An Optimistic Future Awaits
Micah White, PhD on the "Paradise Papers" Image credit: Rocco Fazzari/ICU
GCAS growing an alternative education network
An Appeal to support a new school, The Global Center for Advanced Studies
In 2013 over one hundred leading intellectual-activists came together and organized an historic school: Together we created The Global Center for Advanced Studies, the first degree granting institution of higher education in modern academic history founded, organized and run by intellectuals. The need for an independent alternative run and guided by intellectual-activists and not by corporate for-profit models is absolutely crucial in this age of emerging forms of authoritarianism in which educational modes of resistance have been systematically sabotaged. Public education has been undermined and underfunded while academic freedom faces assault while students are reduced to customer-commodities peddled by the billionaire class - by the likes of Betsy DeVos who was appointed by the US President to be the secretary of Education earlier this year.
This is an appeal to you, my friends who have assisted GCAS. It is obvious that such a project needs funding to operate. We have received numerous offers for funding, but in each case, these funds are promised with “strings attached” and more often then not, the pressure is to turn us from a non-profit to a for-profit. We also have turned down loans to avoid obvious issues associated with debt. As a consequence, we are reaching out to you for assistance. The idea is to be micro-funded by a lot of supporters who desire to create a needed alternative space in which students can receive truthful instruction without having to go into debt. If we raise enough funds we will provide a free education for all qualified.
The age of teaching inside the traditional academy in the US, Canada, the UK and elsewhere as an act of resistance has become so increasingly difficult that a new model is needed. GCAS has recently incorporated as a school of higher-education in Ireland (GCAS Research Institute, Ireland) with 20 top-PhD students/researchers that come from such schools as Columbia University, New York University, University of Chicago, the London School of Economics, Johns Hopkins, St. John’s College, and others.
If we can unite together and pool our resources we can continue making this historic research institute possible.
In each of the four years since GCAS started we have organized and continue to organize many international events from Paris to New York, from Havana to Athens, and from Santiago, Chile to Dublin, Ireland. We have done this for free or at very low costs reaching out to participants in over 120 countries world-wide. In 2015, our conference “Democracy Rising” attracted thousands from all over the world, for example.
This solidified the reality that people from all over the planet crave an alternative to neoliberalism, the dangerous trends of an emerging fascism and the crushing effects of the financial industry controlled by the few and not the many. The effect neoliberalism has had on democracy is unacceptable and untenable; traditional modes of struggle and opposition are being undermined through the creation of anti-resistance fronts deployed by the elite class bent on privatizing everything, including knowledge acquisition and critical thinking skills.
These fronts include:
(a) the militarization of local and state police forces
(b) the implementation of punitive dependency through debt-traps on both the consumer and student-loan level
(c) the neutralization of free-speech through peaceful assembly and constructive dissenting protests
(d) the exacerbation of social tensions along racial and economic lines
(e) the rise of the surveillance State and the State's collusion with Silicon Valley (Google, Facebook, Twitter etc.) that has undermined privacy and rights such as academic freedom
(f) the blacklisting of progressive academics by conservative interest groups
(g) the shifting of the focus from serious academic work in the academy to the entertainment industry including the commercialization of the college sport industry, especially in the USA
(h) the implementation of austerity measures by cutting public funding to education, culture and the arts including outsourcing jobs that create zones of un- or underemployment thus crippling opportunities for the younger debt-strapped generation
(I) the creation of legal apparatuses such as the Patriot Act that further deteriorate a strong democratic society by controlling people through a culture of fear and war
(J) the collusion of Wall Street with Washington DC, which has reached an unprecedented level whereby the common will of the citizenry is no longer represented and yet our taxes are disproportionate vis-a-vis the percentage the wealthy pay.
There are many more fronts of the war the wealthy are waging on democracy and the rest of us but these above enumerated 10, when combined and implemented over the past four decades since the Reagan era, have severely neutralized any form of democratic peaceful resistance.
