," it "was not a part of our training curriculum.")

Nike finds it much easier to write checks to Black Lives Matter and condemn America's history of slavery, Mr. Ramaswamy says, even as it relies on "slave labor" today to sell "$250 sneakers to black kids in the inner city who can't afford to buy books for school." All the while, Black Lives Matter "neuters the police in a way that sacrifices even more black lives." (Nike has said in a statement that its code of conduct prohibits any use of forced labor and "we have been engaging with multi-stakeholder working groups to assess collective solutions that will help preserve the integrity of our global supply chains.")

... ... ...

Mr. Varadarajan, a Journal contributor, is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and at New York University Law School's Classical Liberal Institute.


Rod Drake 53 minutes ago

Seems to me in a nutshell he is saying that these woke corporations are all hypocrites. No surprise there hypocrisy is a defining characteristic of the woke left and you need to assume that characteristic yourself to be able to work within their bounds.

In addition, I have been saying for some time discrimination based on political belief desperately needs to be included as a prohibited basis. Where are the Republicans, while the greatest civil rights violation of our time is going on right under their noses?

Terry Overbey 1 hour ago
I love reading stories about people who are willing to take on the woke political class. For most people, even if they strongly disagree, their only option is to bite their tongue and go along. People aren't stupid. If you buck the system, you don't get promoted, you don't get good grades, you don't get into elite schools, you don't get the government job.

Thank you Mr Ramaswany.

James Ransom 1 hour ago
Well. If nothing else, he just sold me a book. I think we should say that "Wokeism" tries to "Act Like" a religion, not that it is one. Because of this fakery, we do not need to give it "freedom" in the sense that we have "Freedom of Religion."
These misguided Americans perhaps need to be exposed to a real religion. Christianity and Buddhism would be good choices; I don't know about Hinduism, but my point is that "Wokeism" is more like a mental disorder. We should feel sorry for its victims, offer them treatment, but not let them run anything.
marc goodman 1 hour ago
Wokeists argue that theirs is not a religion because it doesn't center on a transcendent being. I see Wokeism as a religion that gathers multiple Secularist sects into a big tent. These sects include Environmentalism, Genderism, Anti-Racism, and more.

One thing all religions share in common is the elevation of questionable premises to unassailable truths which they defend with religious zeal. Some questionable premises elevated to unassailable truths by Wokeism are that humans are making the Earth uninhabitable, gender is an individual choice, and race is the most important human characteristic. There are more.

Humans need to believe in something greater than themselves. We fulfill this need with religion, and historically, the "greater something" has been a transcendent being. Wokeism fulfills this need for its adherents but without a transcendent being. Ultimately, Wokeism will fail as a religion because it can't nourish the soul like the belief in a transcendent being does.

Grodney Ross 2 hours ago (Edited)
Judgement will be passed in November of 2022. I don't see this as a Democrat vs Republican issue. I think it's a matter of who is paying attention vs. those who are not. We live in a society where, generally, the most strident voices are on the left, along with the most judgmental voices. When the "wokeless" engage in a manner that conflicts with views of the woke, they are attacked, be you from the left or the right, so you keep your mouth shut and go about your day.

I believe that this coming election will give voice to those who are fatigued and fed up with the progressive lefts venom and vitriol. If not, we will survive, but without a meaningful first amendment,14th amendment, or 2nd amendment.

Barbara Helton 2 hours ago (Edited)
Being woke, when practiced by the wealthy and influential, can be extremely similar to bullying.

[Jun 01, 2021] California's Controversial Math Overhaul Focuses on Equity; computer science is next

May 31, 2021 | news.slashdot.org

Money quote from comments: "When news of this proposed standard came out, I read the actual standard because I wanted to see if it really was that bad. Things were reported like, "Saying an answer is 'wrong' is racist. There is no right and wrong in math, just shades of truth." These kinds of things are worrisome. So I read a good chunk of the proposal, and I couldn't find anything like that. Instead, I found their point was that anyone has the capability of learning math, and so we should be teaching it to everyone. If people aren't learning it, then that's a problem with our teaching methods.

Not sure Google and Apple will be happy. Clearly programming languages are racists as almost all of them were created by white guys and they disproportionally punish poor coders...

A plan to reimagine math instruction for 6 million California students has become ensnared in equity and fairness issues -- with critics saying proposed guidelines will hold back gifted students and supporters saying it will, over time, give all kindergartners through 12th-graders a better chance to excel. From a report: The proposed new guidelines aim to accelerate achievement while making mathematical understanding more accessible and valuable to as many students as possible, including those shut out from high-level math in the past because they had been "tracked" in lower level classes. The guidelines call on educators generally to keep all students in the same courses until their junior year in high school, when they can choose advanced subjects, including calculus, statistics and other forms of data science.

Although still a draft, the Mathematics Framework achieved a milestone Wednesday, earning approval from the state's Instructional Quality Commission. The members of that body moved the framework along, approving numerous recommendations that a writing team is expected to incorporate. The commission told writers to remove a document that had become a point of contention for critics. It described its goals as calling out systemic racism in mathematics, while helping educators create more inclusive, successful classrooms. Critics said it needlessly injected race into the study of math. The state Board of Education is scheduled to have the final say in November.

2+2=5 if we say it is ( Score: 4 , Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 31, 2021 @03:06PM ( #61440248 )

People learn at different rates. Lowest common denominator serves no one. Reply to This
Re:2+2=5 if we say it is ( Score: 2 ) by PPH ( 736903 ) on Monday May 31, 2021 @03:28PM ( #61440308 )

And War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength.

Report to Room 101 for remedial math. Reply to This Re:I can't believe this white supremacy ( Score: 5 , Informative) by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Monday May 31, 2021 @03:41PM ( #61440352 ) Journal

When news of this proposed standard came out, I read the actual standard because I wanted to see if it really was that bad. Things were reported like, "Saying an answer is 'wrong' is racist. There is no right and wrong in math, just shades of truth." These kinds of things are worrisome.

So I read a good chunk of the proposal, and I couldn't find anything like that. Instead, I found their point was that anyone has the capability of learning math, and so we should be teaching it to everyone. If people aren't learning it, then that's a problem with our teaching methods.

I also found that instead of getting rid of calculus, they are suggesting that you learn calculus as a Junior or Senior in high school. This seems fine to me.

The only thing I wish they'd put more emphasis on is statistics, because if you don't understand statistics, the modern world is a very confusing place. Reply to This Parent Share Flag as Inappropriate Re:

Does the curriculum for grades 1-10 have the appropriate foundational education for kids in grades 11-12 to actually succeed in a calculus class? Because if not, then the notion that any significant portion of juniors and seniors will be able take a calculus class is just a fantasy. Re:

That is the goal, but I am not enough of an expert to know whether they reached their goal or not. Re:

Reading (mostly skimming) through chapter 8 (about grades 9-12), a couple things stick out:

First off, they define three different possible "pathways" for grades 9-10, which seems completely in opposition to goal of a "common ninth- and tenth- grade experience." It sounds like they envision that some high schools will only provide a single pathway while others will provide multiple ones -- but it seems incredibly obvious that that's going to put students on different tracks.

I did not dig into what was inclu In Australia, the course hasn't changed ...

in 40 years since I did it. (I have been helping my kids.)

Which is a problem, because the world has changed with the advent of computers.

So they work on quite difficult symbolic integrations. But absolutely nothing on numerical methods (and getting the rounding errors correct) which is far more useful in the modern world.

For non-specialist students, there is almost nothing on how to really build a spreadsheet model. That again is a far more useful skill than any calculus or more advanced algebra.

And then Re: I can't believe this white supremacy I doubt they could get AP Calculus to work. It's going to have to be an easier version of pre Calculus. Because of how they schedule the classes today, some kids take summer courses so that they can get the prerequisites in time. Keeping everyone at the same slow pace is painful for the stronger students. I'm wondering if they are having trouble finding teachers who are qualified to teach math. Kumon The ones whose parents can send them to Kumon or Russian Math after school, will have the capacity. Those who cant even if they were smart enough for the accelerated program under current system wont. With any law follow the money- see who will make money from this. Re:I can't believe this white supremacy ( Score: 4 , Insightful) by CrappySnackPlane ( 7852536 ) on Monday May 31, 2021 @04:14PM ( #61440460 )

Which planet did you go to school on?

Here on Earth, here's how "everyone learns calculus in 11th grade" works:

The entire class has to stop and wait for the kids who are genuinely overwhelmed - be it because they're smart-but-poor-and-hungry or, you know, because they're just fucking dumb , both types exist, it doesn't matter - to catch up, because the teacher's job rests on whether 79% or 80% of their students score a passing grade on the statewide achiev^H^H^H^H^H^H (whoops, can't have achievements, that's ableist) "performance" tests. The teacher, being a rational creature who understands how to make sure their family's bread remains buttered, spends the bulk of their time helping along little Jethro and Barbie.

The bright kids are left bored out of their minds, and the "solution" presented by these absolute shitstains is to suggest the bright kids do after-school activities if they want to actually learn. Like, that's great for the 1% who genuinely love math the way some kids love music or acting or sports, but what about the 25% or so who are really gifted at math and would like to do more with it, but aren't so passionate about it that they want to give up more of their precious dwindling free time to pursue it? What about the 50% who aren't necessarily great at math but could certainly learn a lot more if the class wasn't being stopped every two minutes to re-re-remind little Goobclot that "x" was actually a number, not just a letter?

Look, I absolutely agree that it's bad to write kids off as dumb. But Harrison Bergeron is not included in the "Utopian Literature of the 20th Century" curriculum for a reason. There's a flipside, and none of these "one size fits all" proposals does anything to convince me that the proponents have actually seriously considered the other side of the coin. Reply to This Parent Share Flag Re:I can't believe this white supremacy ( Score: 2 ) by systemd-anonymousd ( 6652324 ) on Monday May 31, 2021 @06:26PM ( #61440894 )

My local school district is removing all AP math courses because they believe a disparity in race in the students represents racism, and/or they just don't want to have to look at the situation. I know the precursors to this sort of racist policy when I see it, and documents that espouse a trifecta of equity, inclusivity, and diversity are fully intended to pull crabs back down into the boiling bucket. Re:final countdown ( Score: 2 ) by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Monday May 31, 2021 @05:31PM ( #61440734 )

Next step is mandatory lobotomies for smarter kids or something like it. Because they obviously violate the dumber ones by setting an example the dumber ones can never hope to reach. See also "Harrison Bergeron" by Kurt Vonnegut. Reply to This Parent Share

[May 30, 2021] The Twilight of Equality: Neoliberalism, Cultural Politics, and the Attack on Democracy by Lisa Duggan

This is a very short book, almost an essay -- 136 pages. It was published in October 2004, four years before financial crisis of 2008, which put the first nail in the coffin of neoliberalism. It addresses the cultural politics of neo-liberalism ("the Great Deception")
Notable quotes:
"... By now, we've all heard about the shocking redistribution of wealth that's occurred during the last thirty years, and particularly during the last decade. But economic changes like this don't occur in a vacuum; they're always linked to politics. ..."
"... Ultimately, The Twilight of Equality? not only reveals how the highly successful rhetorical maneuvers of neoliberalism have functioned ..."
"... The titles of her four chapters--Downsizing Democracy, The Incredible Shrinking Public, Equality, Inc., Love AND Money--summarize her argument. ..."
"... Her target is neoliberalism, which she sees as a broadly controlling corporate agenda which seeks world domination, privatization of governmental decision-making, and marginalization of unions, low-income people, racial and sexual minorities while presenting to the public a benign and inclusive facade. ..."
"... Neo-liberalism seeks to upwardly distribute money, power, and status, she writes, while progressive movements seek to downwardly distribute money, power, and status. The unity of the downwardly distribution advocates should match the unity of the upwardly distribution advocates in order to be effective, she writes. ..."
"... "There is nothing stable or inevitable in the alliances supporting neoliberal agendas in the U.S. and globally," she writes. "The alliances linking neoliberal global economics, and conservative and right-wing domestic politics, and the culture wars are provisional--and fading...." ..."
"... For example, she discusses neoliberal attempts to be "multicultural," but points out that economic resources are constantly redistributed upward. Neoliberal politics, she argues, has only reinforced and increased the divide between economic and social political issues. ..."
"... Because neoliberal politicians wish to save neoliberalism by reforming it, she argues that proposing alternate visions and ideas have been blocked. ..."
Jun 14, 2019 | www.amazon.com

By now, we've all heard about the shocking redistribution of wealth that's occurred during the last thirty years, and particularly during the last decade. But economic changes like this don't occur in a vacuum; they're always linked to politics.

The Twilight of Equality? searches out these links through an analysis of the politics of the 1990s, the decade when neoliberalism-free market economics-became gospel.

After a brilliant historical examination of how racial and gender inequities were woven into the very theoretical underpinnings of the neoliberal model of the state, Duggan shows how these inequities play out today. In a series of political case studies, Duggan reveals how neoliberal goals have been pursued, demonstrating that progressive arguments that separate identity politics and economic policy, cultural politics and affairs of state, can only fail.

Ultimately, The Twilight of Equality? not only reveals how the highly successful rhetorical maneuvers of neoliberalism have functioned but, more importantly, it shows a way to revitalize and unify progressive politics in the U.S. today.

Mona Cohen 5.0 out of 5 stars A Critique of Neoliberalism and the Divided Resistance to It July 3, 2006

Lisa Duggan is intensely interested in American politics, and has found political life in the United States to have been "such a wild ride, offering moments of of dizzying hope along with long stretches of political depression." She is grateful for "many ideas about political depression, and how to survive it," and she has written a excellent short book that helps make sense of many widely divergent political trends.

Her book is well-summarized by its concluding paragraph, which I am breaking up into additional paragraphs for greater clarity:

"Now at this moment of danger and opportunity, the progressive left is mobilizing against neoliberalism and possible new or continuing wars.

"These mobilizations might become sites for factional struggles over the disciplining of troops, in the name of unity at a time of crisis and necessity. But such efforts will fail; the troops will not be disciplined, and the disciplinarians will be left to their bitterness.

"Or, we might find ways of think, speaking, writing and acting that are engaged and curious about "other people's" struggles for social justice, that are respectfully affiliative and dialogic rather than pedagogical, that that look for the hopeful spots to expand upon, and that revel in the pleasure of political life.

"For it is pleasure AND collective caretaking, love AND the egalitarian circulation of money--allied to clear and hard-headed political analysis offered generously--that will create the space for a progressive politics that might both imagine and create...something worth living for."

The titles of her four chapters--Downsizing Democracy, The Incredible Shrinking Public, Equality, Inc., Love AND Money--summarize her argument.

She expected upon her high school graduation in 1972, she writes, that "active and expanding social movements seemed capable of ameliorating conditions of injustice and inequality, poverty, war and imperialism....I had no idea I was not perched at a great beginning, but rather at a denouement, as the possibilities for progressive social change encountered daunting historical setbacks beginning in 1972...."

Her target is neoliberalism, which she sees as a broadly controlling corporate agenda which seeks world domination, privatization of governmental decision-making, and marginalization of unions, low-income people, racial and sexual minorities while presenting to the public a benign and inclusive facade.

Neo-liberalism seeks to upwardly distribute money, power, and status, she writes, while progressive movements seek to downwardly distribute money, power, and status. The unity of the downwardly distribution advocates should match the unity of the upwardly distribution advocates in order to be effective, she writes.

Her belief is that all groups threatened by the neoliberal paradigm should unite against it, but such unity is threatened by endless differences of perspectives. By minutely analyzing many of the differences, and expanding understanding of diverse perspectives, she tries to remove them as obstacles towards people and organizations working together to achieve both unique and common aims.

This is good book for those interested in the history and current significance of numerous progressive ideological arguments. It is a good book for organizers of umbrella organizations and elected officials who work with diverse social movements. By articulating points of difference, the author depersonalizes them and aids in overcoming them.

Those who are interested in electoral strategies, however, will be disappointed. The interrelationship between neoliberalism as a governing ideology and neoliberalism as a political strategy is not discussed here. It is my view that greater and more focused and inclusive political organizing has the potential to win over a good number of the those who see support of neoliberalism's policy initiatives as a base-broadening tactic more than as a sacred cause.

"There is nothing stable or inevitable in the alliances supporting neoliberal agendas in the U.S. and globally," she writes. "The alliances linking neoliberal global economics, and conservative and right-wing domestic politics, and the culture wars are provisional--and fading...."

Reading this book adds to one's understanding of labels, and political and intellectual distinctions. It has too much jargon for my taste, but not so much as to be impenetrable. It is an excellent summarization and synthesis of the goals, ideologies, and histories of numerous social movements, both famous and obscure.

