[Marxism] PhD Supervision

Andrew Stewart hasc.warrior.stew at gmail.com
Sat Dec 8 15:31:39 MST 2018

While I am not an academic and have very little knowledge of the dynamics
you might be dealing with, either in the general or specific sense, here's
my first impression response:

Marxism in the realm of academic philosophy, meaning the framework that a
given academic project is based upon, is so nebulous and such a wide
terrain that it has next to no meaning for what a given scholar's politics
are going to be in practice. There is a long list of Marxist academics who
have embraced every strain of politics within America. DSA, which is seeing
huge growth as a result of the Bernie Sanders campaign, began as a project
of mostly academic types like Irving Howe and Michael Harrington and they
were proponents of a Popular Front with the Democratic Party. Then you have
other Marxists, like economist Richard Wolff, who endorse the Green Party,
which is the largest third party on the left in America. Then there have
been others who have used a Marxist framework to justify their support for
the Republican Party. Marxism is really a tool and framework of analysis
that does not dictate political programs as if it were the Oracle of
Delphi. So it would seem pretty nuts to say that being a Marxist academic
should dictate any sort of practical political outcomes.

If I gather from your original inquiry that you are dealing with a pupil
who is expressing reactionary behaviors, that is a precarious issue owing
to academic freedom. In theory, one can be a total chauvinist and still be
protected by academic freedom from having politics dictate whether a thesis
is allowed to be defended or not.

So with this in consideration, do what Joe Hill said: Don't mourn,
organize! Look to colleagues who you know have good politics and ask them
to have coffee/tea at an off-campus location where you can explain your
situation. Build a network around yourself and develop a discussion that
will make it a community struggle. I've only met him once personally when
he did a lecture at Brown about sex work but Joel Quirk in the Department
of Political Studies at University of Wits has struck me as a very decent
person over the years, very dedicated to a strand of scholarship that works
to build solidarity with the vulnerable and marginalized despite a
configuration of reactionary forces that are quite powerful and can play
very dirty rather quickly.

In terms of security culture, whoever you contact, just insist on using
non-academic emails so you can maintain privacy. Meet off-campus and
correspond with devices that are your personal property as opposed to
school computers.

You indicate that violence is one of the issues that you are dealing with.
In that instance, I would use that as a reason to contact the dean in
charge of disciplinary issues and indicate you have concerns about safety
on the campus and/or in regards to faculty/students/staff. As someone
writing in the north (USA), we've been having a huge controversy in the
past decade or so around the issue of deans and campus security forces not
reporting genuine criminal behavior against students (sexual assault, rape)
to local police forces, which in practice has borne out that a bunch of
young white men are shielded from any repercussions for their truly
sociopathic behavior and are given the kind of message that they are
allowed to commit more felonious actions (case and point herein<
or <
As a prison abolition activist, I certainly see the contradictions in this
issue but I also know that the cause, ending the police-prison-industrial
complex's rampage against Black/Brown communities, is being subverted to
serve the most privileged, sexist, and white supremacist elements of

Best regards,

Andrew Stewart

Message: 6
Date: Sat, 8 Dec 2018 16:32:54 +0000 (UTC)
From: Ismail Lagardien <ilagardien at yahoo.com>
To: Louis Proyect via Marxism <marxism at lists.csbs.utah.edu>
Subject: [Marxism] PhD Supervision
Message-ID: <615150844.962352.1544286774179 at mail.yahoo.com>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8

This is a serious question. If you're, say, a Professor and a Marxist, do
you HAVE to pass and graduate the most ill-informed, dangerous, bigoted,
chauvinistic, violent and corrupt politician - just because he or she
pretends to be a Marxist? Worst, what if you (the professor) serve in some
capacity as an advisor or mentor in the party of which the politician is a

Dr Ismail LagardienVisiting ProfessorWits University School of Governance

Nihil humani a me alienum puto

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