universities

Shame of Jewish Chronicle’s Attack on Letter Written by Jewish Labour Supporters

Just like the rest of the Conservative establishment, just when you think the Jewish Chronicle can’t go any lower, they do. This afternoon Mike put up a piece reporting and commenting on a story from the Skwawkbox about that rag’s attempts to discredit a letter published in the Sunday Times written by 12 Holocaust survivors in support of the Labour party and its leader, Jeremy Corbyn. As part of its attempt to rebut the letter, the JC has tried attack the credentials of one its signatories. This individual, it claimed, couldn’t be a proper Holocaust survivor because they left Germany in 1939 when they were two years old.

But as Steve Walker of the Skwawkbox and Mike in his article point out, this claim is nonsense as the definition of Holocaust survivor used by the Yad Vashem centre in Jerusalem is any Jew, who lived for any time under Nazi domination and survived. And that definition must therefore include those, who lived in Germany in the ’30s.

I suspect here that the Jewish Chronicle probable considers a Holocaust survivor as someone who survived the the system slaughter of the Jews carried out under the Final Solution from 1942 until the end of the War. However, the Nazis began their persecution of Jews and other ethnic, religious and political groups almost from the moment Hitler seized power in 1933. The Boxheim scandal of 1931 showed that the Nazis were intending to set up concentration camps, and the first at Esterwegen and Dachau were established in 1933. By August 1941, four months before the infamous Wannsee Conference of January 1942, there were 10 main camps with 25 satellites. In April 1933 there was a boycott of Jewish businesses and legislation was passed expelling Jews from the civil service and the universities. This was followed in October by the passage of the Reich Chamber of Culture and the Press Law, which prepared from the removal of the Jews from journalism. 1935 saw the passage of the infamous Nuremberg Laws and the Reich Citizenship Law, which restricted German citizenship only to full-blooded gentile Germans. Marriage and extra-marital sex between Jews and non-Jews were forbidden. This was followed by legislation in 1937 permitting Jewish businesses to be confiscated without any legal justification. All German anti-Semitic legislation was applied to Austria after that country was annexed in 1938. This was succeeded by further laws passed in April demanding the registration of Jewish wealth, the Munich synagogue was destroyed in June, and the Nuremberg in August. That same month Hitler issued a decree demanding that all male Jews should be called ‘Israel’ and all female ‘Sarah’. In October all Jewish passports had to be stamped with the letter ‘J’ for Jude, the German for Jew, and 17,000 Polish Jews were expelled from Germany. After the assassination of the German diplomat Ernst von Rath by Herschl Grynszpan in Paris came the horrific pogrom of Kristalnacht. 20,000 German Jews were imprisoned as businesse, homes and synagogues were attacked and looted. Further decrees expelled the Jews from the economy and demanded them to pay a collective fine of 12,500 million marks to pay for the destruction. At the same time, Jewish students were expelled from schools. In December, non-Jews were allowed to take over formerly Jewish companies. In April 1939 all Jewish valuables were confiscated and the law on tenancies passed, which supposed to force Jews to live together in ‘Jewish Houses’. In September the curfew was introduced forbidding Jews from being out after dark, and all their radios were confiscated in order to prevent ‘treachery’. The first deportations of Jews from Germany, mainly from Pomerania in what is now northern Poland, began the next year in February 1940.

See: D.G. Willliamson, The Third Reich (Harlow: Longman 1982) pp. 39-40.

James Taylor and Warren Shaw, A Dictionary of the Third Reich (London: Grafton Books 1988), ‘Anti-Semitism’, pp. 37-8; ‘Concentration Camps’, 88-91; ‘Crystal Night’, 92-3; ‘Jews in Nazi Germany’, pp. 190-2; ‘Nuremberg Laws’, 261.

It’s therefore very clear that even before the commencement of the Final Solution in 1941/2 Jews were under immense persecution in Germany and then Austria. A Times journalist reported that the situation in the latter was so desperate that some Jews were contemplating suicide. See The Faber Book of Protest. And the entry for ‘Final Solution’ in Taylor and Shaw, above, states that it is still uncertain whether the term ‘resettlement’ was also used as a euphemism for murder when it was used of the Jews in the late 1930s. (p. 126).

Mike also notes in his article the Ha’avara Agreement signed between Nazi Germany and the German Federation of Zionists to send Jews to Israel, making the point that the only reason the Federation signed the agreement was fear of Nazi persecution. It allowed the escape of 60,000 Jews to Palestine, then under the British Mandate, who are therefore also Holocaust survivors.

The short-lived collaboration between the Zionists and Nazis were what allowed the witch-hunters to smear and demand the suspension of Ken Livingstone. However, it is verifiable fact, documented by Zionist historians of the Holocaust like David Ceserani, the Yad Vashem Holocaust Centre, and mentioned in Taylor and Shaw, who write

At the outset the Nazis had tried to drive the Jews out of German living space, and were briefly in collaboration with the zionist movement. (p. 38).

Mike also believes that the Jewish Chronicle’s article may itself be anti-Semitic. He writes

In fact, the JC piece may itself be described as anti-Semitic. The IHRA working definition of anti-Semitism includes among its examples “denying the fact, scope, mechanisms… or intentionality of… the Holocaust”, and the accusation in this piece certainly does so.

