[Marxism] William Lorent Katz on "Lincoln"

Mark Lause markalause at gmail.com
Tue Dec 25 22:48:16 MST 2012


It's not humanly possible for one person to produce the numbers
without cutting corner somewhere that effects the quality of the
output.  You're either not able to check the facts or you're not
giving yourself the time to think about what your subject as much as
it deserves.

There are many versions of this.  Stephen Ambrose was a kind of
high-end producer, but involved large numbers of people--family
members, in his case--voluntarily contributing to his rate of
productivity.  But it often involves skimming through subjects by
plundering the labors of others.

As was the case in the degeneration of the old crafts, the yardstick
is what's presented at the very top, by the elite and privileged
layers of the field, but the farther down the pecking order one goes,
the wider the variety.  Espectially today, it defines very little
about someone to say that they're "associated with" a university.  It
could mean that they're as good (or better than the tenure track and
tenured people)--or could be, if they had the institutional backing
they get--or it could mean that, every so often, you teach a course
nobody full-time wants to teach.  A lot of this is terribly underpaid
labor and those with the connections and wherewithal often begin
writing what they want to be journalistic stuff aimed at a popular
market (though rarely hitting it), some of which might actually make a
bit of additional income.

None of these responses to a bizarre system are necessarily a
reflection on the writer, and I frankly think that a lot of the
plagiarism fandango was aimed at further discoruaging this and
securing the ideological hold of the elites--as ultiamtely does
virtually every reform in academe I've ever seen.

Nevertheless, it should caution against making assumptions about
fact-checking and other niceties.

I made my few brief comments on this particular review on the list.

ML




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