About the author
Paul Laurendeau was a Professor of French linguistics at York University (Toronto, Canada) from 1988 to 2008. He is the holder of a Doctorat ès Lettres from the University Denis Diderot (Paris VII) produced in 1986 under the direction of the french linguist Antoine Culioli. (Dissertation Jury: Jean-Marcel Léard, Denis Paillard, Georges Vignaux, Jean-Blaize Grize, Antoine Culioli). He also followed the courses and seminars of Osward Ducrot (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales), Jean-Pierre Desclès (Paris VIII), Bernard Cerquiglini (Paris VII), and Bernard Pottier (Sorbonne).
The year is 1781. Some 21st century University Vice-president to WhateverElse, MisterSir Noctule FRACASSA just got out of his bat-like time machine and is having an administrative briefing in one of the hideous staff rooms of the University of Konigsberg (Oriental Prussia) with a certain KANT, Immanuel.
Noctule FRACASSA: So Immanuel, at age 58, you finally managed to have your first book published. That is kind of slow.
Immanuel KANT: It is my second book. I wrote a treatise of astronomy in 1755.
Noctule FRACASSA: Yeah, well. That is not exactly in the picture. It was more than 25 years ago. You were just a preceptor at the time. You were not with Konigsberg quite yet. I am afraid this previous work produced in a different context has nothing to do with your current university profile.
Immanuel KANT: Granted. But if you permit me. I revolutionized the discipline by proving that the planets and the sun have emerged out of spinning masses of gas in condensation, and are not pieces in that eternal clockwork of the mecanicist astronomical model. It was the first major shift in the discipline since Newton.
Noctule FRACASSA: Oh Immanuel. Dont give me the major shift gig, please. I hear it all the time. I am getting kind of blasé with it. My point is simply that your current field of expertise since 26 (blank!) years is gnoseological philosophy. What you did earlier for other businesses is not relevant here. Sorry. By the way, how come you took so long to obtain your accreditation?
Immanuel KANT: Well…
Noctule FRACASSA: Dont tell me you chaired a trade-union or something along that line. That would be a cauchemardesque déjà vu and a blatant anachronism. And it does not fit with your placid character. Is that true that anecdote claiming that the major event of you life was that you took another road to go to the university the day of the French Revolution? Oh, but this is a blatant anachronism! BegYouPardon!… The bottom line is: we have a lot in common you and I, obviously. But still… I am told that there is a certain number of blatant similarities between your accreditation dissertation of 1770, itself finalized after 15 years of teaching with no accreditation, hemhem…, and the book you just published this year 1781, under a different title.
Immanuel KANT: Not exactly. See, the integration of the thoughts of SHAFTESBURY, ROUSSEAU and specially HUME brought me to a total reorganization of my initial reflection on the activity of knowledge and…
Noctule FRACASSA: You are aware of the regulations on academic plagiarism, I hope! In a word you fluffed the bibliography of your dissertation a little bit and you threw it to the editor. It took you eleven years just to do that and, as a matter of course, you will ask me to count two different titles here…
Immanuel KANT: If counting titles is all you can do…
Noctule FRACASSA: OK. in conclusion Immy-boy. that is not satisfactory at all. You will have to push it a little bit, boy. Hm. THINK ABOUT YOUR ACCOUNTABILITY, IMMANUEL! Publish or Perish old chap. Remember.
