|Progressive Calendar 03.14.09||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Sat, 14 Mar 2009 02:00:06 -0700 (PDT)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 03.14.09 1. Women's Day 3.14 8am 2. Peace walk 3.14 9am Cambridge MN 3. JFK/why he died 3.14 9am 4. Community garden 3.14 9am 5. Winter soldiers 3.14 10am 6. End foreclosures 3.14 12noon 7. Peace marshalls 3.14 1:30pm 8. Northtown vigil 3.14 2pm 9. Vs Chris Coleman 3.14 2pm 10. Jim Hightower - Fighting back in America's 30-year class war 11. James Keye - The final choice 12. Henry Giroux - Academic labor in dark times 13. Dennis Rahkonen - Turn left, take ten steps, discover a better world --------1 of 13-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Women's Day 3.14 8am "Sister Connections: Iraqi Women and U.S. Women" at the 14th Annual International Women's Day Celebration Saturday, March 14, 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. University of Minnesota, Coffman Memorial Union, 300 Washington Avenue Southeast, Minneapolis. The theme of this year's International Women's Day Celebration is "Transforming the World through Women's Voices," which highlights the critical role women play in creating a world of equality, non-violence and justice for all. Keynote Presentation on Women and War: Fahima Vorgetts, Afghan Women's Fund and Women for Afghan Women and Fionnuala Ni Aolain, U of M Law School. Workshops on women's human rights issues, film screenings, music, visual arts, arts and crafts vendors, information tables. Kathy McKay of Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project (IARP) and Marie Braun of WAMM present a workshop on the social, political and economic effects of the Iraq War on women of Iraq, drawn from eyewitness accounts, human rights, health and other reports (10:45 a.m. to Noon Room 325). Join in celebrating the many signs of hope and strength that women's voices bring to a world yearning for peace and justice. Free and open to all. Sponsored by: the Advocates for Human Rights and the Human Rights Program at the U of M. Co-Sponsored by: WAMM and others. FFI: visit www.theadvocatesforhumanrights.org . --------2 of 13-------- From: Ken Reine <reine008 [at] umn.edu> Subject: Peace walk 3.14 9am Cambridge MN every Saturday 9AM to 9:35AM Peace walk in Cambridge - start at Hwy 95 and Fern Street --------3 of 13-------- From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at] comcast.net> Subject: JFK/why he died 3.14 9am Will an Obama prophetic presidency lead to history repeating itself? Jim Douglass, theologian, nonviolence leader, and author of JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters, will speak at St. Luke Presbyterian Church in Wayzata on Saturday, March 14. The event from 9:00 to 2:30 features a lecture by Douglass and concludes with interactive conversation with Douglass. The event is free and open to the public; however RSVPs to 952/473-7378 are appreciated. Douglass demonstrates that while Kennedy began his presidency as a Cold Warrior, he had a "conversion" when the nearly cataclysmic Cuban Missile Crisis turned him toward peace. That conversion pitted him against the US military and security establishments that were committed to nuclear war as a strategy in dealing with enemies. The resistance of these formidable establishments to Kennedy's move toward peace became increasingly intense, and may have led to his death. Douglass' book raises the question to a thoughtful reader - should President Obama also turn toward peace, would he likewise be resisted and threatened? Would history repeat itself? Douglass spent 12 years researching and writing this book. He discovered and used much new material, including memos and papers released in the 1990's under the Freedom of Information Act, and extensive correspondence between Kennedy and Premier Khrushchev which was released after the collapse of the former Soviet Union. Gaeton Fonzi, former investigator for the U.S. House Select Committee on Assassinations, calls this book "by far the most important book yet written on the subject." Douglass' book tells the story that, until now, America has not had the ears to hear. St. Luke Presbyterian Church, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, is located at 3121 Groveland School Road, Wayzata, MN 55391, near the intersection of Minnetonka Boulevard and Highway #101. Its mission is to be "joyful, inclusive and compassionate community on a spiritual journey, seeking to do justice, make peace, act mercifully, and to walk humbly with God." Sunday Worship services are held at 10:30am. Contact: Linda Thomson, 763/478-4956 --------4 of 13-------- From: Lydia Howell <lydiahowell [at] visi.com> Subject: Community garden 3.14 9am Saturday from 9-11:30 am Powderhorn Park Neighborhood Association 821 E 35th St, Minneapolis March 14 Fun & Effective Meetings! Note: This series is focused on skills for building people capacity rather than gardening techniques. We highly recommend 2 or more gardeners per garden attending together. To register, contact Ila Duntemann at ila.gardeningmatters [at] gmail.com or 612-492-8964 --------5 of 13-------- From: hathaway [at] ties2.net Subject: Winter soldiers 3.14 10am Winter Soldiers of the War on Terror a presentation by peace activist, author, and Vietnam veteran Michael Orange 10am, Saturday, March 14 Unity Church Unitarian, 732 Holly Avenue, St. Paul - near Summit and Dale (Following a pancake breakfast at the church, 8:30 - 10:00 a.m. Enjoy local sausage, OJ, all you can eat pancakes. Cost: $3 per person or $10 per family) Last March, 72 veterans, active duty soldiers, experts, and Iraqis who had the great courage to go public with their first-hand experiences gathered for the Winter Soldier hearings in Washington, D.C., and gave 30 hours of vetted testimony. Michael and Cynthia Orange served as witnesses. Come, hear their heart- and gut-wrenching testimony and discuss what it means for us, the 99% of the population not asked to serve over and over again in our country's wars. --------6 of 13-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: End foreclosures 3.14 12noon "Stop the Foreclosures" Press Conference and Action Saturday, March 14, Noon to 1:00 p.m. 3128 Clinton Avenue South, Minneapolis. Demand that foreclosures implement a stay-in-place policy that allows people to stay in their homes. Community members will gather at the home of Rosemary Williams, a long-time resident