He also states that the Jewish Chronicle has tried to suggest falsely that many of the signatories didn’t know what they signing. But they did, and some even suggested alterations. Mike concludes

What a weak response from people who have trumpeted their righteousness for years! And what will they try next?

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/03/19/mainstream-bid-to-take-back-initiative-from-anti-witch-hunt-campaigners-with-lies-may-be-anti-semitic/

I don’t know what the witch-hunters will try next, but it’s going to be foul. They’ve already shown they’re not averse to falsifying history, as John Mann did when he denied that Hitler signed any agreement with the Zionists. Just as they have shown they abuse and smear their Jewish opponents using rhetoric that would be unhesitatingly denounced as anti-Semitic if used by non-Jews. But they are given a free pass on this by a complicit British establishment and media.

Epistemology and Free Speech

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 05/03/2019 - 2:37am in

Tags 

universities

“When we have good reason to think that the position advocated by a potential speaker is wrong, we have an epistemic reason in favour of no-platforming: we can be confident that providing her with a platform will produce evidence in favour of her views that it is very difficult to rebut (and which can’t be rebutted by argument).”

Those are the words of philosopher Neil Levy (Oxford). In a recent essay at Aeon, Levy brings the idea of “higher-order evidence” to bear on the discussion of no-platforming (a name for withdrawing an invitation to participate in a public or quasi-public speaking event, or preventing someone from participating in such an event, on the grounds that their views are highly objectionable).

Levy notes that defenders of free speech emphasize “what we might call first-order evidence: evidence for and against the arguments that the speakers make” when arguing that public debates and speech should proceed unhindered. But higher-order evidence is important, too.

What’s higher-order evidence?

Higher-order evidence is evidence about how beliefs were formed. We often moderate our confidence in our beliefs in the light of higher-order evidence. For instance, you might find the arguments in favour of booking plane tickets to Las Vegas right now compelling, but hesitate in light of the fact that you’re really drunk. The fact that you’re drunk is higher-order evidence: it’s evidence that you might not be processing first-order evidence well… Higher-order evidence is genuine evidence. It is rational to respond to higher-order evidence by moderating our confidence in our beliefs, sometimes even to abandon them altogether.

Higher-order evidence is relevant to discussions over no-platforming, Levy argues:

An invitation to speak at a university campus, a prestigious event or to write an opinion piece for a newspaper provides (prima facie) higher-order evidence. It is evidence that the speaker is credible; that she has an opinion deserving a respectful hearing. It typically certifies expertise, and expertise is higher-order evidence that the person’s opinion should be given particular weight… An invitation to speak confers credibility because it selects someone, from among the large crowd of potential speakers, as the person whom we should hear. The credibility stems both from the fact of selection and from the prestige of the venue they are selected to speak at.

No-platforming may make sense because the higher-order evidence that a university’s invitation to speak confers is difficult to counter:

If my university gives a platform to a climate-change skeptic, it provides higher-order evidence in favour of her view. That higher-order evidence is not rebutted by the university inviting another speaker later to ‘balance’ her, or if she is subject to a devastating response from the floor. We can rebut her claim that global warming isn’t occurring, but we cannot rebut her claim that the invitation certifies my expertise.

So, Levy concludes, while we may not be able to rebut the higher-order evidence, we can refrain from helping to produce it by no-platforming.

It should be noted that Levy is not providing an argument for the conclusion that attempts at no-platforming are always or usually justified. He knows, as he says, that “free speech is genuinely valuable.” His intervention into the debate is more modest: drawing our attention to an epistemic consideration that needs to be taken into account along with the various other reasons relevant to deciding whether to attempt to prevent someone from speaking in a particular context.

It is unclear how strongly this consideration speaks in favor of no-platforming. How much additional credence is afforded to a claim by its being expounded by someone invited to a college campus to speak? That’s one relevant empirical question. Another is: how much additional credence is afforded to a claim by it being packaged as one that “academics are trying to silence”? Does it matter, as well, whose beliefs are likely to be influenced one way or another?

Another question concerns how difficult it is to rebut the higher-order evidence of offering a platform. As I noted in a previous post, we can at least in principle distinguish between four approaches academic institutions might take to the prospects of a potential invitee presenting highly objectionable views:

  • Endorsement: conveys agreement with what the presenter says or honors the presenter
  • Inclusion: provides an opportunity for the presenter to convey ideas and for an audience to discuss them (without endorsement)
  • Acknowledgment: the mention or discussion of ideas by those indifferent to or critical of them (with neither endorsement nor inclusion)
  • Ignoring: neither mentioning or discussing ideas, nor including nor endorsing their proponents, for intellectual, moral, or pragmatic reasons

Levy’s argument bears on the prospects for inclusion without endorsement. Can explicit disavowals of an invited speaker’s claims by faculty and officials at a university go some ways towards cancelling the higher-order evidence of the speaker’s invitation to speak? That, too, is an empirical question.

You can read Levy’s essay here. Discussion welcome. If you know of empirical work on some of the questions discussed here, please share it. Thanks.


