TRC Haven't you realized that workers have it pretty good today?
Brian Ganter

Orthodox Marxism and the Contemporary

What is Orthodox Marxism?
Stephen Tumino

(D)evolutionary Socialism
Deborah Kelsh

Corporate Transnationalism and Red Internationalism
Amrohini Sahay

Class, Labor and the "Cyber": A Red Critique of the "Post-Work" Ideologies
Rob Wilkie

Eclipsing Exploitation: 
Transnational Feminism, Sex Work and the State
Jennifer Cotter

Revolution as Seduction, Pedagogy as Therapy and The Subject is Always Me
The Red Collective

Marxist Interventions

Main

In early May of this year, Cary Nelson, the author of Manifesto of a Tenured Radical and one of the most vocal faculty advocates of graduate student unionization in the United States, came to the University of Washington in Seattle to deliver a lecture ("The Future of the University, Pt. 2") and participate in informal seminars and colloquia with students and faculty. This invitation is itself of significance since Nelson's writings such as Manifesto of a Tenured Radical (New York University Press, 1997) and Academic Keywords: A Devil's Dictionary of Higher Education (Routledge, 1999) have carved out a middle-ground space that is reworking class analysis as a space of negotiation rather than of social transformation—negotiation over the effects of "doing class" within capitalism. Much of the space and analytical energies once devoted to theorizations of pedagogy and its place in the project of social justice and social transformation are now absorbed by the kinds of analytical work and local negotiations that Nelson engages in, all of which center on unionization as the solution to the crisis of globalization and the crisis of capitalism (see the on-line journal Workplace; as well as Chalk Lines: The Politics of Work in the Managed University, ed. R. Martin, Duke UP, 1998). The theory of class that is constructed in these writings is a theory in which one class has no necessary relationship to the other class, no necessary connection to property relations (that is, to whether or not one owns the means of production and, therefore, has command over the labor of others), or to the way that labor is deployed, alienated and exploited in capitalist social relations of production. Class, following this understanding, is essentially an employment category grounded in the notion of what Marx called "real wages" as opposed to "relative wages" (Wage-Labor 35). While the real wage, as Marx explains, is a measure of wages as an index of consumption ("the price of labour-power in relation to the price of other commodities" 35) relative wages on the contrary express the wage as a function of extracted surplus-value: "the share of immediate labour in the value newly created by it, in relation to the share of it which falls to accumulated labour, to capital" (35). In the culturalist conception of class supported by Nelson, "wages" are constructed solely as an index of consumption (that is, in terms of their relationship to articles of consumption) but the relationship of wages to exploitation (the private appropriation of surplus-labor) is completely concealed. As a result, class is seen as a "class effect" that is created locally, regulated locally and resisted locally: it is fabricated as an effect of the terms of the employment market in which one finds oneself at a given moment. Not only is the origin of wages and class in surplus-value conveniently erased but in such a theory the lines of class are redrawn so that they point not towards struggle for a classless society but to a Foucauldean multiplicity of short-term, low-impact reforms and negotiations within the existing society of profit.

Nelson's lecture was attended by a large contingent of campus AAUP supporters, English faculty and grad students, as well as some state employees on campus (various state employees at the time of his lecture were engaged in a series of rolling strikes throughout Washington state). The "conversation" on the following day was mainly attended by University of Washington T.A. union organizers, as well as two or three English department faculty members, including Leroy Searle (known for his work as an anthologizer of critical theory). Through the intimate rhetoric of their questions and their intimate body language during and after the "conversation" with Nelson each faculty member present made a point of making it known to all that they were "good friends" of "Cary's," meaning that in practical terms the audience of this "conversation" was the result not so much of the creation of a safe space manufactured for graduate students and TA union organizers as suggested by the organizers—but an intellectually and politically "safe space" manufactured for the benefit of Nelson himself. In this manufactured safe space (that was more a lovefest than an occasion for some serious discussions on labor in the knowledge institutions of capitalism) it would be assured that only those faculty who would have affirmative and nonconfrontational comments for "Cary" would be taking part in the conversation.

