In response to Rhoades and Schneider, a woman from the University of Cincinnati, one of the few administrators in attendance, replied that the summit needed to address the “850-pound gorilla in the room,” namely, the overproduction of PhDs. To scattered applause, she insisted that she would not be able to hire English professors at adjunct wages if there weren’t so many English PhDs glutting the market. I was sitting at a table with David Laurence, the director of research for the Modern Language Association, and I glanced over at him, since we had been discussing this topic at breakfast. The session ended before Laurence could respond, but he asked to open the following session with some useful data. To wit: according to the 2004 National Study of Postsecondary Faculty, 65.2% of non-tenure-track faculty members hold the MA as their highest degree—57.3% in four-year institutions, 76.2% in two-year institutions. There are many factors affecting the working conditions of adjuncts, but the production of PhDs isn’t one of the major ones.
Instead of working to make things equally miserable for everyone, shouldn't we be working towards making things better for everyone? And if we can't make things better for everyone, is making things worse for others really of benefit to society?
Hell, Marc Rayman developed practical ion propulsion BECAUSE HE HEARD IT MENTIONED ON STAR TREK.
Yeah ... music and writing and stuff ... never has any effect on anything important ...
Please. That is a deliberate mischaracterization.
Additionally, had I majored in Star Trek, I might be running one of those conventions now, and they are big business.
I would argue that the interest of so many to (fruitlessly) devote themselves and their futures denotes a discipline is worthy, but hey, that's just me and my kooky opinions.
Do you sincerely believe that conventions are only run by people with degrees in event management?
But somebody who doesn't know the ins and outs of Star Trek fan culture?
My guess is they're not going to be capable of putting together a very good fan event.
"Of the 22 million Americans with master's degrees or higher in 2010, about 360,000 were receiving some kind of public assistance, according to the latest Current Population Survey released by the U.S. Census Bureau in March 2011. In 2010, a total of 44 million people nationally received food stamps or some other form of public aid, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture."
...and there are certainly scientists who also produce bizarre results and papers that have to be retracted later.
They get discredited and ignored.
In the midst of the current crisis, which will be long and protracted, many on the left want to return to the golden age of public education. They naïvely imagine that the crisis of the present is an opportunity to demand the return of the past. But social programs that depended upon high profit rates and vigorous economic growth are gone. We cannot be tempted to make futile grabs at the irretrievable while ignoring the obvious fact that there can be no autonomous "public university" in a capitalist society. The university is subject to the real crisis of capitalism, and capital does not require liberal education programs. The function of the university has always been to reproduce the working class by training future workers according to the changing needs of capital. The crisis of the university today is the crisis of the reproduction of the working class, the crisis of a period in which capital no longer needs us as workers. We cannot free the university from the exigencies of the market by calling for the return of the public education system. We live out the terminus of the very market logic upon which that system was founded. The only autonomy we can hope to attain exists beyond capitalism.
What this means for our struggle is that we can't go backward. The old student struggles are the relics of a vanished world. In the 1960s, as the post-war boom was just beginning to unravel, radicals within the confines of the university understood that another world was possible. Fed up with technocratic management, wanting to break the chains of a conformist society, and rejecting alienated work as unnecessary in an age of abundance, students tried to align themselves with radical sections of the working class. But their mode of radicalization, too tenuously connected to the economic logic of capitalism, prevented that alignment from taking hold. Because their resistance to the Vietnam war focalized critique upon capitalism as a colonial war-machine, but insufficiently upon its exploitation of domestic labor, students were easily split off from a working class facing different problems. In the twilight era of the post-war boom, the university was not subsumed by capital to the degree that it is now, and students were not as intensively proletarianized by debt and a devastated labor market.
That is why our struggle is fundamentally different. The poverty of student life has become terminal: there is no promised exit. If the economic crisis of the 1970s emerged to break the back of the political crisis of the 1960s, the fact that today the economic crisis precedes the coming political uprising means we may finally supersede the cooptation and neutralization of those past struggles. There will be no return to normal.
But social programs that depended upon high profit rates and vigorous economic growth are gone. We cannot be tempted to make futile grabs at the irretrievable while ignoring the obvious fact that there can be no autonomous "public university" in a capitalist society.
In the early 20th century, a handful of scientists wanted to answer some very basic questions about life. Do all living things have genes? What are genes made of? How do genes encode proteins? They selected E. coli to study in order to answer those questions, and by the 1960s it had brought them spectacular success.
It turned out that the same rules that governed E. coli applied to all other living things: as the French biologist Jacques Monod declared, "What is true for E. coli is true for the elephant." Monod and a dozen or so other experts on E. coli would win Nobel Prizes for their insights into this humble resident of our guts.
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