open discussion

Fri, 4 Mar 1994 17:59:48 EST

A general note, since I started this discussion . . . what is emerging is
a dirty picture: a picture of academics pitted against themselves for the
betterment of some other segment of society.

It appears, from the responses that what has happened over the last twenty
years is that we have been drawn into a situation where the existing
positions have been steadily reduced at the direction of government policies
and under the rhetoric of `fiscal responsibility' and the rhetoric of
academic institutions acting more like businesses in their fiscal operations.

We have initiated a class of professional administrators to oversee such a
move, and in the process have so limited the available positions in scholarship
that males and females, scientists and humanists, ethnic groups, age cohorts
and specialists versus generalists, disciplanarianists versus interdisciplina-
riantists have been visciously pitted against each other for an ever
decreasing share of the right to simply earn a decent living in the profession
they have spent their lives investing in. What is worse, with the cost of
loans and the impossibility of their ever being overlooked or paid off . . .
government has taken control of the very possibility of many of us to ever
achieve fiscal independence . . . and financial power is scholarship control.

The very value of what we do has also become questionable, since a large
number of the students who we are intended to oversee into a training from
professional career opportunities afforded by a college degree . . . no longer
are capable of the simplist form of use of the human mind for other than
simple tasks . . . the ability to think critically of life goes fast if one
cannot string together a simple subject, verb object construction.

In short . . . we have all been neatly had over the last twenty years!

I would very strongly recommend that we develop what Marx called a collective
sense of class, and start using it; although, I personally am not Marxist nor
neo Marxist in my own ideological and theoretical orientation. As Foucoult
said `knowledge' is `power'; and it appears that we should collectively
begin to exercise the knowledge that we have . . . instead of paying lip
service to the defeatest idea that the lack of jobs in the social sciences
has anything to do with a free market, supply and demand economy. Since
employment in the disciplines appears to have been restricted on the basis
of a ursurping of power, to the ends of those that do not want to see a free
and educated populace concerned with social issue - and capable of thinking
for themselves (or even with the skills to read ideas in print) - why not
simply collectively take the issue to heart . . . refuse to be overloaded
any longer . . . demand that University administrations increase the FTE
positions for our respective disciplines by at least 100% over the next
two years . . . open the job market by eliminating the advertising
restrictions . . . and go back to the idea that anyone of us who put the
effort and time into obtaining a doctorate is certainly capable of focusing
their efforts to contribute to the general area that both the department and
the institution desires for a given position.

When your Dean say . . . must have a woman, or a white male, or whatever . . .
say fine . . . but only if you provide FTE's for two other full-time hires
on the open market.

Try it . . . you'll end up liking it.

John O'Brien