Goldsmiths UCU/NUS Teach-in on the market

Goldsmiths UCU/NUS Teach-in on the market

Wednesday 29 October 08


1-2.30pm MRB Screen 2
Why a Likeness Cannot be Bought – Les Back (Sociology)
Foreign policy for sale – Bart Moore-Gilbert (English)
A history of debt: slavery in the broadest sense of the word? – David
Graeber (Anthropology)

1-2.30pm MRB Screen 3
Commodification of Irishness – Ben Levitas (Drama)
Brains for Hire: Intellectual Labour under Neoliberalism – Alberto Toscano
Free labour in cultural work – Susan Kelly, Janna Graham and Kirsten
Forkert (Art)

3-4.30pm RHB 142
Intellectual property and the enclosure of creativity – Matt Fuller (CCS)
Why the market fails the media – James Curran (Media)
culture research commerce inc. – John Hutnyk (CCS)

3-4.30pm RHB 150
‘Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe
to be beautiful’: William Morris and kitsch – David Mabb (Art)
Commercialising the past: the trade in cultural heritage – Kate Devlin
The market for art – Gavin Butt (Visual cultures)

3-4.30pm RHB 355
Workshop on free labour in the cultural industries (convened by Susan
Kelly, Janna Graham and Kirsten Forkert)

5-6.30pm RHB 142
The market in crisis: Resisting neo-liberalism

What’s gone wrong with the economy? – Graham Turner (author of ‘The Credit
Campaigning against marketisation in Higher Education – Jonathan White,
Deputy Head of Campaigns, UCU
What was neo-liberalism? – Des Freedman, President Goldsmiths UCU
Students and the campaign against marketisation – Jennifer Jones,
Campaigns and Communications officer, Goldsmiths NUS


45 thoughts on “Goldsmiths UCU/NUS Teach-in on the market

  1. At this event there was an announcement of the Vote on INTO , the privatization scheme.

    Subsequently the college tops have backed away from the initial plan, as apparently an academic board paper, I’ve not yet seen, reads:

    “It is clear to both SMT and INTO that a joint venture between INTO and Goldsmiths to provide an on-campus foundation program, similar to that which operates at other universities, is not currently an option worth pursuing. We continue to explore other possibilities which might arise from a partnership with INTO.”

    Of course now the anti-privatization forces must press onwards to victory….

    The warden should be encouraged to continue his efforts to secure financial stability for the college (and the sector) by extracting guarantees from Government, through progressive and corporate taxation etc, and we should have nothing to do with attempts to auction off parts of the farm to the highest bidder.

    A separate censure for whoever thought INTO and like schemes might be something worth thinking about should also be considered.

    Red Salute.


  2. The Sokal affair (also Sokal’s hoax) was a hoax by physicist Alan Sokal perpetrated on the editorial staff and readership of the postmodern cultural studies journal Social Text (published by Duke University Press). In 1996, Sokal, a professor of physics at New York University, submitted a paper for publication in Social Text, as an experiment to see if a journal in that field would, in Sokal’s words: “publish an article liberally salted with nonsense if (a) it sounded good and (b) it flattered the editors’ ideological preconceptions.”

    The paper, titled “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity”, was published in the Spring/Summer 1996 “Science Wars” issue of Social Text, which at that time had no peer review process, and so did not submit it for outside review. On the day of its publication, Sokal announced in another publication, Lingua Franca, that the article was a hoax, calling his paper “a pastiche of left-wing cant, fawning references, grandiose quotations, and outright nonsense”, which was “structured around the silliest quotations I could find about mathematics and physics” made by postmodernist academics.


  3. But why did I do it? I confess that I’m an unabashed Old Leftist who never quite understood how deconstruction was supposed to help the working class. And I’m a stodgy old scientist who believes, naively, that there exists an external world, that there exist objective truths about that world, and that my job is to discover some of them. –Allan Sokal

    In its 1996 Spring/Summer issue (pp. 217-252), Social Text journal published an article by Allan Sokal, Professor of Physics at New York University, entitled “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity.” The article was a hoax submitted, according to Sokal, to see “would a leading journal of cultural studies publish an article liberally salted with nonsense if (a) it sounded good and (b) it flattered the editors’ ideological preconceptions?” It would. Needless to say, the editors of Social Text were not pleased.


