Those of Us Still Stuck with Academe

Gary Maclennan g.maclennan at
Thu Mar 8 21:27:10 MST 2001


I read this with care and much of it strikes me as familiar, still it is
pretty horrifying.  do youknow who the referee was who had NZ as a
classless society?

In any case hang in there. And good luck.



At 17:04 9/03/01 +1300, you wrote:
>Since there's a bit of a discussion about academe on the list, I'd like to
>share some of my experiences in the halls of impartial truth-seeking with
>members of the list.
>I'm a mature student, currently doing a PhD on 'White New Zealand'
>immigration policies of the late 1800s/early 1900s.  I'm in the History
>Department at Canterbury University in Christchurch, New Zealand.  Perhaps
>the main 'claim to fame' of this department is that it is the only one in
>the world (or the only one I know of) to award an MA with first class
>honours to a holocaust denial thesis (back in 1993).  The thesis is by Joel
>Hayward, and anyone doing a search on his name will bring up various
>neo-Nazi sites where his thesis has been pasted up.  Hayward went on to do
>a PhD here and then went to Massey University (in Palmerston North) where
>he lectures in military studies and within a year or two of starting work
>was a senior lecturer.
>MA theses here are supposed to end up in the library, so anyone can read
>them.  Hayward's had an embargo put on it for a number of years - basically
>covering the years he was doing his PhD and getting himself a job in a NZ
>university - so most students in the Hist dept and a lot of other people
>outside it didn't know too much about the thesis, although you'd hear bits
>and pieces.
>Last year, when I think the embargo ended, the NZ Jewish Council kicked up
>hell about it and the university undertook a 'working party' investigation,
>with two big name academics and a retired high court judge.  In other
>words,people from the same establishment network.
>The working party found, and people involved in the thesis said it too
>(even Hayward, who has recanted, plus his superviser) that it was based on
>crap research and didn't stand up.  Nothing was done about the mark it was
>given however.  Instead a load of new controls over postgrad work were
>brought in, so it's us thesis writers who have had to suffer.  The
>superviser of the thesis, who was one of the two markers of the thesis as
>well, has not been subject to any sanction at all.  Hayward himself keeps
>his degree and continues to teach.
>But in some ways what is most interesting is the background to the thesis,
>and how the History Dept operated (and, in many ways, still does).
>Some of this came out in the report by the working party, but the report
>did not actually mention the significance of this and what it might say
>about the Dept.
>Basically, Hayward was the 'blue-eyed' boy of the Dept.  people around at
>the time thought he was a member of staff, he was so favoured by the people
>running the Dept.  They also thought he must be some kind of genius to have
>the special status he had, even when he was doing his MA.  In fact, he was
>a very average student.  The working party report, available at the
>Canterbury University website, contains his academic record.  Across three
>departments over three years, his average mark was half-way between a B-
>and a B.  He only had 6 points in stage three history.  You have to have
>have 12 to proceed after your BA and do honours.  Yet Hayward was not only
>allowed to proceed to postgrad work - he was allowed to write his MA thesis
>*before* he did his honours papers.  This is a truly bizarre situation, as
>students with straight As have to do honours papers before an MA.
>Moreover, Hayward was working for the Dept as a tutor (tyutors run the
>tutorial part of the department's courses).  Normally you have to have a
>very good MA to do this.  Yet Hayward only had a BA, with very average
>I think Hayward probably also co-ran courses and lectured here while doing
>his PhD, and maybe even while doing his MA.
>The marking of Hayward's thesis is also interesting.  His superviser's
>chief claim to fame is having written five biographies of WW2 airmen and
>one other book.  Hardly cutting-edge scholarship.  I mean, 5 bios of airmen
>- you can write the same book five times and just changes the names and
>dates.  Neither his superviser nor the external marker, at Waikato
>University (Hamilton) had *any* expertise in holocaust studies.  Moreover,
>Hayward was awarded his A+ *before* the Waikato marker's report even
>Contrast this to another thesis writer in the History Dept.  This other
>thesis writer turned in an MA on Irish struggles in the early 20th century.
>Before even being sent to be marked, it was sent to Australia to be read
>over as the student's superviser here was not an expert in the area.  It
>was sent to Australia to be read by someone who had just had a book
>published on a related Irish topic.
>The little in-house committee here which reads over MAs, objected to some
>of the "tone' of this Irish thesis.  These people of obviously very
>delicate sensibilities managed, however, to read a holocaust denial thesis
>without having these delicate sensibilities touched!
>The Irish thesis went to Australia, to a senior historian in Auckland and
>to a head of department in Britain.  Finally, it was graded A+.  The holder
>of this degree cannot even get tutoring work in the Dept at present.  And,
>though he has lectured for 5 years in the university's Centre for
>Continuing Education on a range of courses he himself has set up and run -
>has never once been asked to give a single lecture in the Hist Dept.  (I
>might add that Cont Ed courses pay about as much per hour as work at
>Clearly, completely double standards at work.
>Moreover, the author of the Irish MA, now in the 5th year of his PhD, has
>had a number of bizarre experiences in the Hist Dept.  In one case, this
