Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Fan Mail: Taiwan, Marxism, and Anti-Intellectualism

Comrade Fom Taiwan: Well, here in Taiwan, finding Marxist ideas is extremely difficult, especially because Marxism has a bad propaganda here because somehow Taiwan has to be different from China, and being anti-China, implies that you have to be anti-Marxist. One month ago there were some protests struggling for more "democracy", and honestly, the debates were extremely poor, in particular, because here in Taiwan, they are strongly influenced by Liberal Democracies and western ideas. Sometimes when I'm in class and I try to explain something using a Marxist approach, I can tell in the faces of the professors that they think that I'm crazy or something like that, BUT, on the contrary, in Spain is completely different, most of my professors were Marxists or Anarchist, but I have to be sincere here, my home university was famous because most of the students there were involved in lot of demonstrations against the Franco's dictatorship, and now all those students are the professors. So my university is a kind rara avis. But I'm very happy to have had all these inputs.

Cheers,
Comrade From Taiwan

Interrogating Ideology With A Chainsaw's Response:

I get the feeling. More than anti-Marxism what we have in America is anti-intellectualism. And its a deeply rooted anti-intellectualism which is not only policed by professors but also policed by the students among themselves. No one wants to say the full class time, and when a student ask questions nearing the end of class you can hear sighs and moans from people who just want to leave.

I had a situation that I was thinking about when I was reading your email.

The professor I had for Social Work Policy II was asking two classes of students to write a policy analysis paper on the Affordable Health Care Act (aka Obamacare). I decided to get a head started on the paper and try to write it in a weekend about in the first quarter of the term. What I realized when I began writing the paper is that the outline that we were given each had specialized terminology and theories that were not in the textbook or cover in the classroom. I found many of the theories in books on google books that were out of print. Writing the paper was a stressful experience, and the next week I went into class furious. The professor begins class with these 10min to an hour open discussions about anything from what she saw on the next the night before to petty campus politics. That day she asked, "Does anyone have anything they would like to talk about?"

I said, "I was wondering if you felt you are covering the learning objects listed in the syllabus."

She said, "Yes, yes. If you are watching the movies and reading the textbook."

(Last week we watched Capital a Love story.) I asked "So what policy is Capitalism: A love Story covering?"

She said, "The policy of capitalism."

I asked, "What is the title of the policy of capitalism and when was it voted on?"

She began talking about Adam Smith. Of course Adam Smith died over 50 years before the constitution was written so she was talking out of her ass.

What goes hand in hand with the anti-intellectualism is another American tradition of historical amnesia (and sometimes historical psychosis). I'd encourage you to keep fighting the fight for truth and justice. What I found is that the more I asked questions, and the more I challenged authority the more people came to me after class and wanted to know more about my perspective, or commended me for standing my ground, and how they wished they had the courage to do so. Realize your gift for causing trouble! Embrace it!

In Solidarity,

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