Revisiting old problems

TimW333521 at aol.com TimW333521 at aol.com
Mon Jun 10 07:55:39 MDT 1996


Louis questions my use of the word "invigilation" (which I may have
mispelled).  He challenges me to find it in a dictionary.

You will find  the word"invigilate" as a verb meaning " to watch diligently"
in Websters Unabridged.  You will also find it in Webster's College where it
is given a narrower interpretation "to monitor students during a written
examination."  Here the word "invigilation" is added as the noun form.

The word entered my vocabulary in 1981 when I submitted an article
"Transition to the Transition" to New Left Review.  The editors did the kind
of job on my piece that Russell Jacoby describes in "The Last Intellectuals"
changing much of my wording to more complex, academically acceptable
terminology.   The following was their context:  "For the working class to
actually exercise power it needed to control Sovnarkom, but the obstacles to
popular invigilation of Sovnarkom's activity were very great...."

It is quite possible that the term has had greater usage in Great Britain
than here.  However, it appealed to me because it suggested a more generic
concept than other words for the processes by which masses of people see to
it that their "leaders" do what they want them to do.   The idea of watching
over leaders of "socialist" states with the same vigor as "invigilators"
during exams has something going for it.



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