S. Baker 5.0 out of 5 stars Summary/Review of Twilight of Equality November 27, 2007

Duggan articulately connects social and economic issues to each other, arguing that neoliberal politics have divided the two when in actuality, they cannot be separated from one another.

In the introduction, Duggan argues that politics have become neoliberal - while politics operate under the guise of promoting social change or social stability, in reality, she argues, politicians have failed to make the connection between economic and social/cultural issues. She uses historical background to prove the claim that economic and social issues can be separated from each other is false.

For example, she discusses neoliberal attempts to be "multicultural," but points out that economic resources are constantly redistributed upward. Neoliberal politics, she argues, has only reinforced and increased the divide between economic and social political issues.

After the introduction, Duggan focuses on a specific topic in each chapter: downsizing democracy, the incredible shrinking public, equality, and love and money. In the first chapter (downsizing democracy), she argues that through violent imperial assertion in the Middle East, budget cuts in social services, and disillusionments in political divides, "capitalists could actually bring down capitalism" (p. 2).

Because neoliberal politicians wish to save neoliberalism by reforming it, she argues that proposing alternate visions and ideas have been blocked. Duggan provides historical background that help the reader connect early nineteenth century U.S. legislation (regarding voting rights and slavery) to perpetuated institutional prejudices.

[May 28, 2021] American Lysenkism in academis: These lowlife parasites sit on their asses and talk shi*. They produce nothing and make a living by spreading nonsense.

May 23, 2021 | www.unz.com

Priss Factor , says: Website May 21, 2021 at 4:44 am GMT • 2.9 days ago

I can understand the frustrations and rage of certain folks.

If you're a worker on an oil rig, a truck driver, a policeman, or some such jobs, there's bound to be moments when you're angry as hell. So, even though such people say crazy things once a while, I can understand where they're coming from. They need to blow off steam.

But the professor class? These lowlife parasites sit on their asses and talk shi*. They produce nothing and make a living by spreading nonsense. And yet, they act like they are soooooooooo angry with the way of the world. If they really care about the world, why hide in their academic enclaves?
Academia needs a cultural revolution, a real kind, not the bogus 'woke' kind made up of teachers' pets.

[May 28, 2021] Redditors Aim to 'Free Science' From For-Profit Publishers

May 25, 2021 | yro.slashdot.org

A group of Redditors came together in a bid to archive over 85 million scientific papers from the website Sci-Hub and make an open-source library that cannot be taken down. Interesting Engineering reports:

Over the last decade or so, Sci-Hub, often referred to as "The Pirate Bay of Science," has been giving free access to a huge database of scientific papers that would otherwise be locked behind a paywall.

Unsurprisingly, the website has been the target of multiple lawsuits, as well as an investigation from the United States Department of Justice. The site's Twitter account was also recently suspended under Twitter's counterfeit policy, and its founder, Alexandra Elbakyan, reported that the FBI gained access to her Apple accounts .

Now, Redditors from a subreddit called DataHoarder, which is aimed at archiving knowledge in the digital space, have come together to try to save the numerous papers available on the website. In a post on May 13 , the moderators of r/DataHoarder, stated that "it's time we sent Elsevier and the USDOJ a clearer message about the fate of Sci-Hub and open science.

We are the library, we do not get silenced, we do not shut down our computers, and we are many." This will be no easy task. Sci-Hub is home to over 85 million papers, totaling a staggering 77TB of data . The group of Redditors is currently recruiting for its archiving efforts and its stated goal is to have approximately 8,500 individuals torrenting the papers in order to download the entire library. Once that task is complete, the Redditors aim to release all of the downloaded data via a new "uncensorable" open-source website.

[May 28, 2021] Cheating at School Is Easier Than Ever and It s Rampant

Notable quotes:
"... "Consider hiring me to do your assignment,"ť reads a bid from one auction site. "I work fast, pay close attention to the instructions, and deliver a plagiarism-free paper."ť ..."
"... ... For the final exam, Mr. Johnson, a course coordinator, said he used a computer program that generated a unique set of questions for each student. Those questions quickly showed up on a for-profit homework website that helped him to identify who posted them. ..."
"... About 200 students were caught cheating -- one-fourth of the class. Overall, cases of academic dishonesty more than doubled in the 2019-20 academic year at NC State, with the biggest uptick as students made the transition to online learning, according to the school. ..."
"... Surprised that the use of apps like Photomath and mathway weren't mentioned. Students can just take a photo of a math problem, specify the directions and copy the steps. ..."
"... I've taugh at the high school and college level. I recently taught engineering at a NC high school. Within a couple months of Zoom teaching, I realized that cheating was rampant. I had numerous blatant examples of straight copy-and-paste cheating. ..."
"... The colleges have been cheating students for decades selling worthless programs and false information to students at exorbitant rates. So who is surprised that the students learned to cheat themselves. ..."
"... What the article needs to cover is the enormous amount of cheating done on SATs, GREs, LSATs, etc. to get into prestigious universities -- especially by prospective students who'll be here on an F1 visa. ..."
"... Such cheating is legendary among some cultures but the PC crowd won't want to hear about that, will they. We need their electronics and their widgets and such best not to rock that boat. P ..."
May 12, 2021 | www.wsj.com

A year of remote learning has spurred an eruption of cheating among students, from grade school to college. With many students isolated at home over the past year""and with a mass of online services at their disposal""academic dishonesty has never been so easy.

Websites that allow students to submit questions for expert answers have gained millions of new users over the past year. A newer breed of site allows students to put up their own classwork for auction.

"Consider hiring me to do your assignment,"ť reads a bid from one auction site. "I work fast, pay close attention to the instructions, and deliver a plagiarism-free paper."ť

... For the final exam, Mr. Johnson, a course coordinator, said he used a computer program that generated a unique set of questions for each student. Those questions quickly showed up on a for-profit homework website that helped him to identify who posted them.

About 200 students were caught cheating""one-fourth of the class. Overall, cases of academic dishonesty more than doubled in the 2019-20 academic year at NC State, with the biggest uptick as students made the transition to online learning, according to the school.

Texas A&M University had a 50% increase in cheating allegations in the fall from a year earlier, with one incident involving 193 students self-reporting academic misconduct to receive lighter punishment after faculty members caught on, a university official said. The University of Pennsylvania saw cheating case investigations grow 71% in the 2019-20 academic year, school data shows.

Dozens of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point were caught cheating on an online calculus exam last year, sharing answers with each other from home. The school said in April it was ending a policy that protected cadets who admitted honor code violations from being kicked out.

... ... ...

In February, auction website homeworkforyou.com featured one student post looking for someone willing to do weekly school assignments, exams and a project for a business class at York College in Queens, N.Y., over a two-month span. The winning bidder would also need to pose as the student and respond to classmates in a group assignment. The student specified that an "A"ť was the desired outcome, and that the "willing to pay"ť fee was $465.

By the next day, 29 bids had come in. The average was $479.41.

... Other popular websites that students use to get help""by submitting a question for an expert to quickly answer, or by searching a database of previous answers""include Chegg and Brainly, which said they have seen a big increase in users during the pandemic.

Mr. Piwnik said world-wide users grew to 350 million monthly in 2020, from about 200 million in 2019. The basic service is free, while a $24 annual subscription is ad-free and gives access to premium features.

Chegg, a publicly held company based in Santa Clara, Calif., prides itself on a willingness to help institutions determine the identities of those who cheat. It allows educators to report copyright information found on the site. The company saw total net revenue of $644.3 million in 2020, a 57% increase year over year. Subscribers hit a record 6.6 million, up 67%.


Cheating at School Is Easier Than Ever""and It's Rampant - WSJ

A year of remote learning has spurred an eruption of cheating among students, from grade school to college. With many students isolated at home over the past year and with a mass of online services at their disposal academic dishonesty has never been so easy.

Websites that allow students to submit questions for expert answers have gained millions of new users over the past year. A newer breed of site allows students to put up their own classwork for auction.

"Consider hiring me to do your assignment,"ť reads a bid from one auction site. "I work fast, pay close attention to the instructions, and deliver a plagiarism-free paper."ť

... For the final exam, Mr. Johnson, a course coordinator, said he used a computer program that generated a unique set of questions for each student. Those questions quickly showed up on a for-profit homework website that helped him to identify who posted them.

About 200 students were caught cheating -- one-fourth of the class. Overall, cases of academic dishonesty more than doubled in the 2019-20 academic year at NC State, with the biggest uptick as students made the transition to online learning, according to the school.

Texas A&M University had a 50% increase in cheating allegations in the fall from a year earlier, with one incident involving 193 students self-reporting academic misconduct to receive lighter punishment after faculty members caught on, a university official said. The University of Pennsylvania saw cheating case investigations grow 71% in the 2019-20 academic year, school data shows.

Dozens of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point were caught cheating on an online calculus exam last year, sharing answers with each other from home. The school said in April it was ending a policy that protected cadets who admitted honor code violations from being kicked out.

... ... ...

In February, auction website homeworkforyou.com featured one student post looking for someone willing to do weekly school assignments, exams and a project for a business class at York College in Queens, N.Y., over a two-month span. The winning bidder would also need to pose as the student and respond to classmates in a group assignment. The student specified that an "A"ť was the desired outcome, and that the "willing to pay"ť fee was $465.

By the next day, 29 bids had come in. The average was $479.41.

... Other popular websites that students use to get help "by submitting a question for an expert to quickly answer, or by searching a database of previous answers" include Chegg and Brainly, which said they have seen a big increase in users during the pandemic.

Mr. Piwnik said world-wide users grew to 350 million monthly in 2020, from about 200 million in 2019. The basic service is free, while a $24 annual subscription is ad-free and gives access to premium features.

Chegg, a publicly held company based in Santa Clara, Calif., prides itself on a willingness to help institutions determine the identities of those who cheat. It allows educators to report copyright information found on the site. The company saw total net revenue of $644.3 million in 2020, a 57% increase year over year. Subscribers hit a record 6.6 million, up 67%.

C C Cook SUBSCRIBER 13 minutes ago
Colleges administrators and professors ban speakers with opinions that differ from their narratives, pull books they don't like and can claim to be 'racist', and hire based solely on ethnic background.

But. the are SHOCKED when student cheat the system.

S 18 minutes ago

Surprised that the use of apps like Photomath and mathway weren't mentioned. Students can just take a photo of a math problem, specify the directions and copy the steps.

Unfortunately for the students, the apps will solve problems in peculiar ways that stand out to the teacher. I've never had so many students cheat of quizzes or tests. With most of them fully virtual even still, or home often because of hybrid, it's almost impossible to get fairly produced student work. E

SUBSCRIBER 40 minutes ago

Lazy, lazy test makers. Write new questions (and please check them through a simple search first to make sure the answer isn't readily available), timed testing, and assume the test takers all have full access to the internet. Stop assuming the test taking conditions haven't changed. They have.

SUBSCRIBER 44 minutes ago

Back in the 1980's when I went to College there was a big uproar over Cliff Notes. Students copying word for word... But it was known you could buy test questions, hire note takers for class, buy essays. The Frat boys had a well developed system! J

SUBSCRIBER 1 hour ago (Edited)

The cheating isn't limited to students.

Look at how our Congressional representatives behave in office!

Look at how career bureaucrats behave!

is it any wonder that cheating is so rampant? honesty and integrity are for suckers.

why worry about your conscience? there is no Deity, there is no higher moral law. All ethics are relative. As long as I get ahead, what's the big deal?

There's no afterlife anyway, so what do I have to worry about? G

SUBSCRIBER 1 hour ago

Maybe they're studying to be our future national-level political leaders. G

SUBSCRIBER 1 hour ago

Call me old-fashioned, naive or worse but I always saw homework or studying for an exam as the mental counterpart to physical exercise.

Sure, you can cheat.

But you cheat yourself in the long term when you don't develop the intellectual "muscles" that you need to compete and succeed in adult life.

And you or your parents paid good money to get that degree and you bypassed four or more years of earning potential by attending school.

Sounds like a pretty poor tradeoff to me. B

SUBSCRIBER 1 hour ago (Edited)

I've taugh at the high school and college level. I recently taught engineering at a NC high school. Within a couple months of Zoom teaching, I realized that cheating was rampant. I had numerous blatant examples of straight copy-and-paste cheating.

I confronted each student and most of them either played dumb, or denied it. I separately showed them each the website and documents they stole from and told them this was their one and only freebie. A few parents confronted me but after showing them the evidence they either dropped it or confronted their own child. A few parents thanked me for holding their kid accountable, but most just complained or dropped it altogether.

After a couple more months of it continuing, and not getting enough support from the administrators, I quit, without yet having secured a new job. I'll say this, it's worse than you think, and your child likely does it too, or knows of those who do. It's become acceptable to them bc of pressure to get into college. M

SUBSCRIBER 1 hour ago

It is not new. Twenty-five years ago, my wife, a ranked academic, was given a paper supposedly written by one of her students. She recognized it because she typed it after I wrote it ten years before.

When she confronted the student he admitted to buying it from a paper mill. Apparently the prof I wrote it for sold his "collection" on retirement. Sadly, even then, the student got little more than a slap on the wrist once outed.

SUBSCRIBER 1 hour ago

The colleges have been cheating students for decades selling worthless programs and false information to students at exorbitant rates. So who is surprised that the students learned to cheat themselves. M

SUBSCRIBER 1 hour ago

This is just a manifestation of the bankruptcy of our education system. Let's face it, for most students from kindergarteners to PhD post grads, it is not about gaining knowledge, learning how to think or even mastering skills. It is about checking blocks to build a resume. What does a diploma really mean? A checked block.

The system has known and participated in this for decades. What does it really matter how that block got checked?

SUBSCRIBER 1 hour ago

What the article needs to cover is the enormous amount of cheating done on SATs, GREs, LSATs, etc. to get into prestigious universities -- especially by prospective students who'll be here on an F1 visa.

Such cheating is legendary among some cultures but the PC crowd won't want to hear about that, will they. We need their electronics and their widgets and such best not to rock that boat. P

SUBSCRIBER 1 hour ago

I'm a lecturer at a Canadian university and am quite troubled by the use of textbook publisher's test banks in exam prep. Students easily find the keys on line. Some students have stopped attending class. They know what will be on the exam. Of course they learn nothing. Admin, faculty and students love the easy inflated grades. Academic wheels turn but there is no learning. It's not a student problem, it's a bone lazy faculty problem. I write my own exams but many refuse. E

SUBSCRIBER 1 hour ago

Wonderful. Just what I want. Doctors, lawyers, accountants, engineers, urban planners, nurses, mechanics, dentists, and other professionals who need to cheat to graduate.

SUBSCRIBER 1 hour ago

Hey you forgot another sizable group that will provide US with 'professionals' of questionable quality the AA crowd that gets placed into universities based upon what?

[May 15, 2021] Chaos Monkeys- Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley- Garcia Martinez, Antonio

Over-promotion far beyond the level of competency using affirmative action playbook is a real problem and much more serious that Peter Principle would suggest: often it is instrumental in getting female sociopaths into corner office.
May 15, 2021 | www.amazon.com

Imagine a chimpanzee rampaging through a data center powering everything from Google to Facebook. Infrastructure engineers use a software version of this "chaos monkey" to test online services' robustness -- their ability to survive random failure and correct mistakes before they actually occur. Tech entrepreneurs are society's chaos monkeys, disruptors testing and transforming every aspect of our lives, from transportation (Uber) and lodging (Airbnb) to television (Netflix) and dating (Tinder). One of Silicon Valley's most provocative chaos monkeys is Antonio García Martínez.

After stints on Wall Street and as CEO of his own startup, García Martínez joined Facebook's nascent advertising team, until he was forced out in the wake of an internal product war over the future of the company's monetization strategy, and eventually landed at rival Twitter.

In Chaos Monkeys , this gleeful contrarian unravels the chaotic evolution of social media and online marketing and lays bare the hijinks, trade secrets, and power plays of the visionaries, grunts, sociopaths, opportunists, accidental tourists, and money cowboys who are revolutionizing our world.

>


Gethin Darklord 5.0 out of 5 stars Revalatory epistole from Silicon Valley Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 29, 2018 Verified Purchase I really enjoyed this book which falls into two sections: before the author's employment with Facebook and afterwards until he is fired. Mr Martinez comes across as a very self centered but brilliant tech geek and whilst unappealing as a friend his frank discussions of his thoughts give an unusual degree of insight into his character; and of those like him. He actually manages to explain how Facebook makes its money which is something I have never understood before. His assertion they wouldn't share your data is charmingly Naive in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal (2019) - the book was written some years before.

