Let’s Abolish Everything

From a scholarly publication in the UK that is being massively downloaded on Academia:

Ultimately, we call for an intellectual and organisational embracing of the complexity of identity as it figures in contemporary conditions; being a core organising-principle of capitalism as it functions today, a paradigm that Leftist struggle can be organised through and around – and yet all with a recognition of the necessity of historicising, and ultimately abolishing, these categories along with capitalism itself.

For those who can’t plug through the jargon, the authors are saying that they are all for identity politics but their ultimate goal is abolishing both identities and capitalism. No, this wasn’t published in 1925. It was published last month.

These folks totally deserve the mentoring system we discussed yesterday.

33 thoughts on “Let’s Abolish Everything”

  1. I’m reminded of the end of Rosenkavalier…

    “Sind halt aso, die jungen Leut’
    Ja, ja.”

    “That’s just the way young people are
    Yes, yes.”

    Now please let me think this is an undergraduate paper (or a parody thereof) that got uploaded to Academia as a goof. The older, more established the writer the more depressing it would be…


  2. I really don’t think this maze of identities is what anyone should try to organize through. I want:
    – single payer
    – all internships paid — no free work — no other forms of slavery, either
    – abolition of tuition in public universities
    – restoration of state benefits to janitors and gardeners, others who used to have them and now do not
    …and a few other things like that.
    I am also fine with affirmative action, reparations, etc. But NOT with spending a lot of time splitting hairs on identities and going through ceremonies to “honor” them. I want to do things like order books and fill potholes.


    1. And someone is going to call me “privileged” for this attitude, I know — but I can find ways to call them “privileged” too


    2. “abolition of tuition in public universities”

      I’m not sure that’s a great idea. I think tuition should be affordable without massive loans but some tuition gives students a stake in the institution and in their performance.


      1. I think the tuition of the kind I paid at McGill as an undergrad is a good idea. It was $1,500 per semester. Very doable with a part-time job or working in the summer. I had no student loan debt. Credit card debt is another thing, but that’s on me and wasn’t caused by the expense of studying.


          1. Yes. But we can’t expect anything like this for private schools in the US. I’d be happy with state schools, at least. But to do this we’ll need to be left alone and allowed to remove all the money-gobbling administrative shit. Diversity offices, ethics offices, counseling, all of this ridiculous shit needs to go. Then we can drop tuitions. As the things stand right now, though, tuition is all we reliably have to sustain operations.


              1. There’s no such thing as a private university in Québec.

                BUT, this is not a bad mistake for you because we still have « Université du Québec » as a « network » state university (with campuses in many cities).


              2. McGill is clearly the most private-like university in Québec. Its private philanthropic structure is so rich that it could be functional without the government.


              3. And you know about their hotel-dorm for rich students. I slept 6 hays there in 2007 for the Biometric conference, and this is the best hotel that I’ve ever gone.


      2. I have never found this to be true. We did’t have tuition at the University of California (or any California institutions of HE) until recently and the UCs especially were competitive as h***. And lots of countries don’t have tuition. You should have seen how tough it was to pass classes at the U of S. Paulo, tuition free.


        1. Tuition also helps (maybe just a little but…) the university think of students as clients and not just peons.
          I used to have classes with two kinds of students in Poland – regular day students didn’t pay tuition and were regularly treated like dirt (not by me! by administration and some instructors). Weekend students (usually working) did pay tuition and their concerns were given much more weight.
          The administration tried to cover this up but it was obvious if you paid attention – if the paying students were upset about something (for the record they were usually right) it changed relatively rapidly.
          The non-paying students could complain for years and nothing would happen because the administration had them in its ass (as they say in Polish).


          1. They’re not clients, they’re students, members of the institution, and their rights extend far beyond those of customers. I’m not selling grades, never have


            1. This would be even better but right now, we don’t even treat them like customers but like sheep. And they don’t like it. At least, at my institution there is a definite resistance to hearing what the students have to say.


            2. “I’m not selling grades, never have”

              Who’s talking about that? The kind of problems I’m talking about are more related to things like scheduling, class size, curriculum (a bit) things like that.


              1. Most fundamentally, perhaps, the “customer service” model doesn’t solve the problem of authoritarianism. Faculty who think the students aren’t people — or administrative staff who are essentially public servants but don’t think the public deserves their respect — can be just as authoritarian and dismissive on the customer service model, albeit with smarmier speech and more CYA tactics. Suddenly telling the students “you’re the customer, you’re the boss” and enabling the most common aspect of the customer service model now — the idea that you should be able to make them “succeed” (i.e. get a certain grade) regardless of what they do — is just a different way of articulating that same authoritarian stance. I’m for getting a lot more collegial with everyone, including students


          2. I actually think we need to treat students more like customers. For instance, if they clamor against online courses – which they do – we need to listen. If they love having professors who are very active scholars – which they do – we need to listen. If they want less PP and BB and more actual teaching – which they do – we need to listen.


