universities

Error message

Deprecated function: The each() function is deprecated. This message will be suppressed on further calls in _menu_load_objects() (line 579 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/menu.inc).

No time for delay in fight to save uni jobs

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 24/10/2020 - 6:52pm in

Across the Tertiary Education sector job cuts are coming in thick and fast, with international student revenue down and the Morrison government refusing to throw public universities a lifeline, denying staff JobKeeper payments. But private universities, including Notre Dame, Bond, Torrens, the University of Divinity and the Sydney campus of New York University all received an exemption.

At the Australian National University (ANU) 465 jobs have been lost, the University of New South Wales (UNSW) has made redundant 3.8 per cent of its workforce and at RMIT at least 1200 staff have been sacked. The actual number of jobs lost is unknown with many fixed-term and casual staff losing work hours or simply not having their contracts renewed.

Voluntary redundancy rounds have also been pushed through at a number of universities including RMIT, UTS, Macquarie University, Monash and UNSW.

We can’t accept voluntary redundancies as inevitable. They will mean jobs lost permanently from the sector, and increased workloads for those who stay. And in a sector already plagued by casualisation and on-going wage theft, staff cuts inevitably mean cuts to the quality of education.

At most campuses the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) has done little to fight this, and in many cases is still pushing for workers to make concessions on wages and conditions.

However at the University of Sydney, the NTEU Branch has committed to campaigning against voluntary redundancies and lodged a change management dispute with the Fair Work Commission over the lack of consultation around the process.

With managers at Sydney University being asked to submit budget plans with up to 30 per cent cuts to staff budgets, the union is rightly concerned by the workload implications of voluntary redundancies.

Revenue losses for 2020 are better than initially projected and management is using the COVID crisis as cover for savage cuts and restructures that were already planned.

According to Sydney University NTEU Branch President Kurt Iveson, the University is now on track for a $60 million surplus in 2020 and a projected surplus of $100 million for the next five years.

Build the fight

In August a national assembly of university staff voted to support unprotected industrial action to fight job cuts. Protests and other forms of campaigning are vital to build towards this.

Given the difficulties of COVID restrictions, the NTEU NSW division rally on 13 October was an important step forward. Sixty union members gathered in Victoria Park in groups of 20 to protest Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan’s funding reforms and the ongoing jobs crisis in the sector.

The rally was poorly advertised and no serious effort was made to turn out delegates. But it was significant that the union was able to successfully defend the protest in the NSW Supreme Court from police attempts to ban it using COVID rules.

This has opened up space for future, larger demonstrations against the cuts. Already the Sydney Uni NTEU branch has felt confident to call another protest against cuts and police repression on campus for 28 October.

Speakers at the 13 October rally included NTEU NSW State Secretary Michael Thomson, Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi, Unions NSW Secretary Mark Morey and Sydney University NTEU Branch President Kurt Iveson.

NTEU NSW State Secretary Michael Thomson told the rally that it was important that members were gathering “under trying times” because the “right to protest is central to what unions do.” Workers’ rights including leave and workload provisions, “were won because we struggled for them”.

The protest also addressed the jobs crisis in the Tertiary Education sector with the NTEU estimating over 20,000 full-time equivalent jobs will be lost, with 30,000 workers being pushed out of the sector.

Ensuring the NTEU steps up the fight will require a push from activists across the campuses. The call for the October rally came initially from the National Higher Education Activist Network who got resolutions through the branch committees at Sydney Uni and UTS. 

At the first members’ meeting at UTS in three months on 21 October, a motion was overwhelming passed to organise a protest on campus for 18 November. This needs to spread to other campuses across Sydney and the rest of the country, to build a united struggle against the crisis facing the sector.

Across the board university management are sacking staff left, right and centre instead of drawing on their borrowing capacity and other non-staff saving measures to see out the crisis.

Unionists must stand together to challenge management’s austerity measures and job losses. And we must continue to demand that the Federal government step in to fund the revenue shortfall. There can be an alternative vision for public education, but we’re going to have to fight for it.

By Ruby Wawn

The post No time for delay in fight to save uni jobs appeared first on Solidarity Online.

No corporate Uni: Building mass struggle to defend our education, and stop fees and cuts

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 13/10/2020 - 9:29pm in

Solidarity Sydney Student Position Paper

Cuts are raining down in universities across the country. Morrison has passed his Fee Hike Bill. 

The campaign at Usyd has shown it is possible to fight. Hundreds have mobilised repeatedly in the face of police repression. Students have gone on strike, invaded the Vice-Chancellor’s building, petitioned, passed motions and protested. Courses, jobs and hours have been won back. 

But this is only the beginning of the disaster that is unfolding across unis. The passage of the Fee Hike bill shows we are going to have to strengthen the movement to confront the attacks. 

Capitalism is in crisis. COVID-19 lockdowns and border closures have created an economic disaster. Scomo’s budget makes it clear that the Liberals want students, workers and the unemployed to bear the cost. They want to cut unis, JobSeeker and JobKeeper. Meanwhile the rich get tax cuts, hand-outs, and subsidies for planet destroying industries.

Lockdown has bolstered the power of the state. Resources have been poured into racist policing and repression of protests rather than best practice health measures to control the virus.  

At Usyd we see a microcosm of the Liberals’ agenda pushed by Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence. Hundreds of casuals have already lost their jobs, hundreds more jobs are threatened by voluntary redundancies and Med Science faces a ruinous restructure that is a sign of things to come. And this is despite the uni projecting a surplus. 

The corporate uni 

The VC is ramming through cuts there is no financial justification for. This decision is a product of the corporatised uni system. Uni was free until the late 1980s, when the ALP introduced the “Dawkins Reforms”, holding down government funding and forcing students to pay fees. At the same time they gave corporations huge tax cuts. Making up the funding shortfall meant squeezing extra money out of staff and students by charging more, making less staff do more work and degrading quality. 

CEO-like Vice-Chancellors were parachuted into unis, given massive executive power and paid huge salaries. They see cuts as a way to increase efficiency, and the pandemic as an opportunity to do what they wanted to do anyway. At Usyd, some cuts such as those in Medical Science were already planned before COVID-19 hit. 

The fight ahead 

We must oppose the fee hikes and cuts in funding and the tightening up of HECS eligibility, as part of the fight for free education, build the fight for every job and against every cut and build the power to take on the corporate uni and capitalism as a whole.

It is absolutely indisputable that mass action—and disruption of business as usual—are crucial elements of a winning strategy. Because the cuts are the product of a deeply rooted corporate logic it is not enough to simply express our opinion. We have seen this with the passage of the Fee Hike Bill. The Liberals and management will have to be forced back. In 2012 half of the academic jobs under threat at Sydney Uni were stopped by mass marches, occupations, student strikes and blockades. Similar tactics helped save Sydney College of the Arts from complete closure in 2016. In Quebec in 2012 hundreds of thousands of students went on strike for months against fee hikes, forcing the government to repeal the laws. 

A strategy for the fightback 

Mobilising hundreds on September 16 and September 23 was a real achievement given the crackdown on the right to protest and the reduced numbers of students on campus.

