[original post 6/10/2010]

A fixed fight: The Influence of Labor Unions in Academe. Part One is here.

In the academic world, employees are very often public employees. This means that they are also very often union employees. At all levels. This includes everyone from janitors, to dormitory housekeepers, cafeteria workers, clerical staff, and computer techs, to even the graduate assistants and professors. While the salary gap between a cafeteria worker and a senior professor may be huge, the solidarity of the unions is a powerful magnet that creates an unbreakable bond amongst them.

Unions are fond of bashing capitalism with seething rhetoric, decrying the economic system as irredeemably corrupted by greed and racism and classism. But the ideology they themselves embrace is itself driven by the same ugly characteristics they profess to detest. Except in their case, power is the motivating force, the passion that drives them.

The burning desire for the power to control your life is the tie that binds the union service worker to the academic intellectual. It is this common fabric that connects the union janitor more closely to the ideological academic intellectual than to his working-class counterparts beyond campus.

What’s far more dangerous is that the ideological academic, in his capacity as a professor, actually possesses the power to control. The power to influence students’ minds, to mold the students’ way of thinking to embrace their own power-hungry desires and believe in it as “social justice” – this is a frightening weapon. Via union solidarity, this weapon is shared with the mobilizers, the janitors and cafeteria workers who agitate the students with various demands against the university after ideologically minded professors have indoctrinated them to hear every grievance as a call for “social justice.”

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