Ultimately it takes bravery to write frankly about one's own failures and this makes it distinct from the hagiographies and self congratulatory books which characterize most business books.

An interesting aside is his obvious erudition with well chosen classical quotations at the head of each chapter. Recommended highly. >


C. T. Goolsbee
Amazingly accurate coverage of Facebook's internal culture, the good, the bad, and the ugly. (Plus much, much more!)

5.0 out of 5 stars Amazingly accurate coverage of Facebook's internal culture, the good, the bad, and the ugly. (Plus much, much more!) Reviewed in the United States on July 10, 2016 Verified Purchase I worked at Facebook from 2010 until 2015, and until now I have never seen the inner machinations as accurately portrayed as they are in 'Chaos Monkeys'. Facebook very carefully maintains a public relations campaign (almost more internally focused than external) to convince the world it is the best place to work ever. In reality it is just like any other large company, with plenty of political intrigue, infighting, silo-building, and collateral damage. Sure, the mini-kitchens have organic bananas, and pistachios that stressed slobby software engineers neither have to shell, nor leave a pile of shells littered all around the floor... but in reality they are shackled to an oar, pulling to the endless beat of a drum. Code. Code. Code. It is all here the creepy propaganda, the failed high-profile projects, the surreal manager/staff relationships, the cultivated cult-like atmosphere, the sharp divide between the have-it-all, and the "hope to have enough to escape" staff. The bizarro world of inside FB, around the IPO. I was there and experienced many of the same corporate events and milestones myself. Antonio Garcia Martinez captures it all perfectly.

That's only the last half of the book.

The rest is a tale of escaping from startup hell, making a go at reaching startup heaven, then making deals to salvage it all when reaching the critical trial-by-fire that every startup must face: die, execute flawlessly, or exit.

There are some who will find the tone, the voice, or the political incorrectness of both to be too harsh to digest. I've already seen that in a few of the reviews here. To them I say "grow up"... put on your big boy/girl pants and read this for the story. The tale it tells. The facts it presents. The data with which it backs it all up. Because it is all true. The exposition of complex systems are described using appropriate, and facile metaphors. Many of the standard Facebook tropes ("stealing/selling your data", "Zuck is evil", etc.) are explained for the misleading baloney that they are. Best of all it describes how the advertising media really operates, going back to the dawn of it, and how Facebook, Google, et al are merely extensions of a system that has existed for two centuries. It is worth the purchase price for that lesson alone, all wrapped in a great, and true story.

For myself, having lived through much of the same experience at Facebook (from onboarding, the devotion, the cynicism, to the inglorious, frustrated exit bungled by one of the legion of Facebook's incompetent and narcissistic manager corps) I found myself going from laughter, to nodding agreement, to gut-wrenching bouts of PTSD as I turned the pages of 'Chaos Monkeys'. Now I no longer have to justify myself to people who ask me why I left Facebook - I can just tell them to read this book, since it explains it better than I ever could. >


Stanislav Malyshev
Whiny

1.0 out of 5 stars Whiny Reviewed in the United States on October 20, 2019 Verified Purchase The author seems to be a very bitter and acerbic individual with huge collection of chips on his shoulder, from past coworkers to the capitalism itself. It is rare to encounter a character in his book to which he doesn't find something contemptuous or negative to say about. Even when describing genuinely positive things - like courage, loyalty or generosity - he seems to be astonished that these puny humans he despises so much are capable of such things. I can't remember any character (including the mother of his children) who is described with genuine warmth and affection, then best he could master is "that person could be useful to me in certain situations".

While the protagonist seems to be entirely driven by monetary incentives, he does not forget to regularly interrupt his quest for a lengthy tirade about how capitalism is the worst (usually on the way to convince some capitalists to give him some money so he could participate in capitalist venture and make some money for himself).

The author undoubtedly has a knack for storytelling and a keen eye (usually turned to finding faults in everything he sees), so there are many interesting and entertaining bits in the book. But the overall negativity and constant droning of the author about how everything around him is wrong from the mere atoms upwards is really wearing you down. I understand that's sort of "here's what I am without any makeup, take it or leave it" but I really wish the it wasn't a whiny narcissistic nihilist... >


Veljko Skarich
Insightful, hilarious and accurate take on the insanity of silicon valley

5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful, hilarious and accurate take on the insanity of silicon valley Reviewed in the United States on August 6, 2016 Verified Purchase Chaos Monkeys is a bargain, since you are really getting four books in one. First, our lucky reader is treated to a Sherman-style total war on the vanities and conceits of the tech elite. For the hater in all of us, it is uncompromised, savage delight. He particularly takes aim at noxious myth of meritocracy in the valley. As anywhere, those educated at the right places, and taught the right diction and manner of speaking rise to the top. For whatever reason, people in silicon valley seem to need reminding of this fairly often, perhaps more than most.

Another skewered vanity is that the work being done there is "changing the world." The nirvana of being paid millions while doing meaningful work is the final privilege being sought by the waves of wall street refugees making their way out west. Only the most self-deluded really buy it, and as Antonio shows, those often happen to be working at the most influential and powerful companies. Is Facebook really changing the world? Without question, but when Facebook uses the language of historical figures, implicitly placing itself on the same podium as Cato the elder, say, it is both creepy and pathetic. Furthermore, the same gulf between the windfalls of the upper echelon and the rank-and-file is still present.

The second book is a detailed, unsparing deep-dive into the trenches of the ad tech industry. Just for that, it is worth reading if your job has any remote connection with selling online. You will come away with more awareness of how pixels convert to dollars. This theme occupies most of the second half of the book. If anything, the vivid metaphors he uses to describe the otherwise dull and esoteric details of identity matching and attribution will serve you well anytime you must summon a complete picture of this complex web in your head. Even non-specialists will find fascinating the descriptions of how private data is collected and sold, not to mention probably realizing they have been worried about the wrong kind of privacy violations.

Third, there is a marvelous how-to guide for aspiring entrepreneurs hidden between the diatribes. Antonio managed to meet many of the key players in the industry. His detailed accounts of many of these meetings (confrontations) offer a unique behind-the-scenes vantage which many manuals for silicon valley success avoid, so the authors can remain in good stead with the figures involved. In addition, there is another way that Chaos Monkeys serves as an excellent preview of what entrepreneurship entails. Other how-to books are so smitten with the idea of entrepreneur as Hero that they often fail to convey the tedium, anxiety and chaos that are most of the day-to-day realities for any entrepreneur. These other books mention that building a company is hard and stressful, but often seem shy to mention exactly why, beyond executing a bad idea, or a linear increase in working hours. In reality, the unspoken "hard" part of any startup is not the actual hours involved, or the idea, or execution, but rather the unwavering conviction you must have to keep at it when things are totally falling apart. The struggle to convince yourself, your investors and your customers that your vision of the world is the correct one is constant war against entropy, counterfactuals, competitors or self-doubts. Any of these must be swallowed, digested, shat out, and freeze-dried as more grist for your sales pitch mill. Every entrepreneur will immediately recognize what Antonio unabashedly portrays: the dreadful gulf between the inward awareness of all the chaos and flux at the startup, while preserving the outward image of polish, order and optimism. In fact, the delusion of performing world-changing work as an entrepreneur (even when you're just building a s***ty analytics panel) is so pervasive, it cannot be solely attributed to narcissism. The book makes the point that this delusion is actually an emotional coping mechanism to endure the aforementioned doublethink on a daily basis.

Finally, we are given an intimate, unsentimental portrait of Antonio's tortured psyche. While I wouldn't necessarily advocate "praying for Antonio's soul," as a previous reviewer stated, his relentless self-deprecation and raw honesty balance out some of the selfish decisions he makes in the book. He is extremely well read, and I suspect this background informs a somewhat tragic theme of the book -- for a certain type of person, the only hope that can lift the cynicism and misanthropy of early life disappointment is to undergo a meaningful quest with loyal companions. There aren't many of those quests around anymore, unfortunately, nor is there a surfeit of loyal companions in the sort of places and professions that demand one's full faculties. In the book, many characters and causes fail to meet this high bar, of course. I suspect more than a few failed idealists will find a kindred spirit in Antonio, despite the caustic tone throughout. That said, there is plenty here to be offended about, if that is your sort of thing. Some of the criticism is justified. For example, there is some objectification of women that could have been omitted. However, if that is your ONLY take-away, then you are precisely the sort of self-important, thin-skinned windbag that is rightfully skewered in Chaos Monkeys. >

Neil J.
Silicon Valley: Operating Instructions or Expose?

3.0 out of 5 stars Silicon Valley: Operating Instructions or Expose? Reviewed in the United States on February 12, 2017 Verified Purchase It's an interesting read as most reviews indicate is basically two books in one. The first "book" is about the world of Silicon Valley incubators and small start-ups. That takes up the first half of the story. The tale is close to reality as anyone involved in the SV start-up world can attest. It is full of the excess, hype, positioning, politics, back-stabbing and intrigue that is so commonplace. Somewhere in that mix is technology most of which is not even close to revolutionary but likely to be useful to someone. The trick is to make that "someone" seem like a really big someone who is dying to spend a lot of money. Then after getting investors to buy in ... keep selling. This is all well and entertainingly covered in the book. The second "book" covers the author's life at Facebook pre- and post-IPO. Like all companies, Facebook has its own dysfunctionalities. The dysfunctionalities that the author experienced at Facebook were not the sort he felt comfortable with. He also felt like his ideas were far better than anything Facebook came up with and that they were idiots for not listening to him. Maybe they were but they, as he begrudgingly indicated, seemed to do OK pursuing a different approach. Because the second half seemed to be more about "how stupid Facebook was" and "how smart he was", it served to be far less entertaining and enlightening than the first half mostly because I didn't care that he was being ignored and that he felt like he didn't fit in.

You can read this book two ways - especially the first half. It can be consumed as an expose showing the shallow nature and hollow core of the Silicon Valley gold rush or a "how to" book for fledgling entrepreneurs going after the incubator and investor dollars. And then you can skip that second half.

You make the call. >

Greg Thompson
Surprisingly informative and a good read

VINE VOICE 5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly informative and a good read Reviewed in the United States on September 13, 2016 Verified Purchase I bought this book on a whim as it looked like an interesting take on the inner workings of the world of start ups as well as insights into the machinations at Facebook. Having worked for some big-ish technology companies and now playing in the start up world I expected to get some fairly vanilla anecdotes about the ups and downs of life in the Valley and the personalities who make the headlines.

Initially, I was not sure how the story was going to play out as the author started out with some of the later FB meetings and the goings on in his private life. This book was not going to find its way into any college class on entrepreneurship! Happily, the story then moves into 2 distinct phases - life in startup hell and life in big company hell. Antonio Garcia Martinez goes on to tell it how it really is - no matter where the chips fall or who he may insult on the way through. And - he does this in an articulate and informative way, whether discussing personalities or the arcane inner workings of ad-serving technology.

Bottom line - this book is a very authentic description of the way the tech ecosystem works. Whether discussing option vesting, the randomness of successful product development, the lot of a product manager (the man in the middle), the venture capital roundabout, the modus operandi of corp dev folks (that would be me) Martinez captures it accurately - f-bombs and all. >


Ralph Lewis
Fear and Loathing in Silicon Valley

5.0 out of 5 stars Fear and Loathing in Silicon Valley Reviewed in the United States on July 7, 2016 Verified Purchase Were it not for the possibility of legal complications, Chaos Monkeys could have been titled "Fear and Loathing in Silicon Valley." It is a unique blend of high stakes gambling, sex, alcohol and hubris. For those willing to wade through technical detail, it shows how Internet applications like Facebook and Google convert pixels into dollars. For the rest of us, the story of the excruciatingly hard work and intense drama that go into both a startup company and the internal machinations of an established, aggressive hi-tech company provide plenty of drama.

Garcia Martinez is obviously widely read. His well chosen chapter heading quotes and references to disparate sources make that clear. His writing is articulate, fast paced, intense and focused. The fact that he names names and gives an insider perspective to well known events makes the story an especially interesting one.

Having been sucked in, ground up and spit out of the Silicon Valley madness, Garcia Martinez is talking about taking off on a circumnavigation aboard his sailboat. One cannot help but wonder if he can make the change from the pressure and fast pace of his old existence to the new. I hope so. >


Pedro E. Pinto
Brilliantly written and refreshingly honest

5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly written and refreshingly honest Reviewed in the United States on August 7, 2016 Verified Purchase Mr. Martinez chronicle's of his career in Silicon Valley is entertaining, refreshingly honest and of historical significance. The first part of the book details his time at AdGrok, a startup of no great consequence, where he cut his teeth in Silicon Valley. It is a tale of ambition, greed, irreverence, vengeance and betrayal, sprinkled with enough kindness and chutzpah to keep even the less morbid reader engaged. The second part of the book chronicles Mr. Martinez career in Facebook, as a member of the nascent Ads team. It is a fascinating and unforgiving account of the culture and personalities that propelled Facebook to profitability. Of historical significance is the brilliant description of the evolution of the surprisingly technical world of Internet advertisement, written in the first person by someone who had a hand in its shaping. The tale is interesting in of itself but the book is made by Mr. Martinez prose. His writing is articulate, witty and erudite. Most importantly, in a world where BS is a major currency, Mr. Martinez's voice is a breath of fresh air in its irreverence and honesty. He spares nothing and no one: SV Feminists, SJWs, greedy VCs, sycophant middle managers and sociopath CEOs. I suspect many readers will be turned off by his candor, but I for one thoroughly enjoyed his genuine, if sometimes coarse, voice. I wish Mr. Martinez all the best in his nautical adventures and best of luck in his literary career - it is hard to imagine he can come back to technology after this. >


James E. Fisher
Don't miss!

5.0 out of 5 stars Don't miss! Reviewed in the United States on August 6, 2016 Verified Purchase I had a hunch I was going to like this book, and I was not disappointed.

Chaos Monkeys takes you through the culture, the contradictions and, as the title would suggest, the chaos in which Silicon Valley is apparently wrapped. Antonio Garcia Martinez makes a charming guide: funny, literate and with a rakish sense of humor that gives this insider's account a kind of immediacy and real emotional punch. I got the kind of lift from reading this book that I once did when reading the rollicking prose of Tom Wolfe, who was also a chronicler of the earliest corporate cultures that defined California and the Valley. Martinez, like Wolfe, offers keen cultural observations that spring from our very human strivings and persistent ambitions.

This book delivers a lot. We learn much about Antonio's personal life, his history, his loves (several women and a couple boats), his avocations, his strengths (which include his gift for writing and other forms of persuasion as well as his canny negotiating powers) and his weaknesses (his impulsiveness and his willingness to shade the truth a bit when it serves his purposes). But this account is hardly a highly varnished one, and he casts his critical capacities inward on several occasions. We might prudently reserve some suspicions about the strict veracity of a gifted story-teller like Martinez, but I find this account has the ring of truth and he holds the mirror close to the his own face.

But the book is also a compendium of information, anecdotes and personal portraits of an important scene in American business history. All this, of course, relates to the "obscene fortune and random failure in Silicon Valley" advertised in the book's subtitle. Though many reviewers damn this aspect with faint praise, calling it gossipy, I myself found it substantive, detailed and instructive about a slice of entrepreneurial and investment activity that is not really well known or understood by many who might like to know. What's involved in a bona fide start-up? What are the aims of venture capitalists, who variously smile or frown on these endeavors? When the corporate development types from Twitter and Facebook come calling, what are they seeking and what are they offering? Martinez reliably spills the beans in this regard, naming names, pegging salaries and calculating compensation packages out over two-, three- and four-year time horizons. Enquiring minds want to know. And in the end there is really more random failure than obscene fortune. And I think Martinez would likely agree and especially as it applied to him personally.

As a sort of footnote (and, by the way, Martinez likes footnotes very much, as do I), let me advise the potential reader that this book also takes a fairly deep dive into advertising technology. And this, too, is really a big economic and business story of our time. Open your newspaper (or however you take your news these days) and you'll likely read about the disruptive influence of the Internet, mobile technology and all things digital on those reliable engines of the 20th century economy: media and advertising. It's a story literally told daily. Old models are rapidly shrinking and new ones shape-shifting at the present moment. Many think Google and Facebook own this future, although that's probably premature. Make no mistake about it though; Martinez knows this scene up close and personal. He was toiling daily for several years, working simultaneously at both the work of destruction and the act of creation, in the very belly of the beast. I venture an opinion that there are few people who know more about this brave new world of digital persuasion than Antonio Garcia Martinez.