Systematic mass building amongst students was essential. September 16 cemented a base of active support on campus that was mobilised again on the 23rd. On September 16 in total around 25 classes passed motions supporting the strike and hundreds signed a petition against the cuts. This took hour upon hour of conversations, stalls, contacting and lecture bashing to achieve.

The fact that both the September 16 and September 23 actions were built as de-centralised protests also encouraged maximum participation, given hypocritical police restrictions and genuine concerns about COVID-19 amongst staff and students. 

We need to build more power, and the beginning of student strikes that we saw on September 16 showed the way. Almost 120 voted to strike in a student assembly in the lead-up, two classes voted to move so they could join the action, and another six adopted a position of “no penalty” for groups of students and individuals who left class to participate. 

Another real strength was the organisation of department and faculty contingents. These established organisation beyond the existing left and connected the big protests to important localised fights around the uni. The Law students’ contingent grew from five on September 16, to 19 on September 23. Medical Science students and staff mobilised for both actions, drawing attention to the cuts they are facing. Philosophy, Linguistics, Government and IR, History, Art History, Architecture, Political Economy and others have also mobilised.  

But it is a real challenge to build bigger, more disruptive and politically sharp actions in the circumstances, and there are real weaknesses we need to assess. On September 16 two classes actually voted to strike, but when the day came only individuals walked out. A significant number of students who registered for the September 16 action didn’t participate due to the police crackdown or left quickly as a result. The scale of the organising should also be put in perspective. The 2012 job cuts campaign at Usyd had the forces to gather 4000 signatures in person, last year the climate strikes saw 90+ motions passed in lectures. The is significantly more than what the cuts campaign has done so far.  

We need to bridge this gap with patient argument, the right response to police repression and by building wider awareness and collective solidarity. The police crackdown is a serious issue. One activist has been charged and dozens issued with a total of around $40,000 worth of fines.  

Unfortunately, the September 23 action (that became a centralised rally) consolidated a sentiment amongst sections of the student left that maximum “defiance” is the strategy we need. The Socialist Alternative motion regarding the upcoming October 14 protest called for “a defiant centralised rally” that will “march on the road”.

We do need to be willing to defy police when necessary, and have done so repeatedly. But when it becomes a caricature, the “defiance” approach amounts to a false strategy for change whereby the courageous actions of the most radical minority supposedly provoke wider layers of people into action.  At worst, this can lead to self-congratulatory elitism that prioritises a small minority attracting fines above building the radicalism of the thousands who oppose the cuts but are currently being consigned to the position of bystanders.

Actions this week 

We need to re-orient away from this mistaken, elitist strategy to build the kind of power we really need to win.

This week there are two actions in response to Morrison’s budget and his vicious attack on universities, students and staff.

First, there was a 60-strong NTEU (National Tertiary Education Union) staff protest in Victoria Park on October 13. This was organised openly through the submission of a Form 1 (a form notifying police of a protest).  

Police took the NTEU to the Supreme Court to stop the protest but the union won in court on Monday. This is an important crack in the use of COVID regulations to ban protests.  

The second action is the student protest with staff support under the guise of a “teach-out” on the Quad lawns on October 14. 

It was important to build the maximum student turn out for October 14 by mobilising all the faculty and department networks and hitting lectures. But we must recognise that it would have been far better to have the widest possible student walk-out and one joint, post-budget action uniting students and staff, if necessary negotiated around a Form 1 like the NTEU demonstration. 

Students could have argued to shut down classes so both staff and students could attend a united rally, just as we did in the climate strike last year. Staff and student mobilisations can reinforce each other. 

This would have been an important step in a context where the fee hike bill has passed and hundreds of NTEU members involved in National Higher Education Action Network have voted to support industrial action to defend higher education. 

But the trajectory towards “defiant” minority actions meant any effort to organise class walkouts or another student assembly was abandoned, and some in the campaign were uninterested in working to organise a joint action with the NTEU, preferring to simply use a staff teach-in as cover for a student event.

This strategic weakness was only exacerbated by a lack of representative, in-person organising meetings and accountable campaign organisation. Student activists voted on events like the “staff-student forum” last week only to have it cancelled without any explanation. There was no clear delegation of responsibility for organising key aspects of the October 14 action, leaving it to the self-appointed. Zoom meetings of the Sydney Uni EAG are often stacked and unrepresentative and there is non-transparent control of infrastructure, chairing and decisions by the unelected.  

We need democratic meetings where students outside the existing left can come, genuinely contribute and take real ownership of the campaign in maximum numbers. Addressing this is a key task if we are to build a sustained mass movement.  

Next steps 

There is time for one more major mobilisation this semester. In the wake of the budget and the passage of the fee hikes bill, the localised fight against huge job cuts at Usyd will be more important than ever. There has to be a widely advertised, Sydney Uni specific, in person meeting early next week to debrief and discuss what our next action could look like.  

There also has to be close attention to localised fights in departments and faculties. Students and staff have been organising in Med Science against massive proposed cuts. The next phase of these cuts being finalised is fast approaching. Over 220 have signed a petition, dozens have participated in a photo petition against the cuts and Med Sci staff and students have mobilised for protests. Students have also shared statements about how the cuts will impact them and Postgraduates who will lose their supervisors have also been campaigning. There must be further actions around Med Science, and the fight should be a feature of any larger actions.  

There are also looming cuts to student learning support which will hit international students particularly hard. Many students already face wait times of six weeks or two months when they try to book an appointment for assistance with their essays. This is something to watch as details emerge. 

Localised resistance delivers. In late September Conservatorium Executives decided to cut the Jazz Course by 33 hours. This cut was reversed after a petition and collective pressure from students. The win followed a series of small protests and meetings about cuts at the Con in Semester one. Every small fight creates sparks of resistance that can spread.  

After going all out for the actions this week, we must re-group and organise next week, fan every small battle and prepare our next blow against the corporate uni imposed on us by Spence and Scomo. There is a battle on for the future of our unis and our society. We need to organise, fight and win.  

The post No corporate Uni: Building mass struggle to defend our education, and stop fees and cuts appeared first on Solidarity Online.

The UnOz’s Budget Winners And Losers

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 06/10/2020 - 8:26pm in

Winners

The minority of Australians who still have a job and are therefore able to pay their taxes, will now be paying less tax.

Pensioners – just kidding.

Universities – psych!

Pensioners, no joke, will be getting two extra one-off payments of $250 to help cover the cost of living. Pensioners, please note that Coles this week has Pal dog food on sale. Stock up now!

Tradies – The Prime Minister has promised that in the next year he will travel the country to appear in a photo opportunity with every last one of them. Furthermore, Tradies are authorised to demand the lunch money of any Arts or Entertainment industry workers that they encounter.

Losers

Universities – Yep. They’re screwed.

People Without Any Franking Credits.

Young People.

The Unemployed.

The Planet.

Tradies Who Don’t Wish To Have Their Photo Taken With ScoMo.

You can follow The (un)Australian on twitter @TheUnOz or like us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/theunoz.