In light of the fact that we are engaged in protracted cultural, economic, educational, political and social wars with the owners of the means of production, we are calling upon academics, intellectuals and those in solidarity with our mission to take a stand now while we're still able to organize--before it's too late.
We take seriously the obligation and responsibility of what it means to be a professor--to "profess" truths and to speak them accurately and honestly to power, to our students, and to the public. As professors, it is our principle responsibility to ensure that truths are articulated and passed on to the next generation in a space of open dialogue, disagreement, and dialectical constructive articulation based on scientific research findings and through the context of respect for disagreements. In the current educational environment determined by profits and a privatization ethos, the ability of professors to speak truths both simple and inconvenient, as those regarding climate change or threats to democracy, are so seriously challenged that if not neutralized, our basic responsibility faces profound illegitimacy by the matrix of political power and corporate journalism whose aim is profits and propaganda above knowledge and truths.
Thus we are presented with the need to create a space, a school in which our responsibility to speak and communicate truths as professors and students can take place.
We are making this happen and we need your help.
Thus, we are calling on you and other academics to help support our efforts. The chance is here and now for us, but if we miss this widow of opportunity our very profession and the meaning of truth itself is compromised.
Many of you have already helped us by lecturing to our GCAS community, and for this we thank you so much. We look to you for inspiration, truths and support. If you can please consider supporting GCAS financially too that would not only be very helpful. But you can also help by putting your name on this letter, which we plan to publish as an open appeal to intellectuals and all who believe resistance is necessary.
Donate via this link: https://thegcas.org/gcas-affiliates/
Lewis Gordon's video: https://vimeo.com/236569037
GCAS Promotional Video: https://vimeo.com/235372756
We say, "Yes": https://vimeo.com/231616196
Lewis Gordon, PhD Honorary President
Azfar Hussain, PhD Honorary Vice-President
Creston Davis, PhD Founding Director
Alain Badiou, PhD Honorary President, 2015
Antonio Negri, PhD (Affiliate Faculty)
Michael Hardt, PhD (Affiliate Faculty)
Drucilla Cornell (Core Faculty)
Henry Giroux, PhD
Kevin Boileau, PhD
Rebecca Rose (GCAS PhD Researcher)
Katarina Peovic Vukovic, PhD
Ward Blanton, PhD
Anthony Clemons (GCAS PhD Researcher)
Clayton Crockett, PhD
Cory Johnson (GCAS PhD Researcher)
Rocco Gangle, PhD
Petra Paulic (GCAS PhD Researcher)
Jeffery W. Robbins, PhD
Walter South (GCAS PhD Researcher)
Guilherme Foscolo, PhD
Mina Ilhan (GCAS PhD Researcher)
Lorenzo Marsili (European Alternatives)
Tonina Alomar (GCAS PhD Researcher)
Cleo Kearns, PhD (GCAS Core Faculty)
Luce Irigaray, PhD (GCAS Core Faculty)
Samantha Kostmayer, (GCAS PhD Researcher)
Rev. Malcolm Byrd
Michael Grimshaw, PhD
Luanne McKinnon, PhD (GCAS Core faculty)
Joshua Ramey, PhD
John Milbank, PhD
Saul Newman, PhD
Nathan Wiley (GCAS PhD Researcher)
Gianni Vattimo, PhD (Affiliate Faculty)
Jane Gordon, PhD (GCAS Core Faculty)
Daniel Tutt, PhD
Julie Reshe, PhD (GCAS Core Faculty)
Giovanni Tusa, PhD
Tod Sloan, PhD
Petar Jandric, PhD
Houzan Mahmoud (GCAS Affiliate Faculty)
Jan Jagodzinski, PhD
Catherine Malabou, PhD
Lenard Skof, PhD
Francisco Gonzalez, PhD
David Hale, PhD
Michael Peters, PhD
Forrest Cole (GCAS PhD Researcher)
Graham Priest, PhD
Kenneth Reinhard, PhD
Susannah Livingston (GCAS PhD Researcher)
Rosangela Barcaro, PhD
Tracy K. McNulty, PhD
Dejan Lukic, PhD
Tere Vaden, PhD
Adrian Parr, PhD
Warren Goldstein, PhD
Catherine Keller, PhD
Shon Meckfessel, PhD
James Smith, PhD
Erin Yerby, PHD
Terry Eagleton on Religion and the Left
the passions that flow...
