Today I got in a heated Twitter discussion with some of my academic and postac homies that went on for longer than I am willing to admit. People I like and respect, and who possibly sometimes like and at any rate don’t outright disrespect me, took great offense to my assertion that any tenured or tenure-track faculty member currently working in the United States has a job because of adjuncts. This is not even something I said first! Terry McGlynn said it, here, and much better and with less vitriol than me. I just happen to agree.
However, the more agitated I get, the more defensive my tenure-line homies get, and now I am just bursting into tears, depressed as all get-out about the lack of solidarity among faculty ranks.
We are all on the same side here–HUMANS. We’re all going to be taken over by robots and SuperProfs (whose robot versions will put the human SuperProfs out of business), soon. We need to be working together.
This is my fault as much as anyone else’s, but I just get so…verklempt thinking about the academic labor system, and how exploitative it is, and how ever single participant in it–me included–is thereby taking part in that exploitation simply by enabling the system. I just don’t understand–maybe some of you tenure-track homies out there can clue me in in more than 140 characters: how are tenure-line faculty positions not made possible by the incontrovertible fact that low-paid adjuncts do most of the labor in most universities?
Yes, the admin doesn’t give enough money to instruction, but that doesn’t change the fact that structurally, a small portion of academics are lords and a much larger group are serfs, and by being a lord you by default are above the serfs, and thus are taking active part in their exploitation, simply by reaping the benefits of your comparatively cushy job (that is usually not cushy!). I do believe there is blood on our hands–and I don’t understand why this position is so offensive. Really, I don’t. You don’t want to be accused of taking part in adjunct exploitation? Then speak up and fight it. It seems pretty simple to me.