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We Are the Crisis


Why a Marxist School?

Karl Marx’s ideas are a common touchstone for many people working for change.  His historical materialism, his many contributions to political economy and class analysis, all continue to serve his core values–the self-emancipation of the working class and a vision of a classless society.  There are naturally many trends in Marxism that have developed over the years, and new ones are on the rise today.  All of them and others who want to see this project succeed are welcome here.

Founder: Carl Davidson

Initial Core Group: Linda Alcoff, Mark Alper, Gar Alperovitz, Burton Lee Artz, Salvatore Babones, Rose Brewer, Renate Bridenthal, Roderick Bush, Dominique Caouette, Orlando Caracas, Dana Cloud, Michael Duff, Jon Gobeil, Larry Hanley, Jerry Harris, Richard Huggins, David Fryett, Mark Johnson, Timothy Johnson, Athina Karatzogianni, Gavin Kitching, Lauren Langman, Marnia Lazreg, Kathy McAfee, Peter Mclaren, Bharat Mehra, Hannah Miyamoto, Gregory Morales, Joshua Morris, Kathleen Newman, Jonathan Nitzan, Juan Pablo Ochoa, Tom O’Donnell, Teresa Pac, William Pelz, Sanjay Perera, Frank Phelan, Garry Potter, Melvin Rothenberg, Saskia Sassen, Ellen Schwartz, Justin Schwartz, David Schwartzman, David Schweickart, Navin Singh, Geoffrey Skoll, William Tabb, Harry Targ, Bharat Thakkar, Joseph Varga, Rob Watts, Richard Wolff.

“This is a radical education and left unity project. All on the left willing to work cooperatively for its success are invited to join and lend a hand” — CARL DAVIDSON

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National Communication Association (NCA) Preconvention Seminar
“Revolutionary Voices: Marxism, Communication, and Social Change”
10:30 am-5:00 PM, Wednesday, November 16th.
New Orleans, LA

In the wake of the Soviet Union’s collapse, and the subsequent worldwide retreat of the communist and socialist Left, the very concept of “revolution” was deemed by many theorists to be outdated and passé. Liberal, poststructuralist and conservative intellectuals jointly proclaimed Marxist project -with its emphasis on class struggle, anti-imperialism and a totalizing critique of capitalism– no longer relevant to an understanding of our “postmodern” world. Today, with the popular uprisings associated with the “Arab Spring” roiling dictatorships in countries like Egypt, Tunisia, Syria and Yemen and with the global capitalist economy just barely emerging from the throes of its worst crisis since the Great Depression, Marxism is not so easily dismissed. The recent popularity of thinkers like Giovanni Arrighi, Alain Badiou, Antonio Negri, David Harvey and Slavoj Zizek suggests a renewal of scholarly interest in Marxist and post-Marxist theory. The fact that Karl Marx himself was featured on the cover of the February 2, 2009 TIME Magazine suggests that this revival of interest is not confined to the academy.

This pre-convention conference aims to explore the continued relevance of Marxism and Marxist theoretical concepts (i.e. ideology, hegemony, class, dialectics, reification, commodification ) to the study of communication, focusing on communication’s instrumental role in maintaining, perpetuating and contesting capitalism’s structures of domination. Unlike other theoretical orientations within the social sciences and the humanities, Marxism has long insisted that theory be informed by and inform social and political praxis. Thus, one special emphasis of our discussions will be on the way that Marxist work in field of communication can help to advance and clarify current struggles for progressive social change in the US and around the world. Moreover, at a time when even the mainstream corporate press speaks openly of the revolutionary currents spreading across North Africa and the Middle East, we will devote special attention to the concept of “revolution” and the way that it can refine and enhance our understanding of communication, political conflict and social change.

We hope that by bringing together a critical mass of scholars whose work is informed by Marxist theory, our seminar will “make a difference” both in our discipline and in the larger fight for social justice. Ultimately, we plan to publish an edited volume or a special issue of an academic journal as a way of bringing the scholarship produced by seminar participants to an even larger audience.

This mini-conference builds on a series of NCA panels, pre-conference seminars and publications about Marxism and communication that began with a well-attended panel at the 2003 NCA convention in Miami. Last year’s mini-conference “Bridging Theory and Practice” drew dozens of participants to a series of three inter-related panels at the national conference in San Francisco. The year before that, in Chicago, our panel “The 2009 Crisis of Neoliberalism: Marxist Scholars on Rhetorics of Stability and Change,” drew a standing-room-only crowd. And in 2006, three of the co-organizers of this seminar (Artz, Cloud and Macek) published an anthology — Marxism and Communication Studies: The Point is to Change It (Peter Lang)-composed almost entirely of conference papers delivered at our NCA panels and seminars. This seems to us an opportune moment for yet another pre-convention seminar and yet another publication devoted to this topic.