            1. It sounds like you’re already on the customer service model, then. We’ve got Disney dorms, balloons, luxury apartments, and faux seminars about “making students feel heard”. It doesn’t mean the customer-oriented university is interested in the students as students, only as consumers of commercial products. So, good luck.

              As default I tend to think of students as colleagues, just newer ones. If they were my “clients” I’d be billing by the quarter hour. And much though the university might like to think the students are clients and I am the minion assigned to service their needs, I am not willing to think of myself, our job, or them in that way


            2. Also on this — they do want more actual teaching, educational things, and less other silliness. But since they’re not thought of as students, whose views have actual value, but as customers who just need to be placated and sold stuff, they don’t get the more classes, more educational materials, more faculty who are active scholars, and so on. We’d have to think of them as students, or as people of weight and value, to listen to them on this and we don’t – we just think of them as passing customers.


        2. California state schools started charging tuition when Reagan was governor, if I recall correctly. That’s the same era in which City College started charging as well. Lesson: the economic golden age in the US involved free college and high tax rates on the rich.

          By the way, back on he post: I feel like we are on the eve of World War I. We have a growing cadre calling for violence, never really having experienced it. We have a growing cadre calling for anarchy, never having really seen that either. It brings to mind the joyful parades when England, France, Germany and Austria-Hungary mobilized. (Not sure the Russians were as insane as the other countries.)

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Yes — it started in 1970. They cleverly called it an “educational fee” and it was really low. Then it doubled in the late 80s, was still very low by national standards, let alone today’s, but you could tell it was in an upward spiral.

            True, that, about world war I.


  3. “are on the eve of World War I. ”

    Come on! We’re not even on the eve of 1968, which was by far the most disruptive year in modern, post-WWII history.

    We’re on the verge of routine mid-term elections, which will be followed in two years by a routine presidential election in which Trump may or may not be re-elected.

    According the the New York Times and CNN and a cacophony of panicked journalists, Armageddon has already come and gone: on election night in November 2016, then when Gorsuch got seated on the Supreme Court, and then last week when…

    And guess what? The sky is still blue and the earth is still turning — and this is still the safely democratic (small “d”) United States in 2018, bearing no factual resemblance to the unstable Europe of 1913.


    1. Yeah, I spend a ton of time on playgrounds, in parks, and in other places where families congregate. Everybody is happy, everybody is having fun, nothing in real life reflects the apocalyptic moods of the media. The disconnect between what people are experiencing and the way this moment is narrated in the media is absolutely ridiculous. I have people from overseas ask me in hushed voices if I’m ok and how I’m bearing up. They read media accounts and think we are all on the verge of being exterminated around here.

      The only reason behind all this apocalyptic howling is that the economy is strong and that’s how people in very rich countries tickle their jaded sensibilities when things are good.


    2. OK, I remember 1968 and I see that. I also expect reelection of Trump, because in the end, people are having fun.

      Of course, I think everyone is asleep. I think the faux election was in 2000, not 2016. Then we got 9/11, followed by the invention of DHS, the Patriot Act, “enhanced interrogation,” and the Iraq/Afghanistan wars, and these were major changes that have not been rolled back. And now, with Trump, all this deregulation, particularly on environmental matters, and most of the serious things happen relatively quietly, while everyone is jumping around about tweets. When something 1968-ish happens, it may not be loud and it may not be lefty. And those who don’t like it will say hunh? how did we get here? and many will not notice.

      Or, WTH, someone else could be elected and we’ll bumble along. As the glaciers melt I am just foreseeing wars over food and water, and no end to migration as people flee deserts and floods. This is what I think the apocalypse will look like.


        1. Look: we’re not on the verge of 1968, there’s nothing like the social mobilization there was then. But I still think Vic’s point about the eve of WWI stands. Or, put it this way: the present has notes of that – not of revolution


  4. Well, identities are the basis for identity-based oppressions, so it would be nice if we could abolish them. But that’s not possible–they’re too deeply embedded in our psyche. So, unfortunately, we can’t just wish them away.


    1. I think not just the psyche but the whole social apparatus. So we can’t just wish them away and also should actually talk about them. But it’s what is done in with them in the neoliberal paradigm that bothers me. When I was a child, from about 1960 to 1990, there was talk of equality, parity, pay equity, reparations, affirmative action, justice, things like that. From 1990 forward all we were supposed to want was “diversity” and for “diverse voices” to “be heard.” It is an advance, still, overall, because in the South in the 60s only white people could handle money, for instance, which means only they could have jobs from cashier on up. Now you have all kinds of different faces making change for you at your local franchises of national chain restaurants and stores. I am still waiting for equality and justice, though


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