The Public Professor: Dissent in Commodified Higher Education, Or…What Kind of University Will My Daughter Attend in 2027?
By Christian Christensen
By Henry Giroux
I can understand pessimism, but I don’t believe in it. It’s not simply a matter of faith, but of historical evidence. Not overwhelming evidence, just enough to give hope, because for hope we don’t need certainty, only possibility. -Howard Zinn
In the current historical moment, the line between fate and destiny is difficult to draw. Dominant power works relentlessly through its major cultural apparatuses to hide, mischaracterize or lampoon resistance, dissent and critically engaged social movements. This is done, in part, by sanitizing public memory and erasing critical knowledge and oppositional struggles from newspapers, radio, television, film and all those cultural institutions that engage in systemic forms of education and memory work. Historical consciousness has been transformed into uplifting narratives, box-office spectacles and lifestyle stories fit for the whitewashed world of the Disney musketeers. As Theodor W. Adorno puts it, “The murdered are [now] cheated out of the single remaining thing that our powerlessness can offer them: remembrance.”[i] The relentless activity of thoughtlessness – worship of celebrity culture, a cravenly mainstream media, instrumentalism, militarism or free-roaming individualism – undermines crucial social bonds and expands the alleged virtue of believing that thinking is a burden.
Civic engagement appears increasingly weakened, if not impotent, as a malignant form of casino capitalism exercises ruthless power over the commanding institutions of society and everyday existence, breathing new life into old clichés. Under casino capitalism, fantasy trumps logic, if not rationality. A sucker is still born every minute, and the house still wins. Looming dreams of riches and fame invariably descend into disappointment, defeat or addiction. Uncertainty and precariousness breed fear and insecurity instead of much-needed social reforms and a belief in a more just future. Austerity policies function as a form of trickle-down cruelty in which the poor are punished and the rich rewarded.[ii] Totalitarianism, once visible in its manifest evil, now hides in the shadow of a market logic that insists that each individual deserves his or her fate, regardless of the larger structural forces that shape it.
By Victoria Law Danielle Rigney’s son was arrested and sentenced to six years in prison when he was 19. He spent two years imprisoned in California. Each weekend, family members or friends drove four hours to visit him. “He got … Continue reading
By David Rosen On November 20th, the Center for Corporate Policy, a Washington, DC, good-government group, issued a revealing study, “Spooky Business: A New Report on Corporate Espionage Against Non-profits.” Written by Gary Ruskin, it confirms one’s worst suspicions about … Continue reading
Amy Goodman interviews Craig Steven Wilder about the slave trade and its role in the growth of colonial infrastructure, as well the specific roles many universities had in perpetuating slavery and the slave trade.
Sonali Kolhatkar’s article outlines the international outrage about US surveillance practices and the United Nations’ approval of a draft resolution entitled “The Right to Privacy in a Digital Age”.
David Morris explains how companies like Microsoft are now abandoning the high stakes testing strategy long championed as a model for public schools.
This article by Scott Martelle details the economic struggles of fast food workers and the burgeoning unionization movement that highlights the fight for livable wages.
Laura Flanders interviews Peter Buffett on the structural conflicts between capitalism and humanism, examining philanthropy that does little to challenge inequality.
Niall McLaren provides a critical comparartive analysis of the US school system juxtaposed with issues faced by Australian schools.