Elon’s Academia

I don’t know why everybody is so aflutter regarding what Elon Musk is doing with Twitter. This is very typical neoliberal austerity. It’s exactly what’s happening at my university.

The way it always happens is that there’s a real or manufactured budget crisis, which is invariably blamed on the workers who are told they are guilty of existing. Workers are berated for being lazy, low-quality, racist/sexist/phobic and non-diverse. The strategy is to fire most of them and force the remaining few to do the work of the fired people.

Then things stop working, neoliberals pout, and go wreck something else.

What I find curious is that our far-left university administrator and the somewhat right-wingish Elon are acting in such an identical way. The only difference (which is no difference at all) is that one 🕐 them repeats the word “racism” every 3 seconds.

21 thoughts on “Elon’s Academia

  1. Exactly.

    I think the ruling business elite are also very bothered that the pandemic has resulted in such a resurgence of worker strength. Elon epitomizes this; he hates remote work, he wants everybody at the office where he can monitor them and make sure they are “hardcore” and work very hard so he can keep making even more money.

    One thing I do hope we all realize, is Republicans, Democrats, LGBT, coal workers, Trump supporters, etc. we are all on the same boat. It’s basically us vs the elite that want to keep extracting profit and keep us divided. We all have way more in common than we do with people like Elon who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely. We have each other. These bastards are not on our side. They are on the side of their pocketbooks. What did Trump do with the money that so many simpletons donated to his election integrity fund? We can all imagine the answer.

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    2. @ed
      “Republicans, Democrats, LGBT, coal workers, Trump supporters, etc. we are all on the same boat.”
      Are you sure? I’m homosexual and I’m not even in the same boat as the LGBT crowd, let alone Democrats or Trumpists. People in America had better take a hard look at their political system: it’s not a question of one party vs another but of people who keep pissing on your shoes while telling you it’s raining, and yes, that includes Republicans and all do-gooders who “have your interests at heart”.

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  2. I got an email from the president of my alma mater yesterday, talking about their budget crisis (attributed to declining enrollment) and how they are dealing with it (eliminating majors in several foreign languages and laying off a bunch of faculty). I’m sorry for the individuals affected, but not at all surprised. Until fairly recently, the place had always maintained a reputation for being reliably conservative, and when it began going woke I knew its demise was assured. The declining enrollment makes perfect sense, as the people in charge are in the process of eliminating the one reason anyone would choose this very expensive school over a state school that costs half as much.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wellll – I spent 25+ years in tech, and I can pretty confidently say that a huge percentage of whatever it is that Twitter workers do is useless busywork. Eliminating 75% of the workforce won’t actually increase work measurably for the people left behind, and may actually reduce it, since they won’t be required to attend the meetings or fill out the forms that are the only ‘work products’ of the useless 75%.

    How does this happen? How does a company end up with several times more employees than are needed for any reasonable level of actual activity? When investors drive up the value of the company’s stock based on speculation over how much money that company might earn in the future, the owners and managers find themselves flush with cash, and, being human, feel the need to do something with it. So they fund every semi-plausible project, acquire a massive (and massively useless) HR department to fill all the positions those projects require – and, again, being human, managers want as big a team as they can get.

    Then, typically, at some point reality sets in: a more realistic ceiling to growth becomes accepted, and the stock price is adjusted accordingly, and then all those jobs based on theoretical future profitability that is now recognized as a pipe dream get axed.

    The idea that the only way a capitalist can make money is to exploit workers is orthodox Marxism. And being orthodox Marxism, it is almost always dead wrong. But it sounds good to academics and others with no broad experience in the business world. Do workers get exploited? Of course! Is worker exploration the major source of the wealth of capitalists? No. Sometime, sure. Just not very often. A look at any great accumulation of wealth over the last couple centuries shows this. But Marxists and those trained by them are not allowed to see this, and so they don’t.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Marketing and HR had the biggest salaries at Twitter. It’s something crazy, in the high 100K range. If Musk only got rid to them, great. Bit he started messing with the engineers, and those are not dispensaries people. They aren’t likely to double their work load because he feels they should.

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      1. This is the kind of thing I’m talking about:

        I immediately dropped a client who tried doing this to me. They apologized and asked me to come back for 3 weeks because good luck finding a specialist who’s equally fluent in Ukrainian, Spanish and English. I refused because why do I need to put up with micromanagement and disrespect at this stage of my life?

        People only create if you give them freedom. It isn’t even about money. Instead of that client I started doing work for free for a volunteer organization. But they give me complete freedom, so I like it.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I feel this so hard. I have started dropping activities and collaborations left, right, and center. A grant-review panel where I am supposed to serve with a douche? I withdrew from the panel. A collaboration where a Hispanic male assistant professor (I’m mentioning ethnicity because I am certain the machismo culture plays a big part here) berates my female postdoc in front of the group and aggressively questions my expertise? Fuck that. I am out of there. I am established, I can have my choice of projects, and don’t need the aggravation.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Exactly. I resigned from the executive board of my professional association because of this kind of thing. There’s no point at this stage of one’s career to put up with needless aggravation. That’s one of the perks of being established and knowing one’s own value. It’s very liberating.

            Liked by 1 person

      2. Here’s how it works: somebody proposes a fluffy project of some sort because they know it will flatter management or maybe even stockholders. Prime example: diversity. So giant tech company starts a diversity program. The diversity program needs a way to track or measure diversity and so they get some IT people on board. Those IT people are writing interfaces and databases to collect and store and analyze all the data on exactly how diverse a company is. But the definition of diversity (or whatever it is you’re pretending to measure) changes regularly. Certain results are required by the people running the department in order to prove that the company needs more diversity or whatever. So those programmers and IT people and database operators and so on are going to be employed, nay, their department is going to grow, until the day the whole diversity initiative is canned.