of Minneapolis' Central neighborhood facing foreclosure, for a press conference to announce the delivery of a letter calling on the holder of her mortgage, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (MERS), a leader in foreclosures in the state of Minnesota, to allow Rosemary and others facing foreclosure to stay in their homes. Sponsored by: the Minnesota Coalition for a People's Bailout. WAMM is a member of the Minnesota Coalition for a People's Bailout. FFI and Updates: Call 612-822-8020 or visit www.mn-peoples-bailout.org. --------7 of 13-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Peace marshalls 3.14 1:30pm Peace Marshal Training for "Troops Out Now!" Rally and March Saturday, March 14, 1:30 p.m. (Correction on time.) Mayday Books, 301 Cedar Avenue South, Minneapolis. Peace marshals are needed to help make the March 21 "Troops Out Now!" rally and march, a successful and powerful experience. Volunteers will assist with many tasks on the day of the event, including helping get the march started, keeping it safe, helping with set-up and more. Organized locally by: Iraq Peace Action Coalition (IPAC). WAMM is a member of IPAC. FFI: Call 612-827-5364 or 612-522-1861. [marshall law? -ed] --------8 of 13-------- From: Vanka485 [at] aol.com Subject: Northtown vigil 3.14 2pm Peace vigil at Northtown (Old Hwy 10 & University Av), every Saturday 2-3pm --------9 of 13-------- From: Dann Dobson <danndobson [at] yahoo.com> Subject: Vs Chris Coleman 3.14 2pm There will be a meeting of people interested in denying Chris Coleman the DFL endorsement for Mayor at the St. Paul City Convention on March 21st. We will be meeting this Saturday, March 14th at 2:00 P.M. at the Black Dog Cafe, 4th and Wall Streets, in Lowertown across from the Farmers Market and the old Gillette Plant. Whether you are upset about Mayor Coleman's new plan to spend $40 million dollars for a new Hockey Arena across the street from the Xcel Energy Center http://www.startribune.com/politics/state/40581107.html?elr=KArksUUUU or his plan to raise $70 million dollars to "beautify" the Central Corridor Light Rail Line, yet still not including 3 critical stations at Hamline, Victoria and Western http://www.startribune.com/local/east/40695767.html?elr=KArksUUUU or the closing of your library http://www.startribune.com/local/stpaul/41066307.html?elr=KArksUUUU Not to mention his silence about Civil Rights abuses during the RNC. Mayor Coleman needs to hear that he has strayed from what the voters in Saint Paul want and need. In an era of $60 million dollar city deficits, does Saint Paul really need a new $40 million dollar hockey arena. Please join us. - Dann Dobson 651-227-4376 danndobson [at] yahoo.com [After his collusion with the RNC police state, the last thing we need is Chris Coleman waltzing to a polite victory in November. There are no significant opponents. We as citizens (not just the DFLers) need to make our lack of support plain for all to see. Most of us don't go to the DFL convention, but we can raise public awareness, and diminish Coleman's popularity/power. -ed] --------10 of 13-------- Fighting Back in America's 30-Year Class War by Jim Hightower Published on Thursday, March 12, 2009 by Creators Syndicate Common Dreams David Brooks was upset. You can tell when this conservative and rather-professorial columnist for The New York Times gets upset, because his words almost sag with disappointment - you can practically hear the tsk-tsks and the heavy sighs in each paragraph. When most commentators on the right see things that offend them, they get snarling mad; Brooks gets sad. What saddened Brother Brooks this time was Barack Obama's budget. In a recent column, he noted that the $3.6 trillion total is "gargantuan" (we columnists are paid to make keen observations like that), but what really upset him was that the tax burden to finance universal health care, energy independence and other big initiatives in Obama's budget "is predicated on a class divide." With heavy sighs, Brooks expressed great despair that "no new burdens will fall on 95 percent of the American people," adding with a tsk-tsk that "all the costs will be borne by the rich and all benefits redistributed downward." Leaving aside the fact that such things as health-care coverage for every American and a booming green energy economy will benefit the rich as well as the rest of us, Brooks' column was echoing a prevalent theme in all of the right's attacks on Obama's economic proposals: Class War! Indeed, the Times' columnist even suggested (sadly) that Obama's budget was fundamentally un-American: "The U.S. has never been a society riven by class resentment," he sniffed. Whoa, professor, get a grip! Better yet, get a good history book (Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States" would be an eye-opening place to start). While our schools, media and politicians rarely mention it, America's history is replete with class rebellions against various moneyed elites who act as though they're the top dogs and ordinary folks are just a bunch of fire hydrants. Check out the Tenant Uprisings of 1766, Shay's Rebellion in the 1780s, the Workingmen's Movement of the 1830s ... on into the post-Civil War populist movement that confronted the robber barons, the bloody labor battles at Haymarket and Homestead in the late 1800s, Coxey's Army in 1894, the Bonus March of 1932, the Penny Auctions by farmers in the 1920s and '30s, the rise of the CIO in the Depression years ...and right into modern-day fights involving environmental justice, fair trade, women's pay, workplace safety, tenant rights, janitors, farmworkers, union-busting, bank redlining, consumer gouging, clean elections and so forth. If Brooks & Co. are so isolated as to imagine that our citizenry harbors no class resentment, they should go to any Chat & Chew Cafe across the land and listen to the locals express their innermost feelings about today's greedheaded Wall Streeters who wrecked our economy for their own enrichment. There is a fury in the countryside toward these plutocratic purse-snatchers who are being allowed to keep their exalted executive positions, draw fat paychecks and get trillions of dollars in bailout money from common taxpayers. People don't merely resent them, they yearn for the legalization of tar-and-feathering! Yet, Brooks and his political brethren are now bemoaning the plight of the plutocrats, assailing the "redistributionists" who