Friday, 12 October 2007

An encroaching tsunami

Just as Blair has left political and cultural chaos in his wake upon jumping (unrestrained) from the PM ship, so Brown leaves the economic footprint of a grotesque neo-liberal giant; a freakish preacher of the crude calculus of capitalism. In the characteristic style of rhetorical narrative, British press propaganda led the public for years to believe that the shoes of chancellor were never big enough for Brown. A story spun far too systematically. Alarming then that he has been able to step up to his new role unquestioned, for the reality is that British workers are not in the wake of but still under the shadow of a tidal wave of economic disaster.

University workers, like others in Britain, now find themselves drowning in debts before the wave has even crashed: submitted to the individualistic necessity of bringing home a wage. For decades they have been helping pay to construct a bland, featureless landscape; British education as a social, cultural, political relic.

An ongoing yet nowadays whispered obsession with colonising other places, finds contemporary resonance in a vacuous postmodern tangle of an education system masquerading as a crude capitalist market sector, colonising knowledge as a profitable commodity.

The potency of Vice-Chancellors – and others in the elite managerial class of HE – in bringing university workers in line with market forces, is evident. But as ever more local voids are disguised by international franchises and transnational arrangements, university workers face greater exposure to the perversions of consumeristic education and its lies of freedom, choice and equality.

Yet the profit motives of universities as market players are apparently unconstrained. The consequent sacrifice of respect for workers and their rights passes like water through the union’s fingers.

As the flood accumulates over the workers’ heads, Hunt & Co. sail comfortably above the waterline with the wind of rhetoric and empty promises in their sails.

Inevitably, when knowledge and education are unanimously and passively accepted as products, UCU will grasp the occasion to become even bigger and more omnipotent by merging with several other workers’ unions and (now here’s the jewel in the crown) the Committee of Vice-Chancellors.

So don’t get too comfortable with the UCU brand. Soon member fees will be called upon once again to finance yet another re-branding. ‘Your union needs you’ to pick up an oar and power the ship forward.

Sailing towards the British Ultra Gigantic Generic Employment Rights Syndicate. Also known as BUGGERS.

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