We’re also on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/theunoz

The (un)Australian Live At The Newsagency Recorded live, to purchase click here:

https://bit.ly/2y8DH68

Fresh audio product

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 05/10/2020 - 10:37am in

Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link):

October 1, 2020 Max Sawicky, author of this report, on the postal service’s problems and what could be done about them • Kelly Grotke on college endowments and selective austerity (janitors lose, portfolio managers win)

How Does the Ban on Teaching Anti-Capitalist and Extremist Materials Affect Mainstream Textbooks?

Yesterday, Gavin Williamson, the secretary of state for education, issued his departments guideline informing schools what they could not teach. This included materials from organisations determined to end capitalism, as well as anti-Semitic material, opposition to freedom of speech and which approves of illegal activity. The Labour Party’s John McDonnell pointed out that this would mean that it’s now illegal to teach large sections of British history and particularly that of the Labour Party, trade unions and socialism, because all these organisations at different times advocated the end of capitalism. He is, of course, right. In 1945 or thereabouts, for example, the Labour Party published an edition of the Communist Manifesto. He concluded

“This is another step in the culture war and this drift towards extreme Conservative authoritarianism is gaining pace and should worry anyone who believes that democracy requires freedom of speech and an educated populace.”

The economist and former Greek finance minister, Yanis Varousfakis, who has also written a book, The Crisis of Capitalism, also commented this guidance showed how easy it was for a country to lose itself and slip surreptitiously into totalitarianism. He said

“Imagine an educational system that banned schools from enlisting into their curricula teaching resources dedicated to the writings of British writers like William Morris, Iris Murdoch, Thomas Paine even. Well, you don’t have to. Boris Johnson’s government has just instructed schools to do exactly that.”

Quite. I wonder how the ban affects even mainstream textbooks, which included anti-capitalist or other extremist literature. For example there are any number of readers and anthologies of various political or historical writings published by perfectly mainstream publishers for school and university students. Such as the one below, Critics of Capitalism: Victorian Reactions to ‘Political Economy’, edited by Elisabeth Jay and Richard Jay, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) 1986). This collects a variety of writings authors such as John Francis Bray, Thomas Carlyle, Marx and Engels, John Stuart Mill, John Ruskin, Matthew Arnold, Thomas Hill Green, William Morris and George Bernard Shaw. These texts obviously document and illustrate the reactions to the rise of economics as an academic subject in the 19th century, and several of the authors are titans of 19th century British culture, literature and political philosophy, like the art critic Ruskin, the socialist, writer and artist, William Morris, the playwright George Bernard Shaw, the liberal political philosophers John Stuart Mill and Thomas Hill Green, and Matthew Arnold, the headmast of Rugby, the author of Culture and Anarchy. This is quite apart from Marx and Engels and John Francis Bray, who was a socialist and follower of Robert Owen. Carlyle’s now largely forgotten, but he was a philosopher and historian who was massively influential in his day.

Clearly this is an entirely respectable text from a very respectable publisher for history students. But, thanks to the government’s new guidelines, you could well ask if it’s now illegal to teach it in schools, thanks to its anti-capitalist contents.

The same question also applies to very respectable histories by respectable, mainstream historians and political scientists, of extremist movements and ideologies like Fascism, Nazism, Communism and anarchism. For example, one of the books I used while studying the rise of Nazism at college was D.G. Williamson’s The Third Reich (Harlow: Longman 1982). It’s an excellent little book published as part of their Seminar Studies in History range. These are short histories of various periods in history from King John and the Magna Carta to the origins of the Second World and the Third Reich, which include extracts from texts from the period illustrating particularly aspects and events. Williamson’s book is a comprehensive history of the Nazi regime, and so includes extracts from Nazi documents like Hitler’s Mein Kampf, Goebbel’s diaries and as well as eyewitness account of Nazi war crimes and individual acts of heroism and resistance. It presents an objective account of Hitler’s tyranny including its horrors and atrocities. There is absolutely no way it, nor other books like it, could remotely be considered pro-Nazi or presenting any kind of positive assessment of Hitler’s regime.

But if schools are now forbidden from teaching anti-capitalist, anti-Semitic, racist and anti-democratic material, does this mean that they are also forbidden from using books like Williamson’s, which include the writings of the Nazis themselves to show the real nature of the regime and the motivations of the men behind it. I hope not, and Owen Jones in his tweet attacking the new guidelines quotes them. From this, it should be possible to make a distinction between texts produced by extremist organisations and extracts from them in mainstream histories or editions from mainstream publishers. According to Jones’ tweet, the guidelines state

Schools should not under any circumstances use resources produced by organisations that take extreme political stances on matters. This is the case even if the material is not extreme, as the use of it could imply endorsement or support of the organisation. Examples of extreme political stances, include, but are not limited to

  1. a publicly stated desire to abolish or overthrow democracy, capitalism or end free and fair elections.

2. opposition to the right of freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of assembly, or freedom of religion and conscience.

3. the use or endorsement of racist, including anti-Semitic language or communications.

4. the encouragement or endorsement of illegal activity.

5. a failure to condemn illegal activities in their name or in support of their cause, particularly violent actions against people and property.

Responding to Jones’ tweet, Jessica Simor QC asks this very pertinent question

Do the fourth and fifth bullet points mean that schools should not accept Government money?

Good point.

I also have no doubt that the vast majority are going to be extremely careful about which organisation’s materials they use because of the danger of using extremist or otherwise inappropriate material.

But I can also how sometimes it may also be necessary for schools to use such materials in order to criticise them and educate their pupils about their dangers. For example, in the 1980s the BNP or NF tried to appeal to schoolchildren by launching a comic. Other extremists have also turned up at the school gates on occasion. When I was at school in Bristol during the ’81/2 race riots, a White agitator with a beard like Karl Marx’s turned up outside the school entrance with a megaphone trying to get the kids to join in. We ignored him and the headmaster next day in assembly said very clearly that any child who did join the rioting would be expelled.

Nazis are also known for lying and deliberately distorting history. If some Nazi group, for example, produced a pamphlet aimed at schoolchildren and teachers found it being passed around the playground one of the actions they could take, as well as simply banning it and punishing any kid who tried to promote it, might be for a suitably qualified teacher to go through it, pointing out the deliberate lies. When Hitler himself seized power, one Austrian university lecturer embarrassed the fuhrer by showing his students how Hitler took his ideas from the cheap and grubby neo-Pagan literature published in the back streets of Vienna. One of these pamphlets claimed that the ancient Aryans had possessed radio-electric organs that gave them superpowers like telepathy. I think it was highly unlikely that anyone listening to this professor’s lectures on Hitler ever came away with the idea that Hitler had some deep grasp of the essential forces of human biology and and natural selection.

