Category Archives: the Great Depression

October 25, 2011, 11:08 am

Judith Butler: Again, We Demand The Impossible

Judith Butler, a leading voice in the resistance to university budget cuts in the California System, declares solidarity with Occupy Wall Street:

(Tenured Radical’s fingers upturned and wiggling.) Hat tip.

See below for my own views of the crisis in education and its relationship to the Occupy movement. Related links include:

Occupy Education, a website carrying messages from adults and children “that challenge public school to become something more than it is – messages that dare public school to serve students’ passions instead of politicians and vendors’ coffers.”

Jayna Brown and Jack Halberstam on “the US fall.”

The brilliant Chauncey DeVega on “An Inevitable Challenge? Of Race, White Privilege and the Occupy Wall Street Movement.”

November 6, 2009, 1:10 am

And If You Give Us A Full Book Of Green Stamps, You Can Teach Macroeconomics

These noble bloggers provided the second notification of the evening that Patricia Turner, vice provost for the University of California Office of Undergraduate Studies (and henchman Winder McConnell, the director of teaching resources for that floundering institution) have a great new idea: get people to teach for free. The first time I saw this news on Facebook I wouldn’t have believed it, except that the source was impeccable. According to the online edition of The California Aggie, freshman seminar instructors all received a letter asking them whether they would be willing to forgo the small sum they are paid for this work, $1500-2000 that is normally deposited in their research accounts. “Though Turner could not predict how much money the salary reduction would save,” staff writer Lauren Steussy reports, “she stated that approximately 25 instructors agreed to forgo or reduce…

Read More

October 5, 2009, 1:39 pm

More Annals of the Great Depression: Why We Are All Californians

Non-academics probably don’t know that this article by Judith Butler about the September 24 protests at UC-Berkeley (thanks to Facebook, Twitter and a cross-post at Bully Bloggers) is starting to go viral. If you haven’t read Butler’s piece because you dread academic writing, have no fear. It is a lucid and forceful explication, by a faculty leader in this movement, about what is at stake when public education becomes a privilege, not a right.

One item of significance, in my view, is that this article was published in a British newspaper, not in the New York Times or the Washington Post. On the one hand, I want to say, what is that about? On the other hand, sadly, I know what that is about. For Americans, education is every man or woman for his or herself. Americans say they value education, but they don’t seem to value the thought, planning or expenditures necessary to sustain and …

Read More

September 29, 2009, 10:08 am

More Annals of the Great Depression: What Divides Us And Why

At Zenith University, like everywhere else, there are budget cuts. There were cuts last year; there will be more cuts this year; one imagines there will perhaps be more cuts next year. Everyone thinks of us as a rich little school, and compared to some we are: compared to many schools with which we are associated (Amherst, Williams) we are not. What compounds the problem (and I won’t bore you with the details) is that up until about a decade ago, the combination of poor investing, insufficient fund-raising and living beyond our means meant that not only did Zenith’s endowment not grow, it shrank dramatically from the bountiful era of owning My Weekly Reader, a period which shaped the expectations and thinking of several generations of faculty still working at the university. Assertions that we are very short of cash are met with varying levels of disbelief, even though we all also…

Read More

July 15, 2009, 3:44 pm

Not Just Your Average Kibitzing Radical: Ways To Be In Touch With The Struggle At The University of California

“As California goes, so goes the nation,” writes my correspondent Eileen Boris from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where a lot of the activism seems to be taking place. So get involved! Public education matters.

So if you can tear yourself away from the Sotomayor hearings, here are some links she sent me. The first is a petition to suspend the current budget-cutting strategy (which seems to be of the slash-and-burn variety) until a more participatory planning process can be organized. You will be asked to identify your relationship to the university; I wrote “friend of the University of California,” and it accepted that designation.

For more on what organizers are currently up to, click here, and to get information about the California Board of Regents, click here.