talk of spreading America's wealth. In his column, Brooks cried out for a conservative vision of "a nation in which we're all in it together - in which burdens are shared broadly, rather than simply inflicted on a small minority." Do we look like we have suckerwrappers around our heads? Where were these tender-hearted champions of sharing throughout the last 30 years, when that same "small minority" was absolutely giddy with redistributionist fervor - redistributing upward, that is? With the full support of their political hirelings from both parties, this minority created tax dodges, trade scams, corporate subsidies, deregulation fantasies, financial hustles, de-unionization schemes, bankruptcy loopholes and other mechanisms that turned government into a redistributionist bulldozer, shoving wealth from the workaday majority into their own pockets. Brooks might have missed this 30-year class war, but most folks have been right in the thick of it and are not the least bit squeamish about supporting a national effort to right those wrongs. After all, even a dog knows the difference between being stumbled over - and being kicked. 2009 Creators Syndicate National radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author of the book, Swim Against The Current: Even A Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow, Jim Hightower has spent three decades battling the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought To Be - consumers, working families, environmentalists, small businesses, and just-plain-folks. --------11 of 13-------- The Final Choice by James Keye March 12th, 2009 Dissident Voice It is an outrageous proposal: that the materially wealthy and the politically powerful - those who dominate the processes and events of the human presence on the planet - would or could organize and implement the killing off of billions of "ordinary" humans rather than accept dramatic reductions in their privileged use of the earth's capacity. Or, it would be an outrageous proposal if it were not so common place an observation in less universal contexts. I was fortunate, near the beginning of my journeys, to be instructed on this distinction: Do not ask if this person or that group might do an action; rather, ask if the action is done at all and how commonly, then take that as the basis for your answers to the particular. I think that we would have to agree that humans have regularly killed off other humans, both indirectly and directly, who stood in the way of attaining or maintaining a preferred life style. Of course, that something can, or is even likely to, happen does not make it a certainty - especially when there are many other options. I would only point out that the horror of an action has seldom been an inhibition for very long. Other factors, such as efficacy and possibility, tend to dominate our choices. My intention in making the argument is to excite an increased and refocused observation of events. If the tools for such a mass murder are made available, then the condition of possibility is met. If the totality of our situation is hopeless, then so is the condition of efficacy. As a species, with the capacity to project events into the unknown future and thus change the future from the grubby confines of the present, we are not fixed in our trajectory; this is one of the great lessons of the Consciousness System of Order. It is a bit like the silly rhyme: "I shot an arrow into the air. It fell to earth, I know not where". But, if we have some knowledge of the lay of the land, we can have, at least, some idea about where our arrows might land and their possible consequences. One of the paths into the mid-century and beyond would have all humans living with a primary concession to the biophysical reality of personal biological need: every person would supply, by their own hand, some significant part of their personal needs. Such a standard could, with yet another "invisible hand" determine population goals, energy use levels and, to some extent, environmental impact levels. The intellectual support for this possibility is largely lacking in our present moment. There are bits in the kinder parts of major religions. Various philosophers have for thousands of years spoken to the value in living in close contact with the land - this is such a common part of human thought that it has become cliche. It is cliche because it is so simply and completely true. The diametrically opposed possibility is something with which humanity has more recent experience: an elite parasitizing a slave-based economy (wage-slave based economy serves the same function and only modifies some of the technicalities of economic design). We have the "intellectual" arguments around this possibility, from Locke, Hume, Marx, Rand, Hayek, Galbraith and many others, and only arguments of this form are allowed to be considered for our present troubles. The organization and manipulation of power in a Mad world structure where all things increase at increasing rates and Reality is denied as a founding principle cannot sustain, but can produce a great amount of bizarre, conflicting opinion. Ultimately, it is a question of whether the great depth of our Madness will carry us into a final conflict with biophysical reality - a madman flaying at imaginary demons while being tormented by a disinterested reality to which he is blind - or will we come again into the wind and the rain, into the seasons, cycles and other realities of earthly existence? My sensible reason answers that the Madness will dominate the final days of this iteration of my species, that over the next 30 to 80 years we will cling to the most misguided and defeating self-referenced notions of reality until a tormented and enraged environment indiscriminately smites the living world - and we will still behave badly even in the ruins of our world. But my capacity of imagination and wonder believes, in the way that the consciousness order designs impossible "possibilities," that we can come to see the madness and demand its retreat; the way that smokers now have to hide next to the dumpster in the back of the building. We will no longer hear that we respect wealth and see its virtues, but that we respect the real "self-sufficiency" of community life, and not the pathological individualism of the sociopath. We will no longer praise as progress the life denying objects that separate us from the work of directly sustaining, and