State of Academia

Understanding Power and Counter-power
14 January 2015
Paper

With the postmodern rejection of the grand narratives, the academia has participated in fetishizing fragmented resistance. This paper critiques these fetishized forms of resistance and argues that the fragmented resistance recommends compromise with and adaptation to the manipulative system on the excuse of prioritizing survival.

Abstract

The academia within the Military-Industrial-Complex reinforces neoliberal capitalism and deters revolution in and through its promotion of inadequate forms of resistance. The politics of fear within the biopolitical management of life chances both disciplines people and empties out their capacity to engage with any radical social movement. As a reaction to this tragic dovetailing of their desire and scope to protest, people have to take recourse in and through fragmented resistance or micropolitics theorized by Scott, Certeau, Bhabha, Foucault and Deleuze. With the postmodern rejection of the grand narratives, the academia has participated in fetishizing fragmented resistance. But the present paper critiques these fetishized forms of resistance. It argues that the fragmented resistance recommends compromise with and adaptation to the manipulative system on the excuse of prioritizing survival. Also, the paper develops a spatiotemporal dialectic using which the WikiLeaks and new social movements can attempt for radical changes and revolution.

 

Introduction

The incorporation of academia within the neoliberal capitalist project is often criticized as the project of the Military-Industrial-Academic-Complex (Chomsky, 1997; Robin, 2003; Giroux 2007). What Henry Giroux told about his stay in Pen State is still true about all universities: “[…] faculties were becoming irrelevant as an oppositional force. Many disappeared into discourses that threatened no one, some simply were too scared to raise critical issues in their classrooms for fear of being fired, and many simply no longer had the conviction to uphold the university as a democratic public sphere” (as cited in Hedges, 2009, p. 91). Giroux in the same interview was talking mainly about changes in the universities especially after 9/11. However, in general, the Military-Industrial-Academic-Complex since the 1990s has gone through a paradigm shift from the phase of the Cold War economy to the neoliberal capitalist one. The shift is not just from one of the bi-polar world politics to that of the unipolar one, it is more about intensification of biopolitical power1 to discipline people while managing an uninterrupted flow of capital across spaces within the global capitalist economy.

Though numerous scholar, critics, and intellectuals like Henry Giroux, Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein and others have already marked the incorporation of academia in both phases, an inside story of the participation of academia to the increasing de-radicalization of political imagination remains long overdue.

I would argue that one of the ways this de-radicalization occurs in and through the production and dissemination of certain theories that provide frames to define, influence and shape all possible discourses including those of activism and politics. In the era of interdisciplinarity in academia, we are going through the best of time and the worst of time: the neoliberal and biopolitical fascism in the name of democracy have been most severe than ever, but, at the same time, we also witness numerous uprisings and protests against this across the world. In this conjuncture, people finding new hope for revolution must reshape the role of academia so that a much required radical praxis for the revolution can at least emerge.

Therefore, it is important to understand how an increasing number of academic scholars, researchers and authors promote certain views of power and counter-power which recommend ceaseless adaptation to and compromise with the hegemonic systems in the form of micropolitics and identity politics. This is how the academia deters radical politics or transformative changes.

In this paper, I would present a case study to show how established concepts of power and counter-power within academia are inadequate to bring transformative changes. Also, I would foreground spatiotemporal dialectics as one of the means towards revolution.