Archive for the Grad School Category

New Class from Telos

Posted in Grad School, Revolution with tags , , , on March 16, 2010 by lumpy

Well, not a journal I’d usually pick up, but Kenneth Anderson over at the Volokh Conspiracy recommends this article at Telos, and it is an interesting one.  Here’s the first paragraph:

The paradigm of a “new class” originated in socialist Eastern Europe among dissidents and other regime critics as a way to describe the ensconced stratum of managers, technocrats, and ideologues who controlled the levers of power. The rhetorical irony of the phrase depended on the implied contrast with an “old class” as well as the good old class theory of the orthodox Marxism that once served as the established dogma of half the world. The history of class struggle, which had been history altogether, had culminated in the victory of a proletarian class that in turn had ushered in—or was well on its way to ushering in—a classless society. Or so the grand narrative went. To talk of a “new class,” then, conjured up the unquestionable epistemology of class analysis, while simultaneously challenging the notional outcome: instead of the end of the state and classlessness, one was stuck with police states and a new class that, while eminently cooler than the Bolsheviks of yore, still exercised a dictatorship (of the not-proletariat) while skimming off the benefits of unequal power. The phrase turned Marxism against Marxism during those decades when the fall of the Berlin Wall was not even imaginable.

Go on!


The Turtlenecked Hairshirt

Posted in Grad School, Revolution with tags , , , on January 10, 2010 by lumpy

DING-DING-DING We have a winner, folks!

I don’t think our prescriptions for a cure would necessarily be the same, but the diagnosis seems spot on to me:

The problem is not the humanities as a discipline (who can blame a discipline?), the problem is its members. We are insufferable. We do not want change. We do not want centrality. We do not want to speak to nor interact with the world. We mistake the tiny pastures of private ideals with the megalopolis of real lives. We spin from our mouths retrograde dreams of the second coming of the nineteenth century whilst simultaneously dismissing out of our sphincters the far more earnest ambitions of the public at large—religion, economy, family, craft, science.

Humanists work hard, but at all the wrong things, the commonest of which is the fetid fester of a hypothetical socialist dreamworld, one that has become far more disconnected with labor and material than the neoliberalism it claims to replace.

Humanism does not deserve to carry the standard for humans, for frankly it despises them.

Read the whole thing, folks.  The man is on a rampage.

Oh, go on!

Harvard Poll Favors ROTC Recognition

Posted in Grad School, Issues with tags , on May 18, 2009 by lumpy

From the Harvard Crimson, the student daily:

According to the results of a poll conducted last week of more than 1,700 Harvard undergraduates, nearly 62 percent of respondents support the official recognition of the Reserve Officer Training Corps as a fully supported student organization by the University—a move that would reverse a 40 year-old Harvard policy.

The poll—sponsored by the Harvard Republican Club—reflects the opinions of roughly a quarter of Harvard’s undergraduate population, and cuts across all bands of the political spectrum: 54 percent of respondent self-reported as Democrats, while 19 percent identified as Republicans and 27 percent as independents.

Shawna L. Sinnott ’10, a Marine ROTC midshipman, said she believed the results showed that the current generation is better able to distinguish individual ROTC members from the political issue of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”—the controversial policy that bars openly gay individuals from serving in the armed forces.

But critics of the poll said that none of the advocates of ROTC’s recognition have made public gestures to fully address the issue of non-discrimination and officially condemn the DADT policy, saying that without openly condemning DADT, only one side of the issue is actually being examined.

While I understand the ban in terms of not allowing student organizations on campus that discriminate on the basis of gender orientation, the discrimination in this case is required by law, a law passed by the US Congress and signed by the US president at the time, something that does not get any mention in this debate at all. The military, and hence the student organization in question, has no choice in the matter.

The criticism that “without openly condemning DADT, only one side of the issue is actually being examined” is about as one-sided as it gets. Whether or not openly homosexual men and women should be allowed to serve in the military is itself a valid question and shutting that debate down from the beginning is close-minded — it is demanding that only one side get to speak and that dissenting voices simply shut up. Having an open, honest debate that didn’t include the standard slew of ad hominem attacks masquerading as arguments is essential for the best resolution of this issue.

Finally, a quick correction to the reporter: There is no Marine ROTC. Navy ROTC has two tracks, Navy and Marine Corps, but it’s the same outfit: Navy ROTC.

Go on!

Specialization Is For Insects

Posted in Grad School with tags , , on April 21, 2009 by lumpy

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

-Robert A. Heinlein

They say an expert is someone who knows more and more about less and less, and who has six limbs.  I say Ph.D. programs must be putting out bugs by the thousands.

As a grad student, I have to ask, am I supposed to be growing another pair of appendages, or will they be surgically implanted upon graduation? Is that part of the ‘regalia’ I should buy for the occasion? Is that the reason we need those big robes, to hide the extra arms? At least, I assume they’ll be arms …

Oh, go on!