Recuperation and the Thermidorian Style

By Al Schumann on Tuesday March 2, 2010 11:13 PM

Recuperation in the social sense, not physical healing, consists of institutions and institutional arrangements capturing radical tendencies, coopting them, and using them to reinforce their entrenchment. Sometimes there's a meliorist adaptive process accompanying that, with real benefits accruing to people who have had little or nothing to gain from an accommodating participation in the extant systems. It's progress, of a sort.

Hysterical reactionaries attack the adaptive process in a spectacular fashion; moral panic, corporate street theater and so forth. The more sober reactionaries set about undermining the fragile economic underpinnings of radical movements. Both attacks seem irrational to me. A dominant system that works at all in the provision of security can always offer significant incentives to people who weary of sacrifice and insecurity.

But react they do. Maybe those "rational actor" theories are the gassy, crackpot fulminations of poorly socialized, achingly nerdy sycophants; not serious socio-economic analyses.

The strength of the reaction and the resources poured into it offers status, power and career opportunities for people adept at Thermidorian posturing, e.g. the cruise missile left and the notionally progressive useful idiots who posture and fume when the institutional security for their useful idiocy comes under attack.

The shallowness and opportunism of the posturing is wretched in its own right, but it's the recuperation that does the serious harm. An expansion of the bullying classes is hardly progress. To paraphrase, when the people are being beaten with a stick, they are not much happier if it's called a multi-cultural, proactively pro-diversity, ergonomically correct stick. And it's this, not philistinism or a desire to be a mini-Mencken, that forms the core of MJS's attacks on academia, the liberal media outlets, etc., when and where they serve as a havens for professional, extravagantly protected trivialization specialists. One could easily find room to disagree with his opinion on the academic fields and studies themselves, which many do, but for goodness' sake don't throw the essential core away. We must live for the day when the last wingnut billionaire can be strangled with the guts of the last tenured crackpot. Otherwise... the terrorists have won.

Comments (18)

Did other members of the SMBIVAteriat see the interview of David Noble in C-Punch a couple days ago? I thought his take on the Uni system was a good companion to MJS's. "Peer review" as enforced flea-fucking and such...

I think the terrorists have won.

But to continue to fight a rear guard action seems the least we can do to assert our humanity.

"Maybe those "rational actor" theories are the gassy, crackpot fulminations of poorly socialized, achingly nerdy sycophants; not serious socio-economic analyses."

I hate to be a comment section hog, but I'd say not just maybe...


Okay, MD, I read the price piece, and there's a good deal of antagonistic nobility to Mr. Price's me-against-the-system crusade, but then why stay aligned with such a world? Peer review may have its groupthink downside that cuts off edge-like brilliance, but it also can produce better work in the core, not that I have any real interest in academic minutiae.
As for MJS's "view" on the matter, it was pathetic and obtuse, so where does that get us? I'll take any one of the Radio Ecoshock peer reviewed scientists like Peter Ward of "Under the Green Sky" brilliance or Mark Pagini (sp?) from, yes, Harvard, over the Cockburn/Imhofe cult of dummkopfs.


this is a very nice example of why it's better to act think and write like super Al then say ....ME

the link to tight smokin anus central,

"not philistinism or a desire to be a mini-Mencken "

was exacto blabe precision right out
of chapter one
"the anti benway way "

the thoughts are well connected
the targets deeply pre meditated
yet as fresh as a deer on the hood
driving home


"to fight a rear guard action seems the least we can do to assert our humanity."
exactly true
i often think of my lord Satan
when the white winged fart brigade
pulls aside on day three of the war in heaven
to reveal jokin' jesus
in that hollywood baroque
of a war chariot of his

"alamo time boys "

but comrade
down goes us down goes us
is never the last act

the great class offensive
might just now
be rounding the bend
some where on market earth

never dispair
Cleo is a great marathon dramatist

the audience may drowse
but She'll never let em sleep


Thanks for the link to This is like so gay -- flattering to have one's ankle chewed at such length, and there was some food for thought in it here and there, too, amid all the offended guild-pride and sense of injur'd merit.


"war must remain a last resort"

how many genteeeeel surgical bomb nurses
comfort their off ward sleep
by fondling that furry dildo

coo coo's nest think

"Attica !....Attica !.....Attica !..."



ponder this

the establishment is not opposed
by 90% of the smartest ablest people in any society even on the cusp of revolution

what core is this you worship but whoreship

now i hasten to add
"love the whores "
is a commandment we marxites trialobytes and botchkeyites
might consider obeying

without losing a purchase on the basics
we live in a toalyizing class system

yes it can never succeed in its toaltizations ...obviously

the hierarchy of the university system
--including its
meme production process---
is burgered up to its core

as well it must be

even when in high holy anti MNC mode
burgery reigns

that in every meme producing and conveying institution of the great NOW out there
the commercial
is at best
co mixed
with the feudal
only facilitates
the subordination of thought direction
to the corporate search lights

universities like unions
are places of vicious class struggle
not institutional
liberated zones

Al Schumann:

On the studies and fields themselves, the good parts of the high church, enlightened studies start off ostensibly broad, trickle outwards and then wind up captured. What's left within reach of everyone else amounts to life on the business end of strictures in the hands of frightened middle managers, many of whom never had a chance to be frightened middle managers. The reforms to the extracted surplus value start off as defined benefits, morph into contingent rewards and lapse into empty markers of status—fatuous snack perqs and and a struggle for good parking spaces. But you do get a better behaved society, and for some the increase in politesse looks worth defending.