I see absolutely no point to this legislation whatsoever. Teachers, parents and educators are already careful about what is taught in schools. In the past few years most incidents of this type have come from fundamentalist religious schools. These have mostly been Muslim schools, which have been caught teaching their students to hate Christians, Jews and non-Muslims, but there was also a Jewish school which became the centre of controversy for its opposition to homosexuality. In the 1980s Thatcher and the right-wing press ran scare stories about Communist teachers indoctrinating students with evil subversive subjects like peace studies. I am not aware that anyone with extreme left-wing, Communist or Trotskite views has been trying to indoctrinate children. But there are concerns about Black Lives Matter, which I have heard is a Marxist organisation. If that is the case, then the guidelines seem to be an attempt to ban the use of their materials. BLM did produce materials for a week of action in schools, which was thoroughly critiqued by Sargon of Gasbag, aka Carl Benjamin, the sage of Swindon and the man who broke UKIP. Sargon has extreme right-wing Conservative views himself, though I honestly don’t believe that he is genuinely racist and his criticisms of the BLM school material was reasonable. Williamson’s guidelines look like a badly thought out attempt to stop them being used without causing controversy by tackling the organisation’s anti-racism or its critique of White society.

But it also marks the growing intolerance of the Tories themselves and their determination that schools should be used for the inculcation of their own doctrines, rather than objective teaching that allows children to come to their own. Way back in the 1980s Thatcher tried to purge the universities of Marxists by passing legislation making it illegal for them to hold posts in higher education. They got round it by making a subtle distinction: they claimed to be Marxian rather than Marxist. By which they argued that they had Marxist culture, but weren’t actually Marxists. It’s a legal sleight of hand, but it allowed them to retain their teaching posts.

These new guidelines look like an extension of such previous legislation in order to preserve capitalism from any kind of thorough critique. Even when, as the peeps Mike quotes in his article, show very clearly that it is massively failing in front of our eyes.

Schools are now for indoctrination, not education, as teaching of non-capitalist ideology is forbidden

History Debunked Demolishes The Black Curriculum

This is another fascinating and well-argued video by Simon Webb of History Debunked. This time he takes aim at The Black Curriculum, the group behind the demands that the teaching of Black History should not just be for a month, but all through the year.

Black History Not Inclusive, Solely for Black Minority

Webb starts his video by stating that, demographically, only three per cent of this country’s population are African or Caribbean. This is a problem for those groups desperate to show that Blacks have made a major contribution to British society. There are other, larger ethnic groups. Indians comprise 8 per cent, and we could also reasonably ask why there also shouldn’t be an Asian history month, or Chinese, Polish or Irish. But the demand is specifically for history that concentrates exclusively on Blacks. He returns to the same point at the end of the video.

The Black Curriculum

He then moves on to Black Curriculum group themselves, who have been favourably mentioned by the Beeb, the Groaniad and other newspapers. Their website, to which he provides a link, contains template letters for people to use to send to government ministers. They also produce educational videos which they distribute free. One of these is about Mary Seacole, the Afro-Caribbean who supposedly nursed British squaddies during the Crimean War, and whom Black activists have claimed was a rival to Florence Nightingale. Webb describes it with the Russian term disinformazia, which means deceitful propaganda. He wonders whether this is a bit a harsh, as they might actually believe it. The Black Curriculum also runs workshops for schools and want to have their video widely adopted. He then proceeds to demolish their video on Seacole.

Lies and Bad History in Seacole Video

It starts by claiming that she came to England to nurse British soldiers because she’d heard that conditions were so bad. Not true. She came to England, leaving her restaurant in Panama, because she’d invested in mines in Grenada, and wanted to know why her shares weren’t doing well. She felt they should have been sold on the British stock exchange. It goes on to claim that she applied to be a nurse, but her application was refused. Wrong again. Those applying to be nurses had to send a written application accompanied by references. She didn’t do that, but lobbied one or two people but never made a formal application. It also claims that she opened a hotel for sick and wounded officers. But it was simply a bar and restaurant. There was no accommodation there at all. He backs this up with a contemporary picture of the ‘hospital’, which shows exactly that it wasn’t one.

He notes that there are other problems with the video, but says that these will do for now, though he might say more in a later video about it and The Black Curriculum. He offers two explanations why they made a video as terrible as this. The first is that they knew nothing about Mary Seacole, and hadn’t read her autobiography. The other possibility is that whoever made the video knew the facts, and set out deliberately to deceive adults and children, which is quite malicious. Someone like that – either ignorant or malicious – should definitely not be in charge of what is taught in the curriculum.

Important Mainstream Subjects that Might Have to Be Dropped to Make Room for the Black Curriculum

Webb also wonders how the issues demanded by the Black Curriculum could be fitted into the present curriculum, as it is packed as it is. There is already enough struggle fitting the present material in. He looks at some of the material the Black Curriculum is already putting forward, and what important subjects in history might have to be dumped to make room for it. This, Webb suggests, might be the Magna Carta, or the Bill of Rights, or perhaps the Holocaust. He then looks at the modules The Black Curriculum suggest on their website. This is material aimed at 7-8 year olds, in other words, kids at Key Stage 2. It’s a time when children are learning basic literacy, arithmetic, science, art and PE. It’s very intensive and there’s a lot of work there. Well, reading and writing might have to be cut back to make room for ‘Collectivism and Solidarity’. A few maths lessons could be dropped in favour of ‘Cultural Resistance’ and ‘Food Inequality’. Science is obviously not as important to children as ‘Activism’, ‘Colonialism’ or ‘Systemic Racism’. He describes this proposed curriculum as ‘largely agitprop’. It’s political propaganda.

He then sums up the problems of the Black Curriculum. There are three.

  1. It’s concerned mainly with Black people. If it was geared to broaden the cultural understanding of the average child he might be in favour of it. He states that he homeschooled his daughter, and as result they visited various different cultures. These included a Black evangelical church, a mosque, synagogue, Hindu temple and Sikh gurdwara. If the proposed syllabus included these as well, he might be in favour of it. But it is not.
  2. It seems prepared by the ignorant or malicious. And that’s an insurmountable object to adopting material of this kind.
  3. And if you’re considering cutting material from the national curriculum, then as many groups as possible should be consulted. Like Indians and Bengalis, Chinese, the Jewish community, which has a long history in this country. If you want to broaden the cultural horizons of British children, which is a noble enough enterprise, it shouldn’t be restricted to just three per cent of the population. It needs to be much broader entirely.

Here’s the video.

Now it’s clear that Webb is a man of the right, but I think he makes valid points, and his remark about trying to broaden children’s horizon is both fair and shows he’s not a racist.

I admit I found myself reacting against the demand to have Black African civilisations taught as part of the national curriculum. It undoubtedly would benefit Black children, or at least, those of African descent. David Garmston interviewed several Black schoolchildren about it in an item in the local news programme for the Bristol area, Points West. One of them was an African lad, Suhaim, who said he had had very low self-esteem and felt suicidal. But this was raising his spirits. You can’t want anyone, of whatever race or culture, to suffer like that. I’ve been interested in African history and its civilisations since studying the continent as part of the ‘A’ level Geography course, at which I got spectacularly bad marks. It’s a fascinating continent, and I encourage anyone to learn about it. But I think I objected to the proposal because it seems that what should be a voluntary pleasure and a joy was being foisted on British schoolchildren for the benefit of foreigners or a minority of people, who find it unable to assimilate and identify with the host culture. I know how unpleasant this sounds, but this is how I feel. I also think that activism like this creates more division, by presenting Blacks as an ‘other’ with a completely different history and culture, who need to be treated specially and differently from Whites and other ethnic groups.