Koji Iyama, “Mt Ex” (detail)

Related: “Is There a Defense of Shouting Down a Speaker at a University?“, “How Academia Handles Objectionable Ideas

 

 

The post Epistemology and Free Speech appeared first on Daily Nous.

Novara Media Claims Belief that Israeli State Behind Labour Anti-Semitism Smears ‘Conspiracy Theory’

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 28/02/2019 - 10:59pm in

I’m a fan of Novara media and its editor in chief, Ash Sarkar. She’s young, bright and with a very incisive grasp of politics and a firm supporter of the left-wing policies we need to put this country back on its feet, empower ordinary people, and fight real racism. I think the company generally supports Corbyn and the Labour party. But I was immensely disappointed earlier this week by a video in which Sarkar talked to James Butler and Kehinde Andrews, a professor of Black Studies at one of the universities in a piece entitled ‘The Blair Rich Project’. The video’s on YouTube, and is 1 hour and 24 minutes long. I tried watching it, but gave up after about 20 minutes when James Butler declared that the belief that Israel was involved in the anti-Semitism accusations was only held by a minority of Labour supporters, who were themselves anti-Semitic.

This is the establishment narrative, although I dare say that Butler thinks he was countering it by stressing that the people, who hold this belief are only a tiny minority. But the people, who believe that the Israeli state is involved in these smears are absolutely right. The anti-Semitism accusations are part of Israeli hasbara, civilian propaganda. The point has been made again and again by activists and journalists like Tony Greenstein, Glenn Greenwald, Asa Winstanley of the Electronic Intifada. Who was earlier this week in a discussion about this with The Real News alternative news network. The Real News is based in Boston, America. Al-Jazeera, the Arab news agency, and it’s subsidiary channel, AJ+, has unsurprisingly exposed Israeli involved in British, and now American domestic politics. Those making these revelations aren’t anti-Semites either. Greenstein’s Jewish, as is, I think, Greenwald, who writes for the Intercept.

But for some reason Novara Media are ignoring all this. Butler blithely seemed to accept unquestioningly that the Israeli state wasn’t involved, and that the people, who believed it were ‘conspiracy theorists’. Well, genuine conspiracies exist. And Israeli hasbara and state-directed smears of Corbyn are one of them.

But I do wonder why Butler, and his boss, Sarkar, don’t believe this. it might be that, like so many of the British media, they simply have a blind spot about the secret state. Or else they believe that, as anti-racists, they should reject any accusations about a plot by an ethnic minority, even when that plot is real, and the perpetrators don’t represent all of their ethnic group. The Israeli state and lobby claim that they represent all Jews, but they clearly don’t. Not even close, as Jews like Greenstein and Walker, who have been accused of anti-Semitism and self-hatred would attest. Perhaps it’s simply the mainstream academic disdain for parapolitics and conspiracy theories, which are seen only as the province of the stupid, paranoid and hateful.

Or perhaps Butler and Novara are afraid that if they give credence to the idea that the Israeli state is behind these vile smears, they’ll be accused of anti-Semitism in turn, and that the station’s financiers and advertisers will pull out, causing it to go under. It’s a small station, and so is very vulnerable financially.

It could be either or both of the above. Or any number of other explanations. But I’m disappointed that they haven’t realised what is really going on behind these smears, and who is directing and ultimately responsible for them.

Jeremy Corbyn Attacks the Independents for Supporting Austerity

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 25/02/2019 - 6:35am in

Here’s another cheering little video, although unfortunately it is from the Grauniad so you will have to hold your nose. It’s of Jeremy Corbyn at the rally in Broxtowe really putting the boot into the Labour defectors. He says what they really stand for: austerity and protecting the rich against the poor.

The video begins with Corbyn saying that he’s very sad at the people, who’ve left the party. He says this to them, that on June 2017 he was elected on a manifesto, a manifesto that promised to end austerity. A manifesto that promised to end student fees. A manifesto that promised to bring into public ownership rail, mail, and water. It was a manifesto that was to be transformative for the lives of people of this country. And so when the media talk about the bravery of those who walk away, Anna Soubry voted for austerity and said it was a good thing. Almost immediately after leaving, Chris Leslie tells us that we should not be ending university fees, we should not be increasing corporation tax for the rich of this country, we should be cutting corporation tax and increasing the burden on others. He then shouts,

‘I tell you what, the Labour party believes in equality and justice. That was what was at the centre of our manifesto, and that is what will be at the centre of the next manifesto, whenever that election comes.’

He then goes on to talk about the increase in the Labour vote at the 2017 election, which was the biggest in any election since 1945. That was because the party campaigned, the community campaigned, people got together and started talking about politics, about life, about how our society could be run. It wasn’t the old transactional politics, but the new involved politics of the future. And what’s different about Labour is the membership is three times bigger, but it’s also much more involved, much more involved with the communities, and it is those communities and those members that will be making the policies that will write the manifestos for the future.

 

Absolutely. And it’s because Labour’s policies are inspiring, and that the party is empowering people, that Red Tories like Berger and Leslie have joined true blue Tories like Soubry. And they and the media are attacking Corbyn and smearing him as an anti-Semite, because they have nothing else to use. Their policies are old, outmoded and massively unpopular. It’s time they, and the Tories themselves, were gone. 

