Progressive Calendar 03.14.09
From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)
Date: Sat, 14 Mar 2009 02:00:06 -0700 (PDT)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   03.14.09

1. Women's Day      3.14 8am
2. Peace walk       3.14 9am Cambridge MN
3. JFK/why he died  3.14 9am
4. Community garden 3.14 9am
5. Winter soldiers  3.14 10am
6. End foreclosures 3.14 12noon
7. Peace marshalls  3.14 1:30pm
8. Northtown vigil  3.14 2pm
9. Vs Chris Coleman 3.14 2pm

10. Jim Hightower   - Fighting back in America's 30-year class war
11. James Keye      - The final choice
12. Henry Giroux    - Academic labor in dark times
13. Dennis Rahkonen - Turn left, take ten steps, discover a better world

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From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org>
Subject: Women's Day 3.14 8am

"Sister Connections: Iraqi Women and U.S. Women" at the 14th Annual
International Women's Day Celebration

Saturday, March 14, 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. University of Minnesota,
Coffman Memorial Union, 300 Washington Avenue Southeast, Minneapolis.

The theme of this year's International Women's Day Celebration is
"Transforming the World through Women's Voices," which highlights the
critical role women play in creating a world of equality, non-violence
and justice for all.

Keynote Presentation on Women and War: Fahima Vorgetts, Afghan Women's
Fund and Women for Afghan Women and Fionnuala Ni Aolain, U of M Law
School.  Workshops on women's human rights issues, film screenings, music,
visual arts, arts and crafts vendors, information tables.

Kathy McKay of Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project (IARP) and Marie
Braun of WAMM present a workshop on the social, political and economic
effects of the Iraq War on women of Iraq, drawn from eyewitness accounts,
human rights, health and other reports (10:45 a.m. to Noon Room 325).

Join in celebrating the many signs of hope and strength that women's
voices bring to a world yearning for peace and justice. Free and open to
all. Sponsored by: the Advocates for Human Rights and the Human Rights
Program at the U of M. Co-Sponsored by: WAMM and others. FFI: visit
www.theadvocatesforhumanrights.org .


--------2 of 13--------

From: Ken Reine <reine008 [at] umn.edu>
Subject: Peace walk 3.14 9am Cambridge MN

every Saturday 9AM to 9:35AM
Peace walk in Cambridge - start at Hwy 95 and Fern Street


--------3 of 13--------

From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at] comcast.net>
Subject: JFK/why he died 3.14 9am

Will an Obama prophetic presidency lead to history repeating itself?

Jim Douglass, theologian, nonviolence leader, and author of JFK and the
Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters, will speak at St. Luke
Presbyterian Church in Wayzata on Saturday, March 14.  The event from 9:00
to 2:30 features a lecture by Douglass and concludes with interactive
conversation with Douglass. The event is free and open to the public;
however RSVPs to 952/473-7378 are appreciated.

Douglass demonstrates that while Kennedy began his presidency as a Cold
Warrior, he had a "conversion" when the nearly cataclysmic Cuban Missile
Crisis turned him toward peace. That conversion pitted him against the
US military and security establishments that were committed to nuclear
war as a strategy in dealing with enemies. The resistance of these
formidable establishments to Kennedy's move toward peace became
increasingly intense, and may have led to his death.

Douglass' book raises the question to a thoughtful reader - should
President Obama also turn toward peace, would he likewise be resisted
and threatened? Would history repeat itself?

Douglass spent 12 years researching and writing this book. He discovered
and used much new material, including memos and papers released in the
1990's under the Freedom of Information Act, and extensive correspondence
between Kennedy and Premier Khrushchev which was released after the
collapse of the former Soviet Union. Gaeton Fonzi, former investigator for
the U.S. House Select Committee on Assassinations, calls this book "by far
the most important book yet written on the subject." Douglass' book tells
the story that, until now, America has not had the ears to hear.

St. Luke Presbyterian Church, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year,
is located at 3121 Groveland School Road, Wayzata, MN 55391, near the
intersection of Minnetonka Boulevard and Highway #101. Its mission is to
be "joyful, inclusive and compassionate community on a spiritual journey,
seeking to do justice, make peace, act mercifully, and to walk humbly with
God." Sunday Worship services are held at 10:30am.

Contact: Linda Thomson, 763/478-4956


--------4 of 13--------

From: Lydia Howell <lydiahowell [at] visi.com>
Subject: Community garden 3.14 9am

Saturday from 9-11:30 am
Powderhorn Park Neighborhood Association
821 E 35th St, Minneapolis
March 14
Fun & Effective Meetings!

Note: This series is focused on skills for building people capacity rather
than gardening techniques. We highly recommend 2 or more gardeners per
garden attending together.

To register, contact Ila Duntemann at
ila.gardeningmatters [at] gmail.com or 612-492-8964


--------5 of 13--------

From: hathaway [at] ties2.net
Subject: Winter soldiers 3.14 10am

 Winter Soldiers of the War on Terror
 a presentation by peace activist, author, and Vietnam veteran
Michael Orange
 10am, Saturday, March 14
 Unity Church Unitarian, 732 Holly Avenue, St. Paul - near Summit and
Dale
 (Following a pancake breakfast at the church, 8:30 - 10:00 a.m. Enjoy
local sausage, OJ, all you can eat pancakes. Cost: $3 per person or $10
per family)

Last March, 72 veterans, active duty soldiers, experts, and Iraqis who had
the great courage to go public with their first-hand experiences gathered
for the Winter Soldier hearings in Washington, D.C., and gave 30 hours of
vetted testimony. Michael and Cynthia Orange served as witnesses. Come,
hear their heart- and gut-wrenching testimony and discuss what it means
for us, the 99% of the population not asked to serve over and over again
in our country's wars.