The organizers invite potential participants to submit complete papers or extended abstracts (350-500 words) relevant to the subject of Marxism, communication and social change for inclusion in this pre-convention seminar. Work in political economy of the media, cultural studies, rhetoric, critical theory, social movement studies and political communication is especially welcome. Send your submissions along with complete contact information (mailing address, e-mail and phone #) to both Steve Macek (at and Dana Cloud (at no later than August 8th, 2011.

Steve Macek
Associate Professor
Speech Communication
Program Coordinator, Urban and Suburban Studies
North Central College
30 N. Brainard
Naperville, IL 60540-4690
Phone: 630-637-5369
Fax: 630-637-5140

Out now from U of MN Press:
Urban Nightmares: The Media, the Right, and the Moral Panic over the City. Winner of the 2006 Urban Communication Foundation Publication Award.
ISBN: ISBN 0-8166-4361-X

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Peter McLaren


Academic Repression: Reflections from the Academic Industrial Complex

Peter McLaren (Editor), Steven Best (Editor), and Anthony J. Nocella II (Editor)

The extreme repressive attacks on Churchill, Finklstein, Fontan, Best, Massad, the “Dirty Thirty,” and many others represented in this book demonstrate the repressive logic of “US democracy,” whereby political elites, the mass media, and the education system establish and police the parameters of acceptable discourse. Churchill became America’s own Salman Rushdie terrorized by the fatwa of the right. Unprecedented for the media coverage given to a professor (in a mass media culture that virtually ignores substantive ideas in favor of spectacle and sensationalism) the Churchill affair was, however, just one of many cases of attacks on academic freedom that eerily evoke the tyranny of the McCarthy era where actors were blacklisted and professors were fired for having even liberal views or showing dissent against state repression. While there has been much research on political repression carried out by the Bush administration, FBI, and various law enforcement agencies, there has been little discussion on political 
repression in academia and how the shockwaves of 9/11 have reverberated throughout academia. This anthology brings together prominent academics who contribute original essays commissioned for this volume. The writers are known and respected figures in their respective fields, and many have experienced academic repression first-hand.

This volume aims to be a cogent intervention in debates over free speech, culture wars, and academic freedom. Given that the importance of free speech to academic life, and the crucial role universities play in the intellectual life of cultures as a whole, a volume addressing the political environment of universities in the current period promises to make a significant contribution.

Academic Repression: Reflections from the Academic Industrial Complex (AK Press), is a much needed book on a topic that has seen little attention. Since 9/11 the Bush Administration has ventured to every campus influencing and forcing change by administration to handover faculty, staff, and student work to be flagged as possible signs of threatening behavior. While there have been numerous books on academic freedom, that topic is outdated and something that arguably does not exist on U.S. campus soil anymore. This volume addresses not only overt attacks on critical or radical thinking, it also – following socioeconomic trends unfolding for decades – engages the broad structural determinants of academic culture. Slowly but surely, the university is being transformed from a space for free thinking, experimentation, and philosophical education in the broadest sense into a narrow, restrictive, utilitarian institution that serves the technical needs of corporations, government, science and technology, and the military. Thus, as emphasized by numerous contributors, the ultimate cause of repression is not the academy itself, but contemporary capitalist society as a whole, which strongly shapes the structure, function, and priorities of higher education. This volume shows that while universities are crucial sites of socialization in capitalist ideologies and utilitarian performance, they are not monolithic citadels or homogeneous systems of thought that grind out in assembly-line fashion each and every student into the service of capitalism. For just as universities can train tomorrow’s FBI and CIA agents, so they can breed the next generation of radicals, resisters, saboteurs, and revolutionaries.

The university is a contested political space for three reasons. First, it is home to a diversity of viewpoints, ranging from far-right to far-left, from Christian to Muslim, from white to black, Indian, or Chicano/a, from speciesist to animal liberationist, and from heterosexual to gay/lesbian. Second, despite broad and growing trends of repression, there are varying degrees of tolerance for the discussion of non-mainstream or radical ideas in classrooms and campus life. Third, however uncritical, conditioned, and conformist some students might be, they have the potential (often actualized) to discuss, debate, and think critically about issues such as US colonialism, slavery, sexism, and speciesism, and professors, staff, and students – consciously or unconsciously – cannot socialize all of them into their own worldviews and politics.

— Nocella, Best, and McLaren

About the Editors:
Anthony J. Nocella, II is completing his doctoral work at Syracuse University. He is a Visiting Scholar of SUNY Cortland’s Center for Ethics, Peace and Social Justice (CEPS) and is teaching classes in Sociology and Criminology at Le Moyne College.