 

 

 

 

 

‘I’ Newspaper on Labour’s Plans to Liberate University Regulator from Market Forces

Today’s I for Saturday, 16th February 2019 has an article by Florence Snead on page 4 reporting Labour’s plans to overhaul the universities regulator, and remove the free market ideology currently underpinning its approach to higher education in the UK. The piece, entitled ‘Universities ‘should not be left to the mercy of market forces’ runs

Labour has unveiled how it would overhaul the higher education system as it claimed the system’s new regulator was “not fit for purpose”.

The shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner will criticize the Office for Students – established by the Government in 2018 – in a speech today at the annual University and Colleges Union conference.

She will say the regulator represents a system “where market logic is imposed on public goods” and where “forces of competition run rampant at the expense of students, staff and communities.”

Labour said it wants the regulator to report on diversity in university staff and student bodies and to take action to make universities “genuinely representative of the communities they serve”.

Staff should also be represented on the regulator’s board to ensure their views are heard, it added.

The party said it would also ban vice chancellors sitting on their own remuneration committees.

Ms Rayner is also expected to address the issue of universities being on the brink of bankruptcy, as previously revealed by I.

“Students would be left with immense uncertainty about their futures and entire communities would lose one of their major academic, economic and social institutions.”

Universities minister Chris Skidmore responded: “Universities know they can’t trust Corbyn as his plans would crash the economy, mean less investment in our higher education, compromising its world class quality”.

Actually, if anything’s trashed our world class education system, it’s been the Thatcherite programme of privatization and free market ideology. Scientific research at UK universities has been hampered ever since Thatcher decided that university science departments should go into partnership with business. Which has meant that universities can no longer engage in blue sky research, or not so much as they could previously, and are shackled to producing products for private firms, rather than expanding the boundaries of knowledge for its own sake. Plus some of the other problems that occur when scientific discoveries become the property of private, profit driven industries.

Then there’s the whole problem of the introduction of tuition fees. This should not have been done. I was doing my Ph.D. at Bristol when Mandelson and Blair decided to do this, and it’s immediate result was the scaling down of certain departments and shedding of teaching staff. Those hardest hit were the departments that required more funding because of the use of special equipment. This included my own department, Archaeology, where students necessarily go on digs, surveys and field expeditions. This means that the department had to have transport to take its staff and students to wherever they were excavating, provide digging equipment, although many students had their own trowels. They also needed and trained students in the use of specialist equipment like the geophysical magnetometers used to detect structures beneath the soil through the measurement of tiny changes in the strength of the Earth’s magnetic field, as well as labs to clean up and analyse the finds, from the type of soil in which they were found, the material out of which the finds were made, chemical composition of various substances, like food residue in pots, so you can tell what people were eating and drinking, and the forensic examination of human and animal remains.

I’ve no doubt that this situation was made worse when Cameron and Clegg decided to raise tuition fees to their present exorbitant level. Which has meant that students are now saddled with massive debt, which may make it difficult for some ever to afford to buy their own homes. Student debt was already an issue just after I left college, when the Tories decided to end student grants. After the introduction of tuition fees it has become an even more critical issue.

Then there’s the whole issue of proper pay and conditions for university lecturers. This is nowhere near as high as it should be. A friend of mine in the ’90s was one of the Student Union officers at our old college/uni. He told me one day just what some of the highly skilled and educated lecturers were earning. And it was low. Many of them were on part-time work, and I think the pay for some of them was at average wage level or below. And that was then. I’ve no idea what it’s like now. I’ve come across reports of a similar crisis at American universities and colleges, where the pay for the managers has skyrocketed while that of teaching staff has fallen catastrophically. And this is all part of the general pattern throughout industry as a whole, where senior management has enjoyed massively bloated pay rises and bonuses, while staff have been laid off and forced on to short term or zero hours contracts and low pay.

All this has been done in the name of ‘market forces’ and the logic of privatization.

I am not remotely surprised that British higher education is in crisis, and that an increasing number of colleges and universities are facing bankruptcy. This was always on the cards, especially as the population surge that inspired many colleges and polytechnics to seek university status on the belief that there would be enough student numbers to support them, is now over. Market logic would now dictate that, as the universities are failing, they should be allowed to collapse. Which would deprive students and their communities of their services.

The structure of British higher education needs to be reformed. The entire Thatcherite ethic of privatization, free markets, and tuition fees needs to be scrapped. Like everything else Thatcher and her ideological children ever created, it is a bloated, expensive and exploitative failure. My only criticism about Corbyn’s and Rayner’s plans for the unis isn’t that they’re too radical, but that they’re too timid.

Book Review: Dissident Knowledge in Higher Education edited by Marc Spooner and James McNinch

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 15/02/2019 - 10:55pm in

In Dissident Knowledge in Higher Education, editors Marc Spooner and James McNinch bring together contributors including Noam Chomsky, Linda Tuhiwai Smith and Eve Tuck to offer critical perspectives on the impact of neoliberalism and new managerialism on universities. Grounded in rigorous research, this is a worthy read for scholars, policymakers and education practitioners, writes Khalaf Mohamed Abdellatif.

Dissident Knowledge in Higher Education. Marc Spooner and James McNinch (eds). University of Regina Press. 2018.