therefore participating in and truly understanding, our lives. We will no longer raise to adulation those who are willing to do the most harm to all things, but condemn their actions and require that they be part of the sanity of sustaining their own existence with their own efforts. We will no longer accept a machinery of societal, economic and political control that claims superiority of idea, power and personal omniscience, but see such claims as self-servingly insane. Just as it is "impossible" to comprehend how billions of people could be intentionally killed to sustain the present Madness, it is impossible to see how we might come to see the Madness with increasing clarity; and in seeing it find and act on ways to reject it. But ultimately we will end up doing one or the other. (This is last in a series of four essays that that look at the forms of the choices that face us as we look toward this new century.) James Keye is the nom de plume of a biologist and psychologist who after discovering a mismatch between academe and himself went into private business for many years. His whole post-pubescent life has been focused on understanding at both the intellectual and personal levels what it is to be of the human species; he claims some success. Email him at: jkeye1632 [at] gmail.com. --------12 of 13-------- Making Democracy Matter Academic Labor in Dark Times By HENRY A. GIROUX March 11, 2009 CounterPunch I do not believe that a student of human reality may be ethically neutral. The sole choice we face is one between loyalty to the humiliated and to beauty, and indifference to both. It is like any other choice a moral being confronts: between taking and refusing to take responsibility for one's responsibility. -Zygmunt Bauman1 In his sobering analysis of recent democratic decline, Sheldon Wolin has rightly argued that in a "genuinely democratic system, as opposed to a pseudo democratic one in which a 'representative sample' of the population is asked whether it 'approves' or 'disapproves,' citizens would be viewed as agents actively involved in the exercise of power and in contributing to the direction of policy".2 There is a long tradition of critical intellectuals in American higher education extending from Thomas Jefferson to John Dewey, Edward Said, and Howard Zinn, who have all insisted that the university is one of the few spaces where the task of educating students to become critical agents and socially engaged citizens is not only crucial to the meaning of education but also an essential condition of academic labor and democracy itself. As a vast array of public spheres, including some of the nation's major newspapers, either fall prey to corporate control or simply disappear, higher education becomes one of the few remaining sites where a society might question itself, where it might reflectively consider how lived realities measure against democratic practices and ideals. Universities thus provide the pedagogical conditions for existing and future generations both to defend democratic principles and to incorporate them into their own understanding of what it means to define themselves as engaged citizens and socially responsible adults. Understanding higher education as a democratic public sphere means fully recognizing the purpose and meaning of education and the role of academic labor, which assumes among its basic goals promoting the well-being of students, a goal that far exceeds the oft-stated mandate of either preparing students for the workforce or engaging in a rigorous search for truth. While such objectives are not without merit, they narrow the focus of human agency, depoliticize education, and ignore the issue of civic responsibility, among other generally unacknowledged shortcomings. Defining education as a search for the truth and preparing students for the workforce says little about the role that academics might play in influencing the fate of future citizens and the state of democracy itself. Surely academics are required to speak a kind of truth, but as Stuart Hall points out, "maybe not truth with a capital T, but ... some kind of truth, the best truth they know or can discover [and] to speak that truth to power".3 Implicit in Hall's statement is an awareness that the priorities of big business and other powerful interests are not always, or even routinely, the priorities that shape intellectual commitment or pedagogical practice. To speak truth to power is not a temporary and unfortunate lapse into politics on the part of academics: it is central to opposing all those modes of ignorance, market-based or otherwise instrumental rationalities, and fundamentalist ideologies that make judgments difficult and democracy dysfunctional. Amy Gutmann broadens the truth-seeking function of universities by insisting that "education is always political because it is connected to the acquisition of agency, the ability to struggle with ongoing relations of power, and is a precondition for creating informed and critical citizens". For Gutmann, what is unique about academics is the crucial role they play in linking education to democracy and recognizing pedagogy as an ethical and political practice tied to modes of authority in which the "democratic state recognizes the value of political education in predisposing [students] to accept those ways of life that are consistent with sharing the rights and responsibilities of citizenship in a democratic society".4 And higher education, if it is to take its democratic ideals seriously, must be recognized as more than an outpost of business culture simply there to do the bidding of corporate power.5 Democratic societies need educated citizens who are steeped in more than workplace skills and the formal competencies of textual analysis. And it is precisely this democratic project that affirms the critical function of education and academic labor, while refusing to narrow its goals and aspirations to instrumental or methodological considerations. This is what makes intellectual labor different from other provincial notions of teaching, largely restricted to teaching the canon or the conflicts, and other narrowly defined pedagogical commitments. And it is precisely the failure to connect learning to its democratic functions and possibilities that creates the conditions for those pedagogical approaches that ignore what it means to receive a critical education.6 The goals of higher education and the