Black people have contributed to British, American and European civilisation and not just through slavery and the riches they produced for planters and industrialists. But until the late 19th century, the continent of Africa was effectively closed to westerners through a mixture of the tropical diseases around the malaria-infested swamps of the coast and strong African states that kept European traders confined to ghettos. Hence Europe and Africa have little shared history until the European conquests of the 1870s, except in some areas like the slave forts of the Gold Coast, and Sierra Leone, founded in the late 18th century as a colony for freed slaves. Liberia was also founded as such a colony, but by the Americans.

Webb’s description of the overall syllabus proposed by The Black Curriculum as disinformazia and agitprop is also fair. It looks like propaganda and political indoctrination, and that’s dangerous. I realise that I should agree with its hidden curriculum of anti-colonial resistance, solidarity and exposure of food inequality, but I really can’t. I believe that teachers have to be balanced and objective as far as possible. This is what is demanded by law. I don’t want children indoctrinated with Tory rubbish about how Britain never did anything wrong and the British Empire was wonderful. Far from it. Topics like those recommended by the Black Curriculum are fine for universities, which should be centres of debate where students are exposed to different views. But it’s not suitable for schools. Our mother was a teacher in a junior school here in Bristol She states that teachers are required to keep their personal opinions out of what they teach their students. If this in unavoidable, such as if a child asks them what they personally believe, then they have to reply that it is just their personal belief, not objective fact.

The Black Curriculum, therefore, certainly does seem to be peddling mendacious pseudo-history and should not be allowed near schools. But I fear there will be so much pressure from well-meaning activists to include them, that they will have their way.

Archaeologists Discover Bronze Agent Musical Instrument Made of Human Bone

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 05/09/2020 - 2:32am in

This is an interesting piece of archaeological news from Tuesday’s edition of the I for 1 September 2020. The article ‘Bronze Age people turned human thigh bone into musical instrument’ by Nina Massey reported that archaeologists from Bristol University had discovered the instrument buried with other fragments of bone and tusk and axes buried as grave goods with a man near Stonehenge. The article reads

Researchers have uncovered evidence of a Bronze Age tradition that saw human remains retained and curated as relics over several generations.

The findings indicate a tangible way of honouring and remembering individuals some 4,500 years ago, experts say.

Led by the University of Bristol and published in the journal Antiquity, the study used radio-carbon dating and CT scanning.

Lead author Dr Thomas Booth said: “Even in modern secular societies, human remains are seen as particularly powerful objects, and this seems to hold true for people of the Bronze Age. However, they treated and and interacted with the dead in ways which are inconceivably macabre to us today.

“After radiocarbon dating Bronze Age human remains alongside other material buried with them, we found many had been buried a significant time after the person had died, suggesting a tradition of retaining and curating human remains.”

He added: “People seem to have curated the remains of people who had lived within living or cultural memory, and who likely played an important role in their life or their communities, or with whom they had a well-defined relationship, whether that was direct family, a tradesperson, a friend or even an enemy.

In one example from Wiltshire, a human thigh bone, crafted into a musical instrument was included as grave goods with the burial of a man found near Stonehenge.

The carved and polished artefact was found with other items including axes, a bone plate and a tusk. Radio-carbon dating of the thigh bone suggests it belonged to someone this person had known.

Professor Joanna Bruck, principal investigator on the project, and visiting professor at the University of Bristol’s department of anthropology and archaeology, said: “Although fragments of human bone were included as grave goods, they were also kept in the homes of the living, buried under house floors and even placed on display.”

Dr Booth said: “This study really highlights the strangeness and perhaps the unknowable nature of the distant past from a present-day perspective.”

He is also quoted as saying, “Bronze Age people did not view human remains with the sense of horror or disgust that we might feel today.”

This is the first time I’ve read about human remains being turned into a musical instruments in ancient Britain, but I’m not surprised. There are many cultures all over the world that preserve the skulls of dead ancestors and enemies. They included the Mandan and other tribes in the US, some indigenous peoples of Papua New Guinea and the ancient Celts. There’s a carving from an ancient Celtic temple from southern Gaul of a monster, whose two front claws rest on severed heads. Around the statue are depressions carved into its base, possibly to hold the real thing. Nigel Barley in one of his books on death around the world notes that in the traditional culture of one of the Pacific peoples, the skeletons of dead relatives are handled and taken apart, so that their descendants can carry bits of it about of them as an act of respect and remembrance.

And there are also cultures that turn human remains into musical instruments. There’s the Chod ceremony in Tibetan Buddhism, in which the priests wear aprons made out of human skin and play drums made of human skulls and, I believe, flutes from bone. Something similar may well have been done here with this instrument.

The Stonehenge connection is interesting and possibly relevant. One of the theories about the standing stones is that they were originally put up as monuments to the ancestors in a process involving secondary burial. This followed the suggestion of a Madagascan archaeologist, who said that they reminded him of the practice among his people. There the remains are interred for a period after death while they decay. After a certain time, they’re taken out, prepared and then re-buried in another set of ceremonies during which a stone or a wooden pole is set up as a monument. It may well be that this instrument was created as part of such a burial rite.

Darren Grimes: Respectable Journalist or Shape-Changing Alien Invader?

The Sunday before last, August 23rd 2020, Zelo Street put up a piece reporting the outrage when Sunday Morning Live decided to hold a debate about education. Unfortunately, one of the so-called ‘experts’ they invited on was professional Guido Fawkes windbag was Darren Grimes. A man, who can fairly be said to be one of the most ignorant people in journalism, and that’s against stiff competition like Sarah Vine, Julia Hartley-Brewer and Harry Cole, political editor of the Scum. Way back in the 1930s when the great Surrealist painter Salvador Dali fled to America to escape the Spanish Civil War, he declared that his mission was to cretinise the public. Well, Dali passed away in the late 70s, but he left his great mission to the Tory party. Back in the 1980s Private Eye reviewed one book by the new Tory thinkers that were coming through. I think it was by the late Roger Scruton, but I’m not sure. The book stated that Conservatism, based as it is on tradition, is silent and incoherent until forced into action. This was a clear statement of the anti-intellectualism that’s at the heart of Tory politics. It forced the Eye to ponder whether there was an optimum level of cretinisation. Had Prince Philip reached it? And one those seeming to carry on this mission to misinform the public spreading lies and sheer ignorance is Darren Grimes.

How Grimes gets invited onto the Beeb as any kind of authority is something of a mystery. He’s working class, and has something of a chip on his shoulder about his origins, feeling that he is looked down upon because of this and the fact that he has a northern accent. But this is what happens when you support a party run by elite public school types on behalf of elite public school types. They have elocution lesson at school deliberately to lose any regional accent they have. And this automatic connection between received pronunciation and leadership is explicitly stated by the British military. One spokesman for the British army, quoted in an article back in the 1980s stated very clearly that if you want to be a British officer, you should lose your regional accent otherwise you wouldn’t be respected by the troops. I’ve met a lot of squaddies, and in general they don’t respect the officers because of the bullying, sneering attitude so many of them have towards their men and women, along with stories of stupid orders that have led to disaster given by commanders against the advice of their NCOs.