Find this book: amazon-logo

In Dissident Knowledge in Higher Education, editors Marc Spooner and James McNinch provide critical perspectives on the impact of neoliberalism and new managerialism on universities, with a particular focus on higher education institutions in Canada and the United States. Additionally, with a heartful forward by Zeus Leonardo, interviews with Norman Denzin and Noam Chomsky, along with contributions from Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Eve Tuck, Joel Westheimer and others, the book discusses the problematic situation of the commodification of knowledge and highlights the resistance of the post-managerial academy to ‘compliance to management standards and pre-determined outcomes’ (xxvii).

The book comprises 13 independent chapters in total, with contributions by experts who have written on aspects of higher education. The collection was developed out of the symposium ‘Public Engagement and the Politics of Evidence in an Age of Neoliberalism and Audit Culture (23-25 July 2015) on the same theme, held at the University of Regina, Saskatchewan. Spooner and McNinch clarify that the main aim of the present volume is to reimagine ‘knowledge, scholarship, and academy’ (xxx); therefore, the book is divided into four parts, following a chronological overview of higher education to offer insight into the social function of the university.

The first part, ‘Historical Perspectives and Overview’, offers a historical account of neoliberalism and audit culture. Yvonna S. Lincoln argues that neoliberalism has placed added pressure on the academic community, leading to the commodification of published research and even intellectual property. Consequently, the massive increase of administrative staff in academia has paved the way for the emergence of ‘top-down managerialism’ (7). Lincoln also criticises corporatisation, wondering: ‘How would you rank an individual alongside other individuals at the same rank in your discipline?’

Here, Smith, in her chapter, provides an insightful argument regarding the measurement of research impact in higher education, offering a comprehensive answer to Lincoln’s question through a discussion of ‘measurement’ and ‘performance’. Smith makes clear that ‘it is easy to see the “turn” to the measurement of research impact as an invention of the neoliberal and corporate university’ (38). She highlights the measuring of Indigenous scholarship, showcases Māori research in New Zealand and argues that measuring ‘performance’ is not a new approach, as it was common in the old liberal university; however, Smith outlines some particular constraints for the field of Indigenous research, because it endeavours to maintain legitimacy across Indigenous and academic contexts.

Image Credit: (Pixabay CCO)

Neoliberalism also diminishes the authority of local governments and hinders the shaping of social interests. In her chapter, Patti Lather illustrates that the shift to neoliberalism ‘has set in motion radical principles of limited government’ (104). Chomsky effectively sums up some of the resulting concerns:

One major problem is the sharp rise in the cost of tuition, which is associated with a significant cutback in public support for the university system. The contribution of the states to the college and university system has significantly declined overall. All of this, again, is part of […] the general neoliberal agenda. Neoliberalism should be understood as a form of class war […that] shows up in all institutions, including universities. […] The use of temporary labour is efficient from an economic point of view. By ideological measures of economic efficiency, that means that most of the people who are actually doing the teaching and the research can’t even participate; they are not part of the system, they are temporary workers (59 – 60).

In his chapter, Joel Westheimer discusses the impact of audit culture in higher education. He sheds lights on the suffering of university staff facing endless accountability, data, value-added measures of success and form-filling. Furthermore, he argues that the majority of educational policy recommendations are currently calling for austerity, public accountability and career preparation. Westheimer claims that universities should resist the focus on skills training, workforce preparation and the commercialisation of knowledge to the benefit of private industry; instead, universities must make a radical shift to participate in the rebuilding of beneficial education for the public good. Perhaps this could be achieved through the rejection of austerity and accountability, and a focus on strengthening the democratic community for all as a university function.

In North America, according to Smith, Budd L. Hall, Marie Battiste, Eve Tuck and Sandy Grande, the traditional university itself represents a problematic situation because it is not only deeply implicated in the physical colonisation of Indigenous lands, but also in attempts to ruin Indigenous knowledge. This may result in more oppression and inequality for higher education staff. In her chapter, Tuck discusses the link between settler colonialism and the historical roots of neoliberalism by reviewing the theories of change at work in academic research. Accordingly, she postulates that given its settler colonial roots, the settler colonial futures of the academy are ‘not hard to guess’ (149), since the decision-making in academia is guided by neoliberal rationalism.

In her chapter ‘Refusing the University’, Grande also provides a balanced debate on the particularities of settler colonialism and native elimination. Since the traditional university is criticised for collusion with colonialism and trying to destroy the intellectual legacy of Indigenous people, Grande supports the voices that are calling for people to refuse the university. She argues that this refusal would not cause the university to disappear; rather, it would contribute politically to its reform. Here, she illustrates the possibilities of co-resistance and argues that to ‘commit to collectivity […] commit to reciprocity […] commit to mutuality’ (183-84) is a strategy for refusing the university.