Bottom line: This book has been my favorite summer read by far. It entertained as it informed. I heartily recommend it. >


OverRotated
Subtly blistering takedown of frauds, charlatans, and stooges.

5.0 out of 5 stars Subtly blistering takedown of frauds, charlatans, and stooges. Reviewed in the United States on September 26, 2017 Verified Purchase "He's such a cynic." A favorite phrase of the deluded and dishonest used to invalidate the perspectives and arguments of someone who's figured them out. I suppose it depends on how you define a cynic, and I tend to think of cynicism as a condition where one knows the price of everything but can't see or won't accept the value. While I don't know Antonio, I'm pretty sure he's not that. Time and again throughout his book, you see a guy who's just refreshingly skeptical of the inflated value others put on both themselves and the technology they make or manage.

I enjoyed the narrative structure of the book, which starts somewhat close to the end--in a scene that nails the sad banality of every corporate meeting ever--then jumps back in time to lay the foundation for later decisions (and effectively explains complexities of high finance), and diverts into a mixture of expository asides, personal experiences and workplace politics. This aspect is chaotic, and often pleonastic, and might annoy some. Overall I appreciated it, possibly because I can't stay on a single topic for that long myself. Roughly, Antonio focuses on the day-to-day realities of cutting deals in the first half, and the day-to-day realities of building and shipping product throughout the rest. There are some blistering insights, too, notably the take-down of entitled Bay Area "feminists" and basic lessons on realities of capitalism and startups and investors. He's got a knack for capturing personalities, and his vocabulary is impressive, at least to a rube such as myself.

As to the narrative: You can't help but think that the old adage that life is high school extended applies here. Or really, as Tom Brokaw put it, life is junior high, filled with people drowning in pettiness, insecurities, and irrelevant rivalries over imagined and exaggerated slights. This, of course, can be discarded as a cynical take on things but it's not intended to be--we're all prone to mistakes, losing our tempers, and feeling fraudulent or irrationally immature while harboring (hopefully only briefly) silly grudges. And it's okay. It happens. It's what people in all of their flawed glory frequently do.

The problem, however, with so many companies in the tech world is that their leadership often assumes they're somehow removed from such pedestrian afflictions. That they are about more than what it is they actually do, that they're better, and that they warrant their wealth and status. And this delusion would be comical if it wasn't so corrosive. For Antonio to call things what they actually are--more than just "calling it as he sees it" but actually behaving like the scientist he is, discerning what's going on, and explaining the discovery--isn't cynical. It's realistic. And it's a frightening, problematic reality that, curiously, many seem to be okay with.

I understand that if you launch a startup, you have to deliver soaring platitudes about grander meaning and purpose, because you can't offer wildly valuable stock units and enormous salaries to experienced people who can do the job but know better than to believe the BS or indulge the risk. The comparison of early-stage startups to combat units he makes might be stretching it some, but the stress is at least along the same lines, if only conceptually. I also enjoyed how he explained how after a startup succeeds and transitions into the establishment, that to keep shareholders/investors happy, leadership has to make bold-yet-credible-sounding promises about a vision that drives future growth. Thus, Facebook will continue to talk about connection and community, and Google will talk about "billion people problems" and do everything possible to mask that their inner machinations mostly consist of capturing behavioral data and predicting purchasing decisions, and selling that to peddlers of largely insipid nonsense.

I kept relating the various parables in Chaos Monkeys to Game of Thrones plot-lines and characters. In that show, my favorites are Arya and Bronn--an assassin and a mercenary, both with a different ethos but each resolutely self-deterministic, and each capable of living according to their own principles without playing the power games that consume and crush so many others. They're good models to follow if you choose to enter this world. I got into the tech industry because I love the challenges and working with curious, intelligent people. It is mostly fulfilling and worthwhile, and I accept that my chances of Fast Company glory are nil. After reading this, I feel "pretty good" about my decision, and am glad to have a greater understanding of what founders deal with.

[May 06, 2021] Aldous Huxley on lust for power

Notable quotes:
"... "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." ..."
"... all those responsible for this plandemic are guilty of crimes against humanity. ..."
May 06, 2021 | www.zerohedge.com

ebworthen 15 hours ago

"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."

Indeed. Dr. Fauxi is a quack and the medical establishment has lost all credibility.

GoodyGumdrops 15 hours ago

Fauci is an evil psychopath and all those responsible for this plandemic are guilty of crimes against humanity.

[May 06, 2021] Aldous Huxley Foresaw Our Despots - Fauci, Gates, The Vaccine Crusaders

This is starting to look really like staging of "Brave new world..." Today's society is closer to Huxley's "Brave New World" than to Orwell's "1984". But there are clear elements of both. If you will, the worst of both worlds has come true today.
May 06, 2021 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Patricia McCarthy via AmericanThinker.com,

In 1949, sometime after the publication of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four , Aldous Huxley, the author of Brave New World (1931), who was then living in California, wrote to Orwell. Huxley had briefly taught French to Orwell as a student in high school at Eton.

Huxley generally praises Orwell's novel, which to many seemed very similar to Brave New World in its dystopian view of a possible future. Huxley politely voices his opinion that his own version of what might come to pass would be truer than Orwell's. Huxley observed that the philosophy of the ruling minority in Nineteen Eighty-Four is sadism, whereas his own version is more likely, that controlling an ignorant and unsuspecting public would be less arduous, less wasteful by other means. Huxley's masses are seduced by a mind-numbing drug, Orwell's with sadism and fear.

The most powerful quote In Huxley's letter to Orwell is this:

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.


Aldous Huxley.

Could Huxley have more prescient? What do we see around us?

Masses of people dependent upon drugs, legal and illegal. The majority of advertisements that air on television seem to be for prescription drugs, some of them miraculous but most of them unnecessary. Then comes COVID, a quite possibly weaponized virus from the Fauci-funded-with-taxpayer-dollars lab in Wuhan, China. The powers that be tragically deferred to the malevolent Fauci who had long been hoping for just such an opportunity. Suddenly, there was an opportunity to test the mRNA vaccines that had been in the works for nearly twenty years. They could be authorized as an emergency measure but were still highly experimental. These jabs are not really vaccines at all, but a form of gene therapy . There are potential disastrous consequences down the road. Government experiments on the public are nothing new .

Since there have been no actual, long-term trials, no one who contributed to this massive drug experiment knows what the long-term consequences might be. There have been countless adverse injuries and deaths already for which the government-funded vaccine producers will suffer no liability. With each passing day, new side-effects have begun to appear: blood clots, seizures, heart failure.

As new adverse reactions become known despite the censorship employed by most media outlets, the more the Biden administration is pushing the vaccine, urging private corporations to make it mandatory for all employees. Colleges are making them mandatory for all students returning to campus.

The leftmedia are advocating the "shunning" of the unvaccinated. The self-appointed virtue-signaling Democrats are furious at anyone and everyone who declines the jab. Why? If they are protected, why do they care? That is the question. Same goes for the ridiculous mask requirements . They protect no one but for those in operating rooms with their insides exposed, yet even the vaccinated are supposed to wear them!

Months ago, herd immunity was near. Now Fauci and the CDC say it will never be achieved? Now the Pfizer shot will necessitate yearly booster shots. Pfizer expects to make $21B this year from its COVID vaccine! Anyone who thinks this isn't about money is a fool. It is all about money, which is why Fauci, Gates, et al. were so determined to convince the public that HCQ and ivermectin, both of which are effective, prophylactically and as treatment, were not only useless, but dangerous. Both of those drugs are tried, true, and inexpensive. Many of those thousands of N.Y. nursing home fatalities might have been prevented with the use of one or both of those drugs. Those deaths are on the hands of Cuomo and his like-minded tyrants drunk on power.

Months ago, Fauci, et al. agreed that children were at little or no risk of getting COVID, of transmitting it, least of all dying from it. Now Fauci is demanding that all teens be vaccinated by the end of the year! Why? They are no more in danger of contracting it now than they were a year ago. Why are parents around this country not standing up to prevent their kids from being guinea pigs in this monstrous medical experiment? And now they are " experimenting " on infants. Needless to say, some have died. There is no reason on Earth for teens, children, and infants to be vaccinated. Not one.

Huxley also wrote this:

"The surest way to work up a crusade in favor of some good cause is to promise people they will have a chance of maltreating someone. To be able to destroy with good conscience, to be able to behave badly and call your bad behavior 'righteous indignation' -- this is the height of psychological luxury, the most delicious of moral treats ."

- Crome Yellow

Perhaps this explains the left's hysterical impulse to force these untested shots on those of us who have made the decision to go without it. If they've decided that it is the thing to do, then all of us must submit to their whims. If we decide otherwise, it gives them the righteous right to smear all of us whom they already deplore.

As C.J. Hopkins has written , the left means to criminalize dissent. Those of us who are vaccine-resistant are soon to be outcasts, deprived of jobs and entry into everyday businesses. This kind of discrimination should remind everyone of ...oh, Germany three quarters of a century ago. Huxley also wrote, "The propagandist's purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human." That is precisely what the left is up to, what BLM is planning, what Critical Race Theory is all about.

Tal Zaks, Moderna's chief medical officer, said these new vaccines are "hacking the software of life." Vaccine-promoters claim he never said this, but he did. Bill Gates called the vaccines " an operating system " to the horror of those promoting it, a Kinsley gaffe. Whether it is or isn't hardly matters at this point, but these statements by those behind the vaccines are a clue to what they have in mind.

There will be in the next generation or so a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude and producing dictatorship without tears , so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them but will rather enjoy it.

This is exactly what the left is working so hard to effect: a pharmacologically compromised population happy to be taken care of by a massive state machine. And while millions of people around the world have surrendered to the vaccine and mask hysteria, millions more, about 1.3 billion, want no part of this government vaccine mania.

In his letter to Orwell, Huxley ended with the quote cited above and again here because it is so profound:

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.

Huxley nailed the left more than seventy years ago, perhaps because leftists have never changed throughout the ages. 61,497 173


Fat Beaver 14 hours ago (Edited)

If i am to be treated as an outcast or an undesirable because i refuse the vax, i will immediately become someone that has zero reverence for the law, and i can only imagine 10's of millions will be right there with me.

strych10 14 hours ago

Welcome to the club.

We have coffee in the corner and occasional meetings at various bars.

Dr. Chihuahua-González 13 hours ago

I'm a doctor, you could contact me anytime and receive your injection.

Fat Beaver 13 hours ago (Edited)

I've gotta feeling the normie world you think you live in is about to change drastically for the worse...

sparky139 PREMIUM 10 hours ago

You mean you'll sign papers that you injected us *wink *wink? And toss it away?

bothneither 2 hours ago

Oh geez how uncommon, another useless doctor with no Scruples who sold out to big Pharma. Please have my Gates sponsored secret sauce.

Unknown 6 hours ago (Edited)

Both Huxley and Orwell are wrong. Neoliberalism (the use of once office for personal gains) is by far the most powerful force that subjugates the inept population. Neoliberalism demolished the mighty USSR, now destroying the USA, and will do the same to China. And this poison dribbles from the top to bottom creating self-centered population that is unable to unite, much less resist.

Deathrips 15 hours ago (Edited) remove link

Tylers.
You gonna cover Tucker Carlsons show earlier today on FOX news about vaxxx deaths? almost 4k reported so far this year.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LIJQuk-qK2o

19331510 14 hours ago (Edited)

https://www.openvaers.com/covid-data/death-stats

AGE Deaths

0-24 23

25-50 184

51-65 506

66-80 1164

81-100 1346

U 321

R.I.P.

Joe Joe Depends 13 hours ago

India up in arms about mere 1%

spanish flu was 3%

JimmyJones 9 hours ago

Is the population of india up in arms or is the MSM?

Nelbev 10 hours ago

Facebook just flagged/censored it, must sign into see vid, Tuck also failed to mention mRNA and adenovirus vaxes were experimental and not FDA approved nor gone through stage III trials. Beside deaths, have blood clot issues. Good he mentioned how naturally immune if get covid and recovered, better than vaccine, but not covered for bogus passports. Me personally, I would rather catch covid and get natural immunity than be vaccinated with an untested experimental vaccine.

19331510 14 hours ago

Covid19 links.

Websites:

https://www.americasfrontlinedocs.com/media/

https://covid19criticalcare.com/

https://childrenshealthdefense.org/

https://childrenshealthdefense.org/defender/

https://www.constitutionalrightscentre.ca/category/news/

https://doctors4covidethics.medium.com/

https://www.flemingmethod.com/

https://gbdeclaration.org/

https://www.lifesitenews.com/

https://healthimpactnews.com/

https://www.mercola.com/

https://drleemerritt.com/

https://www.drtenpenny.com/

https://principia-scientific.com/

https://standupcanada.solutions/canadian-doctors-speak

https://thehighwire.com/

https://vaccinechoicecanada.com/ https://vaccinechoicecanada.com/links/general-links/

Video Sharing : https://www.bitchute.com/ ; https://brandnewtube.com/ ; https://odysee.com/ ; https://rumble.com/ https://superu.net

Healthcare Professionals :

Dr. Jayanta Bhattacharya; Dr. Geert Vanden Bossche; Dr. Ron Brown; Dr. Ryan Cole; Dr. Richard Fleming; Dr. Simone Gold; Dr. Sunetra Gupta; Dr. Carl Heneghan; Dr. Martin Kulldorff; Dr. Paul Marik; Dr. Peter McCullough; Dr. Joseph Mercola; Dr. Lee Merritt; Dr. Judy Mikovits; Dr. Dennis Modry; Dr. Hooman Noorchashm; Dr. Harvey Risch; Dr. Sherri Tenpenny; Dr. Richard Urso; Dr. Michael Yeadon;

A list of Canadian doctors: https://standupcanada.solutions/canadian-doctors-speak

Lawyers : Dr. Reiner Fuellmich; Rocco Galati;

Drug Adverse Reaction Databases:

http://www.adrreports.eu/en/index.html (Search; Suspected Drug Reactions Reports for Substances) COVID-19 MRNA VACCINE MODERNA (CX-024414); COVID-19 MRNA VACCINE PFIZER-BIONTECH; COVID-19 VACCINE ASTRAZENECA (CHADOX1 NCOV-19); COVID-19 VACCINE JANSSEN (AD26.COV2.S)

https://vaers.hhs.gov/data.html

Research papers :

https://cormandrostenreview.com/report/ (pcr tests)

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7680614/ (face masks)

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/eci.13484 (lock downs)

https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc2026670 (child/teacher morbidity)

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.11.01.20222315v1 (transmission by children)

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7010e3.htm (masks/restaurants)

https://www.mdpi.com/1648-9144/57/3/199 (biased trial reporting)

Covid19 links.

Websites:

https://www.americasfrontlinedocs.com/media/

https://covid19criticalcare.com/

https://childrenshealthdefense.org/

https://childrenshealthdefense.org/defender/

https://www.constitutionalrightscentre.ca/category/news/

https://doctors4covidethics.medium.com/

https://www.flemingmethod.com/

https://gbdeclaration.org/

https://www.lifesitenews.com/

https://healthimpactnews.com/

https://www.mercola.com/

https://drleemerritt.com/

https://www.drtenpenny.com/

https://principia-scientific.com/

https://standupcanada.solutions/canadian-doctors-speak

https://thehighwire.com/

https://vaccinechoicecanada.com/ https://vaccinechoicecanada.com/links/general-links/

Video Sharing : https://www.bitchute.com/ ; https://brandnewtube.com/ ; https://odysee.com/ ; https://rumble.com/ https://superu.net

Healthcare Professionals :

Dr. Jayanta Bhattacharya; Dr. Geert Vanden Bossche; Dr. Ron Brown; Dr. Ryan Cole; Dr. Richard Fleming; Dr. Simone Gold; Dr. Sunetra Gupta; Dr. Carl Heneghan; Dr. Martin Kulldorff; Dr. Paul Marik; Dr. Peter McCullough; Dr. Joseph Mercola; Dr. Lee Merritt; Dr. Judy Mikovits; Dr. Dennis Modry; Dr. Hooman Noorchashm; Dr. Harvey Risch; Dr. Sherri Tenpenny; Dr. Richard Urso; Dr. Michael Yeadon;

A list of Canadian doctors: https://standupcanada.solutions/canadian-doctors-speak

Lawyers : Dr. Reiner Fuellmich; Rocco Galati;

Drug Adverse Reaction Databases:

http://www.adrreports.eu/en/index.html (Search; Suspected Drug Reactions Reports for Substances) COVID-19 MRNA VACCINE MODERNA (CX-024414); COVID-19 MRNA VACCINE PFIZER-BIONTECH; COVID-19 VACCINE ASTRAZENECA (CHADOX1 NCOV-19); COVID-19 VACCINE JANSSEN (AD26.COV2.S)

https://www.openvaers.com/

Research papers :

https://cormandrostenreview.com/report/ (pcr tests)

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7680614/ (face masks)

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/eci.13484 (lock downs)

https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc2026670 (child/teacher morbidity)

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.11.01.20222315v1 (transmission by children)

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7010e3.htm (masks/restaurants)

https://www.mdpi.com/1648-9144/57/3/199 (biased trial reporting)

Ultramarines 15 hours ago (Edited)

His making of the gamma and delta workforce was quite prescient. We are seeing it play out now, we all know gammas and delta. There was a really good ABC tv movie made in 1980 Brave New World. Excellent show, it shows the Alphas and names them Rothchild and so on. Shows what these people specifically want to do to the world. I wonder if the ruling psychopaths actually wait for science fiction authors to plan the future and then follow their script.

