Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Backlash

Duke University’s adjunct faculty members celebrate
From recent correspondence

Edited by Morris Dean

The days appear to be over when a university’s faculty runs the place of teaching, learning, and inquiry, and its administration supports them. “Duke’s Adjunct Faculty Uprising Is Just What Higher Ed Needs” [Bob Geary, Indy Weekly, March 30] Excerpt:
The outcome [of a vote to join the Service Employees International Union], on March 18, was a lopsided win for the union, 179–24, with thirteen ballots set aside because of contested eligibility.
    Why did I find the clash so jarring? Because it burst my ideal of what university governance should be, with faculty at the center and the administration supporting them. For that matter, it was jarring to realize that an eclectic group of scholars, individualists for whom the uniformity of a union seemed an odd fit, wanted the SEIU nonetheless.
    But there it was. The modern university isn't governed by its faculty, though in my memory administrators were drawn from the faculty, and they respected the tradition that a university was its faculty and students.
    Its tenured faculty, anyway. But then, most faculty members had tenure.
    Today, though, universities are run like a business—they've been "corporatized," critics say, and chase the almighty buck—while a majority of faculty members lack the protection of tenure or any hope of getting it. Instead, their employment is "contingent," dependent on fixed-term contracts that are typically one to three years long but may be semester to semester—and are often part-time. Those without tenure are constrained in their ability to challenge university policy. They're treated as workers who may or may not be retained. [read more]
Gov. McCrory talks non-discrimination ordinance
Religious people will cite a line in scripture to support their bigotry and ill treatment of others, and ignore all the exhortations to love their neighbors, treat others as they would like to be treated, and leave judgment to God. “Anti-Gay Laws Bring Backlash in Mississippi and North Carolina” [Jonathan M. Katz & Erik Eckholm, NY Times, April 5] Excerpt:
DURHAM, N.C. — The divide between social conservatives and diversity-minded corporations widened Tuesday with developments in Mississippi and North Carolina related to the rights of gay, lesbian bisexual and transgender people in both states.
    Mississippi’s governor signed far-reaching legislation allowing individuals and institutions with religious objections to deny services to gay couples, and the online-payment company PayPal announced it was canceling a $3.6 million investment in North Carolina.
    The measure signed by Gov. Phil Bryant of Mississippi allows churches, religious charities and privately held businesses to decline services to people if doing so would violate their religious beliefs on marriage and gender. Gov. Nathan Deal of Georgia, under pressure from business interests, two weeks ago vetoed a similar bill passed by the State Legislature....
    But the biggest backlash has come in North Carolina, a deeply divided state with conservative, Republican-dominated rural areas and suburbs vying for influence with tech-savvy, Democratic-leaning urban centers like Charlotte and the Research Triangle area of Durham, Raleigh and Chapel Hill.
    With its announcement, PayPal became the first major company to announce it was pulling out of an existing project, saying that “becoming an employer in North Carolina, where members of our teams will not have equal rights under the law, is simply untenable.”
    PayPal’s president and chief executive, Dan Schulman, said that if the state repealed the law, “we will reconsider our decision.”
    “But obviously there’s a time frame,” he added. “We are now in the process of talking to a number of other states.”
    PayPal had already joined more than 120 other business leaders in signing a letter to Mr. McCrory objecting to the law. [read more]
Isaiah Berlin
By Source, Fair use
This is a highly interesting article about the backlash in the United States and Europe against globalization and inequality, creating similar politicians and politics on the right – Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen – and on the left – Bernie Sanders, Jeremy Corbyn. The backlash revolves around the conflict between liberalism and fairness or justice, as stated in the author’s quote from Isaiah Berlin [see excerpt]. “The Politics of Backlash” [Roger Cohen, NY Times, April 4] Excerpt:
PARIS — There is a global backlash against rising inequality, stagnant middle-class incomes, politicians for sale, social exclusion, offshoring of jobs, free trade, mass immigration, tax systems skewed for giant corporations and their bosses, and what Pope Francis has lambasted as the “unfettered pursuit of money.”
    The backlash takes various forms. In the United States it has produced an angry election campaign. The success of both Donald Trump on the right and Bernie Sanders on the left owes a lot to the thirst for radical candidates who break the mold. Trump is unserious and incoherent; Sanders is neither of those things. But they both draw support from constituencies that feel stuck, reject politics as usual, and perceive a system rigged against them.
    Hillary Clinton’s chief predicament, apart from the trust issue, is that she represents the past in a world where the post-cold-war optimism that accompanied her husband’s arrival in the White House almost a quarter-century ago has vanished. To embody continuity these days is political suicide....
    Steven Weisman, in his intriguing book The Great Tradeoff: Confronting Moral Conflicts in the Era of Globalization, observes that in recent decades the bottom third of the world’s population have gained “with many of them escaping destitution.” The middle third has become richer, while the “top 1 percent, and to a lesser extent the top 5 percent, have gained significantly.” The losers have been the 20 percent below that top swathe, with stagnant real incomes or minimal gains. “They represent the working class in the United States and other advanced countries.”...
    Isaiah Berlin, who witnessed the ravages of Fascism and the destruction of Europe, wrote that, “Equality may demand the restraint of the liberty of those who wish to dominate; liberty — without some modicum of which there is no choice and therefore no possibility of remaining human as we understand the word — may have to be curtailed to make way for social welfare, to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to shelter the homeless, to leave room for the liberty of others, to allow justice or fairness to be exercised.” [our emphasis]
    Those words were written decades ago. They are no less valid today. Justice and fairness have lost out in the West to “those who wish to dominate.” If this election cycle can be viewed positively, it is as a clear warning that something is rotten in America and must change. [read more]
The winners of revolutions have generally proved to be as corrupt as the rulers they supplanted, if not worse – because of all the power they can command because the old institutions have been overturned – so a new ruling class could be worse than what we have...but at this stage I’m willing to risk a roll of the dice. Bernie Sanders might be a reasonable small first step.

I like making modest and good, incremental changes.

Cicero
By Glauco92 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0
Evidently we’ve learned bugger all over the past 2,071 years:
The Budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed, lest Rome will become bankrupt. People must again learn to work instead of living on public assistance. –Cicero , 55 BC

Grateful for correspondence, Morris Dean

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