Wednesday, 9 June 2010

smells like victory

In the wake of the move of CRMEP to Kingston the ironies keep on coming:

"Around 4/5th of Middlesex University’s research in RAE2008 was rated as of international standing. An important aspect of our strategy to build on this success is to strengthen our research student base. Consequently, we are funding several fully funded research studentships for an October 2010 start. Applications from suitably qualified candidates are invited in the following areas."

My personal feeling, reinforced by someone more sensible than I, is that under the conditions of the rigged game this was a victory. The rigidity of the academic job market, which once was a trade off with job security, now works to undermine academics. The obvious point was that Middlesex regarded their staff as disposable and now they have 'disposed' themselves en masse. Of course I feel real concern for those left behind, more than most as I feel strongly the need for struggles to increase job security. I'm deeply critical and sceptical about those 'radical' demands to exit philosophy from the university - living outside the university is living in other forms of wage labour, and I see nothing wrong with demanding state support for education (pending abolition of the state / value form / etc...).
The fantasy of the private university or certain forms of knowledge common seems to me to rest on a further entrepreneurialisation of knowledge. Here is where a thinking of the state and capital is required, rather than recycling anti-social democracy tropes in the guise of exodus style radicalism. 'Abolish the university', well wait around it's already being done by neo-liberal capitalism (isn't there a story that Jacques-Alain and Judith Miller where moved out of one Paris university by the French state (to another, but in the provinces!) in their haut Maoist destroy the university phase).


Michael said...

Largely agree. But it does pose a little bit of a problem in re the disjunction between the radical discourse deployed in the course of the "struggle" and the academic realpolitik of the move to Kingston. In other words, I could imagine myself finding a way to move to another place were this sort of thing to happen to me, but I couldn't imagine myself moving to another place after entangling myself in a lot of "another university is possible" and the like rhetoric that was in part on my behalf.

I'm sure everyone will come along and say that those who moved had nothing to do with the radical / utopian rhetoric, was just the kids and so forth, but I'm not sure I'll believe it. And if that's the case, well, we're in the range of something that smells of cynicism.

Still, good news, yes, that the CRMEP stays open. But there's a bad taste that goes with it...

Benjamin said...

I'm afraid I don't know much about what was said or by whom. I think 'realpolitik', in terms of keeping an academic position, is acceptable. The problem with working outside of the university is that it's still a matter of work, unless one is independently wealthy. I can't see one could expect people not to try to find work in such a situation.

I think certainly that more could have been done during the struggle to combine and link a discourse of job security and employment (so-called 'traditional' demands) with more radical demands. In a sense the university provides employment that allows this 'public' work, at least more than other jobs I've done. I think a dual discourse would have been better.

Certainly I am concerned with the general situation, as famous academics have the protection of being able to move whereas, to be frank, the less-known like myself will be exited with no fuss and no right of return. After June 21 no doubt I'll find this all coming true...