"a better behaved society"
saw this over at mark hematoma's site

absent proper social harness
one faces the “threat of an arrogant laboring class, resorting to strikes, violence, and [unions], a threat to the foundation not merely of wealth but of existence itself.”
nassau senior

want more ??

go fetch you louts

Mjoe, FWIW, I personally am somewhere in the middle of this polygon of Uni discussion. I have great faith in the possibility of real education, including higher ed. But MJS has a major point. As does Noble. As do you.

My own analysis of the things Noble gripes about re: "peer review" is not so much that peer review is necessarily death to research as he claims, but that it has become the basis for a huge game of fakery and posing that stymies real work. This is especially true at what are, truth be told, the teaching schools were most students and profs meet. There, instead of being encouraged to prioritize great and radical teaching, the tenure-bots are all pretending their microscopic science poses are somehow major "research." Meanwhile, they leave the teaching to the adjunct galley slaves.

And Noble's report that this system counts him as having zero publications is quite true. This guy re-invented technology history, but he merely wrote books that everybody can understand, so he's a non-entity/threat to the inept poseur clowns who run the show.


mjs may wave off this hot house bottle fly

but i have time on my hands
and a few rusty pins to toy with

" I believe we have a Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies, formerly Afro-American Studies, and that's not a category that needs to be destroyed even if the "problematic of race" were universally abandoned. There would still be all that History, and Literature, and Music to be studied.."

one notices
the regular departments of history music and lit
must not have "room" to accomodate
the relevent faculty
the obvious question why ???
establishes fairly obviously
these departments are themselves institutionalized proof ...fossilized proof
of a sordid history

the contemporary genteel university
operates a caste system of departments
with a notable hierarchy among them

" Perhaps Smith would rather not have departments of American History or programs in American literature (let alone American Studies)"

"let alone american studies "

the very nexus of this whole identity
giggle poop lies sunning itself
on huck's raft

the semi feudal aspects work nicely with this holy roman empire approach to fragmentation

they are all after all electors eh ??
even if they wear a badge of inferiority
"oh the afro dep not umm ...history ...i see "

"netgeek misogyny"

this has the force of anti jew charges

and is equally bogus
in fact

i dare asnyone to show where mjs
displays an asymetrical
gender based
hate contempt distain fury ..etc etc

and if there's one
let she who is without ID
cast the first stone

not he who has too much
inverted super ego
to perceive himself
scrambling for
a justification no one posting here
would expect him to provide

academic life is not the world in a microcosm
but its not an unvarnished corporate tower either


the rest of the bottle flies flight:

"the more I think about it, the more confusing it all seems, because Smith attacks academia while at the same time granting legitimacy to what I can only call traditional disciplines like history: "To demand that historians, say, should start paying attention to formerly ignored historical subjects was a great thing", as long as you didn't create new departments to study those formerly ignored subjects when the old white men refused to study them ..."

that last sentence ought to give our
minor guild member here
pause to reconsider

maybe this spate of new departments in the roaring 70's etc
was an idex of just how little has changed at the university core

will the day come
--hell has it come already--
when endowment flop and student loan squeezes
force" deep structural " cost cutting
that leads to hacking away
these extra unattached " study cottages "
of the credential granting system ???

the consolidation of departments has already begun

who will be axed
as faculties are forced
to slim down

maybe the campus struggle back when
should have faced off against
the tradtional departments
"let us in " or we close the place down
make a new department for us ....seperate but equal



I grant your points about the "teaching" colleges. I went to one, it was a joke, end of story. Sad to say, I have no "faith" in higher ed, and yet I can see that there are some stalwarts who have maintained a commendable focus in their pursuit of physical science truth, such as Professor Peter Ward and Professor Mark Panini or Pagnini or others in the hard sciences. Even if we exile ourselves from a place, we can applaud those who stayed behind and under the whip and did better.
The climate scientists-burghers have conclusively established the threat of ecological collapse, and yet the social scientists have not conclusively established an equally great threat, that of societal supersystemic collapse, and so I don't really know what my man OP is saying, except that I knew universities where were vicious class warfare was being practiced by managerial sultans, so I got out. As for whores, well, I work, so I'll guess I'll have to take that one as somehow applying to me.


we're all whores by your definition

by mine you are a jobling of more or less distinction

whore science betrays its vocation

elite academic social science
if it has any policy implications
what so ever
is pure whore science
by definition

natural sciences allow "choice"
sluts not whores emerge here


"by mine you are a jobling of more or less distinction"
how about LESS distinction, as in no distinction, unless you are referencing a "distinctive odor."
Actually, I am, like you, that proverbial figure of legend: a work-whore with a heart of gold.


Must tell all in favour of yhis material. This was a creative story and i will surely promote my way of sample writing based on his ideas.

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