[Marxism] Working Class Studies/Working Class Academics

Joaquín Bustelo jbustelo at bellsouth.net
Sun Nov 6 19:55:42 MST 2005


Michael Hoover asks: "So my question is this: what will it take to
create such a change, to generate greater respect and visibility for
working-class people and working-class studies in the academy?"

I'm sure there can be changes on the margin and lesser or greater
degrees of resources, prominence, respect and autonomy won for one or
another professor or course or department, but posed this way, in
general terms, to ask the question is to answer it, at least if one is a
Marxist. 

The status of "working class studies" in academia simply reflects the
status of the working class in society as a whole. It can't be
fundamentally reversed without overturning class relations in society as
a whole, and one should not expect even major shifts in this regard in
academia without major shifts in the underlying relationship of forces
between the classes in society as a whole.

Which doesn't mean the battle should not be waged, including in
academia. But it does mean that those who wage it, even among the
intelligentsia and in its institutions, will be most successful if they
are conscious that what they are doing is a reflection in the sphere of
ideological institutions, and an extension into that sphere, of the
class struggle, and in this case a fairly direct and immediate one. This
means that their chances for success will depend (among other factors)
on how  consciously they base themselves on the working class in that
class struggle.

In the United States since World War II, the sharpest political struggle
arising from class contradictions have been associated with the Black
Liberation Movement. And this has been duly reflected in academia, as
one would expect. So in terms of boosting "working class studies" one
thing I'd try to make damn sure of is that it isn't abstracted from or
counterposed to the ACTUAL major manifestations of class struggle in the
United States (and the world, for that matter) which has been the
struggle of nationally oppressed peoples against imperialism, and in the
United States, the Black Liberation Movement.

Joaquín






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