>student, during about the second or third year of his PhD, pretty much had
>to go and see a senior lecturer about thesis supervision, because his first
>superviser had pulled out (claiming the PhD theiss was 'too theoretical').
>In the course of the meeting with this other senior lecturer, the lecturer
>asked the student, in a rather hissy way, "Just what kind of marxist are
>you?  Are you a Lukacs/Colletti Marxist?"  When the student responded that
>he quite lked Lukacs, the lecturer hissed at him, "Lukacs is SHIT!"  and
>went to his bookshelf to get a book that apparently proved Lukacs was
>'shit!'  Said student laughed and said goodbye to the lecturer and left the
>Of course, this second student is me.
>I have also recently had another interesting experience of academe and how
>it works to create bourgeois ideology and also gate-keep for the system at
>an ideological level.  Last year I delivered a paper on the hiostoriography
>of White New Zealand at an historical conference in Melbourne.  One of the
>people at it was editing a book on the Chinese in Australia and New Zealand
>and subsequently asked me to write a chapter on White New Zealand policies.
>Now, NZ hasn't really owned up to having totally racist immigration
>policies until the 1980s (now they use money rather than skin colour to
>keep people out).  White New Zealand polcies have been largely swept under
>the carpet.  There isn't, for instance, one single published book on the
>subject of the making of these laws.
>However work that does exist basically argues that it was the working class
>that pushed for it and that upper class humanitarians in the Legislative
>Council (an upper house that exiosted here for a long time) opposed the
>restrictions.  My research has found this interpretation to be
>fundamentally wrong.  Moreover, none of the people who have argued that
>upper crust people in the LC made fine speeches, full of humanitarianism
>etc etc, have ever even footnoted let alone quoted these speeches.  I have
>ploughed through every LC speech in the 1880s and 1890s and found that next
>to no-one in the LC supported the right of the Chinese to enter NZ on the
>same terms as whites.  Most of the LC people who voted against the
>restrictions wee right-wiong conservatives, who opposed votes for women,
>opposed factory reform, 8 hours day etc etc.  They also *supported*
>restrictions on the Chinese, but had minor tactical objections to specific
>pieces of legislation, plus generally opposed legislation coming from the
>LIberal Party (the main architects of White New Zealand).  I have also got
>into depth about the way in which the middle and upper classes created a
>racial discourse in the late 1800s and how this trickled down into the
>labur movement, especially as the working class was poltically (and also
>organisationally) hegemonised by the middle class.  Even a lot of union
>leaders at the time were petty-capitalists.
>Christ, you should see the respnse this has met.  People who never
>challenged the unfootnoted, unreferecned claims of the existing
>historiography are fighitng my work everyu bloody step of the way.  Every
>sentence i write just about is being challenged.  I have even been told by
>my superviser - who doesn't like the idea that intellectuals created racial
>discourse and it trickled down from them to sections of the working class -
>that I will have to *prove* that the intelligenstisa are the ideas people
>in society.  He seriously argued with me last week that ideas trickle up
>from the working class to the intellectuals!!!  I don't think he was amused
>when I asked him if he thought 19th century intellectuals picked up racial
>discourse by hanging around factory gates and working class pubs.
>Anyway, I sent off my book chapter to Australia.  The book's editor sent it
>to four referees.  Yes, four!   Reprts from three have come back in.  One
>of the referees said my book chapter was "unpublishable" because my
>contention that racial discourse began in the elite and was trickled down
>from there to the working class was crap.  This person even went so far as
>to dispute the idea that Sir George Grey was a meber of the NZ elite.  Grey
>was the governor of NZ for a number of years, later premier, virulently
>anti-Chinese and who presented himself as the friend of the (white) worker.
>To me, Grey was a classic case of hegemony at work.  This referee, however,
>calimed that Grey wasn't a member of the elite because he oriented to
>workers and that his racism was "almost certainly" a result of his
>sensitivity to workers.  Later in his report this referee said I took the
>existence of class divisions in NZ - working class, middle class and upper
>class - in the period for granted, whereas the notin of any such class
>divisions in NZ was "controversial".  (Which rather contradicted his point
>that Grey was the champion of the workers, if the workers didn't exist).
>But this shit is what you are up against all the time.  Favoritism, double
>standards, hypocrisy, bourgeois anti-working class  prejudice masquerading
>as 'knowledge'.  Etc etc etc.
>Meanwhile, tertiary cutbacks are passed on to students, as lecturers in
>this Dept cling on desperatey to their own positions.  Rather than standing
>up to the cuts, they are the people implementing them.  Of curse, they say
>this is just economic force and there is no alternative.  Then they turn
>around and attack marxists as economic determinists!!!
>And they blather on about the role of the university as social conscience,
>the need to maintain standards of excellence and all the rest of this total
>hypocrisy under which they cover their personal cowardice and ideological
>defence of capitalism.
>I am starting to become sympathetic to Mao turning the academics out of the
>universities and sending them to learn from the peasants!
>Philip Ferguson

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