  4. Here’s to the crazy ones.

    The misfits.

    The rebels.

    The troublemakers.

    The round pegs in the square holes.

    The ones who see things differently.

    They’re not fond of rules.

    And they have no respect for the status quo.

    You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them,

    disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them.

    About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.

    Because they change things.

    They invent. They imagine. They heal.

    They explore. They create. They inspire.

    They push the human race forward.

    Maybe they have to be crazy.

    How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art?
    Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written?
    Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?

    We make tools for these kinds of people.

    While some see them as the crazy ones,
    we see genius.

    Because the people who are crazy enough to think
    they can change the world, are the ones who do.


  5. Well it’s important to get everything set up in place properly, else might not look right.

    WordPress probably like to proceed gingerly, err on the side of caution…


  6. “Hegemony, Censorship and Marxism”

    In this ground-breaking new work Sputnyk discusses the cancerous notion of freedom of speech as exhibited in the heathen Capitalist academy. Riding on the back (of it) he provides a devastating critique of the left-wing bourgeouis who are up for any critical theory so long as it doesn’t contradict any of the ideological assumptions they signed up to in the late 70s and like all that is solid and melts into thin air, have had to melt like a frosty snowman after the cold war.

    Available from Amazon now for only £25.99 (p&p not included)


  7. John a few of us have got together and we were trying to think of a way to break this to you gently.

    All that Red Salute Communist stuff…it kind of, well, it didn’t really work out.

    There was this dude called Boris, a tank on the street in Moscow and then Humpty Dumpty’s wall was all gone.

    There’s this new fangled idea called social democracy, it’s not perfect, but it’s what al the cool kids are into nowadays.


  8. That ‘social democracy is for cool kids’ means what – that you’d like to hang out with with groovers like Kautsky or – to update a little – Blair. Funny. Boris would drink to that I hope. red salute


  9. KAUTSKY!!!

    Shake your groove thang you cheeky red beret you.

    Try a Red Salute the next time a Polish cleaner empties the bins at your work. Or perhaps John Rawls? All the rage nowdays.


  10. Hey Prof Hutnyk

    I am a transfer student here from the US in the Lit dep and everybody is talking about you and your blog, so please don’t open a nasty can on my ass if you find this upsetting but Are you seriously like an actual Communist? Thats nuts. I did Cancer Ward by Solzhenitsyn for my undergrad term paper last year back in the US. Are you not worried that you might be really offending a lot of people? All the guys of my floor don’t know if you’re for real or not?



  11. Hi Kent

    Funny, just as you wrote this, I also received a message that reads:

    “I read an article in Vanity Fair called Capitalist Fools, thought you might like it

    So I guess there is room for a range of views that would make us think. Thanks for stopping by. My views on communism are mostly driven by the fact that Capitalism doesn’t seem to have worked out all that well, so we need to look closely at alternatives – as I do in my work. EG in the book “Bad Marxism”:

    Red Salute


  12. sorry for short reply but iphone keyboard

    my tutors warned me not to type anything on here becuase of what happened to the french dude but seriously, we all read your book and their is always recurring motif of absence being plugged in by theoretical gap fillers – bataille – and the one that never gets a serious working is how actual marxism has actually worked

    its like chomsky using the example of the Spanish resistance briefly doing anarcho-syndachalism after Frnaco as a model for his entire system. or Che in the movie, pouting all the time at somebody who is never actually there. my aunt came from Cuba and now she is a high school teacher and does kids books she would have been shot in the head for with Castro.

    capitalism aint perfect, but it aint awaful either. Europe nearly committed suicide 60 years ago and now the EU means plosish people can clean your bins whilst studying and training here in the UK. eg. compare infant mortality rates in contemporary capitalist countries with ex-marxist ones eastern bloc etc. technically, marxism kills kids if you wanna see it that way

    but what’s your alternative? seriously? don’t you think John Nash’ ideas are cool?


