Let’s Build Leftist Academic Solidarities to Rebuff Far Right Attacks

Five decades of relentless neoliberal reforms targeting public universities have aligned them with the profiteering agendas global capital while simultaneously shrinking the space for academics who want to fulfill their educational goals. public rolesAs intellectuals. Paradoxically, as the global zeitgeist of neoliberal knowledge production has orchestrated the transformation of universities as propagandists for the free market, rife with entrepreneurship hubs and incubators for settler colonial/neo-capitalist experiments, the global right has organized systematic campaigns targeting academics engaged in public conversations on the raced, classed and gendered roots of neocolonial/capitalist knowledge.

The rise and spread of the far right, facilitated by the global hegemony populist authoritarianisms, is a result of these authoritarian policies. coordinated attacks on academicsJustice-based scholarship. These attacks are orchestrated digitally and mainstreamed by media platforms. Brick-and-mortar political economic infrastructures bring the hate campaign to the university.

One tweetYou can become a target of a disinformation campaign by right-wing networks funded by powerful economic and political groups. A white paperA policy brief in public domain can make your life a nightmare. viral disinformation campaignsOvernight, far right hate groups, political parties, and commercial funders coordinated the attacks. Fake websites attack you and digital attacks release your private information. Your mailbox is full of threats and physical and sexual violence. death threats. These digital infrastructuresMany disinformation campaigns and hate attacks on academics are conducted anonymously and are global networks.

Public scholarship has been transformed by the increasing disinformation campaigns targeting academics. The power and control of the university, held by media professionals and risk managers, has made it a site for surveillance and management that is replete with authoritarian techniques to control and erase. The corporate university is driven by reputation and risk. It constantly calibrates its management strategies to respond to the populist climate of undermining knowledge.

A far-right attack on an academic can quickly leave them alone. They will need to respond to multiple requests from university technocrats for information and struggle to keep up with the disinformation. Many times, the university’s support turns into a simple prescription for self-help. In other cases, the university abdicates its responsibility to protect the academics under attack. Another example is when the university bows to the demands made by the far right and launches investigationsIssuing disciplinary actionsEven firing academic targets.

How can justice-based scholarship be made, sustained, and promoted across the neoliberal corporate university system? How can universities be transformed to fulfill their public role as spaces for asking difficult and inconvenient questions about power?

Academics must find the courage within themselves to assert justice claims and challenge the status-quo. This courage is rooted within the larger collective, so academics must go public to secure support for justice-based public scholarship.

Friendships Beyond the Walls

It is essential to view academic work as a collective work in order to build and sustain spaces for justice-based scholarship in the context neoliberal transformations that are ongoing in university life. It is crucial to create infrastructures of care that offer embodied nourishment and support as collective resources in order to protect academics from being the targets of far-right attacks. This infrastructure offers joy and security that provide comfort during the targeted attacks by various streams of far right. It also provides strength and courage.

The individualizing logics that encourage competition have made it difficult for academic life to connect with the public spaces of resistance. Corporate universities have become increasingly isolated, rife of ever-expanding buildings projects. Separate themFrom the wider communities in their localities. The managerial turn is designed to disengage the academic from the wider community.

To protect justice-based public scholarship, we must reject these enclosures and turn to friendships outside the university’s parochial boundaries.

Solidarity is born from the many friendships formed with activists who are courageous in questioning structures and offering insight into strategies for sustenance. They also offer guidance on how to raise uncomfortable questions despite the threats posed by powerful forces. The daily struggles of survival that activists face offer invaluable pedagogies to survive in the toxic environment of corporate universities, which have been re-organized to benefit the power of free markets. These activist networks work together in times of crisis to devise strategies of resistance against the far right and build frameworks for sustaining those strategies.

