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Archive for May 30th, 2005

Charming as ever…

with 6 comments

Apparently, the Guardian thought it’d be valuable to bring the brothers Hitchens together for a nice chat. I do like that they left the following in the transcript:

Female audience member
Excuse me. I’m not usually awkward at all but I’m sitting here and
we’re asked not to smoke. And I don’t like being in a room where
smoking is going on.

CH (smoking heavily): Well, you don’t have to stay, do you darling. I’m working here and I’m your guest. OK . This is what I like.

IK Would you just stub that one out?

CH No. I cleared it with the festival a long time ago. They let me do it. If anyone doesn’t like it they can kiss my ass.

(Woman walks out)

Contrarian as evah.

Written by adswithoutproducts

May 30, 2005 at 11:02 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Followup

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Written by adswithoutproducts

May 30, 2005 at 1:25 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Brooks as Marxist

with 13 comments

So, David Brooks has an, um, interesting column today in the Times in which he encounters / poses as Karl Marx – in order to deliver to the even-minded readership of the sunday paper a quasi-Marxist sermon. Here’s the middle parts:

The educated class reaps the benefits of the modern economy –
seizing for itself most of the income gains of the past decades – and
then ruthlessly exploits its position to ensure the continued dominance
of its class.

The educated class has torn away from the family its sentimental
veil and reduced it to a mere factory for the production of little
meritocrats. Members of the educated elites are more and more likely to
marry each other, which the experts call assortative mating, but which
is really a ceaseless effort to refortify class solidarity and magnify
social isolation. Children are turned into workaholic knowledge workers
– trained, tutored, tested and prepped to strengthen class dominance.

The educated elites are the first elites in all of history to work
longer hours per year than the exploited masses, so voracious is their
greed for second homes. They congregate in exclusive communities walled
in by the invisible fence of real estate prices, then congratulate
themselves for sending their children to public schools. They parade
their enlightened racial attitudes by supporting immigration policies
that guarantee inexpensive lawn care. They send their children off to
Penn, Wisconsin and Berkeley, bastions of privilege for the children of
the professional class, where they are given the social and other
skills to extend class hegemony.

The information society is the only society in which false
consciousness is at the top. For it is an iron rule of any university
that the higher the tuition and more exclusive the admissions, the more
loudly the denizens profess their solidarity with the oppressed. The
more they objectively serve the right, the more they articulate the
views of the left.

OK, even-minded reader (like the Dad in those obnoxious tv ads the Times puts on – know what I mean?), this is a bit confusing isn’t it? What’s Brooks – who, after all, is the official mouthpiece of enlightened neo-conservativism at the paper of record – up to? You’re especially thrown by the strange, italicized conclusion of the piece:

I don’t agree with everything in Karl’s manifesto, because I don’t
believe in incessant class struggle, but you have to admit, he makes
some good points.

Bizarre. So, the "thinking man’s conservative" has turned Marxist – or almost. (Weird line that, about the "incessant class struggle" from a guy whose bread and butter is the "red/blue" divide in the US…)

Anyway. One of Atrios’s apprentices has put on her/his decoder ring so that you don’t have to:

There really is a class war (though Brooks doesn’t believe in it)!
But it’s not between the moneyed classes and everybody else; it’s
between those latte-sipping liberals in their ivory towers and
everybody else.

This seems just about right. Oldest play in Brooks’s book, right. He makes his living writing pieces that seem reasonible – even seem to contradict the party line that he’s purported to represent. But between the lines, when you look very closely, it’s always the case that somehow he’s pinned it all the more tightly on the left – or at least upon the coastal elites, the bobos, the hihis, the nynys… Whatever…

That’s absolutely what’s going on here. But still – begs the question doesn’t it – there’s a serious grain of truth in what Brooks is saying here… In the end, this is how the class system works in America, isn’t it?

When are the universities here going to wake up to the system that they’re entangled in, perpetuating.

It’s funny. When you’re on your way out of an "elite" institution, bound for a position at a state university, everyone slaps you on your back, tells you what a meaningful thing you’re doing. Teachers at "elite" insitutions complain all the time about the nature of the students – the "less than diverse" population.

Isn’t there anything more we can do about it than complain? Something more than applauding gratefully when we hear of a single-digit increase in minority enrollement (better all the time!). Brooks nails the financial aid alibi in the piece:

The median family income of a Harvard student is $150,000. According to
the Educational Testing Service, only 3 percent of freshmen at the top
146 colleges come from the poorest quarter of the population. The
educated class ostentatiously offers financial aid to poor students who
attend these colleges and then rigs the admission criteria to ensure
that only a small, co-optable portion of them can get in.

Why can’t we do something about this?  Why can’t the Harvard faculty start doing something about this? Like stop what we’re doing, along with all of the hallway nervous joking, and not come back until, I don’t know, everything’s changed…

Idle fantasy, I know… Here…

From a photo series a few days ago in the Times:

Militaryslide5_1
Specialist Jason W.
Huff, 28, joined the Guard after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. He
never much liked school, Specialist Huff said, recalling how his
father, a marine, disparaged a college education. "Dad would always
talk about the people who were from college, and he didn’t like them,"
he said. "He said they knew more about books than about the job." His
wife, Amy, carried their daughter, Karly, in seeing him off.

Written by adswithoutproducts

May 30, 2005 at 12:49 am

Posted in Current Affairs