    1. Kent, you say: ‘capitalism aint perfect, but it aint awful either’ – but of course it is awful, and for so many. Gaza currently the case in point, but also Somalia, Pakistan, Orissa, Bougainville, Iraq, certain parts of Brockley(!), the freezing cold gas-supply-less states of Eastern Europe… etc etc. Capitalism seems to me like the worst form of piracy yet enacted. And we have pretty good theory to examine this, starting with Marx’s “Capital”, which I teach, carefully, slowly, over a term and encourage you to join. Whatever your view of Capital in the end, his work cannot be ignored if you are to have a proper education in the humanities/social sciences. And I think reading deeply into what is, after all, the most influential book we have (after the Bible, Koran and perhaps ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’) is necessary as a provocation to make you think past John Nash or Solzhenitsyn.


  13. and I don’t know who you mean by the French dude or what happened nor what your tutors are telling you, but I think Bataille deserves a lot more attention than to be relegated to a ‘gap’. Especially, as I tried to show in the last four sections of Bad Marxism, his early or middle period which excoriates fascism and offers up innovative readings of Capital as excess. His work is also worth reading directly, not through prisms of me or others. personally, I was less taken by his later work, but to be honest I need to spend more time reading that carefully, which is a project for the next few months – having just found a cheap copy of the collection in a waterstones sale. Bargain Bataille is the best buy! cheers


  14. cheers,

    thanks for the pointers

    The Wealth of Nations (Adam Smith) is more influential than Capital and John Nash won a Nobel Prize, nt something many marxists have ever done

    there’s a chick in philly where I’m from, Paglia an arts woman, she does a column on Salon, if you mention her name around here all the lesboyans go nuts, but her point on utilitarianism and Cpaitalism still stands- dead children liek I said. one of my tutors went to her MIt lecture years ago when she started on Eagleton and danced about impersonating marxists on massive salries and she made us all watch it

    my tutors nick name for you is Dussander Cunningham btw it’s from two movies, the french dude was liek your apt pupil or summit


  15. Your tutor sounds like an idle prat – with too much time on his/her hands. Stephen King though I also like. Camille Paglia, wasn’t she really just Madonna in drag? I think I noticed something she wrote in the 1980s, but if she wants to dance let her. She is not a serious theorist, and belongs in the comedy section of the bookshop. If only we had a bookshop (a proper one, with books) at Goldies. But Kent, if you liked ‘Story of the Eye’, then ‘Blue of Noon’ is good too – a smarter book in many ways. And I’d be keen to see you reading ‘The Psychological Structure of Fascism’ – for appreciation of Bataille’s brilliance that is the next step – and then we can discuss. Before that, well, I’ve essays to mark for my Capital course. So laters. J


  16. no probs, thanks for the pointers (ulysseyes is like The Beatles, banal but nobody will actually say it, and getting me down)

    its tutors plural

    cheers again


  17. one of the tutors is a prof, I don’t know what that means here, in the states everybody’s a professor

    shit i just got that


  18. John,
    you know something? I have now talked to one friend, who actually read that post you got about being a Communist and haven’t you read Solzhenitsyn three-times-removed (someone liked it so much they sent it to someone who put it on a listserv where someone read it who then sent it to my friend…) I wonder if the guy who posted that had any idea he was going to be such a celebrity


  19. incidentally – also, to the guy who wrote that note
    you mean you’re for capitalism?
    Huh? I mean, haven’t you read The Grapes of Wrath?
    I mean I know a lot of people who just lost their life savings because of capitalism! Aren’t you afraid you’re going to offend them?
    David (whose comment knows no moderation)


  20. I noticed a good quotation in a book that I picked up again recently: “When i began reading Marx I was surprised never to have heard his name mentioned at school. When I began to understand Marx I was no longer surprised in the least.”

    Encouraging ignorance and dismissal of Marx’s work is less than impressive – but within a teaching factory geared towards training socially acceptable and employable forms of ‘critical’ thought it’s perhaps not too surprising.

    Teaching Marx well (i.e. encouraging an open, undogmatic and critical engagement with his work) is clearly worthwhile within such a context. And, incredibly, the result is not a horde of mindless Stalinists; rather, it encourages students to treat capital and its ideologies – and, crucially, Marxism and its own ideologies – with a degree of suspicion.

