Forwarded from Nestor (NAFTA-Marxism)

Juan R. Fajardo fajardos at
Sat May 5 11:59:03 MDT 2001

Julio wrote  (on Fri, 04 May 2001):

> Nestor writes:
> >You are just avoiding the issue, Julio. Would you please read the
> >whole posting where I explain WHY I believe that your kind of Marxism
> >expresses the pressures laid by economic integration with the USA on
> >Mexican intellectuals?
> Pressures on Mexican intelectuals?  NAFTA is not eroding their lifestyles.
> I'd think that the opposite is happening.  Maybe other Mexican members in
> this list, if there are any, could help me with this.  But my belief is that
> after 1995, there has been a steady expansion of opportunities for
> intellectuals in Mexico.  Teaching and research job openings have increased
> (I based this in anecdotal evidence).  A new university is to be opened in
> Mexico City.  Book publishing, journalism, all those activities that depend
> on intellectual labor have been enjoying a revival.

I'd be interested in knowing just what kind of teaching and research
jobs have been opening up.  I suspect that there may be an effect that
you are ignoring in favor of simply looking at numbers.

To illustrate what I am mean I refer you to the example of Peru.  Of
course, Peru, is outside the NAFTA sphere but under Fujumori/Montesinos
it was drawn into the same neoliberal orbit.

In the 1990s there has been and explosion of academies, centers, and
private universities founded --mostly in Lima, of course-- at the same
time as book publishing has also taken off somewhat after suffering a
decline in the economic crisis of the 1980s and the "Fujishock" of
1990-1992.  At a glance this could look like an extension and renewal of
the trend in Peru, since the early 1960s, of steadily rising university
attendance and per capita consumption of book titles.  In many respects,
it is this, as the private universities soak up the tens of thousands
who cannot be accommodated by the state universities, and the majority
of the academies are "academias pre-universitarias" designed to train
young people to pass university admissions examinations.  Tied to this,
the boom in book publishing has been geared to filling the need for
technical guides and business manuals.

It may also look like a vast pool of opportunity has opened up for
intellectuals, not only for individual intellectuals and academics, but
also an expansion of the total number of them.  This may also be
somewhat the case.

A closer look, however, shows that while the numbers have risen as a
whole, there is a degradation in the quality.  The social sciences
-sociology, political science, anthropology- have been gutted,
longstanding emphasis in many centers on assisting the peasantry and the
urban poor have been dropped, all in favor of technical professions.  In
other words a university system once known for its social commitment has
been turned into an assembly line for producing neoliberal technocrats.
In the meantime, academics and intellectuals have found themselves
forced to work at two, three, and sometimes as many as four, jobs at
different institutions in order to make ends meet, and the incisive,
critical, socially-committed intellectual production of the 1960s,
1970s, and even the 1980s, has become unriskable, especially since
Fujimori enacted legislation legalizing arbitrary dismissal from jobs
(which the new Congress just refused to repeal two days ago, BTW).

What, with the decline in funding for other fields and of the public
university as a whole, students are being nothing if not pragmatic in
choosing to go to private "technical" universities.  And the opening of
the academies and private universities has permitted academics and
intellectuals, though stretched thin, to remain working in their fields
instead of switching to admittedly more lucrative jobs such as taxi
driving, money changing, catering, etc.  But I think there can be no
question hat the "neoliberal revolution" has put pressures on Peruvian
intellectuals and eroded their lifestyles, even though in terms of
absolute numbers of institutions, posts created, and books published the
situation might look superficially good and improving.

I would not be surprised to see the same sort of processes at work in

- Juan

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