And while you are at it — find out what’s being cut in your state. Reports submitted to Tenured Radical at …

Read More

July 14, 2009, 3:02 pm

“Sincerely Yours, The Department Of Miserable Bastards”

“The partly filled lifeboat standing by about 100 yards away never came back. Why on Earth they never came back is a mystery. How could any human being fail to heed those cries?” Jack B. Thayer, a survivor of RMS Titanic, April, 1912.

Thanks to my colleague Margaret Soltan at University Diaries, I have acquired a link to this letter. It is signed by Andrew Scull, Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Sociology Department at the University of California, San Diego and twenty-two of his fellow chairs, including John Marino, the chair of history. English, in my experience often the home of gentler folk, is not a signatory. I don’t see any of the chairs of interdisciplinary programs like Gender Studies or Ethnic Studies either. So that tells you something right there.

Read the letter for yourself and see what you think. True, higher education in California is imperiled by the state …

Read More

March 20, 2009, 7:50 pm

Annals of the Second Great Depression: Looking On The Bright Side

It’s time to sing the end-of-spring-vacation-blues. What would normally be a happy day — Friday, with two long weekend days ahead — is a sad day, with only two days left before we go back to work. Of course, yours truly will work for exactly two days, and then fly to Seattle for the Organization of American Historians Annual Meeting. The theme this year is “History Without Boundaries:” yeah, baby. Don’t fence the Radical in. Historiann and I already have a meet-up planned to further refine our plans to rule the world.

When I return from Seattle it will be April, and April is the cruelest month (“breeding/Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing/Memory and desire, stirring/Dull roots with spring rain.”) We never get tired of muttering this to each other at Zenith, in between editing thesis chapters; grading, grading, grading; slogging through the final five weeks of teaching; checking…

Read More

March 18, 2009, 9:54 pm

Extra, Extra — Read All About It: Tenured Radical And Rupert Murdoch Agree On Something

I saw this when I stopped into the CVS a few minutes ago, and thought I would put it up for those of you who have the good luck to live outside the range of a Murdoch tabloid. Sometimes the New York Post hits it right on the head don’t they? This ranks right up there with the Daily News headline after Gerald Ford declared in 1975 that he would veto any “federal bailout” dedicated to keeping New York City from going into bankruptcy: “Ford To City: Drop Dead.”

March 14, 2009, 1:26 pm

A Lesson From Minnesota Fats: Bernie Madoff Hustled the Hustlers, But Are They Victims?

I will conclude my endless blithering about my lost and recovered iPhone with the following life lesson. As we were cruising down the highway, I was squeaking through my tears, having nothing else to say about what an idiot I had been to drop this cherished item in a parking lot, “It’s not fair. It’s not fair. It’s just not fair.” My companion, in an effort to comfort me said, “I’ll buy you a new iPhone.” And I said, “No,no,no. That’s not the point.” Fast forward to a conversation on the airplane home from vacation, surrounded by pink-skinned, peeling northerners in Mickey Mouse gear. My companion asked me what I meant when I said that “it wasn’t fair.” I explained: knowing that an iPhone was a huge luxury in times like these, I had taken all steps to be prudent about the purchase. I had calculated the increased monthly charges, and I had paid cash (or the debit card…

Read More

December 10, 2008, 3:22 pm

Lifeboat: A Conversation About The Incredible Shrinking Budget

Yesterday we had a big meeting at Zenith: more members of the faculty attended than at any previous meeting I can recall, except for one about ten years ago when our last newly hired president was introduced. The Radical and several co-conspirators used this unusual quorum to kill a major university committee to which they had been elected. It was a hideous, time-waster of a major committee, one that received institutional problems that no one wanted to do anything about, made recommendations after many circular and ill-informed debates, and saw those recommendations sent to The File That Has No Name by the administrator who had been appointed the boss of us. In retaliation — I mean, response — to this institutional travesty, we secretly devoted our energy, not to issues that were dumped on our doorstep, but to creating a rationale and a strategy for killing the committee. The…

Read More