Mineshaft Gap 10 hours ago

If Huxley were starting out today no major publisher would touch him.

They'd tell him Brave New World doesn't have a diverse enough of cast. Even the mostly likable totalitarian guy named Mustapha turns out to be white! A white Mustapha. It's soooo triggering. Also, what's wrong with a little electronic fun and drug taking, anyway? Lighten up , Aldous.

Meanwhile his portrait of shrieking medieval Catholic nuns who think they're possessed in The Devils of Loudun might remind the leftist editors too uncomfortably of their own recent bleating performances at "White Fragility" struggle sessions.

Sorry, Aldous. Just...too...problematic.

[May 03, 2021] Bullying Epidemic - Facts, Statistics and Prevention

May 03, 2021 | www.educationcorner.com

by Becton Loveless

Bullying is an epidemic. It is rampant, widespread, pervasive and the effects can be catastrophic. It occurs in our communities, in our schools – and sadly – even in our homes. Bullying statistics are staggering, scary and merit serious consideration and immediate action. Consider the following:

Facts and Statistics

2 National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics

Types of Bullying

When most people think about bullying they envision some kind of physical intimidation. However, bullying can take on many forms which are just as emotionally and psychologically damaging as physical intimidation and harassment. There are four general forms of bullying. These include:

https://e591c5ed6f38711a3115f71a47fa9434.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Where Does Bullying Occur?

The majority of bullying occurs at school, outside on school grounds during recess or after school, and on the school bus – or anywhere else students interact unsupervised. Bullying may also occur at home between siblings or in the community where kids congregate. Cyberbullying takes place online and via digital communication devices.

me title=

According to one statistically significant study, middle school age students experienced bullying on school grounds in the following locations:*

https://e591c5ed6f38711a3115f71a47fa9434.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

* Bradshaw, C.P. (2007). Bullying and peer victimization at school: Perceptual differences between students and school staff. 36(3), 361-382.

Anti-bullying Laws and Policies

Currently, there aren't any Federal anti-bullying laws. However, state and local lawmakers have taken steps to prevent bullying and protect the physical, emotional and psychological well being of children. To date, 49 states have passed anti-bullying legislation. When bullying moves into the category of harassment, it then becomes a violation of Federal law. Criminal code as it relates to bullying by minors varies from state to state. The map below shows the states that have established anti-bullying laws, anti-bullying policies, and both anti-bullying laws and policies.

[May 03, 2021] Note on colledge entrance discrimination

May 03, 2021 | www.unz.com

,

LondonBob , says: April 26, 2021 at 10:49 am GMT • 6.6 days ago
@dearieme

My uncle did admissions at Cambridge and he actively discriminated against Public School boys, despite being one himself. He was actually involved in hiring that black woman to be the Master at Christ's College. Similarly at Citi it was very obvious any remotely competent black was promoted way beyond there competency, although that was largely limited to back and middle office roles.

Still the ONS dataset is A09, Labour Market status by ethnic group, is testament to white folks ingenuity to overcome such discrimination and the free market at work.

[May 03, 2021] Neoliberals inflated education costs in the USA top colleges to the level at which it now is totally oriented on rich and foreigners; it reached the stage when it is not worth the money for the common folk

Community colleges are still holding at the level when it makes sense to spend money. Selected state colleges too.
May 03, 2021 | www.wsj.com

In fall 2011 the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center found that higher education enrollment was slightly more than 20.5 million students. By fall 2019 that figure had dropped to about 18.2 million, a decline of slightly over 11%. During those eight years the number of 18- to 24-year-olds remained roughly constant.

We have long had a social consensus that it's worth four years of our children's lives and very large sums of their parents' money to see their knowledge, mental capacity, and career prospects greatly expanded by going to college. Attitudes and habits formed by this consensus were bound to lag behind the reality of academia as it now is. Yet the NSCRC numbers show that already about 1 in 9 have mustered the courage and independence of thought to face reality and stop wasting time and money.

This illicit conversion of a vital social institution to an alien use deprives all Americans of the benefits of a properly functioning system of higher education. It also means that a destructive and long since discredited political ideology is now using colleges and universities to gain a degree of influence over society that it could never have achieved at the ballot box. That's election interference on a scale not remotely matched by anything that was alleged in the 2020 election.

When academia's astonishing message to society is, "We'll take your money, but we'll do with it what we want, not what you want," the response ought to be simple: "No you won't." The question is, can the millions of people who make up that wonderful abstraction called "society" act in a way that is sufficiently concerted and organized to deliver the message effectively? Many have already made a good start. But the rest need to join if we are ever again to have college campuses that aren't as academically incompetent as they are politically malevolent.

Mr. Ellis is a professor emeritus of German literature at the University of California, Santa Cruz and author of "The Breakdown of Higher Education: How It happened, the Damage It Does, and What Can Be Done."

[Apr 20, 2021] How slogans "Diversuty, inclution and equity" are abused on campuses

Apr 20, 2021 | www.wsj.com

B

Brian N SUBSCRIBER 4 hours ago

With politics leaning ever more left on university campuses, I hope Dr Ladapo doesn't lose his job at UCLA for writing a cogent and concise opinion piece.
RICHARD SANDOR SUBSCRIBER 3 hours ago
Brian : Yes, an expensive university in my largely Democrat-controlled state state has a student group which wants to ' censor ' the university president for not being focused enough on ' diversity, inclusiveness and equity . ' Hope the parents realize the high price they are paying for this left wing indoctrination. mrs

[Apr 19, 2021] British liberal journalist and academic George Monbiot has written about his own experiences being dragged away from his family at the tender age of 8 to be 'educated', that is emotionally crippled, in an elite British private boarding school (primary stage prep-school).

Apr 19, 2021 | www.moonofalabama.org

ftmntf , Apr 18 2021 14:33 utc | 122

See: https://www.monbiot.com/2008/01/22/unsentimental-education/

"British private schools create a class culture of a kind unknown in the rest of Europe. The extreme case is the boarding prep schools, which separate children from their parents at the age of eight in order to shape them into members of a detached elite. In his book The Making of Them the psychotherapist Nick Duffell shows how these artificial orphans survive the loss of their families by dissociating themselves from their feelings of love(14). Survival involves "an extreme hardening of normal human softness, a severe cutting off from emotions and sensitivity."(15) Unable to attach themselves to people (intimate relationships with other children are discouraged by a morbid fear of homosexuality), they are encouraged instead to invest their natural loyalties in the institution.

This made them extremely effective colonial servants: if their commander ordered it, they could organise a massacre without a moment's hesitation (witness the detachment of the officers who oversaw the suppression of the Mau Mau, quoted in Caroline Elkins's book, Britain's Gulag(16)). It also meant that the lower orders at home could be put down without the least concern for the results. For many years, Britain has been governed by damaged people.

I went through this system myself, and I know I will spend the rest of my life fighting its effects. But one of the useful skills it has given me is an ability to recognise it in others. I can spot another early boarder at 200 metres: you can see and smell the damage dripping from them like sweat. The Conservative cabinets were stuffed with them: even in John Major's "classless" government, 16 of the 20 male members of the 1993 cabinet had been to public school; 12 of them had boarded(17). Privately-educated people dominate politics, the civil service, the judiciary, the armed forces, the City, the media, the arts, academia, the most prestigious professions, even, as we have seen, the Charity Commission. They recognise each other, fear the unshaped people of the state system, and, often without being aware that they are doing it, pass on their privileges to people like themselves.

The system is protected by silence. Because private schools have been so effective in moulding a child's character, an attack on the school becomes an attack on all those who have passed through it. Its most abject victims become its fiercest defenders. How many times have I heard emotionally-stunted people proclaim "it never did me any harm"? In the Telegraph last year, Michael Henderson boasted of the delightful eccentricity of his boarding school. "Bad work got you an 'order mark'. One foolish fellow, Brown by name, was given a double order mark for taking too much custard at lunch. How can you not warm to a teacher who awards such punishment? Petty snobbery abounded," he continued, "but only wets are put off by a bit of snobbery. So long as you pulled your socks up, and didn't let the side down, you wouldn't be for the high jump. Which is as it should be."(18) A ruling class in a persistent state of repression is a very dangerous thing."

See also

https://www.monbiot.com/2012/04/23/dark-hearts/

And

https://www.monbiot.com/2012/10/08/the-empire-strikes-back/

[Apr 09, 2021] Ethnicity Is a Bad, Often Destructive, Reason to Hire

Highly recommended!
Apr 08, 2021 | www.wsj.com

Judge James C. Ho is absolutely correct to imply it is profoundly offensive to be offered opportunity based on race rather than merit (" Notable & Quotable: Judges ," March 27).

When I was approaching graduation and beginning my job search, a friend of the family, who was Jewish himself, approached me with an opportunity. His accounting firm, one of the "Big Eight" firms, had inquired if he knew any young Jewish accountants it could hire because it didn't have any Jews working in the firm. The family friend told me this was a wonderful opportunity and that I would be made partner and become prosperous. He was shocked when I responded no, and asked why. I told him if I accepted this offer, I would never know if I was successful because I was Jewish or because I was talented and skilled.

I have never once regretted my decision.

[Apr 05, 2021] Only the Retired Professors Dare to Speak Out Freely

Apr 05, 2021 | www.wsj.com

Over the months there have been letters to the editor regarding academia. April 4, 2021 2:59 pm ET

Listen to this article 1 minute 00:00 / 00:37 1x

Over the months there have been letters to the editor regarding academia, "Academic Freedom Long Ago Withered Away" (Letters, March 5) being a case in point. I find it interesting that for the most part they are written by professors emeriti or retired academics, not active ones with a job to lose. This is very telling in and of itself.

Kenneth White

Chicago


[Apr 02, 2021] Under neoliberalism there is little different between waitress and teacher

Notable quotes:
"... America does not have any teachers ? America has information transfer agents ! ..."
"... It that regard what is the diff between waitress and teacher [under neoliberalism] ? NOTA ! ..."
Apr 02, 2021 | www.zerohedge.com

Mrcool PREMIUM 17 minutes ago

America does not have any teachers ? America has information transfer agents !

It that regard what is the diff between waitress and teacher [under neoliberalism] ? NOTA !

[Apr 02, 2021] 'The world will never be the same-' Coursera CEO on learning post pandemic

Apr 02, 2021 | finance.yahoo.com

'The world will never be the same:' Coursera CEO on learning post pandemic Reggie Wade · Writer Fri, April 2, 2021, 12:43 PM More content below More content below ^IXIC +1.76% COUR +1.73%

The online learning platform Coursera ( COUR ) saw a big pop following its Nasdaq ( ^IXIC ) debut this week. Coursera revenue was up 60% last year, and CEO Jeff Maggioncalda predicts online learning is here to stay even after the pandemic eventually winds down.

"The world needs more access to high-quality learning. ... There will be a new normal that emerges. We don't know what that will look like either in terms of how we work remotely versus in an office and how we will learn online and also on campus. But it's pretty clear that the world will never be the same again and that online learning will be a big part of it," he told Yahoo Finance Live.

"So we really think about the long term, all the structural reasons why people will need to learn continuously through their lives to learn new skills as the world goes more digital," he said.

Dec 27, 2019 Mountain View / CA / USA - Coursera headquarters in Silicon Valley; Coursera is an American online learning platform that offers massive open online courses, specializations, and degrees

One area that Coursera is looking to expand is its degree and certification programs. Maggioncalda tells Yahoo Finance that the company can use technology to shake up traditional degree offerings.

"What we've seen for centuries is that college degrees are the most meaningful, recognized learning credential that there is, and the credential type hasn't really innovated that much over the last period of history. We think with technology, the ability to create not only degrees but other types of credentials," he said.

"It will be a portfolio of credentials. We believe that will serve lifelong learning needs in a world where people need to keep learning, even as they're working," he added.

[Mar 28, 2021] D.C. spent around $30,115 per pupil in 2016-17, while in 2017-18, nearby Arlington County was expected to spend $19,340,

Mar 28, 2021 | www.unz.com

Seamus , says: March 25, 2021 at 8:32 pm GMT • 2.8 days ago

"Underfunded" is a euphemism for "have students with low test scores." E.g., "Washington D.C.'s underfunded schools."

D.C. spent around $30,115 per pupil in 2016-17, while in 2017-18, nearby Arlington County was expected to spend $19,340, the City of Falls Church to spend $18,219; the City of Alexandria, $17,099; Montgomery County, $16,030; Fairfax County, $14,767; Prince George's County, $13,816; Loudoun County, $13,688; City of Manassas, $12,846; City of Manassas Park, $11,242; and Prince William County, $11,222.

But I suppose those are hate facts.

https://townhall.com/columnists/terryjeffrey/2020/09/16/washington-dc-public-schools-spend-30k-per-student-23-of-8th-graders-proficient-in-reading-n2576265

https://www.insidenova.com/news/arlington/for-good-or-ill-arlington-per-student-spending-again-tops-region/article_0f441fe4-cef5-11e7-b4d4-cf5ac038e374.html

[Mar 28, 2021] Rudy Acu a on neoliberalism

Mar 28, 2021 | www.msn.com

In 2015, you wrote extensively about your concerns over neoliberalism in academia, calling it the worst threat to education. You wrote: "In order to offset the lack of public funding, administrators have raised tuition with students becoming the primary consumers and debt-holders. Institutions have entered into research partnerships with industry shifting the pursuit of truth to the pursuit of profits." To accelerate this "molting," they have " hired a larger and larger number of short-term, part-time adjuncts ."

This has created large armies of transient and disposable workers who "are in no position to challenge the university's practices or agitate for "democratic rather than monetary goals."

Yes, neoliberalism is hegemonic. It affects all minority communities...

[Mar 28, 2021] You know how we raised black test scores to the level demanded? We fudged the numbers

Mar 28, 2021 | www.unz.com

Anonymous [369] Disclaimer , says: March 25, 2021 at 11:18 am GMT • 3.2 days ago

"Underfunded" is a euphemism for "have students with low test scores." E.g., "Washington D.C.'s underfunded schools." Presumably, it means "underfunded relative to some theoretical amount of money, such as a gajillion dollars, that would be sufficient to raise these students' test scores to average."

My dad was a school administrator in one of the top county public school systems in the country. A politically deep-blue part of the country. He retired in the early '80's. I remember him telling me once after he retired that his school(s) would get constant demands from the school board to raise black (not many Hispanics then) test scores. He said the school(s) focused all kinds of resources on black students which yielded no appreciable results. He then said, "You know how we raised black test scores to the level demanded? We fudged the numbers."

[Mar 22, 2021] I am a teacher in Australia's oldest university whose new vice-chancellor (CEO) is a pure technocrat without academic background or a PhD.

Mar 22, 2021 | www.moonofalabama.org

Patroklos , Mar 21 2021 18:58 utc | 34

In the Spectator article linked -- thank you b and all -- Kimball quotes a canny friend who said "I'd rather be ruled by the Chinese than the Yale faculty". Yes, I thought, that is how the west is now.

I am a teacher in Australia's oldest university whose new vice-chancellor (CEO) is a pure technocrat without academic background or a PhD.

This is the strange norm now: grey neoliberal managers are rushed into areas that require specialists in order to 'streamline' or 'set up structures of accountability' or simply hollow out the joint. This guy sees 'tech' as the answer, so will accelerate the pedagogical catastrophe taking place across the world (Zoom-'teaching') whose implications are dystopian, psychologically alienating and frankly depressing.

He is the Yale faculty at the local level; Blinken is the Yale faculty on the diplomatic stage: a recognisable and familiar type of manager from no particular background whose career is made leap-frogging from bureaucratisation process to bureaucratisation process.