a meditation by Creston Davis
more powerful than any bomb are the passions that compose and express the composition we call "existence". whatever it may be, these passions for life and death with equal portion measured are unstoppable. the problem is desire itself is unknowable, like a god-spirit hovering over the deep. it's as if this god-desire-spirit functions outside the body, bodies, minds, hearts, fingers and toes and yet needs them to appear in-the-world.
is it possible that these passions for life and death both save and condemn us to the grave and ecstasy, too-- like the playing on a violin back and forth-- the gravitational forces of moon, star, sun , water and earth wax and wane?
forces of evil and destruction-- of love and construction play out their game. to be in their midst exploring with others in a community committed to an idea--to truths and their actualization-- is for me the thread that stitches everything together and without which all "this" is but a demonic joke. to laugh at the void, the spirit hovering over the deep, is like being with a lover whose arms are well worn in the shape of your soul. a soul that is yours, which also belongs to the infinite passions of all there is, was, and ever will be. Amen
image: a painting by Marina Nelson, "The Fluid Nature of Desire"
GCAS Philosophy & Film Project
One day, back in 1999, wow, nearly 20 years ago already, when a student at Yale, I was buried in the stacks of the Sterling library. On a reading marathon I was and when I lifted my eyes from the white pages of a book they didn't immediately focus. Troubled by this, I thought wow if there was another way to take in philosophy it'd be great and my eyes could get a rest. My friend at the time had a similar idea: he actually recorded himself reading the entire A Thousand Plateaus and would listen to it during his spare time. Eventually I put together a concept for a film on philosophy comprised of interviews and enactments of interesting and alternative theorists. Over time, as I went through my PhD in Charlottesville, I started recording interviews sometimes by myself and other times with my friend, Chris. Folks such as Fred Jameson, Slavoj Zizek, Eleanor Kaufman, Antonio Negri and loads of others including Michael Hardt engaged in conversations, which to this day still need to be edited, but one day I'll get around to it. Here's a short excerpt from the interview with Michael.
MICHAEL HARDT and CRESTON DAVIS
Jameson’s work is an interesting one. I think you,… I would like you to perhaps talk about—how do you see your theoretical work relating to Jameson’s work in The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism?” And how he diagnoses a kind of history and narrative of history and so forth. How would you proximate your work with Jameson’s, say, narrative structure?
Well one thing that occurs to me that is very either similar or coordinated, I guess, is the assumption that there has been an historical break, that there has been an historical break sometime lets say between 1968 and 1989 (I don’t know exactly what it is) and that historical break makes us rethink both the conditions of domination and the conditions of possibility [1:08]. I think that that in Jameson’s work the notion of postmodernism [1:13] quite complicated because it is trying to do both. It is not, of course, a celebration of the postmodern period as if it is [1:26] the absolute freedom of expression of differences etc. but neither is it a kind of lamenting of the current postmodern condition [1:40] as one of totalitarian commodity control and market control of all of life. He tries to keep open those two, the two possibilities, and I think that that is fundamentally similar to the way I approach things. The global difference, if you could speak just in Marx’s theological terms [Hardt smiles] is that Jameson is much more interested in [2:11] questions of consumption and of commodity fetishism and the logic of the commodity and its extension over artistic expression and social life in general. I am much more interested in the other side of the equation in the moments of production, productions not only of goods but also productions of subjectivity etc. And I have relatively little to say about consumption or about commodities for that matter. So, viewed that way, I would see it as a complimentary relationship but it is certainly quite different.
Yes, and maybe perhaps one of theses differences, one of the figures for Jameson is George Lukas, whereas for you the figure might be more in the lines of a Delueze or Spinozia [00:03:08].
