Occupy the MLA

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

Seattle, WA— Just when you’re ready to forget the academic connection to the Occupy ________ movement, one of the organizers reminds you that they are not done yet.

Usually it’s a college professor. At the Modern Language Association (MLA) annual meeting in Seattle last week, English professor Joseph Ramsey pretty much said at a panel that when college activists in the faculty and the student body are finished hibernating, they will go back to doing the one thing that we know collegiates for decades have been trained to do—protest.

In 2011, the world turned “from the Arab Spring to the American autumn,” Ramsey said at an MLA panel on “Class in the Classroom.” The Class they were talking about was not a course.

“The Arab Spring put the stake in the blood-stained, hegemonic containment policy,” Ramsay claimed. Ramsey co-edits the Marxist journal Cultural Logic.

On the domestic front, “You can almost see the financial towers tottering in the wind,” Ramsey asserted.  Ramsey teaches at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.

“As we speak, the Occupy movement has been dismantled,” Ramsey reported. “Some will go back to college.”

“Some will not.” For those that do return to campus, there will be no shortage of extra-curricular activities.

“Occupy Harvard stages walkouts in the middle of some neo-liberal  economics professor’s classes,” Ramsey related.

“Last month, 70 students walked out of the introductory macroeconomics class of N. Gregory Mankiw, professor of economics at Harvard University, arguing that his teaching was too ideologically biased in favor of a market-embracing philosophy,” Dan Berrett reported in The Chronicle of Higher Education on January 6, 2012. “The author of two widely used economics textbooks and former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers for President George W. Bush, Mr. Mankiw agrees that he represents mainstream economic thought in academe.”

“But he does not see the study of the discipline as inherently laden with ideology.” Ramsey and his acolytes disagree with that assessment.

“Lenin famously wrote, ‘There are decades when nothing happens and there are weeks when decades happen,’” Ramsey reminded his audience. “We must keep our twinkling and, where necessary, our squid fingers, warm.’”

Translation: Occupiers gently wave their hands up, thumbs out, to represent “twinkling” or approval of something that is said and done. They gently wave them down, towards where squids swim, to signify disapproval.

The panel that Ramsey spoke on was sponsored by the Radical Caucus of the MLA, of which he is a member. Ramsey previously taught at Emmanuel College.

Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.

If you would like to comment on this article, e-mail mal.kline@academia.org


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