[AktiviX-request] Re: [AktiviX-discuss] aktivix and academic/activist projects: principled objections? (fwd)

Josh Robinson jmr59 at hermes.cam.ac.uk
Wed Jan 11 16:02:20 UTC 2006

(sorry: sent this to GDM rather than the list)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 10 Jan 2006 11:49:11 +0000 (GMT)
From: Josh Robinson <jmr59 at hermes.cam.ac.uk>
To: GarconDuMonde <gdm at fifthhorseman.net>
Subject: Re: [AktiviX-request] Re: [AktiviX-discuss] aktivix and
     academic/activist projects:	principled objections?

On Mon, 26 Dec 2005, GarconDuMonde wrote:

> Hash: SHA1
> hi,
> Josh Robinson wrote:
>>> "research related to activism" i.e. not activism.
>> I don't think there's such a simple divide.
> i do (obviously).
> i also wanna say that both harry and alan have expressed my views, probably 
> more
> eloquently than i have. to reiterate: i think there is activism, which has as
> harry states a goal of "social change" and then there is commercialism, where
> things are measured in terms of their financial/monetary value.

Yes, I agree with that. I don't think that research, however academic, 
_necessarily_ falls into the latter category.

> just because you are an academic, doesn't mean you can't be an activist as 
> well; however, i see no way at all that being an academic automatically makes 
> you an activist, even if you are taking part in "research related to 
> activism"

I agree with that (I know hundreds of academics who are in no way activists) -- 
my claim was that 'reasearch related to activism' does not (necessarily) imply 
'not activism'.

>> This may be in part my trying to convince myself that my PhD and the related 
>> research is itself an activist project (and this is a contention that I'm 
>> prepared to argue at as much length as people want)
> i'd be interested to hear your rationale ;-)

I work on aesthetics. More specifically, on the theory/writings of Adorno and 
the Frankfurt School. Fundamental to my research is Adorno's claim that works 
of art are 'less than practice, and more'. Less than practice because they 
defer rather than themselves carrying out political action. More, because they 
point toward, and to an extent enact, an aspect of life that is not mediated by 
capitalist social relations. (Adorno would contend that within late capitalism 
they are the only means of pointing to relationships outside commodity 
fetishism; following, inter alia, Maus's _Essay on the Gift_, I don't think 
he's right on this.) I belive that greater understanding of artworks and the 
category of art is fundamental if we are better to understand the commodity and 
how it dominates life under late capitalism. The point, of course, is to change 
it. But we cannot do this until we understand it more fully.

> - -- it's not simply the case that
>> funding to be a student gives me time which I can then spend 'doing
>> activism'; rather, the work I do is a fundamentally important part of
>> (although not the sum-total of) my activism.
> yeah, this first arguement i think is a total cop-out and invalid. after all,
> the suggestion here is that you are a student as a means of fulfilling your
> activism, but in that case you would remain a student/academic for life - if 
> you
> were a committed activist, then i could see you using your studies to further
> your activims. for example, by studying something useful (in terms of your 
> view
> of the goal of social change) like teaching or healthcare;

Would you contend that anyone studying or practising healthcare is an activist, 

> <snip>


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