[Marxism] Colleges and Universities as Working-class Institutions

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at osu.edu
Sun May 1 09:06:28 MDT 2005


I don't know if US socialists have fully grasped the implications of 
changed relations between the working class and post-secondary 
education in the United States.  (The word "academia" doesn't quite 
capture the reality of post-secondary education in the United States, 
as the first two years of instruction at four-year colleges and 
universities as well as community college education function not 
unlike remedial classes for deficient high school education.)

A majority of American workers experience post-secondary education. 
"More than half the U.S. population 25 and over in 2000 (52 percent) 
had completed at least some college education" ("Educational 
Attainment: 2000," August 2003, 
<http://www.census.gov/prod/2003pubs/c2kbr-24.pdf>).  The younger 
workers are, the more likely they are to have college experience: 
"The rate of completion of some college was 58 percent among those in 
the 25- to 29-year age group" ("Educational Attainment: 2000," August 
2003, <http://www.census.gov/prod/2003pubs/c2kbr-24.pdf>).  That's a 
momentous change since the 1930s and even the long 1960s, two 
upsurges of class struggle in the United States (as well as the rest 
of the world).

Given these facts, it's time to consider colleges and universities as 
working-class institutions, without however putting blue-collar 
workers who have no college education (some of whom work on campuses 
as janitors, food workers, clerical workers, etc., colleges and 
universities being main employers in many a city and town in the USA) 
on the political back burner.  Because of the declining weight of 
mass production factories in the US economy (reflected in the big US 
trade deficit), colleges and universities -- along with elementary, 
middle, and high schools -- are among the few remaining institutions 
where you can still find working-class youths _en masse_.

It's still important to organize workers at points of production, but 
the points of production have become increasingly fragmented (due for 
instance to the rise of mini mills, deregulation, outsourcing, 
offshoring, etc.), so it's more crucial than ever to organize workers 
at other working-class institutions such as schools as well as in 
working-class neighborhoods (in the form of community organizing).
-- 
Yoshie

* Critical Montages: <http://montages.blogspot.com/>
* Monthly Review: <http://monthlyreview.org/>
* Greens for Nader: <http://greensfornader.net/>
* Bring Them Home Now! <http://www.bringthemhomenow.org/>
* Calendars of Events in Columbus: 
<http://sif.org.ohio-state.edu/calendar.html>, 
<http://www.freepress.org/calendar.php>, & <http://www.cpanews.org/>
* Student International Forum: <http://sif.org.ohio-state.edu/>
* Committee for Justice in Palestine: <http://www.osudivest.org/>
* Al-Awda-Ohio: <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Al-Awda-Ohio>
* Solidarity: <http://www.solidarity-us.org/>




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