The scholarship of the book is extremely rigorous, and the authors seem to have read the contributions of each other, as there is no evidence of repeated material. However, the book does have some limitations. Most particularly, discourse on sustainable education is absent, as well as a concluding chapter to wrap up the book’s messages. Maureen Tam (2018) has argued that neoliberal discourse promotes lifelong learning to develop human capital for a contemporary knowledge economy in a changing world, but this book does not discuss the relationship between neoliberalism and lifelong learning. Perhaps including a chapter on the relationship between higher education and both ‘deregulation’ and ‘privatisation’ as liberalisation policies would also add merit to the book in a future edition. Overall, however, Dissident Knowledge in Higher Education is recommended as a good read for scholars, policymakers and practitioners, and it may also be a worthy text for undergraduate students too.

Khalaf Mohamed Abdellatif, M. Ed., is a PhD candidate in social education at Hiroshima University and an assistant lecturer at Cairo University. His professional career as a researcher has focused on issues related to action research, adult education, lifelong learning and community-based learning.

Note: This review gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics. 


Mexican workers take matters into their own hands

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 15/02/2019 - 3:51am in

image/png iconmatarmoros.png

Largest North American strike wave in decades grows. Rebellion exposes union betrayal, is met with repression from “left-wing” government and a near total media blackout.

read more

‘I’ Newspaper on Scientist Building Artificial Arms from Lego

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 13/02/2019 - 11:35pm in

Last weekend’s I newspaper for Saturday, 9th February 2019, carried a profile of David Aguilar, a disabled Andorran scientist, who has been building artificial arms out of Lego since he was a small boy. The article by David Woode, ran

Hand Solo?

A university student who was born without a forearm due to a rare genetic condition has created a robotic prosthetic arm using Lego. David Aguilar, who built three other models before his current one, said “I wanted to see myself in the mirror like I see other guys with two hands.

Is this his first bionic arm?

No. David, 19, began experimenting with artificial limbs as a child. he said his father bought him a lego Titanic set aged five and the colourful bricks became one of his favourite toys. David made his first artificial arm, albeit with limited movement, aged nine. ‘As a child I was very nervous to be in front of other guys, because I was different, but that didn’t stop me believing in my dreams,’ he said.

How does it work?

David uses Lego pieces given to him by a friend. Last year he built a red-and-yellow, fully functional robotic arm, it’s fitted with an electric motor and he can bend it at the joint and flex a grabber attached at the end. His latest prototypes are marked MK followed by the number – a tribute to comic book superhero Iron Man and his MK armour suits.

Could this spawn an army of Iron men and Iron Women?

The rookie inventor from the small principality of Andorra is studying bioengineering at the Universität Internacional de Catalunya in Spain. His post-graduation dream is to design affordable robotic limbs for those in need. He said “I would try to give them a prosthetic arm, even if it’s for free, to make them feel like a normal person, because what is normal, right”.

There’s a lot of research going on into artificial limbs, some of it very inspiring. The robotics unit at the University of the West of England has formed a private company to build artificial hands for children. They’ve produced one with the consent of Hollywood shaped like the hand of the Marvel superhero, Iron Man. I think they were also planning to produce one based on C3PO in collaboration with Disney, if I recall correctly. Aguilar’s clearly a very skilled engineer, and his own experience of disability undoubtedly gives him real, personal insight into what disabled people need in artificial limbs and how they can be best designed for them. I wonder what his work will be like after he’s graduated and, hopefully, begun working on them at a higher level. It should be really good.

In the meantime, I’d really have loved to be able to make a proper, working robotic arm out of Lego, Meccano or any other construction kit when I was child as well as knowing how he does it now.

Netanyahu Rages as Eire Passes Pro-BDS Legislation

Last week the Israel lobby was on the warpath again. We had the Blairites and Likud sycophants in the Labour demanding that Jenny Formby show them what’s being done to root out all the anti-Semites they claim are in the party, the Jewish Labour Movement, formerly Paole Zion, and the recidivist liars and Fascist shills the Jewish Chronicle hysterically proclaiming that there was a culture of anti-Semitism within Labour. And Rachel Riley, Frances Barber and their army of trolls tried attacking Mike and Owen Jones as anti-Semites, and got their rear ends royally handed to them. And Wes Streeting decided that he could combat Jew hatred by falsely accusing a 70-year old woman of it and doxing her.

This video below from the Middle East Monitor might explain why some of that rage and fear suddenly erupted. The Dail – the Irish parliament – a fortnight ago passed legislation banning Israeli exports from the Occupied Territories. And predictably Netanyahu was not amused, and accused the Emerald Isle of anti-Semitism.

The video’s just under two minutes long, and begins with footage from the Irish parliament of Fianna Fail senator Niall Collins saying, ‘We need to do the right thing here and that is what that legislation simply sets out to do. The video explains that the Irish parliament has passed a bill banning the import of Israeli settlement goods. Senator Collins asks, ‘Why should we turn a blind eye to blatant and flagrant breaches and abuses of international law?’ This video goes to say that the legislation

‘would make Ireland the first EU country to take such a bold action against the Israeli occupation despite attempts by the US and Israel to thwart it. The bill was backed by all of Ireland’s opposition parties and was voted in with an overwhelming majority of 78-45.’

The video then shows Frances Black, an Independent senator, explaining that ‘The Occupied Territories bill is a modest piece of legislation that stands up for basic human rights and international law.’ It then moves to Senator Collins, who says, “It simply isn’t good enough condemning the ongoing expansion of settlements across the West Bank’.