demands of academic labor must also include teaching students to be responsive to deepest conflicts of our times, learning how to identify anti-democratic forces in the wider society, and connecting knowledge, power, and critical modes of agency to the task of imagining a more just world and demonstrating a willingness to struggle for it. Academics have a moral and pedagogical responsibility to unsettle and oppose all orthodoxies, to make problematic the commonsense assumptions that often shape students's lives and their understanding of the world, but also to energize them to come to terms with their own power as individual and social agents. Higher education, in this instance, as Pierre Bourdieu, Paulo Freire, Stanley Aronowitz, and others have reminded us, cannot be removed from the hard realities of those political, economic, and social forces that both support it and consistently, though in diverse ways, attempt to shape its sense of mission and purpose.7 Politics is not alien to higher education but central to comprehending the institutional, economic, ideological, and social forces that give it meaning and direction. Politics also references the outgrowth of historical conflicts that mark higher education as an important site of struggle. As Pierre Bourdieu has argued, politics illuminates the complex ideological and institutional conditions that enable universities to function as democratic public spheres. At the same time, it makes visible the fact that such conditions are the outcome of "fragile social achievements that open up the possibility of more equality and justice, and to sacrifice them is to step backwards, whether this step is masked by a deterministic analysis of the 'market' or a naked assertion of self-interest by the wealthy and powerful".8 Politics is thus not the bane of either education or academic research but rather a primary register of their complex relation to matters of power, ideology, freedom, justice, and democracy. The real enemies of education are those modes of politicizing education in which matters of critical dialogue, judgment, debate, and engagement are disabled through allegiance to domains of ideological purity, certainty, dogma, and assured knowledge - a species of fundamentalist thinking and practice that is not limited to any one ideological position or disciplinary terrain. Nurturing critical agency is part of a pedagogical process that must be self-reflective, empowering, and directive, but not propagandistic. When the distinction between a political and politicizing education is collapsed or lost, the role of academics is reduced to that of either corporate clerks, hermetic specialists, or jargon-ridden, clever apologists for established power who justify their unthreatening combativeness by gleefully claiming "to profess nothing".9 The smug call for academics to profess nothing or to "save the world on their own time" is not an educational virtue but a form of surrender, a corrosive cynicism parading as a form of professionalism, an ethical refusal to educate students to question official dogma, to create the pedagogical conditions for them to become moral agents and critical citizens, and to provide them with the knowledge and skills to engage the tension between existing reality and the promise of democracy. The "save the world on your own time" creed aligns too closely with the neoliberal incantation that "there is no alternative" and in the end means complicity with the established order. In this discourse, education as a fundamental basis for engaged citizenship, like politics itself, becomes a temporary irritant to be quickly removed from the hallowed halls of academia. In this stillborn conception of academic labor, faculty and students are scrubbed clean of any illusions about connecting what they learn to a world "strewn with ruin, waste and human suffering".10 Yet the commitments academics enact are distinctively political and civic, whether they deny or willingly embrace such roles. University educators cannot ignore politics, nor can they deny responsibility for acknowledging that the crisis of agency is at the center of the current crisis of democracy. At the very least, academics should be more responsible to and for a politics that raises serious questions about how students and educators negotiate the institutional, pedagogical, and social relations shaped by diverse ideologies and dynamics of power, especially as these relations mediate and inform competing visions regarding whose interests the university might serve, what role knowledge plays in furthering both excellence and equity, and how higher education defines and defends its own role in relation to its often stated, though hardly operational, allegiance to egalitarian and democratic impulses. The view of higher education as a democratic public sphere committed to producing knowledge, skills, and social practices that enable young people to expand and deepen their sense of themselves, their moral imaginations, the public good, and the imperatives of a substantive democracy has been in a state of acute crisis for the last thirty years.11 Harnessed to the needs and demands of corporate and military interests, higher education has increasingly abandoned even the pretense of promoting democratic ideals. The needs of corporations and the warfare state now define the nature of research, the role of faculty, the structure of university governance, and the type of education offered to students.12 As federal and state funding for higher education is cut, universities are under more pressure to turn to corporate and military resources to keep them afloat. Such partnerships betray a more instrumental and mercenary assignment for higher education, a role that undermines the free flow of information, dialogue, and dissent. When faculty assume, in this context, their civic responsibility to educate students to think critically, act with conviction, learn how to make authority and power accountable, and connect what they learn in classrooms to important social issues in the larger society, they are often denounced for politicizing their classrooms and for violating professional codes of conduct, or, worse, labelled as unpatriotic.13 In some cases, the risk of connecting what they teach to the imperative to expand the capacities of students to be both critical and socially engaged may cost academics their jobs, especially when they make visible the