The centerpiece of Nelsons' visit, his lecture open to the public, lasted only 30 minutes (which itself raises issues about the use of the space of lecture as an occasion for a form of intellectual "outsourcing": the re-commodification of commonsensical knowledges already available to all). In keeping with his usual mode of writing, Nelsons' lecture was part autobiography, part moral outrage against the encroachment of corporations into education and part grass-root "lobbying" for the virtues of unionizing, or what he tellingly called in his lecture, in a reference to his work with the AAUP, the "loyal opposition" against corporate forces within the university. The introductory theme of the lecture was the danger now facing large, state, research-one universities such as the University of Washington and the State University of New York at Buffalo, whose "status" as sites of research is now being threatened with the rise of the "corporate model" of disciplinarity, subjectivity, careerism, etc. This particular thematization of class was telling about the ways in which the so-called "bread and butter" issues of department downsizing, shrinking job market and underpaying of the part-time workforce that are at the center of Nelson's stress on the "importance of class" have themselves become a kind of contained and organized way of articulating underlying career anxieties—career anxieties over the encroaching "loss of status" of research-one universities. Of course what is going on in research-one "top tier" universities cannot be addressed outside what is similarly occurring in non-research "lower tier" universities in the U.S. (like CUNY for example). What these comments point to is the way in which "talking class" for the post-al left translates into developing effective and pragmatic strategies for immunizing themselves from its effects in their daily lives, without transforming the conditions of life for the majority, inside and outside the academy.

Perhaps the most significant moment of the talk was a moment that was clearly meant to be publicly "self-critical" and yet at the same time was decidedly "confessional" in its articulation (effectively deploying a mode of "intimate criticism" to filter out the historical and the material conditions of knowledge and of ignorance out of the moment of self-critique). It was a moment in which Nelson obliquely referenced his own editorial and intellectual effort—in volumes such as Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture—to "update" Marxism into a form of post-al "marxism": a code word for moving Marxism out of the space of the materiality of labor ("economics") into the matter-ism of language/media/ideology ("culture"). In an intimate almost apologetic tone that set it off from larger upbeat thrust of the talk, Nelson explained that while "we attempted to establish a more 'reflective marxism'" in the very same process he added that "we participated in the further proletarianization of the academic workforce." This statement was significant at various intellectual and political levels. It was not only about the closest that Nelson's lecture came to addressing even the most basic issues of the status and role of theory in revolutionary social change (an inquiry that was itself restricted by Nelson's pragmatic assumption that "we tried theory and look what happened"). It is also telling evidence of the bankruptcy of the post-marxist project of "radical democracy," one that is still the recurring subject of the work of writers from Gayatri Spivak to Jacques Derrida to Slavoj Zizek to Stanley Aronowitz to Lawrence Grossberg to J.K. Gibson-Graham.... It is telling that even its most aggressive defenders have abandoned it not only as irrelevant but as recognizably damaging to the project of social justice and the abolition of class.

Nelson's newest "solution" however—academic unionization—is not much different in terms of its effects than the post-marxist "radical democracy" whose time, according to him, has passed (more because it has become unprofitable than anything else). Trade unionism has always basically taught two lessons for workers. When the tide of capitalism has gone to the right, trade unionists have followed suit and put the emphasis on class mobility as a means of resolving the conflicts of capital and wage-labor (something Pat Buchanan and others who give voice to the enduring truth of the "American Dream," for instance, always foreground when they talk about the interests of the U.S. workforce); when the tide of capitalism has gone to the left the lesson of trade unionism has always been one of fostering class pride ("solidarity"). It was this "class pride" ("solidarity") that was the concluding note of Nelson's talk. Solidarity without theory however—theory of social change, theory of history, theory of social justice, theory of praxis—is simply a sentimentalized form of volitional action-ism. "Solidarity" in the rhetoric of Nelson is a term used to sentimentally blur the lines between reformist practices which lessen the degree of disempowerment of workers—therefore giving a renewed legitimacy to the system as a whole—and those revolutionary practices and modes of struggle which empower workers as a whole by working to dis-alienate them from their labor through the historical expropriation of the expropriators on a global scale.

Before his arrival at the University of Washington Nelson had solicited questions from graduate students on campus. I forwarded him the following non-sentimentalist question:

On one hand, Professor Nelson refers to himself and his work as "radical" and has positioned himself on the left of the corporate university and (supposedly) the social forces of which the university is an effect. On the other hand, what he says from this "left" position is aimed at strictly reforming and maintaining the existing social structures. It seems to me that this is the kind of radicalism that is extremely useful to the ruling groups: it legitimates their interests with a left rhetoric and therefore gives them a universality that any ruling ideology needs in order to become part of commonsense. Professor Nelson has made not only a career but has achieved celebrity-hood on the U.S. left by saying that the one and only way to change the situation of academic workers is unionization. But not once has he actually addressed this question: doesn't unionization accept the limits that capital sets on labor and simply seeks a bigger piece of the pie? How is this going to put an end to capitalism, wage labor and the capitalist university which is really not a place of knowledge but a training camp for corporations? How could a radical not fight for overthrowing wage-labor - inside and outside the classroom? If revolution against capitalism is too unrealistic then what is radical about his radicality? He is simply doing realpolitik like any other politician.