--------6 of 13--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org>
Subject: End foreclosures 3.14 12noon

"Stop the Foreclosures" Press Conference and Action

Saturday, March 14, Noon to 1:00 p.m. 3128 Clinton Avenue South,
Minneapolis. Demand that foreclosures implement a stay-in-place policy
that allows people to stay in their homes.  Community members will gather
at the home of Rosemary Williams, a long-time resident of Minneapolis'
Central neighborhood facing foreclosure, for a press conference to
announce the delivery of a letter calling on the holder of her mortgage,
Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (MERS), a leader in
foreclosures in the state of Minnesota, to allow Rosemary and others
facing foreclosure to stay in their homes. Sponsored by: the Minnesota
Coalition for a People's Bailout. WAMM is a member of the Minnesota
Coalition for a People's Bailout. FFI and Updates: Call 612-822-8020 or
visit www.mn-peoples-bailout.org.


--------7 of 13--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org>
Subject: Peace marshalls 3.14 1:30pm

Peace Marshal Training for "Troops Out Now!" Rally and March Saturday,
March 14, 1:30 p.m. (Correction on time.) Mayday Books, 301 Cedar Avenue
South, Minneapolis.

Peace marshals are needed to help make the March 21 "Troops Out Now!"
rally and march, a successful and powerful experience. Volunteers will
assist with many tasks on the day of the event, including helping get the
march started, keeping it safe, helping with set-up and more. Organized
locally by: Iraq Peace Action Coalition (IPAC). WAMM is a member of IPAC.
FFI: Call 612-827-5364 or 612-522-1861.   [marshall law? -ed]


--------8 of 13--------

From: Vanka485 [at] aol.com
Subject: Northtown vigil 3.14 2pm

Peace vigil at Northtown (Old Hwy 10 & University Av), every Saturday
2-3pm


--------9 of 13--------

From: Dann Dobson <danndobson [at] yahoo.com>
Subject: Vs Chris Coleman 3.14 2pm

There will be a meeting of people interested in denying Chris Coleman the
DFL endorsement for Mayor at the St. Paul City Convention on March 21st.

We will be meeting this Saturday, March 14th at 2:00 P.M. at the Black Dog
Cafe, 4th and Wall Streets, in Lowertown across from the Farmers Market
and the old Gillette Plant.

Whether you are upset about Mayor Coleman's new plan to spend $40 million
dollars for a new Hockey Arena across the street from the Xcel Energy
Center
http://www.startribune.com/politics/state/40581107.html?elr=KArksUUUU

or his plan to raise $70 million dollars to "beautify" the Central
Corridor Light Rail Line, yet still not including 3 critical stations at
Hamline, Victoria and Western
http://www.startribune.com/local/east/40695767.html?elr=KArksUUUU

or the closing of your library
http://www.startribune.com/local/stpaul/41066307.html?elr=KArksUUUU

Not to mention his silence about Civil Rights abuses during the RNC.

Mayor Coleman needs to hear that he has strayed from what the voters in
Saint Paul want and need. In an era of $60 million dollar city deficits,
does Saint Paul really need a new $40 million dollar hockey arena.

Please join us.
- Dann Dobson 651-227-4376 danndobson [at] yahoo.com

[After his collusion with the RNC police state, the last thing we need is
Chris Coleman waltzing to a polite victory in November. There are no
significant opponents. We as citizens (not just the DFLers) need to make
our lack of support plain for all to see. Most of us don't go to the DFL
convention, but we can raise public awareness, and diminish Coleman's
popularity/power. -ed]


--------10 of 13--------

Fighting Back in America's 30-Year Class War
by Jim Hightower
Published on Thursday, March 12, 2009 by Creators Syndicate
Common Dreams

David Brooks was upset. You can tell when this conservative and
rather-professorial columnist for The New York Times gets upset, because
his words almost sag with disappointment - you can practically hear the
tsk-tsks and the heavy sighs in each paragraph. When most commentators on
the right see things that offend them, they get snarling mad; Brooks gets
sad.

What saddened Brother Brooks this time was Barack Obama's budget. In a
recent column, he noted that the $3.6 trillion total is "gargantuan" (we
columnists are paid to make keen observations like that), but what really
upset him was that the tax burden to finance universal health care, energy
independence and other big initiatives in Obama's budget "is predicated on
a class divide."

With heavy sighs, Brooks expressed great despair that "no new burdens will
fall on 95 percent of the American people," adding with a tsk-tsk that
"all the costs will be borne by the rich and all benefits redistributed
downward."

Leaving aside the fact that such things as health-care coverage for every
American and a booming green energy economy will benefit the rich as well
as the rest of us, Brooks' column was echoing a prevalent theme in all of
the right's attacks on Obama's economic proposals: Class War! Indeed, the
Times' columnist even suggested (sadly) that Obama's budget was
fundamentally un-American: "The U.S. has never been a society riven by
class resentment," he sniffed.

