In a speech given by Slovoj Zizek on October 9 at Liberty Plaza (I think Andrew referenced this in his last post) Zizek made a bold plea (among many bold and sometimes scattered appeals) to shift our understanding of reality. If we imagine that these protests are extraordinary and exceptions then they will come to an end and we will return to a world where raising taxes on the wealthy seems unAmerican and healthcare should be expensive and difficult to come by. In his remarks, I was particularly struck by the following passage:
The whole world is watching the whole world watching the whole world
“There is a danger. Don’t fall in love with yourselves. We have a nice time here. But remember: carnivals come cheap. What matters is the day after. When we will have to return to normal life. Will there be any changes then. I don’t want you to remember these days, you know, like – oh, we were young, it was beautiful. Remember that our basic message is: We are allowed to think about alternatives. The rule is broken. We do not live in the best possible world. But there is a long road ahead. There are truly difficult questions that confront us. We know what we do not want. But what do we want? What social organization can replace capitalism? What type of new leaders do we want?”
Indeed, what do we want? And will we, the many of us who contribute to and read this blog, at least witness this protest when we are in NYC in a month? I am curious what many of might suggest our obligation is to a protest that claims to represent the 99%.
As an aside to the discussion about the paltry academic openings yet again, I’ve been reading Benjamin Ginsberg’s The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why It Matters. His contention is easy and well-documented: layers of administration have supplanted the imperative to hire full-time faculty who could be committed to the education of students. Those students are playing dramatically higher prices for an education that has seems to be producing dramatically declining results–students can take loads of cool classes and workout next to a cafe but cannot write or debate to save their lives. I recently presented a plan to some folks at my school that we reduce the number of courses offered, increase the credit hours of courses that are heavy on research, and add faculty to teach students how to identify, complete, present, and publish whatever research we can help they do. That is my reality, even if it is not yet anyone else’s.