Yes, there certainly are different histories of philosophy that go with these. You could say they are different faces of Marx which you could then line up, like you are doing, with different lines of Marxist tradition and maybe even with different traditions within Modern Philosophy as a whole that could stand in for them. It is true that everybody creates her or his own history of philosophy. [00:03:44] Everyone that works in this way constructs his or her own history of philosophy that stands behind them and that is one way, like you are trying to do, of identifying the differences between two thinkers is like to look at the different history of philosophies that they have constructed behind them.
Right, and for you, you talk about the certain philosophies of history and one of these, the main figures, as you talk about, you are interested in modes of production, and how subjectivity gets constructed, and I am curious like how would you understand the subjectivity, what in general is subjectivity?
Well, start by thinking about what we can do because that is really a lot of what interests me here: What are our abilities to think and what are the limits of our ability to think, to imagine a better world, to imagine ourselves in a better world—this power to think and then also the power to act. These are at least two aspects of what subjectivity is. So we both (with that kind of investigation), we both want to ask: What is it that we can do; what is it that we can do together; what kind of society can we build; what kind of things can we make, and also at the same time, what are the forces and structures that limit those abilities, [00:05:15] that separate us from what we can do—you might say—that make it impossible for us to imagine a better world or impossible for us to bring about theworld that we imagine. [00:05:30] That is what, that is at least one way of approaching what the question of subjectivity is here. It has to do with our abilities to produce, produce ideas, imagination, produce reality itself.
And what would you say is some of the key obstacles, as an example, for what blocks, say, our ability to produce subjectivity, to connect, to relate to others in their own differences of production? What are some obstacles, that [00:06:00] you can see that are dominant, or are there such obstacles?
There are numerous enormous obstacles and sometimes it is hard because one is tempted either to give a general explanation which seems to lose the specificity or a specific one which then does not give justice to the generality of it. Let me just give a couple specific ones and then hope they can stand in. [00:06:30] I have recognized recently in European Countries, in a kind media discourse, a way that Islam and the threat of terrorism has made it impossible, at least at a general media level of the society, to imagine a world of difference , lets call it. Like every difference is perceived as a threat, so that for instance, a couple weeks ago I was doing a TV interview on Danish TV and the commentator was saying, “You imagine a better world and please tell us what this better world will be like.” And I talk about world of globalization that could possibly bring together the free expression of differences -- cultural differences, social differences, etc… But for him the trump card is “but there is Radical Islam.” And for him radical Islam stands in the way for everything and makes impossible that imagination of a world of difference, lets call it. And, therefore through a strange kind of conflation, his imagination at least of the threat of Islamic Terrorism is also an argument against immigration, so that ‘a pure Danish society culture is required because all difference is a threat.’ [00:08:00] Now that’s, its a very small example I suppose, It’s an example of the way that our ability to think a society of differences – a society really of freedom and mixture in this sense – the way that that’s blocked by – it’s not only an idealogical structure, but also a military structure, a sort of state of war that’s pervading the world today, So I guess you could try to describe differently what the blocks are,[00:08:30] but at least you can see that in that case we’re being blocked from thinking something and its something that I, in particular, want, and I think that all of us want.
We're excited about Joshua Ramey's short online seminar, "Who's Afraid of Neoliberalism?" starting this Saturday at 10 am New York Time (EST).
If you haven't yet, enroll now as it takes just a second.
Schedule of Discussions:
9/2 (Saturday) 10-12pm EST David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism (Oxford, 2007)
9/9 (Saturday) 10-12pm EST NO MEETING
9/16 (Saturday) 10-12pm EST Philip Mirowski, Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste: How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown (London: Verso, 2013)
9/23 (Saturday) 10-12 pm EST Wendy Brown, Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution (MIT Press, 2015)
10/7 (Saturday) 10-12 pm EST Melinda Cooper, Family Values: Between Neoliberalism and the New Social Conservatism (Zone Books, 2017)
Philosophy by Harrison Pedigo
at the GCAS conference