Not only did Nelson not respond to the question—a rather straightforward and hardly controversial one—but he did not seem to grasp the terms of the question itself. The point of soliciting questions, assumedly was to address them in a public way in the space of the lecture where all could participate collectively. Since Nelson did not address the question I had forwarded him during the course of his lecture, I reposed it to him in the question and answer session afterwards, restating the main points that unionization (which he obviously has always advocated) has always been a reformist project. I unpacked the question further by stating that unionization has always been a reformist project aimed at lessening certain class privileges yet it has never concerned itself in the least, as the revolutionary Marxist project has, with the elimination of class differences themselves. Since he had not responded to the question posed to him in email, as a pedagogical gesture I asked him in the most straightforward terms possible to outline some of the theoretical and/or political differences between the project of reform and the project of revolution—the differences between his project and between the revolutionary Marxist critique of capitalism from which he so off-handedly and aggressively distances himself—as in Academic Keywords. He responded by simply reiterating the terms of the question itself (as it turned out in order to violently purge all residue of "revolution" from the question and the answer) and went on to offer a glossary definition of "reformism," going on to justify not only the significance but the urgency of "pragmatic" solutions as the most appropriate response to the "life and death" circumstances of those living in the third world. He then went on to posit trade unionism as the only real alternative in the first world where revolutionary conditions "are not in place." As he elaborated on the "virtues" of reformism he added that it was the most effective way of dealing with the "excesses" of the system. As a committed empiricist Nelson seemed almost obsessive in his answer, as in his talk as a whole, about the excess-iveness and singularity of his own experience proudly declaring that "I am a reformist." He did not seem to even hear my question to him; I was not asking about his identity, his self-experience or his beliefs but about his theoretical position and the implications of that position for revolutionary change of capitalism today. As he concluded his glossing of reformism, the moderator ended the question and answer session with the statement of relief that "this seems a good place to end." Indeed! Nelson's passing reference to the "excesses" of the system was a telling one: by taking the position of one who fights the "excesses" of capitalism one has already accepted the view that capitalism is itself a fundamentally "fair" system with a few faults here and again—not a fundamentally exploitative system.

At the "Conversation with Cary Nelson" the next day I was one of the first persons to arrive. Nelson obviously had some awareness of the evasiveness of his response the previous day and immediately came up to me to make small talk (more it seemed to manage his own anxieties rather than to engage with or elaborate further on any response to the question I had posed). He asked if "I was still revolutionary" and I responded non-cynically "Of course." At one level Nelsons' sidebar comment is small talk; at another it is the statement of a deeply cynical politics, a politics that has adapted itself to the flexible epistemologies and strategic thinking of the left today and that can only read the other as an inflexible subject who is beyond persuasion. Nelson went on to raise the issue of one of his previous talks and how his reception at the University of Washington was unlike some previous receptions that were not so "friendly." At "Syracuse for instance" he explained his talk was "boycotted" by "Morton and Zavarzadeh," two revolutionary Marxist pedagogues, on the grounds that he was a "false radical" who was not interested in "organizing workers for the overthrow of the state." He reiterated his claim from Academic Keywords that "Zavarzadeh" speaks from a "comfortable position of tenure and a comfortable salary" and did not himself seem amenable to taking a "salary cut" etc. (Again, these are the same Marxists he writes about in Academic Keywords—his almost obsessive-compulsive infatuation with what they think, do and say is telling about the way in which their "unpractical" interventions in fact expose the anxious limits of the kind of the reformism and recycled leftism and trade unionism he practices). I responded that I did not see why he should be so surprised at being dismissed "in Syracuse" as a reformer of capitalism since that was exactly how he had represented himself to me and to the audience—with pride—the previous night. I added that what he was suggesting, in his "personal" comments about "Zavarzadeh" was that only those who are "exploited" (in fact only the most deeply impoverished of all) have a right to speak out about "exploitation," which amounted to the argument that anyone with an interest in social justice should actively seek to impoverish themselves as much as possible. I went on to explain that he was not only proposing a mechanical relationship between practices and ideas but fetishizing poverty itself. How did he account for something so simple as the fact that the most exploited workers in the U.S. will vote Republican (something that can only be theorized in terms of ideology and lack of class consciousness)? Nelson at the exact point in our "conversation" when his experience was no longer in the spotlight—that is, beyond critique—seemed to lose interest and proceeded to meander away conversationally... intellectually... physically...