Whoa, professor, get a grip! Better yet, get a good history book (Howard
Zinn's "A People's History of the United States" would be an eye-opening
place to start). While our schools, media and politicians rarely mention
it, America's history is replete with class rebellions against various
moneyed elites who act as though they're the top dogs and ordinary folks
are just a bunch of fire hydrants.

Check out the Tenant Uprisings of 1766, Shay's Rebellion in the 1780s, the
Workingmen's Movement of the 1830s ... on into the post-Civil War populist
movement that confronted the robber barons, the bloody labor battles at
Haymarket and Homestead in the late 1800s, Coxey's Army in 1894, the Bonus
March of 1932, the Penny Auctions by farmers in the 1920s and '30s, the
rise of the CIO in the Depression years ...and right into modern-day
fights involving environmental justice, fair trade, women's pay, workplace
safety, tenant rights, janitors, farmworkers, union-busting, bank
redlining, consumer gouging, clean elections and so forth.

If Brooks & Co. are so isolated as to imagine that our citizenry harbors
no class resentment, they should go to any Chat & Chew Cafe across the
land and listen to the locals express their innermost feelings about
today's greedheaded Wall Streeters who wrecked our economy for their own
enrichment. There is a fury in the countryside toward these plutocratic
purse-snatchers who are being allowed to keep their exalted executive
positions, draw fat paychecks and get trillions of dollars in bailout
money from common taxpayers. People don't merely resent them, they yearn
for the legalization of tar-and-feathering!

Yet, Brooks and his political brethren are now bemoaning the plight of the
plutocrats, assailing the "redistributionists" who talk of spreading
America's wealth. In his column, Brooks cried out for a conservative
vision of "a nation in which we're all in it together - in which burdens
are shared broadly, rather than simply inflicted on a small minority."

Do we look like we have suckerwrappers around our heads? Where were these
tender-hearted champions of sharing throughout the last 30 years, when
that same "small minority" was absolutely giddy with redistributionist
fervor - redistributing upward, that is?

With the full support of their political hirelings from both parties, this
minority created tax dodges, trade scams, corporate subsidies,
deregulation fantasies, financial hustles, de-unionization schemes,
bankruptcy loopholes and other mechanisms that turned government into a
redistributionist bulldozer, shoving wealth from the workaday majority
into their own pockets.

Brooks might have missed this 30-year class war, but most folks have been
right in the thick of it and are not the least bit squeamish about
supporting a national effort to right those wrongs. After all, even a dog
knows the difference between being stumbled over - and being kicked.

 2009 Creators Syndicate National radio commentator, writer, public
speaker, and author of the book, Swim Against The Current: Even A Dead
Fish Can Go With The Flow, Jim Hightower has spent three decades battling
the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought To Be - consumers,
working families, environmentalists, small businesses, and
just-plain-folks.


--------11 of 13--------

The Final Choice
by James Keye
March 12th, 2009
Dissident Voice

It is an outrageous proposal: that the materially wealthy and the
politically powerful - those who dominate the processes and events of the
human presence on the planet - would or could organize and implement the
killing off of billions of "ordinary" humans rather than accept dramatic
reductions in their privileged use of the earth's capacity. Or, it would
be an outrageous proposal if it were not so common place an observation in
less universal contexts.

I was fortunate, near the beginning of my journeys, to be instructed on
this distinction: Do not ask if this person or that group might do an
action; rather, ask if the action is done at all and how commonly, then
take that as the basis for your answers to the particular. I think that we
would have to agree that humans have regularly killed off other humans,
both indirectly and directly, who stood in the way of attaining or
maintaining a preferred life style.

Of course, that something can, or is even likely to, happen does not make
it a certainty - especially when there are many other options. I would
only point out that the horror of an action has seldom been an inhibition
for very long. Other factors, such as efficacy and possibility, tend to
dominate our choices.

My intention in making the argument is to excite an increased and
refocused observation of events. If the tools for such a mass murder are
made available, then the condition of possibility is met. If the totality
of our situation is hopeless, then so is the condition of efficacy.

As a species, with the capacity to project events into the unknown future
and thus change the future from the grubby confines of the present, we are
not fixed in our trajectory; this is one of the great lessons of the
Consciousness System of Order. It is a bit like the silly rhyme: "I shot
an arrow into the air. It fell to earth, I know not where". But, if we
have some knowledge of the lay of the land, we can have, at least, some
idea about where our arrows might land and their possible consequences.

One of the paths into the mid-century and beyond would have all humans
living with a primary concession to the biophysical reality of personal
biological need: every person would supply, by their own hand, some
significant part of their personal needs. Such a standard could, with yet
another "invisible hand" determine population goals, energy use levels
and, to some extent, environmental impact levels. The intellectual support
for this possibility is largely lacking in our present moment. There are
bits in the kinder parts of major religions. Various philosophers have for
thousands of years spoken to the value in living in close contact with the
land - this is such a common part of human thought that it has become
cliche. It is cliche because it is so simply and completely true.

The diametrically opposed possibility is something with which humanity has
more recent experience: an elite parasitizing a slave-based economy
(wage-slave based economy serves the same function and only modifies some
of the technicalities of economic design). We have the "intellectual"
arguments around this possibility, from Locke, Hume, Marx, Rand, Hayek,
Galbraith and many others, and only arguments of this form are allowed to
be considered for our present troubles. The organization and manipulation
of power in a Mad world structure where all things increase at increasing
rates and Reality is denied as a founding principle cannot sustain, but
can produce a great amount of bizarre, conflicting opinion.