And Noctule FRACASSA went back in his bat-like time machine, satisfied to have motivated his enormous salary and his immense travel budget. Immanuel KANT, a very obedient scholar, totally respectful of any form of administrative authority, followed the wise advice and accelerated his pace of productivity: FOUNDATIONS OF THE METAPHYSICS OF MORALS, 1785; FIRST METAPHYSICAL PRINCIPLES OF THE SCIENCE OF NATURE, 1786; CRITIQUE OF PRACTICAL REASON, 1788; CRITIQUE OF THE FACULTY OF JUDGEMENT (that one written as a solid reminiscence of his time-travelling visitor!), 1790; RELIGION WITHIN THE LIMITS OF SIMPLE REASON, 1793; METAPHYSICS OF MORAL, 1797. Noctule FRACASSA got a beautiful promotion for that significative increase of intellectual accountability he was the administrative architect of. KANT stayed home. The fact that his CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON, the old first book of 1781, so slowly cooked during eleven years, is one of the gigantic masterpieces of modern philosophy, was not even mentioned in FRACASSA’s promotion speech. You have to keep the bibliographies upgraded, remember…
for the University
Some elements in our universities are working at toning down the notion of corporate agenda, proposing, among other tricks, some more nuancé synonyms or gloss for that designation. Such hair-splitting chinoiseries are based on nominalist foundations, as if the name was the essence of the concept. But let us remember that we drive on a parkway and we park on a driveway, and nothing can be done about it. To submit the university to a corporate agenda means to assimilate it to a corporation. That involves, at least, six major features:
1- Clientelism: Our students are to be dealt with as customers. They have to be satisfied. We are not dentists who know which teeth are to be fixed and impose it to the patient even at the cost of a certain initial pain. We are rather AM-WAY salespersons, or entertainers. Consequently, if we do not cattle the good amount of clients in our courses or seminars, the portions of the curriculum they value are in jeopardy of finishing out of business. We have to give them what they want: good marks and simplicism.
2- Philistinism: The intellectual, speculative and critical dimensions of university are, from now on, superfluous. To it is preferred the “practical”, the empirical and the conformist. The corporate agenda is also the will of preparing the clients to creep their way in the corporate world. To be a self-indulging philistine, laughing and making fun of the fact of becoming scholarly, treating the scholar as a sort of strange insect, are the way to go. Of course, the critics of capitalism and society as a whole are forbidden.
3- AURI SACRA FAMES: Money legitimates everything. If only somebody or something brings money, it is to be treated as the Golden Calf. Research is worth it’s salt only if money, grants, lucrative joint ventures are appended to it. The ultimate dream and the fundamental purpose is to be profit making. Other universities are competitors, in front of whom we have to find “innovative” gimmicks to pull customers or grants from them. Real estate, hamburger flipping, fascist philanthropists, MonopolisticMegaDeals: the nature of the source of income has no status. Only the amount counts. It is not entrepreneur culture. Not at all! Rather the old middle-aged thirst for gold of the declining landlords.
4- Bourgeoisie idolatry: Grand bourgeois and money makers are idols and role models. They have to be adored, respected, quoted as examples of success and legitimacy. They have to be also tightly linked to the university environment. So we make them chancellors, and honorific officers of every nature. The Board, stuffed with bourgeois and money mongers, is valued as the supreme body of the institution over university senate and the faculty councils, turned to academic-sheep-flocking instruments. The honorific role of the board is undermined. It is rather to be seen. from now on, as Top Management.
5- Corporate tics and mannerism: All that is bogus. The university is 70% granted. It will never turn itself to Microsoft or McCain and roll exclusively on profit making. The corporate agenda is more ideological than effective. As any ideological lunacy, it comes with its set of tics and mannerism. Language & Jargon, white shirts & ties, mission statements, Pepsi-Cola advertising. All that twinkling-to-the-eye mambo-jambo contributes to perpetuate a corporate mythology. But actually our administrators live in the best of both worlds. They are highly salaried bureaucrats who do not face the jeopardy of going in bankruptcy if the market is not favorable. They are grand monkeys wearing the top hat and tux of their masters, letting them the thinking and the risks.
6- Workforce bashing: Finally one of the major features of the university corporate agenda is to crush the unions, humiliate the workforce, make them live in permanent terror, undermine their role. What has it’s “logic” in the corporate world where, after all, the motor force is the extraction of surplus value from the workforce and the priority of staying “on top of things” in the sharp and continuing arena of class struggle, is again in great part an affectation here. Our administrators aim at showing to the stakeholders controlling the next step of their carrier-climbing agenda that they are efficient workforce bashers. They bring money, build alliances, and handle the unions. Keeping fresh and ready for the careerist self-fluffing of tomorrow, today.
Now my good Nuancé Nominalists, call this phenomenon the name you want, such are its main features, and such will they remain because a name is just a name and you do not get rid of the complexity of the phenomenon by changing its designation.