the question and answer session following Nelson's opening comments of the "conversation" I re-asked my question for a third time. I explained that I had emailed the question to him and he had not responded in his talk; I had asked it in the lecture the previous day and he again had not answered it. Instead he had given what I described as a "canned response"—"a glossary definition of reformism." Now I was going to ask it a third time and this time I would put it in the context of pedagogy so that he could now engage with it at that level. During his talk he had indicated that while he is training critical thinkers who can be "critical" about capitalism, he made a point to say that he is not "training revolutionaries" in his classroom. Citing this, I pointed out that he obviously had an idea of what it entailed to "train revolutionaries" in the classroom and could he indicate what that entailed exactly and on the basis of that explanation why he did not find it productive to "train revolutionaries"? Here was someone who did not even seem (as it was becoming clearer and clearer) to be able to explain or even gesture towards what it was that he was so fervently opposing himself to; he only seemed to have a general intuition that it was academically profitable to do so... This is not surprising given the way in which red theory has become the object of repeated erasure—the sign of pedagogical fraudulence and non-knowledge—in the bourgeois knowledge industries. Yet could one ask for a more lucid instance of the workings of ideology-as-false consciousness? Nelson basically reiterated the cliché—the apotheosis of false consciousness, which is always a reification of knowledge and its enabling material conditions—that the conditions of revolution here "do not exist"; therefore what he does is to teach, publish and "recover" the writings of the communist poets of the thirties. Even if we accept at face-value what he referred to as "revolutionary writing" I asked him, what was the "difference" between those conditions and ours that allowed such a writing to emerge in that time and that prevents it from emerging in ours I asked? What made it the "then" moment "ripe for revolution" and what makes the moment of "now" a time for putting "revolution" to the side? Are you saying, I asked, that we need to wait for another depression before it becomes possible to talk of building a revolutionary movement against capital? I added that even if he was "giving voice," to use his terms, to revolutionary writings of the thirties, in his current writings he was in the same gesture "taking that voice away." Nelson did not seem able to provide an answer for any of these questions, nor did he even seem to be able to engage with them. More to the point, he was reluctant to provide the answer for a "good" reason. The reason is that Nelson's position embraces the "theory" of "depression" of the bosses—the theory of depression which states that as long as profits are not immediately and directly threatened there is no such thing as "depression" and that there is consequently no objective existence to class. "Class" only exists in moments of perceived "crisis"—again at moment of "excesses" of the system and not as a precondition of the system itself. Here is someone ostensibly committed to the view, as articulated in his writings, that academic part-time and graduate student labor are both exploited today more than ever as evidenced by depressed wages, depressed working conditions, depressed benefits. Yet when he is pressed about the historical conditions for developing a revolutionary movement of wage-labor against capital, Nelson is only able to reply in effect: "Haven't you realized that workers have it pretty good today? So good, in fact—so much 'better' than they had it in the depression—that the 'conditions' for a revolutionary movement 'do not exist' today!"