Ultimately, it is a question of whether the great depth of our Madness
will carry us into a final conflict with biophysical reality - a madman
flaying at imaginary demons while being tormented by a disinterested
reality to which he is blind - or will we come again into the wind and the
rain, into the seasons, cycles and other realities of earthly existence?

My sensible reason answers that the Madness will dominate the final days
of this iteration of my species, that over the next 30 to 80 years we will
cling to the most misguided and defeating self-referenced notions of
reality until a tormented and enraged environment indiscriminately smites
the living world - and we will still behave badly even in the ruins of our
world.

But my capacity of imagination and wonder believes, in the way that the
consciousness order designs impossible "possibilities," that we can come
to see the madness and demand its retreat; the way that smokers now have
to hide next to the dumpster in the back of the building. We will no
longer hear that we respect wealth and see its virtues, but that we
respect the real "self-sufficiency" of community life, and not the
pathological individualism of the sociopath. We will no longer praise as
progress the life denying objects that separate us from the work of
directly sustaining, and therefore participating in and truly
understanding, our lives. We will no longer raise to adulation those who
are willing to do the most harm to all things, but condemn their actions
and require that they be part of the sanity of sustaining their own
existence with their own efforts. We will no longer accept a machinery of
societal, economic and political control that claims superiority of idea,
power and personal omniscience, but see such claims as self-servingly
insane.

Just as it is "impossible" to comprehend how billions of people could be
intentionally killed to sustain the present Madness, it is impossible to
see how we might come to see the Madness with increasing clarity; and in
seeing it find and act on ways to reject it. But ultimately we will end up
doing one or the other.

(This is last in a series of four essays that that look at the forms of
the choices that face us as we look toward this new century.)

James Keye is the nom de plume of a biologist and psychologist who after
discovering a mismatch between academe and himself went into private
business for many years. His whole post-pubescent life has been focused on
understanding at both the intellectual and personal levels what it is to
be of the human species; he claims some success. Email him at:
jkeye1632 [at] gmail.com.


--------12 of 13--------

Making Democracy Matter
Academic Labor in Dark Times
By HENRY A. GIROUX
March 11, 2009
CounterPunch

I do not believe that a student of human reality may be ethically neutral.
The sole choice we face is one between loyalty to the humiliated and to
beauty, and indifference to both. It is like any other choice a moral
being confronts: between taking and refusing to take responsibility for
one's responsibility.
 -Zygmunt Bauman1

In his sobering analysis of recent democratic decline, Sheldon Wolin has
rightly argued that in a "genuinely democratic system, as opposed to a
pseudo democratic one in which a 'representative sample' of the population
is asked whether it 'approves' or 'disapproves,' citizens would be viewed
as agents actively involved in the exercise of power and in contributing
to the direction of policy".2  There is a long tradition of critical
intellectuals in American higher education extending from Thomas Jefferson
to John Dewey,  Edward Said, and Howard Zinn, who have all insisted that
the university is one of the few spaces where the task of educating
students to become critical agents and socially engaged citizens is not
only crucial to the meaning of education but also an essential condition
of academic labor and democracy itself.  As a vast array of public
spheres, including some of the nation's major newspapers, either fall prey
to corporate control or simply disappear, higher education becomes one of
the few remaining sites where a society might question itself, where it
might reflectively consider how lived realities measure against democratic
practices and ideals. Universities thus provide the  pedagogical
conditions for existing and future generations both to defend democratic
principles and to incorporate them into their own understanding of what it
means to define themselves as engaged citizens and socially responsible
adults.

Understanding higher education as a democratic public sphere means fully
recognizing the purpose and meaning of education and the role of academic
labor, which assumes among its basic goals promoting the well-being of
students, a goal that far exceeds the oft-stated mandate of either
preparing students for the workforce or engaging in a rigorous search for
truth. While such objectives are not without merit, they narrow the focus
of human agency, depoliticize education, and ignore the issue of civic
responsibility, among other generally unacknowledged shortcomings.
Defining education as a search for the truth and preparing students for
the workforce says little about the role that academics might play in
influencing the fate of future citizens and the state of democracy itself.
Surely academics are required to speak a kind of truth, but as Stuart Hall
points out, "maybe not truth with a capital T, but ... some kind of truth,
the best truth they know or can discover [and] to speak that truth to
power".3 Implicit in Hall's statement is an awareness that the priorities
of big business and other powerful interests are not always, or even
routinely, the priorities that shape intellectual commitment or
pedagogical practice.  To speak truth to power is not a temporary and
unfortunate lapse into politics on the part of academics:  it is central
to opposing all those modes of ignorance, market-based or otherwise
instrumental rationalities, and fundamentalist ideologies that make
judgments difficult and democracy dysfunctional.