He berates the Chinese thinking that they are the old faculty resisting the newspeak of neoliberal managerialism, an empty meaningless feedback loop of tickboxing. The 'rules-based order' is some imaginary thing produced in the mind of grey men to obscure their self-aggrandisement in a vacuum; zero time has been invested in any thought about it. The 'Biden-Doctrine' is a vacuum of intellectual reflection. In short, Blinken simply doesn't care about his job, he just cares about ticking a box on his CV as he sets himself up for the promotion/next job. Where once we had career specialists dedicated to the actual job (like Chas Freeman) now the whole world is run by these empty people. The consequences are very depressing.


Fyi , Mar 21 2021 19:54 utc | 44

Mr. Patroklos

University administrators need not have doctoral or other academic achievements. What is needed, in any enterprise, is the commitment to the health and to prosperity of that enterprise.

In America, they promoted men who promised lower taxes and easier money. Men with dubious loyalty to the long term health and well being of that country or her population. The results is there for the world to see. Same in Italy; Mr. Berlusconi would promise to cut taxes, and would omit to also mention that he would also cut state services. And foolish plebians would vote for him.

When the late Mr. Khomeini came to power in Iran, one of his observations was that he could not find enough men with integrity to put them in executive positions.

I would like to respectfully suggest to try to preserve what you can but do not try to be a lean department or program. Maintain the "fat" so that you van save as much of the scholarly muscle as you can when the cutting times come.

Also, reach out to the public and the alumni and ask for whatever help you can obtain. Use Kung-Fu approaches, never attack directly. Keep trying to find alternative careers for your older or newer faculties. Take any and all positive action and try to preserve Learning and Scholarship for the future generations.

The late Joseph Stalin observed: "Cadres decide everything."

May be you cannot stop this, but you can delay and dlelay and derail, thus buying time for people to adjust to their new circumstances.

lysias , Mar 21 2021 19:59 utc | 45

That would be Mark Scott as Vice Chancellor of the University of Sydney? What a decline from when Enoch Powell was Professor of Greek at Sydney. I greatly admire Powell's scholarly work on Herodotus and his edition of Thucydides (one of my set texts when I was at Oxford). How much of that work did he do at Sydney?

[Mar 15, 2021] Custom Degrees Help Grads and Employers

This is about neoliberlization of education. Early over-specialization essentially is detrimental to professional development. this is clearlly a neoliberal approach -- to get ready cogs into the machinery that does not reuare any additional trianing to be productive and save on training.
Like Knuth said on a different potic "Premature optimization is the root of al evil"
Mar 14, 2021 | www.wsj.com

Why has it taken so long for professional-services firms in the U.S. to adopt a bespoke graduate-degree approach ( "Employers Customize Business Degrees," Business News, March 5)?

The former president of the University of Limerick, Edward Walsh, was way ahead of the game in this regard. Dr. Walsh arguably created a new norm in Irish third-level education back in the early 1970s, from the university's modest beginnings in the "White House" as the building was and is still known, to a now very impressive campus with a proud record of innovation in education and excellence in research and scholarship. Dr. Walsh customized our degrees to match the requirements of Irish companies and industry.

My bespoke electronics-production degree was customized because the electronics industry in Ireland at the time found that many electronic-engineering grads applying for production-oriented positions weren't suitably qualified. As a graduate in engineering, I believe it made my finding a job much easier than some of my counterparts in other universities, both in Ireland and abroad. Our degrees opened many doors for my class in a lot of different industries, and I believe they still hold us in good stead today when changing our careers or setting up indigenous businesses.

me title=

Maurice D. Landers

Since inception in 2011, the Commercial Banking Program in the Mays Business School of Texas A&M University has joined with the banking industry in implementing and teaching a required commercial-banking curriculum that is designed to position our graduates for successful careers in commercial banking. The banking industry provides us with valuable input on essential training and skills they require of our students to be considered for employment. In addition, selected parts of the program curriculum are taught by senior banking executives from our advisory board of directors. Students receive current, relevant banking-industry training taught by banking executives positioning them for successful careers in commercial banking. Banks find our graduates are trained according to industry requirements and are productive sooner than their peers, and the Commercial Banking Program is helping alleviate the shortage of trained talent within the banking industry.

W. Dwight Garey

Texas A&M University

College Station, Texas

[Mar 10, 2021] Fulfillment- Winning and Losing in One-Click America by Alec MacGillis

Mar 10, 2021 | www.amazon.com

An award-winning journalist investigates Amazon's impact on the wealth and poverty of towns and cities across the United States.

In 1937, the famed writer and activist Upton Sinclair published a novel bearing the subtitle A Story of Ford-America . He blasted the callousness of a company worth "a billion dollars" that underpaid its workers while forcing them to engage in repetitive and sometimes dangerous assembly line labor. Eighty-three years later, the market capitalization of Amazon.com has exceeded one trillion dollars, while the value of the Ford Motor Company hovers around thirty billion. We have, it seems, entered the age of one-click America―and as the coronavirus makes Americans more dependent on online shopping, its sway will only intensify.

Alec MacGillis's Fulfillment is not another inside account or exposé of our most conspicuously dominant company. Rather, it is a literary investigation of the America that falls within that company's growing shadow. As MacGillis shows, Amazon's sprawling network of delivery hubs, data centers, and corporate campuses epitomizes a land where winner and loser cities and regions are drifting steadily apart, the civic fabric is unraveling, and work has become increasingly rudimentary and isolated.

Ranging across the country, MacGillis tells the stories of those who've thrived and struggled to thrive in this rapidly changing environment. In Seattle, high-paid workers in new office towers displace a historic black neighborhood. In suburban Virginia, homeowners try to protect their neighborhood from the environmental impact of a new data center. Meanwhile, in El Paso, small office supply firms seek to weather Amazon's takeover of government procurement, and in Baltimore a warehouse supplants a fabled steel plant. Fulfillment also shows how Amazon has become a force in Washington, D.C., ushering readers through a revolving door for lobbyists and government contractors and into CEO Jeff Bezos's lavish Kalorama mansion.

With empathy and breadth, MacGillis demonstrates the hidden human costs of the other inequality―not the growing gap between rich and poor, but the gap between the country's winning and losing regions. The result is an intimate account of contemporary capitalism: its drive to innovate, its dark, pitiless magic, its remaking of America with every click.

" Fulfillment vividly details the devastating costs of Amazon's dominance and brutal business practices, showcasing an economy that has concentrated in private hands staggering wealth and power while impoverishing workers, crushing independent business, and supplanting public governance with private might. A critical read." ―Lina Khan, associate professor at Columbia Law School and author of Amazon's Antitrust Paradox

"Anyone who orders from Amazon needs to read these moving and enraging stories of how one person's life savings, one life's work, one multigenerational tradition, one small business, one town after another, are demolished by one company's seemingly unstoppable machine. They are all the more enraging because Alec MacGillis shows so clearly how things could have been different." ―Larissa MacFarquhar, staff writer at The New Yorker and author of Strangers Drowning: Grappling with Impossible Idealism, Drastic Choices, and the Overpowering Urge to Help

"Alec MacGillis practices journalism with ambition, tenacity, and empathy that will command your awe. Like one of the great nineteenth-century novels, Fulfillment studies a social ill with compelling intimacy and panoramic thoroughness. In the process, Jeff Bezos's dominance and its costs are made real―and it becomes impossible to one-click again the same." ―Franklin Foer, staff writer at The Atlantic and author of World Without Mind

"For a generation, inequality has been rising relentlessly in the United States―not just inequality of income and wealth, but also inequality of power and geography. In Fulfillment , Alec MacGillis brings this crisis vividly alive by creating a broad tableau of the way one giant company, Amazon, affects the lives of people and places across the country. This book should be read as a call to action against the new economy's continuing assault on working people, small businesses, and left-behind places." ―Nicholas Lemann, author of Transaction Man

" Fulfillment addresses the human impact of current technologies and economic inequality with rare power. People in tech don't often think about the ramifications of their work; Alec MacGillis reminds us that it has consequences, and that even if there are no clear solutions, we have a moral imperative to consider its effects." ―Craig Newmark, founder of craigslist

Alec MacGillis is a senior reporter for ProPublica and the recipient of the George Polk Award, the Robin Toner prize, and other honors. He worked previously at The Washington Post , Baltimore Sun , and The New Republic , and his journalism has appeared in The New York Times Magazine , The New Yorker , The Atlantic , and other publications. His ProPublica reporting on Dayton, Ohio was the basis of a PBS Frontline documentary about the city. He is the author of The Cynic , a 2014 biography of Mitch McConnell. He lives in Baltimore.

Geo March 10, 2021 at 7:55 am

All of these "advancements" are around removing face-to-face interaction with other people. Whether work-from-home, automated rental & purchase, retail goods delivered, etc. Curious what long term impact this seemingly exponential shift toward human interaction as personal irritant is doing to our social cohesion.

Is standing in a line always a burden or is it sometimes a benefit? Sure, sometimes I just want to do my business and go but have also met fascinating people while in lines. I'm assuming many of the people working at that ski resort are "ski bums" who used the job as a way to fulfill their skiing lifestyle. They are a part of the skiing culture that has been removed from the experience now. So many local jobs are being removed and replaced by tech jobs. We barely have local community left and it's being replaced with, what? Social media? I'm a big fan of our online communities here at NC so it's not all bad of course.

Yes, change is inevitable and much of this is convenient but just curious what it's doing to us as a society. Maybe it's allowing us more time to focus on closer social bonds we've already developed? Less time in lines or stores means more time with friends and family?

Our prior ways weren't exactly healthy so honestly I don't know if this will lead to better ways or push us further apart. Any insights or ideas are appreciated. Just been pondering it and curious what other think.

"In a system that generates masses, individualism is the only way out. But then what happens to community -- to society?" – Jeanette Winterson

Miami Mitch March 10, 2021 at 8:04 am

Maybe it's allowing us more time to focus on closer social bonds we've already developed? Less time in lines or stores means more time with friends and family?

The social bond with your doctor is pretty important I would say. As it is with your local bookseller or grocery store. They are all people too, and being face to face with them you build more trust and compassion. This helps us both in times of hardship

No, I do not think I like this change.

vw March 10, 2021 at 10:44 am

I'll take the most dire view here (someone has to!):

Every step this society takes away from face-to-face interaction, and therefore community and fellowship, is going to proportionally increase the death rate when the rolling disasters of our era arrive properly at our shore.

I wish I could reach out and shake everyone who is like "I interact with people too much already, this enforced isolation is GREAT!" don't they realize this philosophy might kill them? In the upcoming chaos, if they're an unknown unknown to the people around them, don't they realize they'll be all too easy to leave behind or even sacrifice??

This seems to be the path our society is absolutely determined to take – so be it. Even NC is posting articles that are more or less cheering it. But as for me, I will rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Sierra7 March 10, 2021 at 3:38 pm

Found myself in a rather long line (no complaints) last Sat. for 2nd Covid vaccine. Realized later that between the long line waiting and the after waiting to leave it was probably the most people interaction I've had for over a year! We are social creatures. Our system preaches "individualism" because that is the only way the "instant profit" system can operate. There are other ways; our ruling classes opt out of those and the general population becomes muddled instead.
"Modernity" and "AI" technology is great but if u have no human interaction eventually those traits leave and you have what???? A dead society.

The Rev Kev March 10, 2021 at 8:06 am

And with every step forward there is a step backward. Going digital across the board is not always good as it takes away privacy and I have an example here. There is a linked article in Links today called "Are punitive rules forcing doctors to hide their mental health problems?" In it, a young doctor is under enormous mental stress and turns to older doctors for advice. They 'advised her to drive out of town, pay cash and use a pseudonym if she needed to talk to someone.' If most transaction were done digitally, how would this doctor and others like her go for help without endangering their jobs? What options would they have?

Reply
  1. ambrit March 10, 2021 at 9:59 am

    In cases like this, the only 'options' allowed will be "official" options. As my misguided attempt at "therapy" years ago taught me, often times, the analyst can be toxic. Also, in a mental health setting, I encountered the "official" preference for medication over 'therapy.' Both are situations that put the 'authority's' preferences above the patients. One big way I eventually 'twigged' to the dystopian dynamic was in observing the attitudes and body language of the "health care professionals" I was dealing with. Electronica and devices have no agency, and no "body language." The entire process is removing useful tools for the patient to navigate the shoals and reefs where the sharks hang out in any bureaucracy.
    The other, knock on effect of telemedicine we encountered was that the charges for electronic "office visits" have not dropped. This is analogous to when a grocery store keeps the cost of an individual item stable and reduces the package size.
    Others have said it better than I, but it bears repeating; 'modern' methods are reducing people to the status of 'things.' Just as in the process of reducing a person or group of people to the status of "other," the next step is 'removal.'

    Reply
  2. Alternate Delegate March 10, 2021 at 10:43 am

    This is another example of the war on cash.

    Cash is agency. The spying may be efficient, but its main purpose is to take away agency. Just like "software as a service" or "in the cloud", when you could just as easily have the same functionality on your device which you own. The vendors don't want that. They want to control you.

    The only alternative is to support and keep alive businesses that accept customers with cash and agency. And boycott the rest. Even if it is inconvenient!

PS March 10, 2021 at 8:52 am

Yay, less human interaction, more isolation, fewer seasonal jobs for high school or college students. More magical technological solutions that the on-site staff has no idea how to fix when they stop working. You're too busy and important to stand in line! That's socialism! Let's tell everyone that they're risking imminent death by being around other people and then sell them ways to avoid it!

Jeremy Grimm March 10, 2021 at 10:09 am

The U.S. exported its production of goods and became a "service" economy or a "knowledge" economy. Thanks to Corona much of the service employment has become virtual. Knowledge workers can now work from home. How many knowledge workers possess knowledge unique to the U.S. and how many could be replaced by remote workers from somewhere else?

This post describes changes, some of which may prove temporary and others may prove permanent. I believe most of the changes and their longer term implications require time to fully unfold. I am not fond of virtual service. I order online from the independent vendors still around as Amazon, E-Bay, Etsy, and other platforms grind them down, but how long will they remain independent? The U.S. Postal Service is under attack and when it falls to privatization what kind of e-commerce will come after that? Cashless means exposed to me -- exposed to tracking and monitoring and exposed to theft from the shadows.

  1. grumbles March 10, 2021 at 11:58 am

    I don't understand the rush to eliminating cash. Cash is the last way to opt out of commercial control. People seem to positively embrace it, and I don't get it.

    (Exception: I understand why legal cash-business owners like the idea.)

    I hear crime prevention and money laundering prevention as reasons. The first is code for "control of poor people", the second is true as far as it goes, but that's not very far. You're targeting mainly drug money while completely ignoring corporate and high-net-worth individuals.

    Again, all about control.

    And even if you only care about drug money, it still won't help. It is delusional to think going cashless will stop the off-book transfer of value. (For instance: https://nymag.com/news/features/tide-detergent-drugs-2013-1/ )

    Reply
  2. Anonapet March 10, 2021 at 1:32 pm

    My question (to no one) is how was the automation financed? Did the ski company issue new shares in equity with first refusal to the employees? Or did the company instead mosey on down to a local branch of the government-privileged private credit cartel to have themselves a heaping helping of the PUBLIC'S (including the employees') CREDIT but for the company owners' PRIVATE GAIN?

    As a partridge that hatches eggs which it has not laid,
    So is a person who makes a fortune, but unjustly;
    In the middle of his days it will abandon him,
    And in the end he will be a fool.
    Jeremiah 17:11

Anthony G Stegman March 10, 2021 at 2:07 pm

The human population didn't grow to 8 billion through physical distancing, touchless interaction, and living in isolation. ecommerce is a thing now, but it may not have a long shelf life. There is an inherent need for human interaction if the specie is to prosper. The pandemic is transitory and will eventually pass; human needs, wants, and desires will endure. I look forward to the day when I can speak with a store clerk, browse shelves and racks, and pay for things with currency. I don't believe that there is no going back. In fact, we must go back. At least most of the way back.

[Mar 06, 2021] When I read "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley I considered it an improbable fantasy. But it certainly does seem now that something of the kind is in our future

Mar 06, 2021 | www.moonofalabama.org

zeta , Mar 5 2021 16:34 utc | 10

@James joseph | Mar 5 2021 14:55 utc | 1

Given that we no longer trust the intentions of most public and private institutions, i am looking for signs of a new phenomenon, which i call "Fear of new developments in science or technology". ...due to the belief that said developments will only be used against us, either by the state or oligarchy. Anyone have thoughts on this?