Grimes also feels he’s despised because he didn’t complete his degree. He’s a failed fashion student. Okay, academic intelligence doesn’t automatically equate to being generally well-informed and intelligent. It’s just one form of it. When I was at school we were told that only 5 per cent of the British population went to university. That changed rapidly with the expansion of higher education in the 1990s with the creation of the new universities out of the older colleges and polytechnics. Then came Blair and New Labour, who wanted 50 per cent of the population to attend university. The result is that something like 46 per cent of the school leavers now go on to university. But this also means that there are plenty of older people, who are naturally very intelligent, but didn’t get a chance to go when they were children. Their intelligence shouldn’t be underestimated. But Darren Grimes isn’t one of them either.

In one of his pieces, he praised the Tories for breaking out of the old New Labour Oxbridge elite. It’s another falsehood, and the truth is exactly the opposite of what he said. New Labour senior figures came from a range of different universities. Blair attended Aberdeen, Gordon Brown Edinburgh. Another senior cabinet minister went to Newcastle Upon Tyne, I believe. It is the Tory administrations of Dave Cameron, Tweezer and now Boris Johnson that’s stuffed full of the Oxbridge elite. And then there’s that little incident of Grimes’ interview with David Starkey, in which he let the Tudor historian get away with all manner of racist nonsense. Including the really offensive statement that slavery couldn’t be a holocaust, because there are ‘too bloody many of them’ now around. Grimes’ appearance on Sunday Morning Live resulted in a number of peeps going on Twitter to ask the obvious question: how did someone as stupid and ignorant as Grimes get invited onto the Beeb. Zelo Street quotes a number of them, beginning with Mic Wright, who said  “I studied Education at Cambridge University (2:1). I am a school governor. I have written about education issues for 15 years. I am the first in my family to attend university. I have lots of broadcast experience. And now on [SML] … Darren Grimes, an expert in nothing”. Rosa P asked

“What the hell does [Darren Grimes] actually know about anything? Surely you should have some expertise in any area to give an opinion on the BBC. Grimes, you had little to offer to the discussion other than telling us you did an apprenticeship in media studies … Made the mistake of putting [SML] on. Their expert panel discussing education includes Darren Grimes, whose sole qualification is that he once attended a school. I try to defend the BBC but they do themselves no favours with this nonsense”.

‘Pad’ pointed out the hypocrisy of Grimes himself for appearing on the Beeb when he wants to defund it. “Is Brexit gobshite Darren Grimes, whose Twitter header is a photo of him appearing on the BBC and who was, once again, on the BBC this morning talking utter bollocks, still a part of the ‘grassroots’ campaign to [Defund the BBC]?”

John Traynor’s answer to this conundrum was succinct: “BBC has arsehole Darren Grimes on because it doesn’t understand balance in broadcasting”.

Zelo Street concluded his article with this:

‘What, one has to ask, is the point of inviting pundits with some expertise, who are prepared to research their subject, just to find they have to debate with Darren Grimes, whose USP is to whine about people calling him an idiot. Because he is one.

Having an opinion is not the same as knowledge. Know the difference, BBC people.’

See: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/08/bbc-and-darren-grimes-oh-dear.html

 

The mention of Grimes reminded of the very brief description of an evil alien race in Ed McNab’s The Alien Spotter’s Handbook or How to Save the Earth. This was a children’s humorous book published in 1982, which mixed real astronomy with a less than reverent treatment of astrology, as well as Fortean phenomena like frog falls and the Devil’s hoof prints in Devon, the Mary Celeste and so on, with simple stage magic tricks and instructions how to make your own simple telescope and periscope around the fictional narrative that there is an alien plot to take over the world. This was discovered by the fictional Dr. Qwax. Evidence for this malign plot came when experts examined an alien probe that landed in Peterborough. Ostensibly friendly, further investigation revealed that it was far more sinister, with a secret compartment containing computer games like ‘Kill the Human’. It’s written as a guide to uncovering these covert alien invaders, including those who have taken over members of your family, like your dad or granny. There are plenty of the kind of daft jokes children of all ages love, and 2000 AD and the mighty Tharg also get a mention. One of the jokes is a spoof list of pop songs secretly written by aliens. And one of them is The Grymes They Are a-Changin’ by the Metamorphs. This has a footnote helpfully explaining that they are ‘Shape-Changers from a very dense planet. Grymes specilise in Heavy Metal Rock musicians.’

Gyrmes/Grimes – this must be it then. Grimes is really a Gryme, a shape-changing alien from a very dense planet, who has disguised himself as a human as part of this insidious alien plot. It has to be! It can’t be because he actually has any real journalistic talent.

The Democratic University

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 03/09/2020 - 3:00am in

Universities should be at the forefront of a socially just democratic society, and to do this we have to change real structures of control and power.

Sguul Hayetsk, member of the Gitxaała Nation, and Professor of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia

The pathologies of now

We find ourselves in a surprise moment of viral plague that has been overturning everyday life, but also, finally, through this required dynamic of the overturn, we find ourselves in a moment where we are seeing the long shadows of the Other plagues: domestic and family violence; racism; pollution; chronic illness; work overtaking life; the comparatively torpid search for cures to ailments other than COVID-19; unequal access to healthcare, reliable facts, and justice; and the state of the university.

The curtailment, in many cases collapse, of travel due to the virus, and the resulting belt-tightening all around, but also the rise in concern over racism and free speech, has cast a light on the litany of problems that universities, including Australia’s, are expressing and facing. Such problems are of their own making but are also the product of chronic underfunding by successive governments at all levels. In Australia, they begin with:

  1. A grouping, at each university, of unjustifiably overpaid managers who typically are hired on short-term contracts that are designed, purposefully, to incentivise them to growth-oriented work. The logic is that if they meet or exceed targets set by bodies such as university councils they are likely to have their contracts and benefits renewed for another term. If not, they typically face the broom. This model won’t surprise those who understand the leadership logics of big corporate businesses. 
  2. Universities, as a result of the managerial class who must meet their targets, are governed like hierarchical businesses with employees, customers and the need to deliver services that meet external regulatory standards (i.e. those set by the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency), but in a way that ensures sufficient (this varies from body to body inside universities) profits, which are directed back to the central university apparatus (the top managers) for spending on targets. In some universities, faculties and schools, for example, are charged to the hour by central to use teaching or other rooms and facilities on campus.
  3. The top-down executive-government structure of universities with weak elements in place to represent the will of faculty, students and other (typically labelled ‘external’) stakeholders is not caused by today’s managers (as postwar universities were either founded this way or all universities since the Dawkins reforms came to be structured this way) but is certainly reinforced by them. Power rests not with the majority here but rather with the minority managerial class, their lawyers, and frontline agents in human resourcing.

What results from this is a cascade of pathologies that are now legion.

Universities have become increasingly marketised: more students are needed. This drives the trouble of sometimes advertising promises that are too good to be true, weakening demand on students to work on their studies and faculty to invest more time in all aspects of teaching, cheapening the substance of degrees, and eroding the social fabric between students and faculty.

