I don’t know what will happen to this blog. The story of my departure from academia is essentially over. ‘Tis a consummation devoutly to be wish’d.
All that’s left to do is everything.
For all of us who studied, worked, and paid tuition for a decade or more only to find that we were sold a bill of goods, this is a personal journey. But it must also be read as a political one: tuition has increased exponentially as the quality of education has declined, there is a lack of well-paying jobs for anyone (including those of us with multiple letters after our names). And some of us must also contend with the particularly painful neoliberal idea that the Humanities and the Arts are not important, that they are useless luxuries, bygones of a more self-indulgent era, and that we should let them go in favor of a higher education devoted to training people to be technicians and middle managers for the ruling class.
Want to study literature, drama, rhetoric, or whathaveyou? Are your rich? Then go right ahead. Not rich? Nope, sorry. You have to study something that is valuable (ie, profitable) to the same criminal class that crashed the economy in which you now can’t find a job, except, of course, a job making the coffee and ordering the sandwiches for those same criminals who crashed the economy in which you now can’t find a job.
Of course, the casualization of labor started well before our current economic woes. It takes decades for an idea – that there is nothing wrong with staffing college courses with low-paid, part-time teachers, for example – to achieve inevitability. Or, at least, to prompt little more than a tired shrug from just about everyone.
There’s nothing we can do about it, so why bother complaining?
I am not complaining. I am engaging in reasoned critique, which is what academia taught me to do. Or maybe it’s simply a matter of pointing out the obvious, even though there is no Wall Street ticker for such an activity on the CNN crawl.
In that spirit, here is a very serious question: Why should we have to pay back our student loans when we have essentially been lied to, hoodwinked, abused, and rejected? Where does the supposed moral obligation come from? What sustains it now that the game is up?
Here is a short video featuring David Graeber, the scholar who literally wrote the book on debt. He makes a compelling case that only the little people have to repay debt. Debt is just a promise. The promise has been broken. And not by us. Is it time for a debt strike?