Saturday, March 11, 2006

Out There in the Real World

I'm feeling far too lazy to write much at the moment. I'll just cut and paste something that someone else has written then. In fact, it's worse than that - I'm about to copy something from someone who has already copied it from somewhere else. How lazy is that? I can't even be bothered to search around for information myself. Still never mind. Here, then, is a rather magnificent passage from a K-Punk post which I picked up via Dead Men Left. In a post which focuses, for the most part, on the AUT strike, K-punk moves to a consideration of the idea of 'ivory tower' academia as something separate from the 'real world' of business and finishes up with a hugely amusing description of 'The Apprentice'.

"If we in education are not 'in the Real World', and the Real World is characterized as a place of relentless Hobbesian struggle, exactly why should we accept the incursion into our alleged idyll of the Business serpent? Since it has been possible to sustain our Unreal World, thus far, why should we not fight to preserve this unreality?

But all this talk of the Reality of business needs to be taken with more than a pinch of salt. I mean, it's not as if dealing with teenagers every day is living out some escapist fantasy while performing PowerPoint presentations to irritable CEOs and spooling out vacuous semiotic pollution puts you in unshielded contact with the seething burn-core of the cosmos.

Anyone doubting this need only watch The Apprentice, which should be compulsory viewing for all Marxists. The programme serves the indispensable function of massively desublimating and demystifying Business, amply demonstrating that the supposed 'Reality' of Business is inseparable from the most facile fantasy structures. Pathetic self-delusion, baboonery dressed up in Harvard Biz School lingo, massive ego over-investment in projects so abjectly inane that they are not even pointless: suddenly it all becomes clear why Capitalism is so mired in banality and incompetence".

I don't quite agree with K-Punk's assessment of the typical reaction of university staff to the idea of strike action. He describes a kind of blank incomprehension based on an internalisation of 'market values'. In my experience, those staff who weren't involved on the picket lines regarded the whole thing with some kind of mirthful disdain - strike action is something to be positively mocked. I suppose though this was simply a different kind of outward manifestation of the same internalised belief - the idea that the marketisation of education is in some way 'natural' or inevitable or 'just the way things are going'.

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