Amy Gutmann broadens the truth-seeking function of universities by
insisting that "education is always political because it is connected to
the acquisition of agency, the ability to struggle with ongoing relations
of power, and is a precondition for creating informed and critical
citizens". For Gutmann, what is unique about academics is the crucial role
they play in linking education to democracy and  recognizing pedagogy as
an ethical and political practice tied to modes of authority in which the
"democratic state recognizes the value of political education in
predisposing [students] to accept those ways of life that are consistent
with sharing the rights and responsibilities of citizenship in a
democratic society".4 And higher education, if it is to take its
democratic ideals seriously, must be recognized as more than an outpost of
business culture simply there to do the bidding of corporate power.5
Democratic societies need educated citizens who are steeped in more than
workplace skills and the formal competencies of textual analysis.  And it
is precisely this democratic project that affirms the critical function of
education and academic labor, while refusing to narrow its goals and
aspirations to instrumental or methodological considerations. This is what
makes intellectual labor different from other provincial notions of
teaching, largely restricted to teaching the canon or the conflicts, and
other narrowly defined pedagogical commitments.  And it is precisely the
failure to connect learning to its democratic functions and possibilities
that creates the conditions for those pedagogical approaches that ignore
what it means to receive a critical education.6

The goals of higher education and the demands of academic labor must also
include teaching students to be responsive to deepest conflicts of our
times, learning how to identify anti-democratic forces in the wider
society, and connecting knowledge, power, and critical modes of agency to
the task of imagining a more just world and demonstrating a willingness to
struggle for it.   Academics have a moral and pedagogical responsibility
to unsettle and oppose all orthodoxies, to make problematic the
commonsense assumptions that often shape students's lives and their
understanding of the world, but also to energize them to come to terms
with their own power as individual and social agents. Higher education, in
this instance, as Pierre Bourdieu, Paulo Freire, Stanley Aronowitz, and
others have reminded us, cannot be removed from the hard realities of
those political, economic, and social forces that both support it and
consistently, though in diverse ways, attempt to shape its sense of
mission and purpose.7   Politics is not alien to higher education but
central to comprehending the institutional, economic, ideological, and
social forces that give it meaning and direction. Politics also references
the outgrowth of historical conflicts that mark higher education as an
important site of struggle.  As Pierre Bourdieu has argued, politics
illuminates the complex ideological and institutional conditions that
enable universities to function as democratic public spheres. At the same
time, it makes visible the fact that such conditions are the outcome of
"fragile social achievements that open up the possibility of more equality
and justice, and to sacrifice them is to step backwards, whether this step
is masked by a deterministic analysis of the 'market' or a naked assertion
of self-interest by the wealthy and powerful".8  Politics is thus not the
bane of either education or academic research but rather a primary
register of their complex relation to matters of power, ideology, freedom,
justice, and democracy.  The real enemies of education are those modes of
politicizing education in which matters of critical dialogue, judgment,
debate, and engagement are disabled through allegiance to domains of
ideological purity, certainty, dogma, and assured knowledge - a species of
fundamentalist thinking and practice that is not limited to any one
ideological position or disciplinary terrain.

Nurturing critical agency is part of a pedagogical process that must be
self-reflective, empowering, and directive, but not propagandistic. When
the distinction between a political and politicizing education is
collapsed or lost, the role of academics is reduced to that of either
corporate clerks, hermetic specialists, or jargon-ridden, clever
apologists for established power who justify their unthreatening
combativeness by gleefully claiming "to profess nothing".9  The smug call
for academics to profess nothing or to "save the world on their own time"
is not an educational virtue but a form of surrender, a corrosive cynicism
parading as a form of professionalism, an ethical refusal to educate
students to question official dogma, to create the pedagogical conditions
for them to become moral agents and critical citizens, and to provide them
with the knowledge and skills to engage the tension between existing
reality and the promise of democracy. The "save the world on your own
time" creed aligns too closely with the neoliberal incantation that "there
is no alternative" and in the end means complicity with the established
order. In this discourse, education as a fundamental basis for engaged
citizenship, like politics itself, becomes a temporary irritant to be
quickly removed from the hallowed halls of academia.  In this stillborn
conception of academic labor, faculty and students are scrubbed clean of
any illusions about connecting what they learn to a world "strewn with
ruin, waste and human suffering".10

Yet the commitments academics enact are distinctively political and civic,
whether they deny or willingly embrace such roles. University educators
cannot ignore politics, nor can they deny responsibility for acknowledging
that the crisis of agency is at the center of the current crisis of
democracy.  At the very least, academics should be more responsible to and
for a politics that raises serious questions about how students and
educators negotiate the institutional, pedagogical, and social relations
shaped by diverse ideologies and dynamics of power, especially as these
relations mediate and inform competing visions regarding whose interests
the university might serve, what role knowledge plays in furthering both
excellence and equity, and how higher education defines and defends its
own role in relation to its often stated, though hardly operational,
allegiance to egalitarian and democratic impulses.

The view of higher education as a democratic public sphere committed to
producing knowledge, skills, and social practices that enable young people
to expand and deepen their sense of themselves, their moral imaginations,
the public good, and the imperatives of a substantive democracy has been
in a state of acute crisis for the last thirty years.11 Harnessed to the
needs and demands of corporate and military interests, higher education
has increasingly abandoned even the pretense of promoting democratic
ideals. The needs of corporations and the warfare state now define the
nature of research, the role of faculty, the structure of university
governance, and the type of education offered to students.12 As federal
and state funding for higher education is cut, universities are under more
pressure to turn to corporate and military resources to keep them afloat.
Such partnerships betray a more instrumental and mercenary assignment for
higher education, a role that undermines the free flow of information,
dialogue, and dissent.  When faculty assume, in this context, their civic
responsibility to educate students to think critically, act with
conviction, learn how to make authority and power accountable, and connect
what they learn in classrooms to important social issues in the larger
society, they are often denounced for politicizing their classrooms and
for violating professional codes of conduct, or, worse, labelled as
unpatriotic.13 In some cases, the risk of connecting what they teach to
the imperative to expand the capacities of students to be both critical
and socially engaged may cost academics their jobs, especially when they
make visible the workings of power, injustice, human misery, and the
alterable nature of the social order - all too evident in the recent
firings of Norman Finklestein and Ward Churchill.