Students are treated as customers and faculty are treated as clients; cashed-up businesses are courted so that money can be washed through the university’s system, as this helps with rankings; and researchers are encouraged to commercialise their discoveries so that the university can earn off licensing them—freeware ist verboten or at least strongly frowned upon.

Leadership at the ‘coal face’ is paternalistic to both students and faculty so that the focus of the latter is kept on the consumption and production required by management to meet their targets. This breeds a toxic suspicion of students and faculty, who are seen as lawsuits or diplomatic scandals waiting to happen, particularly if they resist the directives from above.

Postgraduate and recently graduated students, especially doctoral candidates, are kept on precarious contracts—that are now the subject of a nation-wide wage-theft scandal—and must look forward, they are commonly told, to little promise of an ongoing position in academia.

International students are slobbered over as walking dollar signs while treated in certain places, dismissively, as people ‘just trying to get permanent residency and using universities to do it’.

The ‘big three’ global university rankings tables and a variety of smaller international and domestic tables in relation to research and teaching lead to ‘gaming the system’, where researchers are told to publish in only select outlets (thus reinforcing the unjustifiable privilege of Western, Northern and typically US-American journals and book presses), where highly-cited researchers are approached by universities to ‘buy their CVs’, and double-speak is injected into the university’s common language in the hopes of ‘nudging’ students to click on the ‘right’ parts of the ranking-related surveys they are asked, from time to time, to complete.

And on this list of distasteful things goes.

The democratic university

There is an alternative. Various historical traditions of the university offer us a starting point, to remember but innovate from, not rehash and hope for better this time around. These traditions are centred on concepts of faculty and student democracy with strong, sometimes generations-deep, social ties to the many communities that they engage with and have engaged (individuals, peoples, governments, businesses, NGOs, associations and so on).

Such traditions were structured, governmentally, on the collegiate and union models (for the latter more in Europe and the Americas than Australia) where faculty and students were self-organised into political and teaching, but also research and administrative, bodies who decided together and against one another how the university should be governed.

Power, and the legitimacy to decide, must return to the greatest number of those who find value in and who make up the university. A university is its people, not mere instruments, buildings and brand.

I propose a tricameral system that is inspired by innovations in participatory democracy and demarchic experiments that are cropping up here and there in the world today. This is very different to election and distant, indirect, rule—a procedure of democracy that history has shown is manipulable by autocrats and demagogues or by those John Keane terms the new despots.

In the tricameral system the first house would be composed of a representative mixture (sample) of students (undergraduate and postgraduate, full time and part time, domestic and international, male and female, ‘able’ and differently able, high GPA and low GPA, queer and cis, etc.), randomly selected. The second house would be the same for faculty (at all levels and for all contract types; I make no distinction between so-called ‘teaching’, ‘research’ and ‘administrative’ roles—we are all colleagues). The third house would be the same for ‘external stakeholders’ (e.g. family or friends of students and faculty, members of local associations and businesses, alumni, people who live on or near campus, etc.). Houses would be rotated annually; members would serve non-consecutive terms; participation–the choice to ‘opt in’ or out–would be voluntary.

In this example, each house consists of 125 persons (it could be more or less depending on a university’s members’ preferences—my number is inspired by the ancient Tlaxcallan council) and has the right to introduce ideas for the university. Each house has the obligation to review the ideas proposed by the other houses. It is up to the members of each house to decide their rules for democratic procedure, on how to decide in-house and between houses, how to review, and how to propose. Such logics are customary to, for example, how certain assemblies work in various United Nations institutions, European Union bodies and so forth.

These houses are served by an administrative body chaired by, for example, a 36-member executive (twelve people randomly chosen or elected from a pool of volunteers from each house—again, this could be more or less in number), who serve for, say, a three-year term, who can be recalled, and who must report quarterly to all houses on the ideas they have been asked to action but also on matters of the university’s day-to-day business. This includes all financial and legal disclosures pertaining to the university.

See how power rests here with the majority. Witness how governance is conducted procedurally with the sole aim of carrying out the general will of the affected and that such should be done transparently.

These techniques have deep historical precedent, are used in a variety of institutional contexts, and are adjustable to the needs of the people using them. The details of the tricameral system in this essay serve as example, not rule, although I do maintain that the three houses and administration body are essential.

Key to note, here, is that the unique values, ideologies and desires of students, faculty and stakeholders—the cultural lifeblood of any university—emerges as sovereign will from this proposed change to the university’s ‘real structures of control and power’, as Sguul Hayetsk puts it. That is a very different and thickly democratic outcome to what we experience now in hierarchical, managerial, market-driven Australian universities.

A thought experiment for reality buffs

Both the theory and practice underlying the democratic university are tried and tested. We can rely on them to work. However, we do need to consider where the money to make the democratic university is going to come from.

Finding some morsel in governmental (Commonwealth, state/territory, city etc) budgets is not realistic, especially now, during a global plague. It would, obviously, help if all companies paid the actual 30 per cent or so tax rate, but bringing that money back into Australia is likely going to take decades. One way forward is to raise a levy on Australia’s top-earning 3.8 per cent of individuals.

The 2016 Census records that 596,521 Australians (or between 3.1 per cent and 3.8 per cent of the population) took home $3000 or more per week ($156,000 p.a.). This is the where the ‘top’ earning bracket starts. According to the ABC’s income comparison, those earning $3000 per week bank more than an estimated 96.2 per cent of Australians—we’ll stick with the ABC’s 3.8 per cent figure, as it’s based on more recent data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The 2 per cent Medicare Levy is a proven model. We could use that. Applying a 2 per cent Universities Levy to the 3.8 per cent of top earners will likely (because we are working off estimates, and censuses are self-reported, so there could be inaccuracies in the data) generate a minimum $1,861,145,520, or $1.8 billion and change. See Figure 1, below, for the maths.

Figure 1: Financing the Democratic University

Divide the $1.8 billion and change among Australia’s thirty-seven public universities (private universities are excluded) and the take-home share of that, again, minimum estimate is $50,301,230.27, or $50 million and change, on top of (not, never, in replacement of) already existing funding and benefits received from various levels of government.

If the three houses of university government, consisting of 125 persons each, met for example quarterly (four times a year), and were paid $3500 per meeting (inclusive of superannuation and associated costs), and this body was served by an elected administrative branch of thirty-six people who were paid an appropriate salary (the Australian Public Service can serve as a benchmark), there would still remain tens of millions in the coffers to provide bursaries to international students (yes, we should paying them based on need and merit, not the other way around), equitably fund all classes of research and hire more faculty to reduce class sizes. There would also be the funds to increase other types of cultural and scientific services, such as research, teaching, community events, providing safe haven, increasing poverty relief for students, supporting cooperative enterprises (particularly student-owned ones) and opening participatory experiments (especially for stakeholders to join).

This is how universities can regain their fiduciary and ethical independence but also curb, if not entirely avoid, the pathologies of now.