This "slippage," far from being a lapse in logic, is a symptom of a politics, a politics that, as it became lucidly clear in both Nelson's planned lecture and his improvised conversation-al comments, is such a cynical politics that it allows its adherents to pretty much reverse their position whenever it suits the locality of the analytical and political context. Nelsons' conversations were post-al performances in the non-objectivity of our knowledge, hence the ease and frequency with which he reversed his views when one of them ran into even the least bit of opposition. For instance in defending unionization against the charge of "uncollegiality" in his lecture the previous evening Nelson argued the fallacy of this claim, concluding that, in his words, "there is no evidence that power relations on campus are changed through unionization." Nelson made this statement without a hint of awareness of the contradictions involved in it. This is someone who has made a career—in fact has achieved celebrityhood as indicated above—through positing unionization as the one and only road to worker empowerment. Yet if there is "no evidence" that any worker derives power from such changes why should anyone continue to advocate the trade-unionist "solution"? The reason that Nelson practices trade unionism and reformism in his pedagogy is not that they are the most "effective" and "strategic" at blunting the effects of capitalism, but because they are the most "effective' and "strategic" at forestalling more radical interventions in the existing social relations and the antagonism between wage-labor and capital. Nelson's economistic treatment of class, to borrow Lenin's term, has led him and the reformist left he writes for to a theory of class that takes its theoretical coordinates more from Heidegger than anyone else. This is the view of class as "thrown-ness"—a view that treats class as a concrete "effect" without a "cause" in the expropriation of the "labor" of the other—and that therefore cuts it off from any necessary relationship to the material relations of property, labor, and surplus-labor that make class class to begin with. Such a theory is of great utility to the owners since the elimination of "causes" of class (which originates in the exploitation and expropriation of the surplus-labor of the other) also eliminates the need for a revolutionary "solution" to class. Struggle against the owners of the means of production and the founding of a movement founded on the goal of expropriation of the expropriators is replaced with the semiotic "solution," namely the reformist management and minimalization of "class effects" through local policy adjustments. Of course, one does not need to look at the writings of trade unionists or labor activists to see the celebration and reification of this ruling class epistemology of the "thrown" and the "rootless" (which are ultimately allegories of the impossibility of historical knowledge of the social and its objective material contradictions). This same epistemological ruse runs through the Kantian "thing-in-itself" to post-marxist clichés about "overdetermination" (the impossibility of relating "effects" to any certain "cause" since "cause" is ultimately a search for "origins") to the Zizekian "real" (as an unsymbolizable trauma that is in excess of our knowledge but nonetheless at the source of it). It is this "thrown" logic through which politics is erased by epistemology and through which the possibility of objective knowledge of class is replaced by subjective knowledge of class, through which knowledge of "structures" is replaced by annotations of events, experiences, effects... This denial of material objectivity of the conditions of our knowledge is the dogma that has made this reformist left—past and present—the most reliable ally of capitalism then and now.

The struggle that confronts workers under capitalism today—from sex-workers to graduate students to airline pilots—is not a trade unionist struggle for "equity," which is a code word under capitalism for equity and fairness in the terms of sale of one's labor-power to capitalism. The struggle that confronts workers today is not one for equity but for equality: equality of working conditions for all. Such equality is not possible under capitalism. It can only come about through the construction of a society in which people are not forced to sell their labor-power; in which the few are not enabled to profit and live from the labor of the many; a society constructed on the basis of "need" instead of "profit"; a society guided by the revolutionary principle: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs."

NOTES

 1 Mas'ud Zavarzadeh is the author of "The Dead Center" (The Alternative Orange: http://www.geocities.com/redtheory/AO/AOVol5-2.html). The essay is a critique of Nelson's labor theory of academic work.  

2 In a forthcoming essay on the U.S. left, Mas'ud Zavarzadeh writes:

This [volunteeristic-distributionist] absurdity is not Rorty's invention. Nor is his diagnosis [of the problems of social security] caused by some personal oversight or intellectual shortcoming. Rather, it is the effect of his class position, which is not determined by his personal ideas and lifestyle choices (no matter how passionate he might be about his independent thinking and autonomy). His choices and his ideas are determined by his class position.

More generally, the idea that the problem of capitalism is a "distribution" problem—that can be solved by volunteeristic measures such as philanthropy—and not a "production" matter—that requires revolutionary actions to put an end to wage labor—is the very core of the activism of tears and has its origin in the theocratic practices of tithes. Tears for the oppressed.

This affective activism of tears has been made popular by the seditiously seductive “tears” writings of Derrida, Bataille, Blanchot, Jabes, Kierkegaard, Hegel, Heidegger, Ricoeur, Gadamer, Tillich, Barth, Altizer, Barthes, Cixous, and Levinas and formulated in such books as Mark Taylor's Tears and John Caputo's The Prayers and Tears of Jacques Derrida: Religion Without Religion. Tears left shares its belief in social change through philanthropy (“tears”) with the right-wing projects of social adjustment by means of faith-based charity. They both have their roots in religion—whose main purpose is the management of class antagonism on behalf of the ruling class.

The tears left represents itself as opposed to capitalism. But, it opposes it with measures that leave wage labor intact and thus, in actuality, legitimate the rule of capital. For instance, tears left supports institutions such as "trade unionism," which, in the guise of left activism, is complicit with capital against labor. Trade unionism is the institutionalization of wage labor by the tears left. Like religion, trade unionism is an agency of capital for bringing about class détente: a relaxation of the antagonism between labor and capital so the accumulation of profit can go on without serious disruptions. The tears left serves to reduce the excesses of capital (such as moderating overt exploitation—by establishing the minimum wage—or mitigating racism, homophobia, sexism, violence to the environment...) and thus actually helps to strengthen capitalism through reforms. Trade unionism is not against capitalism. It simply wants a bigger piece of the pie: it wants to share in more of the profits from the exploited surplus labor of workers. It has no interest in terminating wage labor and ending exploitation.