It then goes back to scenes inside the Dail, and explains that ‘after the vote Israel reprimanded the Irish ambassador, and quotes the office of Israeli prime minister Netanyahu. Which ranted

‘Israel is outraged over the legislation against it in the Irish parliament, which is indicative of hypocrisy and anti-Semitism.’

It then goes back to a speech by Senator Collins, in which he very effectively rebuts these accusations by Netanyahu’s minions. He says,

‘This outrage and offence which has been built up by Israel that we’re somehow anti-Semitic. We’re not! We recognize the state of Israel and we will trade with them but they are on the off-side line in terms of the Occupied Territories.’

The video goes on to say that ‘the move is seen as a great victory for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.’ It quotes a tweet from Senator Black, who said ‘Ireland will always stand for international law + human rights, & we’re one step closer to making history, Onwards!’ The backdrop to the tweet shows a group of Irish and Palestinian adults and children, a Palestinian man wearing the distinctive keffiyeh, while the kids have the tricolor on the cheeks in facepaint.

The law very obviously isn’t anti-Semitic. It’s not against Jews nor Israel as a whole. It’s only against Israeli goods produced in occupied Palestine. Now I’m sure there are anti-Semites along with other varieties of racist in Ireland, and the country, like just about every other western nation including America and the nascent Jewish colony in Palestine also had a Fascist movement. This was Owen O’Duffy and his Blue Shirts. They fought in the Spanish Civil War but seem to have vanished after that. I’ve certainly not heard of them surviving into the Second World War. I doubt most people in Ireland and elsewhere have even heard of them. They’re only claim to fame is that the great Irish poet, W.B. Yeats, was briefly a member c. 1919 before giving up on them. Most people when they think of Irish nationalism are far more likely to think of the various Irish independence movements and associated militant groups, like the Fenians and later the IRA and other Republican terrorist organisations in Ulster. They one thing the majority of folk won’t associate with Irish nationalism or national identity is Nazism and anti-Semitism.

However, the Irish, it seems to me, do take state terrorism and Fascism in other nations very seriously. Way back in the early ’80s, when Reagan was backing the Contras in Nicaragua and other Fascist butchers in Latin America, there were mass protests when he decided to pay a state visit to Ireland. I think it was during his birthday, as the news showed footage of him being given a present by someone in full Irish patriotic dress, who told him that it came from Irish-Americans everywhere. Well, I wonder, as I always under that Irish-Americans in New York were traditionally the backbone of the Democrats. And Reagan was definitely not welcomed by a large part of the Irish population. There were boycotts and demonstrations at the airport and at Trinity College in Dublin, as I recall. The explanation the Beeb gave was that Ireland was closely involved with the Roman Catholic charities working in Latin America. And therefore they weren’t going to be impressed by Reagan and these Fascist regimes’ death squads torturing and murdering the very people they were trying to help. I got the impression from reading some of the pieces written by Irish contributors to the radical American magazine and website, Counterpunch, that left-wing Irish people see themselves and their country as anti-imperialist, and this piece of BDS legislation strikes me very firmly as within that tradition.

Economically, I’m not sure how much damage this will do. Ireland’s a small country with a small population. I think it might be around 4-6 million. But culturally the country is a very big hitter. There’s a large Irish diaspora spread across the globe, particularly in Australia and America, where it’s very politically important. Irish music and literature are enjoyed everywhere. Classic Irish bands include the Dubliners, Planxty, Clannad and the Chieftains, and you can’t get away from the Pogues’ ‘Fairytale of New York’, which is played every year at Christmas along with Slade’s ‘So Here It Is, Merry Christmas’. The Dail’s vote to pass this legislation could be immensely influential simply because of the country’s immense cultural cachet.

And that’s what Netanyahu and his thugs are afraid of. Because once one EU country passes legislation banning goods from Occupied Palestine, others may follow suit. It’s why the Israeli state and its minions over here have been trying their level best to smear Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters as anti-Semites, simply because he supports the Palestinians and genuinely condemns further Zionist expansion and human rights abuses.

The Israeli state is running scared. Thanks to the BDS movement, 1/3 of Israeli businesses in the West Bank have been forced to close. Young Jewish Americans are increasingly turning away from Israel. Many are repulsed by its treatment of the Palestinians. Others simply think that it’s ridiculous for them to be expected automatically to support a country they were not born in and have no intention of moving to, when the indigenous inhabitants of that country are being forced out. It’s why the Likudniks are increasingly looking to Evangelical Christian Zionists for support in America instead of the country’s Jews.

Now that Ireland has banned Israeli goods from occupied Palestine, it’ll be interesting to see how many other countries start to debate doing the same. And you can bet the angry smears of Corbyn and his supporters will get even louder and more shrill over here on this side of the Irish Sea, as the Israel lobby fears that under him, Britain will be next.

Xelasoma on his Favourite Artists of the Fantastic

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 04/02/2019 - 6:18am in

And now, as Monty Python once said, for something completely different. At least from politics. I found these two videos from the artist Xelasoma on YouTube, in which he discusses six masters of fantasy art and how they have influenced him. They are Roger Dean, Patrick Woodroffe, and Rodney Matthews in video 1, and Jean ‘Moebius’ Giraud, Philippe Druillet and Ian Miller in video 2.