Steven Best is Associate Professor of Humanities and Philosophy at the University of Texas, El Paso.

Peter McLaren is Professor of Education, Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, University of California, Los Angeles.


This courageous and chilling book reminds us that the Academy is always a context for intellectual exchange and political struggle. Don’t miss it! — Cornel West, Princeton University

This book takes us into the Corporate University, and it’s not a pretty sight. From firing critical thinkers to putting students in debt, the system is failing America. Time to take it back by fighting for free higher education. — Jim Hightower, populist speaker and editor of the “Hightower Lowdown”

The university should be a place of freedom not a battlefield where the military industrial complex is launching its most violent attack yet on the future of education. Nocella, Best, and McLaren shows us that education must be protected if we want peace and social justice for the world. Read now! — Cindy Sheehan, Peace Activist and Founder of “Gold Star Families for Peace”

To the litany of claims by academics that the university is a safe haven for intellectual and political dissent, this book offers a convincing counter-argument. Academic Repression is a long overdue collective study of the long and sorry history of violations of academic freedom, iconoclastic thought and political dissent in US institutions of higher education. The editors have assembled an impressive group of scholars who, often through personal experience as much as analytic acuity, have supplied us with commentary as much as documentation of the central thesis of the book. This book should be required reading in all of the social sciences, humanities and education courses. —
Stanley Aronowitz, author of “The Knowledge Factory: Dismantling the Corporate University and Creating True Higher Learning”

Absolutely and utterly indispensible as we chart a way forward and attempt to finally turn the page on an era best left in the dustbin of history. It’s a first round knock out. — Dave Zirin, author APHOS

For over half a century, matters of knowledge and education have been central to the political struggles shaping our world, and the university has been a primary battleground. This collection is a chilling and powerful survey of contemporary battles, their stakes and possibilities. We should all be scared, and we should all concerned enough to take a stand. — Dr. Lawrence Grossberg, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Using the tired canards of anti-semitism, terrorism and radicalism, rightwing zealots are carrying out a merciless campaign of ideological cleansing on American campuses, often with the shameful complicity of university administrators. Academic Repression takes you to the frontlines of this fierce battle for the mind, telling stories of
purges, institutional cowardice and resistance. Here at last is a strategic plan for how to fight back against the New McCarthyites. Read it twice and then throw the book at them. — Jeffrey St. Clair, author Born Under a Bad Sky, co-editor of CounterPunch

Freedom of speech in the academy is a cornerstone of democracy — fascism always creeps closely behind intellectual repression, and we are not immune from the virus. If you want to understand how rocky our freedoms are today, pick up this book, read it, and join the fight to end censorship in all of its imperialist forms. — Joshua Frank, co-author with Jeffrey St. Clair of the forthcoming Green Scare: The Government’s New War on Environmentalism

The powers-that-be are uncomfortable with academic freedom because when one investigates any political, social, economic or even scientific issue thoroughly, a leftwing analysis will tend to emerge. Thinking is dangerous for them. This book is full of the stories and observations of some of the greatest thinkers alive today. — David Rovics, Singer-Songwriter

The editors have drawn together a diverse and competent group of scholars to assess critically the climate of academic repression. This is an essential book for anyone with a deep concern for the future of the academy. It will help raise awareness of crucial issues that face the universities. We ignore this challenge at our peril. — Dr. Andrew Fitz-Gibbon, Director, Center for Ethics, Peace and Social Justice, SUNY Cortland

As the editors and contributors of this valuable collection make clear, American academia has long been a combat zone, and never more than today. Eternal vigilance, and constant struggle, remain the watchwords if the free expression of thought upon which a good society depends is to be realized. — Joel Kovel, author of “Overcoming Zionism: Creating a Single Democratic State in Israel/Palestine”



William Armaline

John Asimakopoulos

Bill Ayers

Liat Ben-Moshe

Michael Bérubé

Carl Boggs

Marc Bousquet

A. Peter Castro

Ward Churchill

Dana Cloud

Sumi E. Colligan

Maria E. Cotera

Christian Davenport

Victoria Fontan

Takis Fotopoulos

Henry Giroux

Adam Habib

Joy James

Robert Jensen

Richard Kahn

Caroline Kaltefleiter

Doug Kellner

Mark LeVine

Bill Martin

Peter McLaren

Micere M. Githae Mugo

Mechthild Nagel

Cary Nelson

Michael Parenti

Emma Perez

Mark Rupert

Rik Scarce

Deric Shannon

Stephen Sheehi

Amory Starr

Gregory Tropea

Ali Zaidi

Howard Zinn

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