I have raised some of these issues in relation to the activities and writings of Cary Nelson—who regards inequalities in academic labor practices to not be consequences of the system of wage labor and thus easily solved by the philanthropic distributionist acts of "yuppies with heart” (The Chronicle of Higher Education, May 19, 1997, A-10)—in my essay, "The Dead Center." His response was not to engage the issues theoretically or politically but rather to attack me personally. Discrediting me as a person, he seems to think, will discredit the critique of his complicity with capitalism.

In his best-seller Academic Keywords, he wrote that I was a "pseudo"—a fraud, a hypocrite and an imposter—because, while I was advocating what I was advocating, I was not willing to take a cut in my salary. I was not a “yuppie with a heart”: I had no tears.

I put aside the conceptual naiveté that underlies his understanding of the world-historical system of wage labor and also bracket the fact my salary is so small that it cannot stand any cut. My salary is so little (less than half of what a faculty of my rank—full professor—at Syracuse University makes and perhaps one third of Nelson's own salary from the endowed chair he has at the University of Illinois) because of my relentless critique of the administration at Syracuse University and resistance to its corporate practices. I receive a ridiculously small salary in spite of the fact that I have published 7-8 books (and written several more that are blacklisted by the very presses that publish and publicize Nelson’s books) and also have written maybe over 100 essays and articles; have a record of high rigor and pedagogical innovation in my teaching, and have been highly active in intellectual matters in my department. Even though I work in a department in which it is not unusual for its members to receive annual increases of about $7,000.000 (seven thousand dollars) from the Dean, my "activities" have earned me, in the last several years, an annual increase of $1.00 (one dollar) from the Dean. (The $1.00 is, of course, a "message" because he could easily just have given me zero dollars).

There is, in short, not much in my salary to be cut. But Nelson wants it cut anyway because his demand proves the authenticity of his “tears” and is a good applause line in his lecture tours. He does not seem to realize that it also reveals his political vacuousness since social inequality is created at the point of production and, therefore, cannot be changed by therapeutic and distributionist alms, donations and benefaction. But what he lacks by way of rigorous political analysis of the social issues, Nelson makes up by his demagogy of tears.

Nelson's practices of tears are protective of capitalism because they are based on changing the behavior of individuals (“yuppies with heart”) and not on the structural transformation of capitalism into socialism. His acts of legitimizing capital are doubly valuable in capitalist propaganda because they are wrapped up in a left rhetoric. They provide capitalist publicists in the academy, publishing houses, media and government with the opportunity to claim a universal rightfulness for capital because such left support (in the guise of criticism) allows the clerks of capital to claim that its support is universal: right, left, center. Capitalism in this narrative is not a historical mode of production: it is a universal way of life.

Nelson’s main strategies of tears—substituting affect and empathy for a historical materialist grasping of wage labor—have made him the establishment’s favorite “radical.” His books are best-sellers; he has an endowed chair, and he is now an academic celebrity on lecture tours. His spontaneism (“tears”) has the extra benefit for capital of marginalizing any rigorous theoretical analysis of capitalism—theory is the other of tears. But as Lenin writes in his own critique of spontaneity (tears activism): “Without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement" (What is to be Done?).

After reading Nelson's "analysis" in his Academic Keywords, Robert Wilkie wrote me the note that I reproduce here because it teases out from Nelson's text the other side of his class politics:

It is telling that Nelson—who claims to write in the name of "unionization" and "de-corporatizing" the university—speaks in the language of the corporate consultant. Like CEO-for-hire "Chainsaw" Al Dunlap, when he calls for "re-distribution," he means "cutting salaries," and when he declares it is time to "come together," he means it is time for "eliminating troublemakers" who threaten the profits of his corporate bosses. He is nothing but a comprador intellectual who trades on the lives of university employees in order to advance the interests of transnational capital."

Works Cited

Marx, Karl. "Preface." A Contribution to a Critique of Political Economy. New York: International Publishers, 1981.

_____. Wage-Labour and Capital / Value, Price and Profit. New York: International Publishers, 1990.
Nelson, Cary and Stephen Watt. Academic Keywords: A Devil's Dictionary of Higher Education. New York and London: Routledge, 1999.

Zavarzadeh, Mas'ud, "The Dead Center." The Alternative Orange. http://www.geocities.com/redtheory/AO/AOVol5-2.html 

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