When I read "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley I considered it an improbable fantasy. But it certainly does seem now that something of the kind is in our future, if the "best people" have their way. Another good treatment of the subject is the short story "Welcome to the Monkey House" by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

[Feb 03, 2021] Another aspect of neoliberalization of academia -- academic precariat

In neoliberalized universities there are too many PhD degree holders. It is a conveyer to produce them. .And too few real scientists...
Notable quotes:
"... The previous generation of university educators didn't retire on schedule (I can't really blame them, tenure and ridiculously light teaching loads) and that, coupled with the rise of adjuncts and funding siphoned off for administrators, changed the nature of academia and the number of available jobs. ..."
"... I'm sorry for Herring, but she really should have anticipated what happened. I've read probably a dozen articles and essays repeating her exact experience, and none of them less that 15 years old. ..."
Feb 03, 2021 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Groves of Academe

"Why I Am Leaving Academia" [ Well-Read Herring ].

"Today, almost a year after I officially became Dr. Herring, I resigned from my postdoc at Ghent University. There are several reasons that motivated this decision but the main one is that I no longer enjoy the work enough to justify how demanding it is .

As I neared the end of my PhD, I worried about my future. It is hard to explain to those who are not in academia just how bad things are for those who are starting out. Say the words "job market" within earshot of a junior researcher and watch fatalistic dread cloud their face.

I was relatively lucky because I secured a research job straight out of my PhD. But despite being somewhat cushy, my position was still fixed-term. To hope to one day obtain an elusive permanent contract, I had to accept that my current job would most likely be the first in a series of short-term contracts in various distant locations.

To succeed in academia, I would have to make a number of sacrifices. The simple truth is that I am no longer willing to make these sacrifices. A great deal of enthusiasm is needed to survive early career academia with its endless applications, rejections and precarity. Sadly, this enthusiasm is too often exploited. For instance, academics are not paid to publish their research in journals. To guarantee the quality of the research being published in these journals, they review the findings of other researchers, also for free.

But journal publishers tend to charge thousands in yearly subscription fees to university libraries. Increasingly, higher education staff suffer casualisation and unreasonable workloads, and the pandemic (or rather, the ways in which governments and university high-ups are dealing with the pandemic) is making things worse.

I do not mean to discourage anyone who is currently working in academia or who might be considering it as a profession. The enthusiasm and persistence of researchers is admirable and important. Their work should be celebrated and their enthusiasm should be nourished rather than exploited. I am proud of my friends who have managed to make things work despite all these obstacles. For my part, I have come to terms with the fact that academia is not for me."

Nakatomi Plaza , February 2, 2021 at 5:57 pm

Regarding "Why I Am Leaving Academia," this has been true for a long time now, maybe twenty years or so.

The previous generation of university educators didn't retire on schedule (I can't really blame them, tenure and ridiculously light teaching loads) and that, coupled with the rise of adjuncts and funding siphoned off for administrators, changed the nature of academia and the number of available jobs.

How did the author not know this?

I was halfway through my MA when I understood that a PhD would likely end in economic and professional disaster, so I gave up my dream (or more accurately, woke up).

I'm sorry for Herring, but she really should have anticipated what happened. I've read probably a dozen articles and essays repeating her exact experience, and none of them less that 15 years old.

[Feb 03, 2021] Biden DOJ Drops Yale Discrimination Suit After Trump DOJ Found Whites, Asians Treated Unfairly - ZeroHedge

Feb 03, 2021 | www.zerohedge.com

After the Trump Justice Department sued Yale following the results of a 2-year Civil Rights investigation which found "long-standing and ongoing" race-based discrimination, the Biden DOJ just dismissed the case without explanation .

... ... ...

The Trump DOJ had argued that the Ivy League university had violated federal civil rights law for "at least 50 years," by favoring Black and Hispanic students over Whites and Asians, according to The Hill .

The legal battle represented one of the Trump administration's moves to challenge affirmative action programs aimed at increasing diversity on campus, which some conservatives consider unfair and illegal.

Yale, which staunchly defended its admission practices, praised the DOJ's decision to drop the case in a statement, saying it was "gratified" by the decision. - The Hill

"Our admissions process has allowed Yale College to assemble an unparalleled student body, which is distinguished by its academic excellence and diversity," argued the university. "Yale has steadfastly maintained that its process complies fully with Supreme Court precedent, and we are confident that the Justice Department will agree."

The Trump administration notably instituted several measures to prevent universities from considering race as a factor during admissions, even joining a similar lawsuit against Harvard University.

[Feb 02, 2021] The Toxic University -- Zombie Leadership, Academic Rock Stars and Neoliberal Ideology

Jan 27, 2021 | www.amazon.com

This book considers the detrimental changes that have occurred to the institution of the university, as a result of the withdrawal of state funding and the imposition of neoliberal market reforms on higher education. It argues that universities have lost their way, and are currently drowning in an impenetrable mush of economic babble, spurious spin-offs of zombie economics, management-speak and militaristic-corporate jargon. John Smyth provides a trenchant and excoriating analysis of how universities have enveloped themselves in synthetic and meaningless marketing hype, and explains what this has done to academic work and the culture of universities – specifically, how it has degraded higher education and exacerbated social inequalities among both staff and students. Finally, the book explores how we might commence a reclamation. It should be essential reading for students and researchers in the fields of education and sociology, and anyone interested in the current state of university management.

Quotes

If we are to unmask what is going on within and to universities, then we need to look forensically at the forces at work and the pathological and dysfunctional effects that are placing academic lives in such jeopardy -- hence my somewhat provocative-sounding title 'the toxic university 5 .

One of the most succinct explanations of what is animating me in writing this book was put by Lucal (2015) -- echoing arguably the most significant sociologist ever. Charles Wright Mills (1971 [1959]) in his The sociological imagination -- when she said: ...neoliberalism is a critical public issue influencing apparently private troubles of college [university] students and teachers, (p. 3)

... ... ...

Pathological Organizational Dysfunction

Just on 40 years ago, for all of my sins, I studied 'organizational theory and 'management behaviour' as part of my doctorate in educational administration. I cannot remember encountering the term, but in light of mv subsequent four decades of working in universities around the world, I think I have encountered a good deal of what 'pathological organisational dysfunction" (POD) means in practice. I regard it is an ensemble term for a range of practices that fall well within the ambit of the 'toxic university 5 . The short explanation is that what I am calling POD has become a syndrome within which the toxic university has become enveloped in its unquestioning embrace of the tenets of neoliberalism -- marketization, competition, audit culture, and metrification. In other words. POD has become a major emblematic ingredient of the toxic university, which as Ferrell (2011) points out looks fairly unproblematic on the surface:

Higher education on the corporate model imagines students as consumers, choosing between knowledge products and brands. It imagines itself liberating the university from the dictates of the state/tradition/aristocratic self-replication, and putting it in the hands of its democratic stakeholders. It therefore naturally subscribes to the general management principles and practices of global corporate culture. These principles -- transparency, accountability, efficiency -- are hard to argue with in principle.

(p. 166 emphasis in original)

What is not revealed in this glossy reading of neoliberalism is the way in which it does its work, or its effects, as Ferrell (2011) puts it in relation to universities, the way it has 'wrecked something worthwhile" (p. 181).

John Gatto. an award-winning teacher of the year in New York, comes closest to what I mean by POD in his description of'psychopathic 5 organizations. Gatto (2001) says that the term psychopathic, as applied to organizations, while it might conjure up lurid images of deranged people running amuck, really means something quite different; he invokes the term to refer to people 'without consciences' (p. 303). The way he put it is that:

4.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading for anyone working in a UK university today. Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 30, 2019

Reviewers of this book seem to conflate the price of, and access to, this book in an ironic context. This isn't fair as this is very much a book written from a formal academic perspective. In that sense the book is probably priced reasonably.

However, as I don't work in this field I found that I had to read around some of the topics in order to get a deeper understanding of the issues raised by the book. So one thing I think that author could do is to almost re-write the book in a more "journalistic" sense and this would make it more accessible to a wider audience.

As it stands, however, this book is right on the money. Reading almost every page brought from me nods of agreement at familiar practices from university "leaders". This book is therefore absolutely correct in its findings and this then makes it profoundly depressing as the book describes, in my view, the dismantling of the university system as we know it. Every chapter details things I have witnessed or heard about from other universities. The "rock star" academics section, usually focusing on "dynamic" researchers, is the highlight as I know enough people who fit the descriptions given - people who would sell their mothers to get a grant or get slightly higher up the greasy pole.

The critique of university leadership, marketing functions and financial (mis)management are also spot-on.

Overall, get past the formal academic nature of this book (it is not a book designed for a wide audience, which is a pity) and it is excellent, timely and deeply depressing.

PHILIP TAYLOR 5.0 out of 5 stars

Forensic Analysis of The Toxic Neo-Liberal University Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 19, 2019

A brilliant exposition of the toxic neo-liberal University

[Feb 02, 2021] Corruption of IT education under neoliberalism: Schools teach to the test, depriving children of a rounded and useful education.

May 23, 2020 | discussion.theguardian.com

DrMidnite , 10 Apr 2019 17:04

"Schools teach to the test, depriving children of a rounded and useful education."

Boy do they. I work in Business/IT training and as the years have rolled on I and every colleague I can think of have noticed more and more people coming to courses that they are unfit for. Not because they are stupid, but because they have been taught to be stupid.

So used to being taught to the test that they are afraid to ask questions. Increasingly I get asked "what's the right way to do...", usually referring to situation in which there is no right way...

I had the great pleasure of watching our new MD describe his first customer-facing project, which was a disaster, but they "learned" from it. I had to point out to him that I teach the two disciplines involved - businesss analysis and project management - and if he or his team had attended any of the courses - all of which are free to them - they would have learned about the issues they would face, because (astonishingly) they are well-known.

I fear that these incurious adult children are at the bottom of Brexit, Trump and many of the other ills that afflict us. Learning how to do things is difficult and sometimes boring.

Much better to wander in with zero idea of what has already been done and repeat the mistakes of the past. I see the future as a treadmill where the same mistakes are made repetitively and greeted with as much surprise as if they had never happened before.

We have always been at war with Eastasia...

[Feb 02, 2021] Freedom From the Market- America s Fight to Liberate Itself from the Grip of the Invisible Hand

Highly recommended!
Feb 02, 2021 | www.amazon.com

J. Edgar Mihelic, MA, MBA 5.0 out of 5 stars on January 18, 2021

Pushing Back on Neoliberalism

This is a good, short book laying out many of the ways that the market has crept up on us and made our lives smaller.

Konczal provides necessary pushback to the neoliberal project, showing just everything that we have lost as the forces of capital decided that the Great Society, the New Deal, and the Progressive Era were bridges too far against the corporate form. 8 people found this helpful

anonymous 5.0 out of 5 stars January 23, 2021
Ayn Rand would hate this book.

Konczal's book is a compact history of how Americans have tried to remove the constraints imposed on them by the market. Konczal questions the conventional idea that the market is solely a mechanism that expands choices and opportunity. As he shows, markets can, and have, achieved precisely the opposite outcomes -- restricting choices and preventing people from having options. In many instances, Americans successfully reclaimed the liberty they had lost to the market by organizing or taking state action. He thus makes a more general case for ensuring that societal outcomes are more consistent with Berlin's notion of positive liberty. Libertarians will not appreciate the book's conclusions.

The book starts with the Homestead Act and ends with the decision to terminate virtually free higher education in the 1960s and 1970s. In between, he covers a lot of historical ground -- the effort to reduce working hours in the 19th century, the Wagner Act and Social Security during the New Deal, and the introduction of Medicare and Medicaid, among other things. Despite the book's ambitious scope, you can read it in a sitting, which is quite a feat. Either Konczal is a naturally efficient writer, or he has a good editor.

There is one topic I would've liked to see treated in more detail -- finance. Konczal gives the best concise summary of the economic ideas behind the ideological shift toward neoliberalism I have read. Still, the liberalization of finance during the past 50 years and its farreaching implications receive a cursory discussion. In an interview, Konczal said he wanted to include more discussion of this topic and something on the gold standard but didn't see how to incorporate it. In my view, it would have fit quite naturally into the chapter "Free Economy."

But this is a quibble. Overall, the book is both well researched and well written. It sheds light on an important and timely question -- to what extent should Americans permit themselves to be subject to market-driven outcomes? The book shows that, historically, Americans have tried to implement changes that enabled them to live freer lives by organizing and taking political action. Not all those changes were successful but many were.

For a deeper dive into these and related questions, read this book along with Polanyi's "The Great Transformation," Robin's "The Reactionary Mind," and Slobodian's "The Globalists." 4 people found this helpful

Henry J. Farrell 5.0 out of 5 stars January 25, 2021
Freedom from the Market remakes our understanding of what is possible in American politics

Freedom from the Market remakes our understanding of American politics. By drawing intelligently on forgotten aspects of American history, Konczal makes it easier for Americans to understand that things they might not believe are possible in America must be, because they have been. He rescues moments such as the WWII government run daycare centers, or the use of the power of the federal state to bring through the integration of Southern hospitals, from the enormous condescension of posterity. And notably, although he doesn't dwell on this point, many of these changes began at moments that seem shittier and more despairing than our own.

So what Konczal is doing is neither to provide a standard linear history, nor yet a policy textbook. Instead, he is claiming an alternative American tradition, that has not looked to the market as its apotheosis, but instead has sought to free Americans from its random vagaries. His history explains how Americans have responded collectively to the real and expressed needs of publics, who have organized to fight for them. And it does so in the plain language that he mentions in passing was necessary to allow ordinary people to organize and understand who was trying to stop them.

Konczal's fundamental claim is that people who link freedom to markets miss out on much of the story. Equally important is a notion of freedom <em>from</em> markets, "rooted in public programs that genuinely serve people and checking market dependency." This notion goes back much further in time than the New Deal. The nineteenth century is sometimes depicted as a reign of laissez-faire, both by those who admired it and deplored it. Konczal argues instead that there was an emerging sense of public needs - and how the government might provide for them. For example, this helps us understand the provision of public land through the Homestead Act and the land grant universities.

The nineteenth century notion of the public was clearly horribly flawed and contradictory - it did not include slaves or Native Americans. Some, like Horace Greeley ended up fleeing these contradictions into the welcoming arms of free market absolutism. But within these contradictions lay possibilities that opened up in the twentieth century. Konczal builds, for example on Eric Schickler's work to argue that as the New Deal began to provide concrete benefits to African Americans, it created a new conduit between them and the Democratic Party, breaking up the old coalition that had held Jim Crow together.
Konczal explains how change happens - through social movements and the state:

While the Supreme Court can be effective at holding back change and enforcing already existing power structures, it is actually very weak at creating new reform itself. It controls no funding and is dependent on elite power structures to carry out its decisions. What really creates change is popular mobilization and legislative changes.

He also draws on historians like Quinn Slobodian, to describe how modern Hayekians have sought to "encase" the market order in institutions and practices that are hard to overturn. Property rights aren't the foundation of liberty, as both nineteenth century jurists and twentieth century economists would have it. They are a product of the choices of the state, and as such intensely political.

This allows Konczal to turn pragmatism against the Hayekians. Hayek's notion of spontaneous order is supposed to be evolutionary. But if there is a need to to provide collective goods for people that cannot be fulfilled through voluntarism, the Hayekian logic becomes a brutal constraint on adaptation.

The efforts of Hayekians to enforce binding legal constraints, to cripple the gathering of the collective knowledge that can guide collective action, to wink at legal doctrines intended to subvert social protections against the market; all these prevent the kinds of evolutionary change that are necessary to respond to changing circumstances. Konczal makes it clear that Oliver Wendell Holmes was no left-winger - but his criticisms of the rigid and doctrinaire laissez-faire precepts of his colleagues rings true. Their "willingness to use a very specific understanding of economics to override law writes a preferential understanding of economics into the constitution itself." Although Konczal wrote this book before the current crisis, he describes Holmes as mentioning compulsory vaccination laws as one of the ways in which government interference in private decisions can have general social benefits. The wretched contortions of libertarians over the last several months, and their consequences for human welfare in states such as North Dakota illustrate the point, quite brutally.

What Konczal presses for is a very different notion of freedom. This doesn't deny the benefits of markets, but it qualifies them. In Konczal's words, "markets are great at distributing things based on people's willingness to pay. But there are some goods that should be distributed by need." Accepting this point entails the necessity of keeping some important areas of life outside the determining scope of markets. Furthermore, people's needs change over time, as societies and markets change. Konczal's framework suggests the need for collective choice to figure out the best responses to these changes, and a vibrant democratic politics, in which the state responds to the expressed needs of mobilized publics as the best way to carry out these choices.

