Just back from the latest weekend of teaching for the professional doctorate in researching work (I'm in year two of four and progressing reasonably well) delivered by leading academics in the field at the Working Lives Research Institute (WLRI) of London Met University.
The weekend was particularly special as it was the 10th anniversary of the creation of the WLRI and as well as featuring seminars on research completed by the Institute it was kicked off by Professor Carole Thornley, Chair of the Business School at Keele University, who is external examiner for the DProff, but also the MA in international labour and trade union studies (ILTUS) at Ruskin.
It was a fantastic, challenging and fitting means to both explore and underline the vital relevance of the research output of the WLRI which acts as a means to generate a critical awareness of the changing nature of work and of this impact on working lives: http://www.workinglives.org/.
The DProff weekends are always hugely enjoyable but also a crucial test of a student's grasp of dominant theoretical aspects of topics being taught. Of the many explored this weekend, and related to the theme of this blog post, was the relevance of Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci's theory of hegemony as a means to generate and disperse ideology.
So, plenty to think about and reflect upon. Coming back home on the train I had the chance to read the latest Paul Krugman column in the International Herald Tribune - always a fascinating, thoughtful insight on US political life. Krugman's piece - reproduced in full below - bemoans the unwillingness of the Republican Party to deal honestly with fact, even where proved as a means of lived reality, empirical observation or rational scientific analysis.
|Rubio and Romey: The striated rock of anti-rationality|
For Gramsci (as the title of this post proclaims) "to tell the truth is revolutionary", for the US Republican party to even acknowledge that the truth exists is illusory. But then, Gramsci would argue that the Republicans are simpy being true to form, and that in constructing their own truths a prevailing dominant ideology - already a solid feature of US hegemonic values - enables ultimate control and domination over what is seen and understood to be 'common sense'.
For decades, for example, the Republicans have been able to harness the support of the poor, uninsured white working class in attacking any means to improve upon the skeletal provision of free healthcare, ditto tax rises, trade union rights etc.
There has been much talk of the need for the Republican party in the wake of Obama 2.0 to undertake a fundamental review its core beliefs and values, not least in its stance on issues of gender and immigration. How this process can commence with an inherently congential inability to engage with hard, inconvenient truths one can only wonder.
Anyway, read the Krugman piece and see if you can figure out the answer - and treat yourself to more of his writing via the link to the original article in the New York Times:
Earlier this week, GQ magazine published an interview with Senator Marco Rubio, whom many consider a contender for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, in which Mr. Rubio was asked how old the earth is. After declaring “I’m not a scientist, man,” the senator went into desperate evasive action, ending with the declaration that “it’s one of the great mysteries.
It’s funny stuff, and conservatives would like us to forget about it as soon as possible. Hey, they say, he was just pandering to likely voters in the 2016 Republican primaries — a claim that for some reason is supposed to comfort us.
But we shouldn’t let go that easily. Reading Mr. Rubio’s interview is like driving through a deeply eroded canyon; all at once, you can clearly see what lies below the superficial landscape. Like striated rock beds that speak of deep time, his inability to acknowledge scientific evidence speaks of the anti-rational mind-set that has taken over his political party.
By the way, that question didn’t come out of the blue. As speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, Mr. Rubio provided powerful aid to creationists trying to water down science education. In one interview, he compared the teaching of evolution to Communist indoctrination tactics — although he graciously added that “I’m not equating the evolution people with Fidel Castro.” Gee, thanks.
What was Mr. Rubio’s complaint about science teaching? That it might undermine children’s faith in what their parents told them to believe. And right there you have the modern G.O.P.’s attitude, not just toward biology, but toward everything: If evidence seems to contradict faith, suppress the evidence.
The most obvious example other than evolution is man-made climate change. As the evidence for a warming planet becomes ever stronger — and ever scarier — the G.O.P. has buried deeper into denial, into assertions that the whole thing is a hoax concocted by a vast conspiracy of scientists. And this denial has been accompanied by frantic efforts to silence and punish anyone reporting the inconvenient facts.