Educators need to defend what they do as political, support the university
as place to think, and create programs that nurture a culture of
questioning. But there is even more at stake here. It needs to be
recognized on a broad scale that the very way in which knowledge is
selected, pedagogies are defined, social relations are organized, and
futures are imagined is always political, though these processes do not
have to be politicized in a vulgar or authoritarian way. Again, the
conditions that make the university possible as a democratic public sphere
are inescapably political and should be defended as such, but such a
defense should take seriously the distinctive role that academics play not
merely in preparing students for the world in which they work and live but
also in enabling them to function as individual and social agents capable
of critically understanding their own capacities and responsibilities in
working to expand the promise of a democracy that is increasingly under
assault.

The utterly privatized, if not reactionary, discourse through which
academics with any sense of public commitment are now upbraided and told
to save the world on their own time mimics both the logic of the market
and the silencing forces of the corporate and warfare state.14 Within this
discourse, there is a needless severing of the connection between the
private and the public, theory and practice, learning and social change,
and the university and the broader social contract, with its implied
ethical and political foundations.  Such a crude dismissal of academic
responsibility is not merely theoretically hermetic and politically naive;
it is also part of an ongoing attack on the crucial civic and
pedagogically responsible role that both the university and academics have
in a society that - until the current global financial collapse - had
aligned itself with the production of violence, greed, self-interest,
cut-throat competitiveness, and a market-driven world bereft of ethical
considerations. In a society that remains troubling resistant to or
incapable of questioning itself, one that celebrates the consumer over the
citizen and willingly endorses the narrow values and interests of
corporate power, the importance of the university as a place of critical
learning, dialogue, and social justice advocacy becomes all the more
imperative.  Moreover, the distinctive role that faculty play in this
ongoing pedagogical project of democratization and learning, along with
support for the institutional conditions and relations of power that make
it possible, must be defended as part of a broader discourse of
excellence, equity, and democracy.  As Wolin points out, "For its part,
democracy is ultimately dependent on the quality and accessibility of
public education, especially of public universities. Education per se is
not a source of democratic legitimacy:  it does not serve as a
justification for political authority, yet it is essential to the practice
of citizenship".15

For education to be civic, critical, and democratic rather than
privatized, militarized, and commodified, the work that academics do
cannot be defended exclusively within the discourse of specialization,
technological mastery, or a market-driven rationality concerned about
profit margins. On the contrary, academic labor is distinctive by virtue
of its commitment to modes of education that take seriously John Dewey's
notion that democracy is a "way of life" that must be constantly nurtured
and defended, or as Richard Bernstein puts it:

Democracy, according to Dewey, does not consist exclusively of a set of
institutions, formal voting procedures, or even legal guarantee of rights.
These are important, but they require a culture of everyday democratic
cooperative practices to give them life and meaning. Otherwise
institutions and procedures are in danger of becoming hollow and
meaningless. Democracy is "a way of life," an ethical ideal that demands
active and constant attention. And if we fail to work at creating and
re-creating democracy, there is no guarantee that it will survive.
Democracy involves a reflective faith in the capacity of all human beings
for intelligent judgment, deliberation, and action if the proper social,
educational, and economic conditions are furnished.16

Democracy is not cheap and neither are the political, economic, and social
conditions that make it possible. If academics believe that the university
is a space for and about democracy, they need to profess more, not less,
about eliminating the racial, economic, and political conditions that fill
their ranks with adjuncts,17 remove faculty from exercising power in
university governance, and work towards eliminating the economic
conditions that prevent working-class and middle-class youth from getting
a decent post-secondary education.

Both the responsibility that academics bear and the political nature of
that responsibility are especially clear given the current unprecedented
economic meltdown the country is now facing.  As the financial crisis
reaches historic proportions, free-market fundamentalism is losing both
its claim to legitimacy and its pretense to democracy. Even a Newsweek
cover declared recently that "We Are All Socialist Now".18  Despite this
apparent growing recognition that market fundamentalism has fostered a
destructive alignment among the state, corporate capital, and
transnational corporations, there is little understanding that such an
alignment has been constructed and solidified through a neoliberal
disciplinary apparatus and corporate pedagogy mostly produced in the halls
of higher education and reinforced through the educational force of the
larger media culture.  The economic Darwinism of the last thirty years has
done more than throw the financial and credit system into crisis; it has
also waged an attack on all those social institutions that support
critical modes of agency, reason, and meaningful dissent.  And yet, the
financial Katrina we are now experiencing is rarely seen as part of an
educational crisis in which the institutions of public and higher
education have been conscripted into a war on democratic values through
the endless reproduction of neoliberal beliefs, social relations,
identities, and modes of understanding that legitimate the institutional
arrangements of a cut-throat capitalism that has spawned rapacious greed,
grotesque levels of inequality, the devaluation of any viable notion of
the public good, and far-reaching levels of human suffering.  There seems
to be an enormous disconnect between the economic conditions that led to
the current financial meltdown and the current call to action of a
generation of young people and adults who have been educated for the last
several decades in the knowledge, values, and identities of a
market-driven society.  Clearly, this generation of young people and
adults will not solve this crisis if they do not connect it to the assault
on an educational system that has been reduced to a lowly adjunct of
corporate interests and the bidding of the warfare state.