We can add more to this levy-derived money by making it optional for persons in lower income brackets, such as myself (I’m in the second income bracket), to opt in. I would opt in as long as I knew that my contribution could not be spent on anything other than the democratic governance of universities and the cultural and scientific services just listed.

Universities, in their transition to a democratic form, should work with all levels of government (local, state/territory and Commonwealth, as appropriate) to ensure that their agreements, charters, etc. are backed by law—especially in relation to what the levy money can be spent on.

The democratic university is ours, if we want it

If enough of us genuinely want the democratic university, it will happen. But you have got to be thinking about it, talking about it, dreaming about it and exciting others about it. Why? Because that’s often what we do in relation to the things we value and cherish, that move us, that we care about, and that we wish to see realised.

We have got to organise and push for it. That’s the hard road we must take to change an entrenched status quo. But the Medicare Levy happened (and I am proud to pay it—I don’t go private). Perhaps so, too, a University Levy will come to be.

The theories, practices and financing instruments are all in place.

I see no other way but this.

Nigel Farage Has a Point About Racial Segregation at New York University

Heaven help me, I can’t believe I’m actually defending something tweeted by the Fuhrage. On Saturday Zelo Street put up an article about a series of tweets by the man 2000 AD’s ‘Judge Dredd’ satirised as the anti-immigrant politician, Bilious Barrage. These revealed just how racist Farage is.

The tweets themselves were the standard right-wing stuff going around at the moment. Attacks on the BBC and the Finnish conductor for not singing ‘Rule, Britannia’ because they’re all unpatriotic, woke leftists. Asylum seekers being put up in hotels and defended by lefty activist lawyers, Brexit and the demand that we should be able to control our borders and a rant hyping his piece for the Telegraph about ‘cultural Marxism’. A phrase which has very definite anti-Semitic overtones, coming as it does from the Nazis’ idea of Kulturbolschevismus – cultural Bolshevism – and their conviction that traditional European culture was under attack from within by Commie Jews, as part of the worldwide Jewish conspiracy for world domination.

I agree with Zelo Street’s general point. I think Nige is a racist, and at times his carefully crafted image of being an ordinary bloke fighting to preserve traditional British culture does slip to reveal real Fascism beneath. But in one of the tweets cited by Zelo Street, Nige does have a point.

This tweet linked to a report about New York University now building segregated student housing for Blacks only. Zelo Street followed this up with a quote from Gore Vidal about the leader of American Conservatism, William S. Buckley and his support for racial segregation: To borrow the words of Gore Vidal, Farage, like William F Buckley, would have been over at the Wallace headquarters stitching hoods.

I think this is a misreading and Farage is condemning it. And he’s right to do so.

If this is the same story I’m thinking of, then it’s been around for several months now. It started with a video that was widely shared by Conservative YouTubers of Black students at the uni making statements before the university authorities that they did not feel safe rooming with Whites, and demanding segregated accommodation reserved only for Blacks. This is segregation, even if it is coming from Blacks and is demanded for their benefit. The kids making these statements are clearly genuinely scared, but it is also an expression of anti-White prejudice. The Black students made these representations, I gather, after a series of threatening, anti-Black racist posters were put up around campus.

It isn’t hard to understand their fear, given the history of official racist violence in American culture. Jim Crow and segregations, lynchings and whatever threats these kids and their families may have suffered in their own personal histories. And there does seem a culture of pro-Black racial segregation already on some American campuses. Another video shared by right-wing YouTubers is of an angry Black woman, another student, telling White students to get out of a study area reserved for Blacks and people of colour. It’s more anti-White racism, and what the Financial Times has described as ‘liberal apartheid’. I don’t think we have that culture of liberal racist separatism in British academia here yet, but I’ve no doubt it’s coming. Sargon of Gasbag, the man who broke UKIP, put up a video a few weeks ago reporting that Britain’s first all-Black university has now opened. I don’t doubt that the people behind it are copying the Black American colleges and universities, which began in the 19th and early 20th century by the great founders of the Civil Rights movements to prepare Blacks for taking their rightful place as equal members of society. They appeared during segregation. We didn’t quite have this in Britain and don’t have these colleges. And at a time when academia is under pressure to give more places to Black and Asian students, and open up the profession to more women and ethnic minorities, the founding of such a university looks less anti-racist than simple anti-White racism. It’s segregation with a Black face, and no doubt a lot of verbiage about Black empowerment, diversity and inclusion.

Back to New York University, the demands for racially segregated accommodation would be angrily dismissed and the students making such demands expelled if it came from Whites. It would rightly be seen as racist, and the product of racist views that see Blacks as particularly degraded, animalistic, criminal and a threat to White culture and racial purity. You’d have mass demonstrations and protests by people proclaiming that these views have no place on campus.

But if the construction of such all-Black halls of residence are a response to White racist mischief making, then the White supremacists have won. They’ve played on Black prejudice and racial fears to destroy racial integration and reimpose a kind of apartheid.

If you look at the tweet Farage links to, there’s a piece at the bottom comparing it to the drinking fountains in Black schools during segregation with an ironic line about ‘separate but equal’. This old lie is graphically exposed in the ’80s film, Mississippi Burning, about two White FBI agents breaking up a Klan chapter after the murder of a group of civil rights activists. It’s a great film, but it was also widely criticised itself for racism by having as its heroes White FBI agents, who are shown rescuing powerless Blacks. It was also attacked on the grounds that, while based on a real incident, the FBI at the time under J. Edgar Hoover hated the Civil Rights movement. Hoover believed it was a Communist front, and did everything he could to spy on it and harass its members.

But it opens with a scene showing two children at a water fountain. One’s Black, the others White. The water fountain for Black child is dirty and stained with verdigris and mould. That for the White child is pristine clean. It’s a graphic statement that, whatever else Blacks were under segregation, they were definitely not equal.

Racism needs to be fought, no matter what colour it has or claims to be defending. And Farage, heaven help us! – is right to call it out in this tweet.

Not that it changes what Farage himself is. He’s wretched videos have been widely covered by right-wing radio host Alex Belfield, another one who claims not be racist but the ‘voice of reason’. Belfield has approvingly commented on and defended Farage turning up at hotels putting up asylum seekers. And some how I don’t think it’s an accident – do you? – that the anti-Muslim Fascist outfit Britain First rocked up at one of these hotels to protest.

Belfield claims not be racist. But he and Farage are certainly playing to a racist crowd. Go down the comments section on his videos about immigration, Black Lives Matter and so forth, and you’ll see that while some of them make perfectly reasonable comments and criticism from a mainstream anti-racist viewpoint, there are a sizable number who are bitterly racist, posting venom about immigration and ranting about the Kalergi Plan. This is another conspiracy theory that claims that there’s a secret globalist, proto-EU plan to import Blacks and other non-White immigrants in order to break up the White societies of Europe. And then there’s the related mythology of the ‘Great Replacement’, and its underlying anti-Semitism. This is all being done, according to these poisonous myths, by the Jews. It’s yet another continuation of Nazi ideology.

This is the crowd that Farage and Belfield are playing to. And it’s despicable. But Farage’s own criticism of segregated student housing at New York University is actually anti-racist. It’s just a pity that it comes from him.

Pages