August 22, 2013

Obama proposes to give more money to colleges whose graduates work on Wall Street The Obama proposal (brief description below) is wrong, regressive, and clearly designed to benefit finance capital. Masking itself as a way to confront student debt, it is actually a vehicle for pressuring colleges and universities to steer students and resources toward high paying positions. What sorts of positions are high paid? Not teaching, service, organizing, ministry, or art. Not government work/civil service, not non-profit work, not publishing, not nursing or childcare. In an extremely stratified capitalist context, a system that evaluates colleges highly for producing high paid graduates is one that awards those who are already awarded. The effect will be to push colleges away from offering majors in classics, music, comparative literature, studio art, anthropology, creative writing, and philosophy. It will push colleges toward economics, finance, business, accounting, and engineering. And what about community colleges? They provide essential educational services yet their graduates are rarely highly paid. At a time when we should be reinvesting in community colleges, developing programs that increase workers' skills and capacities (plumbing, building, electrical), Obama proposes that we do more to enhance the one percent, that is, to incite ever more competitive pressure to become part of .1%. Because of the emphasis on retention, the rating system will push colleges to make fewer accomodations to students who want to move in and out of college, taking a semester or a year off to pursue other interests, projects, and needs. The class-based suppositions of this new rating system are clear in the very priority of...
Ernest Mandel: Mandel on Althusser, Party and Class (1982) Indeed, in any really centralized organization the leadership unavoidably enjoys the advantages accorded by centralization. It obtains information, centralizes the practical experiences of the party as a whole and transmits unitary instructions to all party organs. Draft resolutions or theses circulate in the party before congresses or national conferences. These constitute the foundation for all debates. This is not in itself an evil. It is even an advantage, an indispensable feature of any functioning organic structure. To understand the objective role of this centralization is to understand that it is not merely an “organizational” or even administrative phenomenon, but represents a social and political necessity. What this centralization expresses is the attempt of Marxists, of communists, to overcome the fragmentation of the experience of the proletariat lived in isolation, factory by factory, industry by industry, region by region. The interest of the class as a whole is different from that of its individual sectors or components and is brought out only through centralization of the practice and the experience of the class struggle. However, the mechanisms of centralization can not be made to work solely in favor of the leadership and at the same time preserve their functional objectivity and effectiveness from a class struggle perspective, unless one adopts the absurd Stalinist thesis that the leadership is infallible. A number of objections have been raised with respect to the right to form tendencies. In the first instance it is alleged that it is contrary to Leninism, since the 10th Congress...

Jodi Dean

Jodi Dean is a political theorist.

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