RE: academia/organizing (multiple posts)
Sun, 10 Aug 1997 15:33:59 -0400

From: Mike Bennett (

In 1890, the Populist Party of California stated that the University of
California was merely a tool of rich farmers.
In the thirties, the universities were sources of scabs to break strikes.
This happened in "34 in San Francisco and a number of students were seriously
injured as a reward for their efforts on the part of the ruling class.
Clark Kerr of UC Berkeley, said in his book, The Uses of The University,
that the university system existed for the purpose of providing
middle-management personnel to corporations. Serious radicals dropped out in
the sixties so as not to be in a class-collaboration situation, and who were
sensitive about the morals of those they associated with. The liberal arts
divisions are still sandboxes they allow some to play in, but are not
significant in what the university does. Check out some of the reports on
interlocking directorates done by the farmworkers (Ken Blum, I think) and the
Regent's connection to corporate agribusiness and United Fruit, as well as the
financial industry. They are still all thick as thieves. They cannot be
reformed, they must be replaced with people's institutions. Unlike stock car
racing, the universities have always been dominated by corporations. Now
almost everything else is dominated and exploited by corporate greed.

From: Paul Heavens <>

Thats really interesting. The universitys as corporate America. This has I
think been true for quiet some time. I think it applies to our whole
education system (unsurprisingly). So what happens to the many millions who
dont "make it" in "corporate" America? What choices are available to them?
Apart from the fact that we really don't cater to those who choose not to,
or fail to make it in corporate America, what is to happen in the future as
corporate America needs less and less manpower throwing more and
increasingly more people into the "other" America. The uncorporate, the
underground, the jobless, homeless? Will we come full cycle then and see
the same sort of student rebellion we were a part of in the sixties. I dont
see anything changing untill students take up the cause. and,
unfortunately, with the increasing cost of education, todays students are
much more likely to be entirely selfish in where they put thier energies.
Another corporate ploy to see that the sixties do not happen again. So what
is to be done? We do have something we did not have in the sixties, the
internet. Could be quite a tool, prehaps.

/_) /_/
/ /-)(_//_ / /

Valuing the differences is the essence of synenergy - the mental, the
emotional, the psychological differences between people.- and the key to
valuing those differences is to realise that all people see the world not
as it is, but as they are.


Interesting questions raised by Paula -

>One thing I wonder about sometimes is how effective was the entrance of
>numbers (how many?) of late-60s activists into academic and related
>organizing--and for how long. To be quite blunt, several of those I knew who
>went into university library work were slowly "drawn into the system" to such
>extent they now support, at best, the most limited sort of trade unionism;
>others, working in more clerical areas (in university/college domains), have
>seen their gains largely pushed back in recent years. But what about those
>who determined to change/organize faculty? I ask in part because I've been
>shocked that Sixties List's own pillar, Kali Tal, is being dismissed by
>Arizona without any sort of due process

I can't say I went into academia (teaching) for the purpose of organizing
academia. However, my 60-s politics --my commitment to participatory
democracy, liberating education, etc.-- were very much part of my choice and
have been of my career (take that, Dinesh, Roger, et al). Instead of
focusing at all on union-type organizing of faculty --some pretty sharp
tradeoffs there, potentially all-for-naught given Yisheva case-- my activism
has been focused on (a) what and how I teach, to raise the consciousness of
the next generation, (b) the issues I've chosen to research & write about
(democracy and schools, democracy-the 60s and social movements, and democracy-
propaganda & media), (c) being out front in trying to mobilize faculty around
university governance issues (a struggle, indeed, at a very corporate &
traditionally-engineering institution like Lehigh), and (d) staying active
off-campus (from ecology in 70s to Central America in 80s to Labor Party
organizing in 90s, among others). I would say a goodly number of my
colleagues are much less political and much less activist-inclined than I am;
I'm not entirely sure why. Some are arm-chair Marxists. Others are arm-chair
academic feminists. Probably quite a few are more conventionally political
--they'll respond to an issue/crisis that erupts from a progressive position,
but normally, they're more attuned to, say, Democratic party politics. How
about others?

Ted Morgan

Department of Political Science
Maginnes Hall #9
Lehigh University
Bethlehem, PA 18015
phone: (610) 758-3345
fax: (610) 758-6554