Job Wars

This past year, regular contributors to Condé Nast magazines started spotting a new paragraph in their yearly contracts. It’s a doozy. If, in the company’s “sole judgment,” the clause states, the writer “becomes the subject of public disrepute, contempt, complaints or scandals,” Condé Nast can terminate the agreement. In other words, a writer need not have done anything wrong; she need only become scandalous. In the age of the Twitter mob, that could mean simply writing or saying something that offends some group of strident tweeters.

But it will never happen to you. And when it does, you will so deserve it.

It is truly funny that people form packs to hound workers and help corporations castigate labor in the name of progressivism. Or it would be funny if we didn’t know that progressivism today is all about ushering in fluidity.

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13 thoughts on “Job Wars”

  1. Or it would be funny if we didn’t know that progressivism today is all about ushering in fluidity.

    One of the most important proposals of progressives today is free college/university education for anyone who is capable of it. How does this support the ushering in of fluidity?

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    1. A massive influx of students who are completely unprepared for college will require an army of contingent faculty members who will have no workplace protections and whose presence will help dismantle the institution of tenure.

      And we know this is true because it’s already been happening. “Free college” will only accelerate it.

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      1. This is partly true and you can see it in Louisiana where we have a form of “free college” (but not really: it’s high tuition/high aid, so that lots of people don’t pay but the whole institution is very privatized anyway).

        The big distinction is whether or not you think of the university as a private or public good. If it’s a private good, and you have “free college” in that context, and you’re still privatizing / outsourcing / paying little / etc., then yes, the logic leads you to having masses of contingent people (this is our situation) and also masses of poorly prepared students (also our situation, due to policy in K-12).

        This, however, isn’t the situation you have to have. Public investment in a public good changes things; respect for all students and faculty and fields changes things.

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  2. And we know this is true because it’s already been happening. “Free college” will only accelerate it.

    I don’t think this is happening in the European countries that have had free university education for a long time. I think it would be similar here.

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    1. I talk to European colleagues a lot. Not a single one confessed to having a whole classroom of students in a course on Latin American history who can’t find Latin America on a map and who can’t answer the question of which country borders the US in the South.

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      1. And in Germany and Spain there are crowds of contingent workers in academia, actually. I talked to some just a couple of months ago. One contingent German academic I met makes a living selling embroidery on the side. Another couch-surfs because she can’t afford housing. And that’s Germany. Spanish colleagues have it so much worse. Everybody at the German conference thought my work conditions were paradise. Let’s stop the idealization of “Europe” and talk about what really exists.

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        1. There are some good things about European universities but the contingency situation is one of the reasons people apply to US jobs. They would never get a real job in Europe. Etc.

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      2. Not a single one confessed to having a whole classroom of students in a course on Latin American history who can’t find Latin America on a map and who can’t answer the question of which country borders the US in the South.
        I couldn’t put the countries of Latin America on a map correctly when I was a freshman in college but come the fuck on.

        So the “Wall” is a dumb exercise in expensive geography?
        “Where’s Mexico?”
        “It’s the country on the other side of the wall.”
        “Oh yeah.”

        Clearly, teaching people basic geography in middle school is far more expensive. Can’t pay those teachers who live on apples and air!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I don’t want anybody else to experience what it feels like to have to start the course with “Latin America is not in Africa. These are completely different continents. Latin America is not a country. It has many different countries.”

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    2. And we know this is true because it’s already been happening. “Free college” will only accelerate it.

      We have a robust system of two-year community colleges in this country. They do an excellent job of teaching remedial courses. It is not a good idea at all for universities to teach these courses. We are neither equipped nor trained to do it.

      I have known numerous excellent students over the years who were high school dropouts, or had poor high school records who began work in a community college and transferred to university afterwards. It is true that our primary and secondary schools mostly do not do a satisfactory job of providing a general education, unlike other countries I am familiar with; community colleges can take up the slack.

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  3. I confess to feeling a bit of schadenfreude that this is now happening to journalists writing for fashionable Conde Nast publications, since these folks have been leaders of the pack in calling for others to be fired for real or imagined transgressions against progressivism.

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