Posted by: quiscus | December 13, 2012

December 13, 2012

1. “Public Buses Across Country Quietly Adding Microphones to Record Passenger Conversations”

2. “Academic Dissent in America. The Political and Social Crisis in the U.S.

Academic dissent has been under attack for a long time in the United States. Its more notable moments came in the 1920s, the 1950s, and more recently after 9/11. What is new is that right wing elite, religious fundamentalists, and corporate groups have changed their strategy in limiting dissent. Instead of simply attacking, firing, and shaming intellectuals who criticize mainstream policies such as the Israeli-American relations–though that still happens–the more sophisticated approach is to prevent such intellectuals from getting tenure, influencing who gets hired, and finding ways to actually shape what is taught in the classroom.

For instance, some major donors are now demanding that particular books be read in classes. In one case, a donor demanded that Ayn Rand’s right wing book, “,” be required reading in the class. In other cases, billionaire and mega corporate donors are trying to shape curriculum and hiring procedures as part of their gifts to higher education. This is not simply reactionary but undermines every noble principle that education embodies.

The other strategy is to increase the number of non-tenured professors in the profession so as to not only make them powerless in setting policy but also to keep them suspended in a state of fear over what they say in order not to jeopardize their paltry paying jobs. Over 70 percent of academics in higher education is either on a non-tenured track or is hired part-time. This is a form of indentured labor that undercuts a culture of questioning, dissent, and makes a joke out of academic freedom. As higher education becomes more expensive, corporatized, and devalued as a social good, there is also less and less room to teach subjects or create and sustain academic fields not tied directly to occupational training. In this instance, training is substituted for any viable form of critical education and the formative culture necessary for an educated citizenry withers.”


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