workings of power, injustice, human misery, and the alterable nature of the social order - all too evident in the recent firings of Norman Finklestein and Ward Churchill. Educators need to defend what they do as political, support the university as place to think, and create programs that nurture a culture of questioning. But there is even more at stake here. It needs to be recognized on a broad scale that the very way in which knowledge is selected, pedagogies are defined, social relations are organized, and futures are imagined is always political, though these processes do not have to be politicized in a vulgar or authoritarian way. Again, the conditions that make the university possible as a democratic public sphere are inescapably political and should be defended as such, but such a defense should take seriously the distinctive role that academics play not merely in preparing students for the world in which they work and live but also in enabling them to function as individual and social agents capable of critically understanding their own capacities and responsibilities in working to expand the promise of a democracy that is increasingly under assault. The utterly privatized, if not reactionary, discourse through which academics with any sense of public commitment are now upbraided and told to save the world on their own time mimics both the logic of the market and the silencing forces of the corporate and warfare state.14 Within this discourse, there is a needless severing of the connection between the private and the public, theory and practice, learning and social change, and the university and the broader social contract, with its implied ethical and political foundations. Such a crude dismissal of academic responsibility is not merely theoretically hermetic and politically naive; it is also part of an ongoing attack on the crucial civic and pedagogically responsible role that both the university and academics have in a society that - until the current global financial collapse - had aligned itself with the production of violence, greed, self-interest, cut-throat competitiveness, and a market-driven world bereft of ethical considerations. In a society that remains troubling resistant to or incapable of questioning itself, one that celebrates the consumer over the citizen and willingly endorses the narrow values and interests of corporate power, the importance of the university as a place of critical learning, dialogue, and social justice advocacy becomes all the more imperative. Moreover, the distinctive role that faculty play in this ongoing pedagogical project of democratization and learning, along with support for the institutional conditions and relations of power that make it possible, must be defended as part of a broader discourse of excellence, equity, and democracy. As Wolin points out, "For its part, democracy is ultimately dependent on the quality and accessibility of public education, especially of public universities. Education per se is not a source of democratic legitimacy: it does not serve as a justification for political authority, yet it is essential to the practice of citizenship".15 For education to be civic, critical, and democratic rather than privatized, militarized, and commodified, the work that academics do cannot be defended exclusively within the discourse of specialization, technological mastery, or a market-driven rationality concerned about profit margins. On the contrary, academic labor is distinctive by virtue of its commitment to modes of education that take seriously John Dewey's notion that democracy is a "way of life" that must be constantly nurtured and defended, or as Richard Bernstein puts it: Democracy, according to Dewey, does not consist exclusively of a set of institutions, formal voting procedures, or even legal guarantee of rights. These are important, but they require a culture of everyday democratic cooperative practices to give them life and meaning. Otherwise institutions and procedures are in danger of becoming hollow and meaningless. Democracy is "a way of life," an ethical ideal that demands active and constant attention. And if we fail to work at creating and re-creating democracy, there is no guarantee that it will survive. Democracy involves a reflective faith in the capacity of all human beings for intelligent judgment, deliberation, and action if the proper social, educational, and economic conditions are furnished.16 Democracy is not cheap and neither are the political, economic, and social conditions that make it possible. If academics believe that the university is a space for and about democracy, they need to profess more, not less, about eliminating the racial, economic, and political conditions that fill their ranks with adjuncts,17 remove faculty from exercising power in university governance, and work towards eliminating the economic conditions that prevent working-class and middle-class youth from getting a decent post-secondary education. Both the responsibility that academics bear and the political nature of that responsibility are especially clear given the current unprecedented economic meltdown the country is now facing. As the financial crisis reaches historic proportions, free-market fundamentalism is losing both its claim to legitimacy and its pretense to democracy. Even a Newsweek cover declared recently that "We Are All Socialist Now".18 Despite this apparent growing recognition that market fundamentalism has fostered a destructive alignment among the state, corporate capital, and transnational corporations, there is little understanding that such an alignment has been constructed and solidified through a neoliberal disciplinary apparatus and corporate pedagogy mostly produced in the halls of higher education and reinforced through the educational force of the larger media culture. The economic Darwinism of the last thirty years has done more than throw the financial and credit system into crisis; it has also waged an attack on all those social institutions that support critical modes of agency, reason, and meaningful dissent. And yet, the financial Katrina we are now experiencing is rarely seen as part of an educational crisis in which the institutions of public and higher education have been conscripted into a war on democratic values through the endless reproduction of neoliberal beliefs, social relations, identities, and modes of understanding that legitimate the institutional