[Marxism] Why NYU does the things it does | Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue May 20 10:58:56 MDT 2014

Yesterday’s NY Times carried a blockbuster report on the mistreatment of 
the predominantly East Asian construction laborers hired as virtual 
indentured servants to build the New York University satellite campus in 
Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. Although I have 
grown inured to leftist complaints over the years about the Times, it is 
reporting like this that makes me uneasy about calling the paper our 
Pravda, even if the removal of editor Jill Abramson smacks of Kremlin 
intrigues. These are the lead paragraphs but I urge you to read the 
entire article that will make your blood boil.

	The strike had entered its second day when construction workers at 
Labor Camp 42 got word that their bosses from the BK Gulf corporation 
had come to negotiate. Mohammed Amir Waheed Sirkar, an electrician from 
Bangladesh, scrambled down the stairs to meet them. But when he got to 
the courtyard, he saw the truth: It wasn’t the bosses who had come. It 
was the police.

	They pounded on doors, breaking some down, and hauled dozens of men to 
prison. Mr. Sirkar was taken to a Dubai police station, where officers 
interrogated him. After a while, new officers arrived. That’s when 
things got rough.
	“They beat me up,” he said through an Urdu interpreter, “asking me to 
confess I was involved in starting the strike.” Others were slapped, 
kicked, or beaten with shoes, a special indignity in Arab culture.

You can understand (but not forgive) how American garment corporations 
screw workers in Bangladesh–the same country that supplied many of the 
NYU indentured servants. Except for an outfit like Benetton, most of 
those companies have no pretenses about social justice or progressive 
values. The Abu Dhabi campus is part of NYU’s Global Network, an 
initiative meant to express a “good” globalization. On the university’s 
website, the Global Initiative is hyped with allusions to Karl Jaspers 
and Teilhard de Chardin:

	As we begin a new millennium, a Second Axial Period has begun. Though 
first described by theologians like the Jesuits’ Pierre Teilhard de 
Chardin, I believe it also has a secular, progressive dimension (quite 
separable, for those who prefer, from religiosity) which is useful in 
understanding what we see unfolding in our time.

Right, a secular, progressive institution that is built on the 
super-exploitation of the most desperately poor workers in the world. 
NYU has the brass to describe Abu Dhabi in these terms:

	NYU’s early experience at its portal campus in Abu Dhabi provides 
support for the claim that the global network structure will be 
attractive to talented cosmopolitans. Abu Dhabi is a crossroad city, 
containing in microcosm (but in different proportions from New York) a 
blend of all the world; it is blessed with a visionary government, 
economic dynamism, and an increasingly tolerant and welcoming society; 
and, it is both a repository of a great culture and a symbol of that 
culture’s adaptation to modernity.

full: http://louisproyect.org/2014/05/20/why-nyu-does-the-things-it-does/

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