        In other words, all the fluffy programs however they are labeled end up causing a growth in IT staff (as well as HR at least). So whoever takes over has to figure out exactly what all those people in IT are doing. It’s quite possible, in fact more or less expected, that the IT people working on some crazy marketing plan or the diversity project or whatever other nonsense are still in the IT department, are still writing and maintaining code, and are as useless as the programs they support.

        So, when a giant company like Twitter employees for example coders to implement their prioritization, promotion, shadow banning, out and out banning, and so on projects, someone who wants to get rid of those projects he’s going to find himself with a whole bunch of extra IT people.

        Few IT people are going to volunteer that all they do is busywork for some stupid program that any sane owner would want to get rid of. Instead, they are going to describe whatever it is they do as absolutely essential to the core mission of the company. Musk is in a almost unique position, because he’s an elite coder. So for him to ask for samples of the most important code that his IT people are working on actually makes perfect sense. He actually has the knowledge base to glance at that code and tell what it is the coders are up to. If they try to blow smoke, he will see right through it.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. @Joseph Moore
      Thanks for setting the record straight with much needed reality-based evidence.
      Round-the-clock canteen service on demand with over half the employees working from home, playrooms, flexible hours to the point that employees may decide if and when they want to go to work, the list goes on…

      Liked by 1 person

    3. It’s not even lack of business experience. Marxists are invariably ignorant of basic concepts from economics 101. Clearly they are actively avoiding any knowledge which will contradict their faith.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The good news here is that the thing being destroyed is twitter. I like the website, but this would probably be a net positive.

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    1. “the thing being destroyed is twitte….probably be a net positive”

      Not for me! For all the stupid drama that people let themselves get sucked up into (rather than just walk away from) it can be an incredible news source, if you know how to use it.

      I can’t imagine going back to depending just on convential media for following things like the russian war against Ukraine. I can’t even count how many times I see some interesting headline in mainstream media and it’s something I already knew two or more days earlier from twitter.

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      1. Twitter is the only social medium I actually like and that makes sense. I find everything else endlessly inane and infuriating. To keep the connections with the writing community from Twitter, I opened accounts on Mastodon, which I quite like, and on Instagram, which is banal idiocy on a stick — if I see one more picture of someone’s meal, I might stab myself in the eye.

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        1. ” the only social medium”

          Impressive grammatical conservatism! Not my style but rock on!

          Generally the previous internet outlets for like-minded people to share knowledge, discuss and argue over things like forums and web-rings and discussion lists were far, far, far superior to any social media.
          I can’t believe the shear amount of potential and shared collective knowledge that was just thrown away for crap like facebook…

          Liked by 2 people

  5. It’s one revolution too many.

    What the Bay Area has in abundance is a bunch of people who have seen this all before, and so when they hear a familiar tune, they can at least rhyme along.

    When I heard about this bit where The New CEO was demanding hard-copy printouts of code, I had to wonder a few things: is he just a Boomer lying about his age, because nobody does hard-copy printouts anymore. 🙂

    Seriously though, what I wondered was this: is this guy like Jimmy Carter with the tennis courts?

    Everyone’s supposed to feel sorry for this guy being overwhelmed, but he created his own problems.

    Eventually even the engineers who are doing something needed or at least justifiable get tired of the miasma of Yet One More Bullshit Panic and walk out.

    This time, however, was different because The New CEO effectively demanded a loyalty oath.

    The productive engineers are likely to be able to get the same cash elsewhere at the least, and so they were out drinking and not signing loyalty oaths before The New CEO’s imposed deadline of 1700 PST came rolling along on Friday.

    Because making demands worked so well for that infamous bloc of employees shortly after the takeover, didn’t it?

    If you’re going to get fired, go ahead and get fired with your mates, amirite?

    One revolution too many: the Rubicon has been crossed, and they may as well pour jet fuel into it now and set it ablaze.

    With that in mind …

    An interesting thing happened around the same time as this: Jack Dorsey’s people put together something “decentralised” called Bluesky Social. If it’s built on some of the new “federated” developments, then this could be a huge step toward making a Not Twitter, one that can’t be taken over quite so easily.

    Most of the Twitter rank-and-file apparently hate Jack Dorsey, presumably because of how his departure made it easier for The New CEO to bring his kitchen sink with him, but there may be a few engineers ready to jump ship to build something that’s Not Twitter.

    But right now, the primary selling point of going back to work for Jack Dorsey if you’re a Twittard(tm) is that he isn’t creating the openly public miasma of terrorising workers in the public eye. He may be a complete jerk for other reasons, but that didn’t stop these people from working for him the first time, so why not work for him the second time?

    In politics we refer to situations such as the one at Twitter as “self-cleaning ovens”.

    They’re fascinating because anything you’re likely to say about them is probably just a little bit wrong at a minimum, and yet you don’t even have to because the situations so fundamentally violate norms on so many levels that all you have to do is sit back and enjoy your popcorn.

    Unlike Twitter, the popcorn maker will require some manual cleaning interventions.

    So my question to you about your not-so-beloved admin: in what ways can you turn the admin’s life into a “self-cleaning oven”?

    Happy to help! 🙂

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  6. “the thing being destroyed is twitte….probably be a net positive”

    Not for me! For all the stupid drama that people let themselves get sucked up into (rather than just walk away from) it can be an incredible news source, if you know how to use it.

    I can’t imagine going back to depending just on convential media for following things like the russian war against Ukraine. I can’t even count how many times I see some interesting headline in mainstream media and it’s something I already knew two or more days earlier from twitter.

    Like

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