arrangements of a cut-throat capitalism that has spawned rapacious greed, grotesque levels of inequality, the devaluation of any viable notion of the public good, and far-reaching levels of human suffering. There seems to be an enormous disconnect between the economic conditions that led to the current financial meltdown and the current call to action of a generation of young people and adults who have been educated for the last several decades in the knowledge, values, and identities of a market-driven society. Clearly, this generation of young people and adults will not solve this crisis if they do not connect it to the assault on an educational system that has been reduced to a lowly adjunct of corporate interests and the bidding of the warfare state. This disconnect becomes clear in a recent article by Patricia Cohen in the New York Times in which she uncritically reports that in light of the current economic crisis the humanities are going to have a harder time defending themselves because they are often found inadequate to the task of educating students for future employment in the workforce.19 According to Cohen, the humanities in these tough economic times has to "to justify its existence," by which she means it has to align itself more closely still with the needs of the economy - a view closer to training than educating.20 Rather then view the humanities, if not higher education in general, as one of the few public spheres left that can educate students to do more than reproduce a now widely condemned set of market-driven values, she wants universities to adopt them even more aggressively, in spite of broad public recognition that this mode of corporate-driven education has both undermined the economy and sabotaged any viable notion of critical agency and democracy. Oddly, Cohen argues that the free-market rationality that has undermined, if not ruined, so many basic institutions in American society need not be jettisoned by higher education but applied more stringently. Couple this argument with the news that many prominent newspapers are now failing and it becomes clear that the responsibility of faculty who inhabit the university can no longer downplay or "abandon the idea that life's most important questions are an appropriate subject for the classroom".21 Academics have a distinct and unique responsibility to make learning relevant not merely to the imperatives of a discipline, scholarly method, or research specialization but, more importantly, to the activation of knowledge, passion, values, and hope in the service of modes of agency that are crucial to sustaining a democracy in which higher education plays its rightful civic and critical pedagogical role. Renewing such a commitment, academics will more easily defend their role as public and engaged intellectuals, while also enabling higher education to live up to its promise as a valuable and valued democratic public sphere. Henry A. Giroux holds the Global TV Network chair in English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University in Canada. His most recent books include: "Take Back Higher Education" (co-authored with Susan Searls Giroux, 2006), "The University in Chains: Confronting the Military-Industrial-Academic Complex" (2007) and "Against the Terror of Neoliberalism: Politics Beyond the Age of Greed" (2008). His newest book, "Youth in a Suspect Society: Democracy or Disposability?" will be published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2009. Notes. 1. Zygmunt Bauman and Keith Tester, Conversations with Zygmunt Bauman (Malden: Polity Press, 2001), p. 47. 2. Sheldon S. Wolin, Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008), p. 60. 3. Stuart Hall,.Epilogue: Through the Prism of an Intellectual Life,. in Brian Meeks, Culture, Politics, Race, and Diaspora: The Thought of Stuart Hall (Miami: Ian Rundle Publishers, 2007), pp. 289.290. 4. Amy Gutmann, Democratic Education (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998), p. 42. 5. Ian Angus, .Academic Freedom in the Corporate University,. ed. Mark Cote, Richard J. F. Day, and Greig de Peuter, Utopian Pedagogy: Radical Experiments against Neoliberal Globalization (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007), pp. 64.75. 6. This position is brilliantly articulated in Edward Said, Humanism and Democratic Criticism (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004). 7. See also Henry A. Giroux and Susan Searls Giroux, Take Back Higher Education (New York: Palgrave, 2004). 8. Craig Calhoun and Loc Wacquant, .Social Science with Conscience: Remembering Pierre Bourdieu (1930.2002),. Thesis Eleven 70 (August 2002), p. 10. 9. Stanley Fish, Save the World on Your Own Time (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008). 10. Edward Said, Humanism and Democratic Criticism (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004), p. 50. 11. See, especially, Christopher Newfield, Unmaking the Public University: The Forty-Year Assault on the Middle Class (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2008). 12. I take up the issue of the emerging of the academic-military-industrial complex in Henry A. Giroux, The University in Chains: Confronting the Military-Industrial-Academic Complex (Boulder: Paradigm Publishers, 2008). 13. See Henry A. Giroux, .Academic Unfreedom in America: Rethinking the University as a Democratic Public Sphere,. in Edward J. Carvalho, ed., .Academic Freedom and Intellectual Activism in the Post-9/11 University,. special issue of Work and Days 51.54 (2008.2009), pp. 45.72. This may be the best collection yet published on intellectual activism and academic freedom. 14. For Stanley Fish.s latest version of this position, see http://fish.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/08/neoliberalism-and-higher-education/ 15. Wolin, Democracy Incorporated, p. 161. 16. Richard J. Bernstein, The Abuse of Evil: The Corruption of Politics and Religion since 9/11 (Malden: Polity Press, 2005), pp. 25.26. 17. On the crucial issue of the erosion of tenure track jobs and the growing casualization of academic labor, see Marc Bousquet, How the University Works: Higher Education and the Low-Wage Nation (New York: New York University Press, 2008). For a more pessimistic account, see Frank Donoghue, The Last Professors: The Corporate University and the Fate of the Humanities (New York: Fordham University Press, 2008). 