Decline of KPFK

Macdonald Stainsby mstainsby at
Wed Jun 13 15:44:58 MDT 2001

> You're right, I'm probably outdated. If the British SWP changed its stance,
> that can
> only be good. My general point remains. One leftwing academic  explained it
> to me this way: people, he said, want to: "swivel a gun and blast
> an academic ...We are all idiots, can't see
> the facts, lazy, arrogant, fanatically cling to false models, we tyrannize
> students who disagree with us, etc. Jeezus I never knew so many found
> college so
> traumatic. Even if all that is true no sane asshole would volunteer to
> subject
> himself to such a litany of his insufficiencies. It is the most tiresome
> feature
> of participating on listserves. There are no professional incentives for
> participation on a listserve. Academics get no pay, no raises, no
> acknowledgement, for their participation on listserves. The only thing that
> counts is publications. So if I get in a big debate ... and "win" I still
> lose."

You know, to be honest? Before I finished reading through the entire quote about
what one would and would not gain from and be traumatised by, I had visions of
being a disciplined member of a small party. Turns out the author of the quote
meant something else. Maybe I'm a cynic, but...

> At least this person was honest enough about his cynicism: there are no
> career advantages in participating on listservs.

Hmm., actually I needto state that this is simply true of people who already had
careers when the listserve culture rose. I certainly have gained "career wise" a
great deal of practical working knowledge, both in content and in the form of
how I express myself and prove points. The internet is marvelous, sometimes
*too* marvelous at being a place to sharpen one's sword.

There are plenty of
> academic listservs which are very busy, but they are almost always in very
> specialised areas and the discussions, however heated, tend not to spillover
> into the public domain.


Yes, I have joined a half-dozen or of these. They are as insular as the hallways
of the political science department at my Uni. The ideas sound really cool,
except they get nowhere outside the zone of their advancement. You either feel
inadequate (a human but incorrect reaction) or angered at the angels dancing on
the head of a surplus value (imo, the righteous reaction).


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