    So, here’s to “a ruthless criticism of all that exists, ruthless both in the sense of not being afraid of the results it arrives at and in the sense of being just as little afraid of conflict with the powers that be.” …because after all that’s presumably the kind of thing we should be aiming for


  21. david, yeah I am for capitalism, just not a ruthless and heartless one (they don’t need to one/same)

    [para removed because other people, not me, would find it highly inappropriate. Hey Kent, read the email I sent to your mild mannered alias on gmail for as much as can be explained. I will not inflame the situation further, but you are completely wrong on that point and some people clearly need to rethink their sources]

    the people who lost there savings should have spread their bets more wisely and shit happens, do YOU honestly think that savings (if they ever accumulated) would be any safer in the hands of Marxists. i got taught marxism at high school in philadelphia in AMERICA. they paid russians with toilet seats in the end. It doesn’t work becuase it is existentially corrupt (thing of the translation of subject object dichotomy applied to capital and then the independent observer via sartre). Plus it is ecopathological in its erroneous assumption of the planet as an endless source of capital which we now know is false. EU capitalism is far more up to speed with this but obama is catching up.

    every now and then capitalism misses her period, no niggy. she’s not going to abort so chill

    Also, there is no freedom of speech in any marxist country or terrain (john alters people’s post for the good of the proletariat he thinks need protecting from them [no, I only deleted an offensive sentence – not offensive to me, but to others – and it was moderated for reasons as explained to you off blog. Don’t be a silly Kent, as if the proletariat reads my weblog at all])

    david, have you ever watched the documentray 14 up and 21 up in the USSR. what would you say to the kid who was adopted to america? even though it was shit for a while his life was better in the end.


  22. david, wrote you an answer but deleted, can’t be bothered to redo, on iphone in lse with mates, tuts to prep to do


  23. salut k,

    I’m a french guy.

    From personal experience I would advise not to listen to what you hear as gossip. Sometimes people get roped into things and get led on by weirdos when they think they’ve done them a favour, have their emails hacked and id’s stolen and lots of other crap that have NOTHING to do with them and that they then can’t stop no matter what they do to distance themselves from it.

    glad you reading bataille though

    john, maybe you’re being a bit harsh on gekkos, they can sometimes be very misunderstood creatures when taken out of their natural habitat


  24. OK, the Gekkos are in the live and let live category and have been a long time. Its the pseudo-anon tutors that need a slap. But lets instead spend some time working towards an end to the military sales machine that arms and feeds of the brutal war state. There, as ever, Bataille was first – a ruinous excess. Red salut, J


  25. “paying Russians with toilet seats”? What’s all that about?

    Sorry Kent, but I think you’re wrong when you say you agree with me completely: I wasn’t suggesting that Marx, Marxism, communism etc. should be studied so that we can point out its mistakes and feel great about how wonderful capitalism is; rather, I meant that this is a body of thought that should be critiqued and developed as part of an attempt to move beyond the mess that we currently find ourselves in. …because it is a mess, and wilfull ignorance as to its faults and past critiques are only going to dig us in deeper – and that’s really not going to be much fun for most of the human race.

    (“every now and then capitalism misses her period, no niggy”?)


  26. John,

    I couldn’t agree more. Sometimes people can be trying to get exactly the same message across but one enters stage left and the other enters stage right.

    I know a guy who could help you give them a big sloppy Glasgow kiss if need be. Kill them with kindness.



  27. Tom,

    I am now at my laptop so I will give the best response I can (I am a lit student so go easy).

    It was meant to be biggy, n next to b iphone v small (the 29 crash, the mid 80s one, the 97 one with the maths wizzkids formula) the point being that every now and then capitalism, as with ANY cybernetic system, has a chaotic period of flux to restabalise itself from time to time. Creation/dstruction order/chaos. Kind of like a horse shaking off lies or an athlete wiping salty sweat from its eyes. Capitalism operates like a gorgeous electric nerve reflex. Paying Russians with toilet seats referred to what the USSR did to its soldiers and teachers in its last 10 years of existence. I can distinctly remember watching queues of army majors waiting for their wages and getting surplus toilet seats in return to barter on. Marxism, does not and has not worked ANYWHERE in human history. Seriously, give one, just one example of any nation state where Marxism has not led to dissolution, erosion of civil liberties and economic collapse. I have no probs with leftism, but Sweden can take it about as far as it can possibly be taken. After that it collapses. As a Catholic I also oppose needless materialism and the excesses of the US are not something I am proud of.