18. See the February 7, 2009 issue of Newsweek and the accompanying story, Jon Meacham and Evan Thomas, .We Are All Socialists Now,. Newsweek (February 7, 2009). Online at: http://www.newsweek.com/id/183663/output/print. 19. Patricia Cohen, .In Tough Times, the Humanities Must Justify Their Worth,. New York Times (February 25, 2009), pp. C1, C7. 20. Cohen, p. C1. 21. Anthony Kronman, .Why Are We Here? Colleges Ignore Life's Biggest Questions, and We All Pay the Price,. Boston Globe (September 16, 2007). Online at: http://www.boston.com/news/globe/ideas/articles/2007/09/16/why_are_we_here/. --------13 of 13-------- Turn Left, Take Ten Steps, Discover a Better World by Dennis Rahkonen March 12th, 2009 Dissident Voice 1) God doesn't exist, and never did. Belief in a Heavenly Father arose out of primitive ignorance and associated superstition. To think that an omnipotent old fellow with a white beard sits on a golden throne in the sky is wildly ridiculous. The only thing crazier is to believe said deity created us, governs our affairs, and deserves our blind obedience. Help stamp out witch-hunts and suicide bombings. Relegate God to the same dustbin of mythology where all ghosts, holy or otherwise, rightfully belong. 2) We don't have souls and don't go anywhere but into the ground to be eaten by worms when we die. Let's bravely acknowledge that fact. 3) Quit contending that global warming isn't real. Except for discredited, charlatan "scientists" of the kind who promote Intelligent Design, the overwhelming majority of truly qualified experts agree that manmade greenhouse gases are dangerously heating the planet. Conservatives can't bring themselves to admit that "liberals" and United Nations types could ever be correct about anything, so they nay-say, sit on their hands, and would allow their grandchildren (and ours) to ultimately perish, fearfully gasping for precious breath. 4) Nationalism sucks. Belief that one's own country is better or more important than all others has generated massively destructive jingoism and xenophobia through the ages. Combined with religion, it's been the chief cause of war for bloody centuries. Join me in pledging to never take up arms against anyone on bogus pretexts - or to imagine them inferior, "evil," etc. - just because they live beyond the ocean, look strange, and have unfamiliar customs. 5) Let's jettison monopoly capitalism, which is so parasitically harmful that it makes a starving vampire bat seem benign. If we the people took over the economy, democratically controlling it for public profit and common gain, we'd never get robbed at the gas pump again, pay an arm and a leg for medical care or prescription drugs, lose our homes to usurious mortgage thieves, or get sent off to die in meddling neocons' criminal invasions abroad. Fire the boss! Become a fair-minded owner of America, along with your fellow workers and neighbors! 6) Stop bashing immigrants. Each of our own arriving ethnic groups was accused by existing nativists of stealing jobs, being a societal drain, having criminal and otherwise unsavory tendencies, or spreading disease, just as mostly Hispanic immigrants are condemned today. Such successive discrimination plainly benefited divide-and-conquer corporate profiteers. It was only when ethnicities, races, and genders united - understanding that an injury to one is an injury to all - that the overall U.S. working class made decisive advances and acquired a mutually better living standard. 7) Admit that nothing worthwhile comes from conservatism. It's abject selfishness masquerading as a valid ideology. Its sole purpose is to perpetuate minority privilege attained through illegitimate power wielded against consequently suffering masses. Conservatives will never utter the word "justice," for it's a shattering indictment of their consistently exploitative role in human affairs. Everything good has been fiercely resisted by the political Right: abolishing slavery and child labor, gaining women's suffrage, struggling to achieve racial equality, raising the minimum wage, implementing progressive taxation, establishing health and safety standards in the workplace and the community at large, just to name a few. 8) Accept that, while abortion isn't pretty, it's often necessary. Furthermore, only each female in each specific, unique circumstance has the right to determine what constitutes a legitimate abortion need. No male, or male-dominated institution, should interfere in this most personal and difficult choice. Before guys say one word about the supposed impropriety of terminating an unacceptable pregnancy, they should produce ironclad guarantees about controlling their reckless libidos and keeping their penises in their pants, if that's where they're told they should remain. 9) Repeat after me: "Better gay than grumpy". The only problem with homosexuality is that some straights, insecure about their own orientation, get uptight over it. Most animal species engage in same-sex contact on a minority basis. Therefore it isn't "unnatural," just different, and entirely involuntary, like being left-handed rather than right. Besides, aren't the last six words of the Pledge of Allegiance "with liberty and justice for all"? Quit being hypocrites and get aboard the freedom train! 10) To nurture the collective human spirit, which is quite different than a religious "soul," think less about what you can personally acquire, in a material sense. Instead, join struggles for shared prosperity. Know that the greatest reward is giving a deprived child reason to laugh. Honor and guard our earthly home. Lie down beside a blade of grass and contemplate its simple magnificence. Then, when relentless age takes its final toll, buy the farm with a contented smile. You lived well. You did the right thing. Feed those worms and help make that grass grow! Dennis Rahkonen, from Superior, Wisconsin, has been writing progressive commentary with a Heartland perspective for various outlets since the '60s. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- - David Shove shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu rhymes with clove Progressive Calendar over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02 please send all messages in plain text no attachments vote third party for president for congress now and forever Socialism YES Capitalism NO To GO DIRECTLY to an item, eg --------8 of x-------- do a find on --8
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