In my own public scholarshipIn order to learn strategies of resistance and sustenance, I have made friendships with activists. Infrastructures for activist organizing are essential in providing ongoing resources for challenging those who seek to silence us. I have been targetedWith a wide range of threats, including organized campaign by powerful political and economic forcesMy ability to speak has been maintained by strategies of resisting repression, such as petitions organized academically and activist networks, writing campaigns, research on attack strategies, writing white papers and policy briefs, tracking disinformation and reporting it. Raising complaints about harassing media and organizations, and engaging in media advocacy. Working with activists was crucial in building strategies for resistance to disinformation campaigns. These strategies were made public, shared with activist groups, and used to resist hate and disinformation on the platforms individually and collectively.

Community Struggles

Justice-based scholarship is sustained through the dignity, struggles, and organizing of communities on the global margins.

Justice-based scholarship must be able to see beyond the university to recognize the generative potential of community life. This is one of the most important lessons. Turning to the theories of decolonization — such as Kaupapa Māori theory, for instance — teaches us the power of theory emergent from within struggles and collective organizing. The rhythms and practices of community life are anchors for organizing knowledge. In the violence of erasures, justice emerges from the struggles and struggles of those who are marginalized.

Repression of voices from the margins is one of most dangerous strategies for perpetuating and sustaining inequalities. For those on the margins who have been systematically denied resources and removed from spaces of participation, turning towards courage is an everyday act that challenges silencing strategies promoted by those with economic or political power. Recognizing the mechanisms of repression and identifying its sources will help to dismantle the silences created by colonial/capitalist influence.

From Indigenous strugglesTo feminist struggles against the expansion of neoliberal extractionivism landless women farmersTo the many intersecting attacks of neoliberal attack on food systems anti-racist strugglesTo the struggles against exploitationLow-wage migrants are showing great courage among those who speak from the margins. This is the foundation of justice-based scholarship. It is this collective courage that is found in marginalized communities. It serves as a reminder that radical imaginations are required for structural transformations to occur.

Academics with the resources, privilege, and freedom to raise these questions need to intervene in the corporate university’s power and control structures. Critical interventions into public sphere are fundamentally needed when we engage in academia to address social justice in our scholarship.

Struggles to Transform Universities

The most important point is that unless the neoliberal University is transformed, there is no hope of securing the spaces needed to carry out justice-based scholarship.

Our everyday organizing should therefore be based on methods of collectivization, which challenge the individualizing logic that drives the market-driven university.

The attack on academic freedom internally by professional-managerial technocrats who have no understanding of the academic mission of the university must be challenged and dismantled through collectivization.

It is essential to challenge the anti-intellectualism of superficial cost-effectiveness calculations. Technocrats seeking to restrict academic freedom or limit it should be held accountable. They should be measured on their understanding and advocacy of academic freedom. Technocrats should be held accountable to elected academic bodies like senates or academic boards. They must create annual academic freedom reports, and be measured on these reports.

We should be asking questions about the management of managerial positions in areas like risk management, audit and governance, media, reputation, data management and governance. We need to question the methods by which data is gathered and decisions made. Technocrats have the power and we must use our agitations within universities to challenge their decision-making processes. In a neoliberal environment where senseless management has shaped the wider approach to risk management at universities, it is necessary to sustain justice-based scholarship by disrupting the power and influence of technocracy through collectivization.

Academics doing justice-based scholarship should join unions in spaces where unions exist, and should organize to build unions in spaces where they don’t exist. Unions should be engaged in the discussions on academic freedom and should be continuously educated.

Reorganizing university leadership in the affective registers for care begins with dismantling the technocracy which inundates the Neoliberal University. My personal experience has shown me how the university’s wider affective network has supported my public interventions. Academic leaders who demonstrate care create the infrastructures necessary to raise claims for justice. This results in steadfast assurances that the university will be supported and sustained, even as it faces threats from the outside due to academics’ public scholarship.

Collectives and communities are essential components of scholarship that seeks to change the inequal terrains of power, control, and injustices locally, nationally, and globally. This recognition is crucial in decentering the individualized scholarship model that dominates the academy and in turning towards the role of academia to work alongside struggles for justice, working together and collaboratively in order to transform neocolonial and neoliberal structures.