    I am kind of humbled by the fact that an actual sacked Yale professor took the time to read this. In a nice way, but it must kill you every time you hear Uptown Girl when you drive to work. Maybe if you’d gone to Harvard instead of SUNY as an undergrad you’d still have those lovely big fat Yale cheques to cash. Just kidding with you dude.

    My point to any Marxists reading this is simple. WHAT is your alternative? Seriously WHAT? You guy go on and on about corruption and inequity. HELLO? USSR? CUBA? NORTH KOREA? LOOK at the transformation of Spain and teh Czech REp after going into the EU.

    I’m all ears… honestly. Please, I am genuinely interested.


  28. I’m not interested in trying to justify the USSR or anything like it. Personally, I’m interested in the questions that Marx asked as I’m sympathetic to his political project. For the same reasons, I’m also interested in the answers that he gave – but I don’t think his answers are a) necessarily correct, or b) necessarily marry up to past attempts to institute forms of communist society, or c) constitute the grand master-plan for a particular mode of social organisation.

    Marx never set forth any plan for the perfect society (as he himself stated when frustrated with a critic: “According to Mr. Wagner, [the] theory of value is the cornerstone of [my] socialist system”. Since I have never established a “socialist system,” this is a fantasy…”)

    To think otherwise is to fall into stupid equations like Marx = Stalin = Pol Pot (as if Darwin = Mengele). Obviously, this isn’t to deny that the Soviets and others tried to use Marx as a blueprint, and it’s certainly not to deny that they used him as an ideological validation. Nor is it to deny the possibility that you might be able to find seeds in Marx’s work of what would later go wrong. However, this does not automatically invalidate the whole thing; as I said, a distate for eugenics is no reason to ignore Darwin.

    To read Marx as a master-plan is a mistake. His work constituted (amongst many other things) an attempt to criticise and understand the society of his day; not to deduce the perfect social system from clouds of pure reason. The future was not necessarily going to be perfect, and all he felt able to do was indicate the direction that the present was moving in. That might sound a little odd, so to explain:

    Marx’s critique led him to the conclusion that capitalism relies on antagonism, conflict and exploitation. In setting out these oppositions and their developing tendencies he felt he was illustrating that capitalism is just one particular mode of social organisation, and not the rational, eternal, optimum that we’re led to believe in.

    So, capitalism for Marx is generated through exploitation and leads to antagonism and struggle – and in describing how this worked he thought it possible to give that struggle a clearer sense of what it was fighting against. In so doing he hoped to help move us past capitalist society and into something better.

    Consequently, rather than thinking about it as a perfect model it’s much more useful (and indeed accurate) to think about it as a critical tool, albeit one that was intended to be used practically rather than merely thought about.

    This is one of my favourite quotations:

    “…nothing prevents us from making criticism of politics, participation in politics, and therefore real struggles, the starting point of our criticism, and from identifying our criticism with them. In that case we do not confront the world in a doctrinaire way with a new principle: Here is the truth, kneel down before it! We develop new principles for the world out of the world’s own principles. We do not say to the world: Cease your struggles, they are foolish; we will give you the true slogan of struggle. We merely show the world what it is really fighting for…”


  29. Dear Tom,

    Do you know what a neophyte is?

    “Personally, I’m interested in the questions that Marx asked as I’m sympathetic to HIS POLITICAL PROJECT”

    “To read Marx as a master-plan is a mistake. His work constituted (amongst many other things) an attempt to criticise and understand the society OF HIS DAY”

    Contradiction count = 1

    “but I don’t think his answers are a) NECESSARILY CORRECT, or b) necessarily marry up to past attempts to institute forms of communist society, or c) constitute the grand master-plan for a particular mode of social organisation”

    Admissions of it being wrong = 1
    Contradiction count = 2

    “To read Marx as a master-plan is a mistake”

    COMMUNIST MANIFESTO????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I’m delusionally mental count = 1
    Contradiction count = 3

    “However, this does not automatically invalidate the whole thing; as I said, a distate for eugenics is no reason to ignore Darwin”

    Unjustified facetious comparison count = 1
    I need a class in formal logic and reason count = 1
    How trendy am I? Look at my cool intellectual specs pic count = 1

    Good luck with that PhD dude. Seriously, it’ll be like so awesome!


