On Academe and the list was Re: NACLA and Colombia

Gary MacLennan g.maclennan at SPAMqut.edu.au
Fri Dec 15 21:53:05 MST 2000

I trust Michael will forgive me if I point out what I think is something of
an inconsistency in this post.  At one level he defends the academy then on
the other hand he admits there are very few radical educators out there.
Michael also points out that things are tough at the academy.  Sure things
are not as cushy as they once were.  But out there in the real world things
are *very* tough.  We academics are still relatively privileged.

However the issue I wish to deal with primarily is the status of academics
on this list. To listen to Michael and Yoshie and Carroll (!) one would
think that academics were an endangered species on Marxism at lists. Rubbish I

To begin with I am happier as an academic here than on most of the other
lists I have been or am on.  Granted Lou runs a different kind of list from
that which many academics may be comfortable with. His emphasis is on
political activism.

I do not think however he is an academic basher, and Michael is quite wrong
to say so.  And please do not do what Doug Henwood did and send me a bunch
of quotes from what Lou has said on other lists.  I am not interested in
what goes on elsewhere.  The whole point is how we behave on this list.

Actually I am much more critical of academics than Lou is.  Michael
polemically  caricatures Lou's position as the following:

"that halls of academe are crawling with sell-outs with cushy jobs who
have no political agenda other than to turn young minds in pomo

If Michael ever visits Brisbane I will take a great deal of pleasure in
introducing him to quite a number of former leftists who fit this
description exactly.  You only have to knock on a few doors at Griffith
University!  We could also take a trip down to Sydney and we would be
falling over them.

It is my experience (in Australia at least) that the former beautiful
people of the 60s have set the tone for academic life.  In my own field the
contributions of Hirst, & Bennett & co has produced a new generation of
bright young pragmatists.  Instead of fighting out the good fight and
holding on, Bennett and the others led the counter revolution. There is no
other word to use than "sell out".

In my own university I am now the last academic who describes themselves as
a Marxist.  Once there were nearly 20 of us.  The point I make is that most
of the others are still teaching.  They have however to use the jargon
"reconstructed" themselves.  Moreover they are training a generation of
post graduates who cling desperately to the slogan "whatever it takes".

There is simply no forum to take this phenomenon on and so when I
tune  into this list I feel I am among comrades and would like Michael and
others to recognise that a lot more.  He thinks he hears an anti-academic
record at work.  I on the other hand think I detect the voice of the
precious pretentious in his own complaints. Lou won't bow the knee to
academics, but as a Marxist I neither want nor expect him to.



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