All this makes the book sound more like an exercise in political theory than it is. You need to read the book itself, if you really to get the good stuff - the stories, the examples, and the overall narrative that Konczal weaves together. <em>Freedom from the Market</em> has the potential to be a very important book, focusing attention on the contested, messy but crucially important intersection between social movements and the state. It provides a set of ideas that people on both sides of that divide can learn from, and a lively alternative foundation to the deracinated technocratic notions of politics, in which good policy would somehow, magically, be politically self supporting, that has prevailed up until quite recently. Recommended.

[Feb 01, 2021] Many neoliberalized US universities and colleges are greedy and have become too dependent on international students and their superior fee-paying ability compared with domestic students to finance bloated administrative staff salaries

Covid-19 exposed some warts of neoliberalism in higher education... They want to keep those lucrative international students flooding in, after all.
Notable quotes:
"... We align our identities with our institutions and think in very a short-term, metric-based fashion, seeing "success" (for instance) in terms of student recruitment (tuition fees paid in). Moreover, we're encouraged above all to be global in outlook: we look forward to our perennially "busy" international conference seasons and we emphasize the global and the transnational over the merely local or national ..."
"... our identities as academics are unavoidably embedded in a form of neoliberal hyperglobalisation. We rely on unrestricted flows of (wealthy) bodies across borders. ..."
"... We see this form of globalisation, and the benefits that accrue to us and our institutions from it, as a form of moral necessity : something it isn't possible even to argue against in good faith. Hence our loud assent to principles like open borders and always-on mass migration. ..."
"... Our commitment to the global as a form of moral mission has left us completely unprepared for what's currently unfolding. We are utterly unused to considering the material constraints of the economy our livelihoods depend on; that globalisation might come back to bite us; that the very aircraft that carry us across the world to conference destinations and field work sites would one day turn off the spigot of endlessly mobile bodies our careers and identities depend on. ..."
"... In this respect, I think of this post over at Crooked Timber, where John Quiggin (an economist I have a great deal of respect for) simply cannot bring himself to confront the possibility that the open borders dream might be dead. ..."
"... But the fact that the "export education" model was a disastrous wrong turn will take much longer to be accepted, I think, because of the widespread commitment I've been talking about here to the principle of the global as a form of moral necessity. ..."
May 22, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Musicismath , April 6, 2020 at 1:04 pm

we've had a Minsky-like process operating on a society-wide basis: as daily risks have declined, most people have blinded themselves to what risk amounts to and where it might surface in particularly nasty forms. And the more affluent and educated classes, who disproportionately constitute our decision-makers, have generally been the most removed.

I see something very similar happening in academia. We align our identities with our institutions and think in very a short-term, metric-based fashion, seeing "success" (for instance) in terms of student recruitment (tuition fees paid in). Moreover, we're encouraged above all to be global in outlook: we look forward to our perennially "busy" international conference seasons and we emphasize the global and the transnational over the merely local or national (denigrated as narrow, provincial, and ideologically suspect).

We like to see ourselves as mobile subjects, bodies in constant motion, our minds Romantically untethered from the confines of any one nation state.

So our identities as academics are unavoidably embedded in a form of neoliberal hyperglobalisation. We rely on unrestricted flows of (wealthy) bodies across borders. Our institutions (or many of them) have become dependent on international students and their superior fee-paying ability compared with merely "domestic students."

We might agree in principle with ideas of a GND, say, or take an ecocritical approach to a novel or a play, but we're certainly not going to cut back on the number of international conferences we attend. Indeed, many of us go further.

We see this form of globalisation, and the benefits that accrue to us and our institutions from it, as a form of moral necessity : something it isn't possible even to argue against in good faith. Hence our loud assent to principles like open borders and always-on mass migration. We have to keep those lucrative international students flooding in, after all. (Not that we'd ever put it in terms as crassly material as that; after all, we don't work in university administration .)

Our commitment to the global as a form of moral mission has left us completely unprepared for what's currently unfolding. We are utterly unused to considering the material constraints of the economy our livelihoods depend on; that globalisation might come back to bite us; that the very aircraft that carry us across the world to conference destinations and field work sites would one day turn off the spigot of endlessly mobile bodies our careers and identities depend on.

Hence the reason why a lot of my colleagues are so lost right now. They're so used to living on a purely symbolic (or moral-symbolic) level that the materiality of this virus and its consequences seems like a crude insult. Many stubbornly hold on to their old commitments, unwilling to admit that the world might have changed.

In this respect, I think of this post over at Crooked Timber, where John Quiggin (an economist I have a great deal of respect for) simply cannot bring himself to confront the possibility that the open borders dream might be dead.

Where we go from here, I have no idea. But the fact that international and Erasmus students might be gone for the foreseeable future, and the major implications this will have for the financial viability or our universities, seems to be slowly sinking in.

But the fact that the "export education" model was a disastrous wrong turn will take much longer to be accepted, I think, because of the widespread commitment I've been talking about here to the principle of the global as a form of moral necessity.

[Feb 01, 2021] Predator Nation- Corporate Criminals, Political Corruption, and the Hijacking of America by Charles Ferguson

Feb 01, 2021 | www.amazon.com

"As we view the achievements of aggregated capital, we discover the existence of trusts, combinations, and monopolies, while the citizen is struggling far in the rear or is trampled to death beneath an iron heel." ~Grover Cleveland (about that other gilded age)

"There is fraud at the heart of Wall Street -- deliberate intellectual, business, and political deception. Charles Ferguson is in hot pursuit. Inside Job shook up the cozy world of academic finance. Predator Nation should stir prosecutors into action. And if we fail to reform our political system, you can say goodbye to American democracy." -- Simon Johnson , coauthor of White House Burning and professor at MIT Sloan School of Management

"Over the last thirty years, the United States has been taken over by an amoral financial oligarchy, and the American dream of opportunity, education, and upward mobility is now largely confined to the top few percent of the population.

Federal policy is increasingly dictated by the wealthy, by the financial sector, and by powerful (though sometimes badly mismanaged) industries. These policies are implemented and praised by these groups' willing servants, namely the increasingly bought-and-paid-for leadership of America's political parties, academia, and lobbying industry.

If allowed to continue, this process will turn the United States into a declining, unfair society with an impoverished, angry, uneducated population under the control of a small, ultrawealthy elite. Such a society would be not only immoral but also eventually unstable, dangerously ripe for religious and political extremism."

Charles Ferguson, Predator Nation, 2012

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University Doc Top Contributor: Camping

Scary read. Frightening true! HIGHLY recommend!!

4.0 out of 5 stars Scary read. Frightening true! HIGHLY recommend!! Reviewed in the United States on February 11, 2017 Verified Purchase Just finished this page turner. Wow! Talk about an enlightening read. Scary too and worse, yet it's so spot on. I always knew that most businesses, especially those dealing with money are crooked, selfish and good for nothing greedy souls. This book proves my point and more. Personally, I never heard of this book or the author until my brother recommended it to me in passing. It scared the hell out of him. Naturally, I had to see what book could do that. After reading it, I understand why.
Not only are the financial industries greedy and crooked but so is our governments and both Democrats and Republicans. The housing crash of 2008 wasn't the beginning of our problems but the culmination of years of greed, shady deals and lack of accountability for the financial industry. President George W. Bush was complicit in protecting the finance industry not the people of America. Worse yet was President Barack Obama. It's all in there: every dirty little detail. If you think your broker, banker or financial advisor has your best interest at heart, this couldn't show how very wrong you are. Is the book perfect? No. Is the U.S. Government or any other world government perfect? Hell no. should we be very afraid of how our bankers are? Yes.
This is a book I enjoyed reading because I already knew about most of it already just by observing and never trusting anyone anyway. I highly recommend it. I loved the fact that the author wasn't afraid to speak the truth. That is always refreshing. I look forward to reading more by Charles Ferguson.
Overall, an informative and compelling read. Everyone whether interested in finances or note needs to read this book. Seriously! Read less 2 people found this helpful Helpful Report abuse >

Orchid
OMG! You owe it to yourself to read what is really going on!

5.0 out of 5 stars OMG! You owe it to yourself to read what is really going on! Reviewed in the United States on November 4, 2014 Verified Purchase Definitely an eye opener. If I was cynical before, this one pushed me over the edge. Banks and large corporations in collusion with the government and zero accountability. Our newspapers, again, did a disservice to the public. It is one thing to talk about the mortgage industry going under, it is quite another to understand what the banks did to facilitate a world-wide recession with NO prosecutions. I was particularly appalled that the corporations paid the politicians who voted to remove any restraints on the banks. Then the banks created derivative markets they knew would fail. Moreover, the bank made millions of dollars by betting the derivative market would fail. Yet, when the bubble burst, these same people were standing at the government door (that they paid for) with their hand out for a taxpayer bail-out. The CEOs were rewarded for their bad behavior with millions of dollars in bonuses and no repercussions for bilking millions of victims or for causing a world wide downward money spiral. 7 people found this helpful Helpful Report abuse >

petronmb
Long on diagnosis, short on solution

4.0 out of 5 stars Long on diagnosis, short on solution Reviewed in the United States on June 9, 2012 Verified Purchase As a fan of "Inside Job" I was eager to read Predator Nation, which minces no words in designating the financial industry as "criminal" abetted by the political establishment, whether Republican or Democrat. The other reviews here lay out what this book accomplishes, to which I would only underscore the powerful and no-holds-barred approach of Ferguson to establishing responsibility and labeling it "criminal" as well as "predatory."

Beyond critique of Wall Street and the political "duopoly," the book widely supports the thesis that something is terribly wrong in America, a cultural malaise rooted in economic thievery and imbalance empowering the wealthy, and rendering today's America into the equivalent of what we used to call "a banana republic." Charles Ferguson pulls no punches in laying out his case here.

But, as another review has pointed out, the ending is disappointing. Charles has laid into Obama as part of the "duopoly" governing America, meaning diverging only on fractious social issues but essentially united in matters of finance and government, including war. At one point he labels Obama's weak commentary on controlling Wall Street "horse [manure]" and then at another point says "he [Obama] screwed us." In his concluding five page chapter which has an "oh, well" feel to it he tells us "hold your nose and vote for him [Obama], as I will."

With this and various commentaries we seem to be very long on laying out damages and ascribing responsibility, but have almost nothing to say on what to do other than repair to the lounge on the Titanic and have another whiskey, hoping somebody will come along with a bright idea or two at some point. If more energy were put into finding answers, as with ascribing blame, maybe we could be more hopeful. Read less 9 people found this helpful

[Jan 27, 2021] The new brave world is virtual, like most of Biden's inauguration. It is ruled by digital companies fronted by old senile politicians by Israel Shamir

Jan 27, 2021 | www.unz.com

At 78, after a prolonged illness and without recovering consciousness, Joe Biden succumbed to the Presidency. The last hopes of the last QAnon believers vanished like smoke in the night, with Biden assuming the mighty US throne. This is truly a dark day for America and for the world, as the US example will be followed by many. It is also a farewell to the real world we were brought up in. The new world is virtual, like most of the inauguration. It is virtual and dark, ruled by digital companies fronted by old and tired politicians.

[Jan 26, 2021] Appeals to bring more young Russians to US as 'soft power' tool could backfire, there's no guarantee they will like what they see

Jan 26, 2021 | www.moonofalabama.org

vk , Jan 25 2021 17:23 utc | 130

Trump's decoupling dream come true.

--//--

Appeals to bring more young Russians to US as 'soft power' tool could backfire, there's no guarantee they will like what they see

McFaul says that "Biden's team should come up with new ways to grow these ties [with ordinary Russians] even over Putin's objections. In the long run, forging and sustaining links with Russian society will undermine anti-American propaganda as well as American stereotypes about Russia."

To this, McFaul adds that, "The new administration should make it easier for Russians to study in and travel to the United States," and urges European states to do the same.

My take on this is very simple: the West cannot even absorb their own youth anymore. What makes them think they can absorb Russia's?

Besides, it's not so simple an operation to attract young people to your country to study. The logistics are very complicated, and it requires a lot of resources not even counting the promise of jobs within your own country (in the case of STEM students). Even the brain drain from countries with large populations such as China and India don't surpass much above the low to mid six digits. And those programs take time to gain traction - decades in most cases. And all of this already taking into account the fact that your country still has to be an attractive place.

Discontent already exists in Americans with Indian STEM from H1B1 visa program. As the excess population rises, so will resistance to new influx of immigrants - specially high-skilled ones. This will snowball to a stage where Americans become second-class citizens in their own country (as you would have to guarantee the jobs for the foreigners in order to sweeten the deal).

[Jan 26, 2021] How will the USA regain its advantage in this world?

Decimation of education by neoliberalism and neoliberal brainwashing is the root of all evil.
Jan 26, 2021 | www.moonofalabama.org
uncle tungsten , Jan 26 2021 0:28 utc | 168

How will the USA regain its advantage in this world?

I was looking back at some earlier reports to gain an insight into the means by which the USA gave the game away and the means that might restore its place in the economic world. It has allowed itself to be completely captive to global private finance AND ownership of the keys to its salvation. If it dfoes not nationalise its key industries then it can rest assured of its doom. IMO it is now almost impossible for it to nationalise a pizza parlour let alone an education or engineering sector.

This (posted here before) from Strategic Culture of November 2020 "How a Wise Decoupling May Be a Good Thing for Both China and the West". It is worth reconsidering from time to time.

If the USA is to survive the oncoming collapse and break free of its apocalyptic war agenda, then certain realities WILL have to occur. These realities include (but are not limited to):

1) Regaining its lost industrial potential, with an emphasis on the machine tool sector which the west once enjoyed as a world leader

2) Regaining the lost scientific and technological capacities which the USA once had when it still valued productive thinking under the days of JFK and NASA

3) Regaining a grasp of education which values productive citizens over consumer subjects

4) Regaining control over national credit under federal banking, dirigisme and other long-term investment practices that rely on regulating Wall Street speculation and other unproductive forms of banking.

How might these vital capacities be regained?....

The USA is incapable of nationalising its education sector and is incapable systemically of having the patience to await the benefits. It will continue to sustain an education sector that is designed to transfer $$$ in taxation directly to private corporation pockets and to do so by reducing the the number of salary earners between the input $ and the $ that end in private corporation pockets. The private corporations will continue to perfect the swindle of returning the least possible effort in return for those $$$.

Ditto for defence spending and every other sector.

The USAi is hoist by its own petard and has a dull brained president surrounded by ideological obsessives, cultural paranoiacs, a narcissistic Congress and Senate. It will not be capable of restoring its real economy and will continue to imagine itself as a world leader. It will berate and negate and cancel all unorthodox thought from those that favour nation building.

The rest of the world's nations had better take note. Clearly many have.

[Jan 22, 2021] Meritocracy used to work, because of succession planning and training.

Jan 22, 2021 | www.unz.com

Curmudgeon , says: January 21, 2021 at 10:20 pm GMT • 3.7 hours ago

@James Speaks rn. I'm not fine with assuming that the end product will automatically produce merit beyond what meritocracy is today – brown-nosing. True merit is you have demonstrated you can do it.

The last 40+ years have seen an endless stream of "bright boys" graduating university with MBAs, getting involved in the management structure as "change agents", screwing up the business for 5 years then "taking another opportunity" to screw up a different company.

Prof. Henry Mintzberg calls them the wrong people, at the wrong time, for the wrong reason, because they don't have a clue how the real world works. But hey, they are high IQ people, so they must have merit.

Uncoy , says: Website January 21, 2021 at 10:52 pm GMT • 3.2 hours ago
@Curmudgeon r medicine and sophisticated writing. The issue is that these individual were poorly educated – first and foremost in the "greed is good" school of the America. After sipping deeply of this dead-end, destructive ethical framework, these individuals were then carefully trained on how to extract value from an economy/a company rather than add value.

High IQ is still desperately needed for progress and to maintain civilisation. But put to ill-use, high IQ individuals can wreak commensurately wreak greater havoc.

Analogies could be made to guns, armies, cars. All of them can be put to exceptionally ill-use. Few would argue that a modern nation can live without automobiles or some kind of armed defence force.

[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.

[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.

[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 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.

[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.

Also on rt.com Yes, the George Floyd video is distressing. But allowing 'traumatized' students who've seen it to get better exam grades is a joke

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.

Read more As a UC Berkeley professor and a person of color, I REFUSE TO SERVE the Democratic party and #BLM – and so should you As a UC Berkeley professor and a person of color, I REFUSE TO SERVE the Democratic party and #BLM – and so should you

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.

Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!

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] 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 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] 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 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 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 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] 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] 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 "Larki