This disconnect becomes clear in a recent article by Patricia Cohen in the
New York Times in which she uncritically reports that in light of the
current economic crisis the humanities are going to have a harder time
defending themselves because they are often found inadequate to the task
of educating students for future employment in the workforce.19 According
to Cohen, the humanities in these tough economic times has to "to justify
its existence," by which she means it has to align itself more closely
still with the needs of the economy - a view closer to training than
educating.20 Rather then view the humanities, if not higher education in
general, as one of the few public spheres left that can educate students
to do more than reproduce a now widely condemned set of market-driven
values, she wants universities to adopt them even more aggressively, in
spite of broad public recognition that this mode of corporate-driven
education has both undermined the economy and sabotaged any viable notion
of critical agency and democracy. Oddly, Cohen argues that the free-market
rationality that has undermined, if not ruined, so many basic institutions
in American society need not be jettisoned by higher education but applied
more stringently.  Couple this argument with the news that many prominent
newspapers are now failing and it becomes clear that the responsibility of
faculty who inhabit the university can no longer downplay or "abandon the
idea that life's most important questions are an appropriate subject for
the classroom".21 Academics have a distinct and unique responsibility to
make learning relevant not merely to the imperatives of a discipline,
scholarly method, or research specialization but, more importantly, to the
activation of knowledge, passion, values, and hope in the service of modes
of agency that are crucial to sustaining a democracy in which higher
education plays its rightful civic and critical pedagogical role.
Renewing such a commitment, academics will more easily defend their role
as public and engaged intellectuals, while also enabling higher education
to live up to its promise as a valuable and valued democratic public
sphere.

Henry A. Giroux holds the Global TV Network chair in English and Cultural
Studies at McMaster University in Canada. His most recent books include:
"Take Back Higher Education" (co-authored with Susan Searls Giroux, 2006),
"The University in Chains: Confronting the Military-Industrial-Academic
Complex" (2007) and "Against the Terror of Neoliberalism: Politics Beyond
the Age of Greed" (2008). His newest book, "Youth in a Suspect Society:
Democracy or Disposability?" will be published by Palgrave Macmillan in
2009.

Notes.

1. Zygmunt Bauman and Keith Tester, Conversations with Zygmunt Bauman
(Malden: Polity Press, 2001), p. 47.

2. Sheldon S. Wolin, Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the
Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism (Princeton: Princeton University
Press, 2008), p. 60.

3. Stuart Hall,.Epilogue: Through the Prism of an Intellectual Life,. in
Brian Meeks, Culture, Politics, Race, and Diaspora: The Thought of Stuart
Hall (Miami: Ian Rundle Publishers, 2007), pp.  289.290.

4. Amy Gutmann, Democratic Education (Princeton: Princeton University
Press, 1998), p. 42.

5. Ian Angus, .Academic Freedom in the Corporate University,. ed. Mark
Cote, Richard J. F. Day, and Greig de Peuter, Utopian Pedagogy: Radical
Experiments against Neoliberal Globalization (Toronto: University of
Toronto Press, 2007), pp. 64.75.

6. This position is brilliantly articulated in Edward Said, Humanism and
Democratic Criticism (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004).

7. See also Henry A. Giroux and Susan Searls Giroux, Take Back Higher
Education (New York: Palgrave, 2004).

8. Craig Calhoun and Loc Wacquant, .Social Science with Conscience:
Remembering Pierre Bourdieu (1930.2002),. Thesis Eleven 70 (August 2002),
p. 10.

9. Stanley Fish, Save the World on Your Own Time (New York: Oxford
University Press, 2008).

10. Edward Said, Humanism and Democratic Criticism (New York: Columbia
University Press, 2004), p. 50.

11. See, especially, Christopher Newfield, Unmaking the Public University:
The Forty-Year Assault on the Middle Class (Cambridge: Harvard University
Press, 2008).

12. I take up the issue of the emerging of the
academic-military-industrial complex in Henry A. Giroux, The University in
Chains: Confronting the Military-Industrial-Academic Complex (Boulder:
Paradigm Publishers, 2008).

13. See Henry A. Giroux, .Academic Unfreedom in America: Rethinking the
University as a Democratic Public Sphere,. in Edward J. Carvalho, ed.,
.Academic Freedom and Intellectual Activism in the Post-9/11 University,.
special issue of Work and Days 51.54 (2008.2009), pp. 45.72. This may be
the best collection yet published on intellectual activism and academic
freedom.

14. For Stanley Fish.s latest version of this position, see
http://fish.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/08/neoliberalism-and-higher-education/

15. Wolin, Democracy Incorporated, p. 161.

16. Richard J. Bernstein, The Abuse of Evil: The Corruption of Politics
and Religion since 9/11 (Malden: Polity Press, 2005), pp. 25.26.

17. On the crucial issue of the erosion of tenure track jobs and the
growing casualization of academic labor, see Marc Bousquet, How the
University Works: Higher Education and the Low-Wage Nation (New York: New
York University Press, 2008). For a more pessimistic account, see Frank
Donoghue, The Last Professors: The Corporate University and the Fate of
the Humanities (New York: Fordham University Press, 2008).

