Feeding Hand Bite Theory

OK, so if communization is a “grad student theory”, what of it?

At this point in time, academia has been neoliberalized well and good. I think someone could argue that academics as a group have a lower standard of living than a lot of skilled workers who’ve engaged serious wildcats.

The question is the academic’s political-economic position. It’s a fairly crude position to argue that what really matters is the “productive workers” but there is some truth to the point that the capitalists want only the raw, unvarnished labor power of workers producing discreet commodities whereas the capitalists kind of want and demand “the everything” of the service or the education worker. IE, the ideas and the appearance and the lifestyle of the immaterial worker becomes necessary part of their work; graduate students need to take part in the life of the mind, record store clerks need alternative-ness, Whole Foods or similar clerks have an incentive to be part of a certain kind of pseudo-middle class culture even if they don’t have middle class incomes etc.

The nihcom cartoon of the entire population (minus the essential proletarians) being nothing but cops policing each other is not true but it sheds light on the situation. Nearly everyone is proletarianized, nearly everyone is incentivized to be a cop and nearly everyone is incentivized to put forward an “entrepreneurial dream of freedom” (“I’m so lucky to be doing exactly what I love”).

So the question with a “grad student theory” is not whether grad students is irrelevant to “real struggles”. The education system as a whole is a large factory that is very relevant to overall struggles. The question, I would claim, is how the ideas of grad students can escape the quality of empty intellectual exercise that is standard for the “life of the mind” that capitalism makes imposes on people as a “condition of existence” (well, a condition of employment).

I would claim here that ideas and approaches which effectively bite the hand that feeds the academic are a key factor. Regardless of the logical content of some theory, if that theory be used as a signal of inclusion in a group, that theory will be subvertable by the dominant power.

So, the larger question might be, what ideas actually cannot be used for academic signaling? This quality might be needed for revolutionary-ness.

Things you can’t put on your resume might be a place to start.

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