[-empyre-] Debt Culture--types of debt

David Golumbia dgolumbia at gmail.com
Thu Nov 29 01:42:33 EST 2012

I don't have a great deal to add to Brian's excellent analysis, with which
I am in pretty much complete agreement. I will say that I particularly like
the introduction of the word "care" into the discussion, because there is
no doubt to me that much of what is supposed to go on in higher education
is about care: to some extent, a kind of interpersonal care, but that
largely in service of a care about the whole of society, about the demos
and about democracy, and about--at least in the US context--the tension
between majority rule and the rights and interests of minorities (of every
sort) within democratic systems. I focus on this general perspective
because it is possible to marshal so many figures from across the political
spectra--that is, until very recently--to my side: not just Dewey, Marx,
Derrida, Kant, Spivak, and Mumford, but Jefferson, Burke, Locke, Heidegger,
Habermas, Keynes, Schumpeter, Madison, and many others. All these thinkers
(and many others) saw and insisted on the necessity for society to have a
central institution in which the embodied engagement of citizens (in many
but not all cases, citizens from across the classes, races, and other
social groupings) read through and discuss the multifarious discourses that
produced the systems we have today.

As such, I believe that the *public *maintenance of the university is
critical, without any particular additional politics needing to be found
within it, although in a more local way I mean to make available my
particular political perspective very strongly. Every day, when I teach, I
find students who want to explore, analyze, and understand the systems in
all the ways that capitalism is telling us now to eliminate--even those who
more or less "buy into it," as even they want to understand it better. As
long as the efforts of the likes of Thrun and even Clayton
Christenson--both of whose remarks one may search thoroughly and find no
reflection whatsoever on the issues I've mentioned here--are allowed to
reframe higher education as primarily an economic concern without a
concentrated and direct response from those of us responsible for our
educational heritage--the threat will be very serious. A "democratic" US in
which nobody has read Jefferson, Locke, Madison, Plato, et al, is
frightening indeed, and it happens to be exactly what the Tea Party offers
and instances, and I hope that the nightmarish vision it offers will serve
as a limit case that the rest of us can guard against.


On Tue, Nov 27, 2012 at 5:09 AM, Brian Holmes
<bhcontinentaldrift at gmail.com>wrote:

> the question of what knowledge is good for in society. Do we go to the
> university just to be more-or-less enslaved into the roles of
> middle-managers who will carry out the next restructuring of capitalism? Or
> do we insist on a public mission that cannot be carried out under the
> conditions of super-exploited intellectual labor (for the teachers) and
> debt peonage (for the students)? David Golumbia is totally right to say
> that the capacity of critique is being targeted right now by the neoliberal
> elites, as part of their struggle to conserve and defend the existing
> rotten structure. He's also right to say that this capacity of critique is
> something essential -- IF, I would add, it can be turned into a real power,
> the power to propose and demand a different development model, one that is
> precisely NOT based on the surplus value of Fordist manufacturing, which is
> actually the last thing we need. We need an economy of care, for each
> other, for the social peace and for the environment, and that cannot be a
> predatory capitalist economy, even though it will still involve a complex
> fit between what people produce and how that production circulates.
> The question is how to develop a strategy for moving through this crisis
> and exerting transformative effects. I'm wondering what David might have to
> say about this. From my viewpoint (which is not that of a career academic,
> by the way) I think the university has to be part of the strategy. It's a
> key site, both for perceiving the conjuncture, and for organizing an
> opposition within it.
> all the best, Brian
> ______________________________**_________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre

David Golumbia
dgolumbia at gmail.com
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