18. See the February 7, 2009 issue of Newsweek and the accompanying story,
Jon Meacham and Evan Thomas, .We Are All Socialists Now,. Newsweek
(February 7, 2009). Online at:
http://www.newsweek.com/id/183663/output/print.

19. Patricia Cohen, .In Tough Times, the Humanities Must Justify Their
Worth,. New York Times (February 25, 2009), pp. C1, C7.

20. Cohen, p. C1.

21.  Anthony Kronman, .Why Are We Here? Colleges Ignore Life's Biggest
Questions, and We All Pay the Price,. Boston Globe (September 16, 2007).
Online at:
http://www.boston.com/news/globe/ideas/articles/2007/09/16/why_are_we_here/.


--------13 of 13--------

Turn Left, Take Ten Steps, Discover a Better World
by Dennis Rahkonen
March 12th, 2009
Dissident Voice

1) God doesn't exist, and never did. Belief in a Heavenly Father arose out
of primitive ignorance and associated superstition. To think that an
omnipotent old fellow with a white beard sits on a golden throne in the
sky is wildly ridiculous. The only thing crazier is to believe said deity
created us, governs our affairs, and deserves our blind obedience. Help
stamp out witch-hunts and suicide bombings. Relegate God to the same
dustbin of mythology where all ghosts, holy or otherwise, rightfully
belong.

2) We don't have souls and don't go anywhere but into the ground to be
eaten by worms when we die. Let's bravely acknowledge that fact.

3) Quit contending that global warming isn't real. Except for discredited,
charlatan "scientists" of the kind who promote Intelligent Design, the
overwhelming majority of truly qualified experts agree that manmade
greenhouse gases are dangerously heating the planet. Conservatives can't
bring themselves to admit that "liberals" and United Nations types could
ever be correct about anything, so they nay-say, sit on their hands, and
would allow their grandchildren (and ours) to ultimately perish, fearfully
gasping for precious breath.

4) Nationalism sucks. Belief that one's own country is better or more
important than all others has generated massively destructive jingoism and
xenophobia through the ages. Combined with religion, it's been the chief
cause of war for bloody centuries. Join me in pledging to never take up
arms against anyone on bogus pretexts - or to imagine them inferior,
"evil," etc. - just because they live beyond the ocean, look strange, and
have unfamiliar customs.

5) Let's jettison monopoly capitalism, which is so parasitically harmful
that it makes a starving vampire bat seem benign. If we the people took
over the economy, democratically controlling it for public profit and
common gain, we'd never get robbed at the gas pump again, pay an arm and a
leg for medical care or prescription drugs, lose our homes to usurious
mortgage thieves, or get sent off to die in meddling neocons' criminal
invasions abroad. Fire the boss! Become a fair-minded owner of America,
along with your fellow workers and neighbors!

6) Stop bashing immigrants. Each of our own arriving ethnic groups was
accused by existing nativists of stealing jobs, being a societal drain,
having criminal and otherwise unsavory tendencies, or spreading disease,
just as mostly Hispanic immigrants are condemned today. Such successive
discrimination plainly benefited divide-and-conquer corporate profiteers.
It was only when ethnicities, races, and genders united - understanding
that an injury to one is an injury to all - that the overall U.S. working
class made decisive advances and acquired a mutually better living
standard.

7) Admit that nothing worthwhile comes from conservatism. It's abject
selfishness masquerading as a valid ideology. Its sole purpose is to
perpetuate minority privilege attained through illegitimate power wielded
against consequently suffering masses. Conservatives will never utter the
word "justice," for it's a shattering indictment of their consistently
exploitative role in human affairs. Everything good has been fiercely
resisted by the political Right: abolishing slavery and child labor,
gaining women's suffrage, struggling to achieve racial equality, raising
the minimum wage, implementing progressive taxation, establishing health
and safety standards in the workplace and the community at large, just to
name a few.

8) Accept that, while abortion isn't pretty, it's often necessary.
Furthermore, only each female in each specific, unique circumstance has
the right to determine what constitutes a legitimate abortion need. No
male, or male-dominated institution, should interfere in this most
personal and difficult choice. Before guys say one word about the supposed
impropriety of terminating an unacceptable pregnancy, they should produce
ironclad guarantees about controlling their reckless libidos and keeping
their penises in their pants, if that's where they're told they should
remain.

9) Repeat after me: "Better gay than grumpy". The only problem with
homosexuality is that some straights, insecure about their own
orientation, get uptight over it. Most animal species engage in same-sex
contact on a minority basis. Therefore it isn't "unnatural," just
different, and entirely involuntary, like being left-handed rather than
right. Besides, aren't the last six words of the Pledge of Allegiance
"with liberty and justice for all"? Quit being hypocrites and get aboard
the freedom train!

10) To nurture the collective human spirit, which is quite different than
a religious "soul," think less about what you can personally acquire, in a
material sense. Instead, join struggles for shared prosperity. Know that
the greatest reward is giving a deprived child reason to laugh. Honor and
guard our earthly home. Lie down beside a blade of grass and contemplate
its simple magnificence. Then, when relentless age takes its final toll,
buy the farm with a contented smile. You lived well. You did the right
thing.

Feed those worms and help make that grass grow!

Dennis Rahkonen, from Superior, Wisconsin, has been writing progressive
commentary with a Heartland perspective for various outlets since the
'60s.


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