never trust anyone over 30 (mk 2): mdx
I imagine this is bound to be an unpopular post, but oh well, that’ll make a couple in a row.
Go look at Christian Kerslake’s comment on the Save Middlesex Philosophy blog, and then go look back at another one of my rather unpopular posts. Obviously the circumstances in question now are a bit different than those that I was obliquely addressing then, but still – the point remains. Students and junior academics need to be wary of the motives, ultimate aims, and stakes involved when throwing in with their teachers / senior colleagues, who likely have about a thousand times more job security / market value than they do and 9/10 will fall back on it. More important, teachers / senior colleagues have an absolutely binding ethical obligation not to sell their students / junior colleagues up the pike, or allow them to sell themselves up the pike in the service of a politics that turns out, in the end, to be merely symbolic or worse.
It’s unsexy, I know. Lots about teaching – and really adulthood in general – is. But once you’ve seen one of these situations turn into a clusterfuck, trust me, you never need to see it again.
No one likes a nay-sayer, and even less someone who saw it coming all along but said nothing, but yeah, this is why I take the rhetoric of utopian liberation, especially in the lurid realm of academia, with a major grain of salt. Thus I sat it out. But none of what has happened has contradicted a single iota of my skepticism about handling these things in this way. And the devaluation of liberatory political discourse via hypocritical backroom realpolitik is about the last thing that our side needs at this point or ever. And the long-standing gripe against Theory – that it is little more than a job-creation machine, an instrument of limitless discursive production designed to forward the careers of a group of initiates – isn’t really contradicted by the outcome here.
I’m glad that there’s still going to be a CRMEP. But still. I noticed the other day that on the counter of my local North London independent bookshop there was a Save Middlesex Philosophy petition. I am pretty sure that the many people who signed this petition here were completely unaware of the existence of the Centre and that there concern was that a local philosophy department was being shut down. I wonder if it’s still there today and I wonder if people are still signing it….
(Just to be clear on the hypocrisy front: in a parallel situation, I would find myself a new job and quickly if I could. That’s not the issue, not at all…)