  30. Tom,

    My mates at the LSE would eat you up in minutes.

    In your own words:

    ” as an illustration: when doing my MA a friend used to joke that I was going to “cool school”, a place where people learned to talk incomprehensible rubbish about incomprehensible French theorists ”

    Take out the garbage man. Leave De Bord with the pouty French students who ran off on their vacances when they got bored with their ‘revolution’.

    Are you blind or something? You can see Canary Wharf from Goldsmiths. That big shiny tower is like the lungs of the global financial system. Take a breather.



    1. You are not reading very carefully are you Kent. We recommend re-education camp for you. Your rightist humour fails primarily in the first rule of comedy – its not funny, its just weird. Tragic even that you don’t read more carefully – an education requires at least that. Now when Tom took the time to explain a few things to you, you banging on irrelevantly. So take it elsewhere. Even north of the river, to that city enclave falling down in abjection, ruining people’s lives. Fiddle while Rome burns mate – oh empire… we don’t deserve you, nor any tube stations.


    2. But Kent, if you are around for the Marx course next year, or want to come along to any of our events, do check the events page on CCS. There is a lot planned for the coming months which will be posted soon. We’d be very happy to have you bring your views along, if you are a reader as should be indicated by a Lit degree (though now I’ve written that, I suppose it doesn’t necessarily imply more reading than any other degree does it) – but for sure you would get something out of it. If only a greater appreciation of Bataille. And maybe some chance to evaluate the life expectancy rise in China since Mao/49 which I’ll wager can be favourably compared against a similar period in Europe, say the rise of industrialization under her madge QV. And without the excesses of Victoria’s imperial wars, work houses (Marx’s chapter on the working day as ethnography), famines, etc. – though we can say life expectancy in China rose alongside some excesses no doubt, and they are losing their way now for sure…. well… These are debates for elsewhere. I’m going to close comments on this post for time reasons. And yes, I get the last word. My brog after all. Thnaks for stoppign by.


  31. I thought it would be a waste of my time replying to you, so more fool me for doing so. Anyway, as regards your first ‘point’: So you think it’s possible to have a political project that bears no relation to politics? Sounds great, so count me in. Lead on, chief.

    …or is it the case that you think that the project of trying to get past capitalism was specific to the 19th Century? If so, isn’t there a fairly hefty contradiction between that belief and the fact that you’re posting here? But let’s not start counting contradictions, as that might get a little petty.

    Moving on: nope, I don’t think everything Marx said was gospel truth. I seem to be incapable of the kind of faith that you, as a Catholic, presumably possess – but then I think that’s a virtue. As I said, I’m interested in what he was trying to do and in the ways in which he set about doing it. …and I don’t feel compelled to believe every word.

    Which brings us to the manifesto, which you’ll find sets out a political position and a bunch of principles (private property, class, etc.) but doesn’t do much more than that. Might be worth bearing in mind that it was written as a specific, contextual political intervention (it was trying to tie in to the growing uprisings of 1848). You’ll also find that it’s more of a polemic than anything else. But just out of curiosity: do you think that every person interested in or sympathetic to Marx treats it as unquestionable holy scripture?

    Incidentally, eugenics is a form of Social Darwinism. I kind of assumed that the link between Social Darwinism and Darwin was kind of obvious, but if not the clue is in the name

    And my ‘cool intellectual specs pic’? Really? That’s kind of sad, Kent


  32. Wow, cheers for that last post Kent; spotted it after I’d replied to your first one. Powerful stuff, and full of biting, searing insight. I feel truly humbled


    1. Tom, we have essays to mark you know. No time for this sport. Hopefully Kent will take up the invite and trundle along to a Stiegler class or Spivak in May. best, J.


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