Roger Dean will be remembered by fans of ’70’s prog rock for his amazing album covers for the bands Yes and Asia. Woodroffe and Matthews are also artists, who’ve produced record covers as well as book illustrations. Moebius and Druillet are two of the geniuses in modern French SF comics. Moebius was one of the ‘Humanoides Associes’ behind the French SF comic, Metal Hurlant. Among his numerous other works was Arzach, a comic, whose hero flew across a strange fantastic landscape atop a strange, pterodactyl creature. As Xelasoma himself points out here, it’s a completely visual strip. There’s no language at all. It was also Moebius who designed the spacesuits for Ridley Scott’s classic Alien. Xelasoma describes how, after he left art school, Moebius spent some time in Mexico with a relative. This was his mother, who’d married a Mexican, and the empty, desert landscape south of the border is a clear influence on the alien environments he drew in his strips. Xelasoma also considers him a master of perspective for the way he frequent draws scenes as viewed looking down from above. And one of the pictures illustrating this is of a figure in an alien planet looking down a cliff at a sculpture of rock legend Jimi Hendricks carved into the opposite cliff face. Druillet, Xelasoma feels, is somewhat like Moebius, but with a harder edge, drawing vast, aggressive machines and armies of fierce alien warriors. He’s also known for his soaring cityscapes of vast tower blocks reaching far up into the sky, which also influenced Ridley Scott’s portrayal of the Los Angeles of 2019 in Blade Runner. The last artist featured, Ian Miller, first encountered in the pages of the British Role-Playing Game magazine, Warhammer. His style is much more angular, deeply hatched and very detailed. Fans of H.P. Lovecraft will recognize several of the pictures Xelasoma chooses to represent his work as depictions of some of the weird, sinister gods from the Cthulhu mythos. They include not only Cthulhu himself, but also of the half-human, amphibious, batrachian inhabitants of the decaying port in the short story, The shadow Out of Innsmouth.

What Xelasoma admires about all these artists is that they don’t follow the conventions of modern western art established by the ancient Greeks and Romans and the Renaissance. They alter and distort the human form and that of other objects and creatures. He describes Dean’s landscapes as organic. Patrick Woodroffe and Matthews also create strange, alien creatures and landscapes, and with the creatures Matthews depicts also very different from standard human anatomy. Many of the creatures, machines and spaceships in Matthews’ art are based on insects, and appropriately enough one of the bands whose cover he painted was Tiger Moth. This featured two insects dancing on a leaf. Another picture, The Hop, shows an insect band playing while other bugs trip the light fantastic in the grass, surrounded by items like used cigarettes. His humanoid figures are tall, stick thin, with long, thin, angular faces and immense, slanted eyes. Xelasoma admires the way Matthews can take a train or a deer, and turn them in something uniquely his, as he shows here. He states that he first encountered Dean’s and Woodroffe’s art in the art books his mother had, such as Woodroffe’s Mythopoiekon. He also identifies somewhat with Woodroffe, as neither of them studied at art school. Woodroffe was a French teacher, while for Xelasoma art was far too personal for him to submit to formal training.

Xelasoma points out that these artists were creating their unique visions before the advent of computers using the traditional artist materials of paint and brush, and before courses in SF, Fantasy and concept art were taught at colleges and universities. Nevertheless, he finds their work far more interesting and inspiring than modern SF and Fantasy art, which may be more anatomically accurate, but which, too him, seems very ‘samey’. He complains that it doesn’t make him hallucinate, which the above artists do. Well, I hope he doesn’t mean that literally, as that could be very worrying. But I know what he means in that Dean, Woodroffe, Matthews, Moebius, Druillet and Miller create strange, fantastic worlds that have a striking intensity to them. They seem to be complete worlds, either in the far past or future, or parallel realities altogether, but with their own internal logic drawing you into them.

Discussing their influence on him, he is critical of artists that simply copy the work of others, changing a few details but otherwise keeping to and appropriating the other artists’ own unique visions, some times trying to justify this by saying that their work is a ‘hommage’ to the others. Xelasoma is well aware that his own work is very different to the artists he talks about here, and that many of his viewers won’t be able to see their influence. But he goes on to describe how they have influenced him at the general level of form or composition, while he himself has been careful to develop his own unique style.

Dean, Woodroffe and Matthews have produced books of their work, published by Paper Tiger. Matthews and Miller also have their own websites, for those wishing to see more of their work. Moebius passed away a couple of years ago, but was the subject of a BBC4 documentary. There’s also a documentary about Roger Dean on YouTube, presented by that grumpy old Yes keyboardist, Rick Wakeman. Xelasoma believes in their fantastic depictions of landscapes and animal and human forms makes them as important and worth inclusion in museums and galleries as Graeco-Roman and Renaissance art. I wouldn’t go that far, but I would maintain that in their way, they are far more significant than many contemporary artists that have been promoted as ‘official’ art. Xelasoma’s documentary really shows only a few pieces from these artists’ works, and the bulk of these videos are about the particular impact they have on him. But nevertheless it’s a good introduction to their work, and explanation why they should be taken seriously as artists beyond their origins in popular culture.

Part I

Part II

Pages