Modern Times The University Factory

In past issues of the HPR we began examining capitalism with a learning model presented in The Mathematics of Faith and in the second essay Kapitalism on the Couch our psychoanalysis of capitalism began. The third essay, Kapitalism: It Nature and Logic presented the structural components of this economic/political system and this fourth essay looks deeper into capitalism’s logic. To continue our psychoanalytical study of capitalism, we will make use of the learning model by examining a personal experience of exploitation and alienation – central components of capitalism as it increasingly impacts our universities.

In the study of capitalism, Synchronistic experiences will be important events to understand and several occurred the morning I finished a three-page letter to University of Mary (Bismarck) President Shea regarding the University’s violation of academic freedom – interference in individual self-actualization. After finishing the letter, I opened the Fargo Forum (2012.06.13:A4) and read three opinions regarding a St. Joseph teacher’s termination over her beliefs regarding gay marriage. An hour later, UMary-Fargo Director called to clarify news that I had not been fired from my facilitator position. I then read Bishop Victor Blake’s letter Paul said teach the truth (Forum 2012.06.17:C7) and watched the Up with Chris Hayes show on University of Virginia fires its president.  Finally, I unexpectedly came across and re-read Calvert’s article, Academia’s dirty little secret is derailing the tenure track (Forum 2007.02.11:A17).


As the above experiences were unfolding, I realized that Bishop Blake reports a synchronistic experience that he calls Providence. He writes, “As Providence would have it, the day the article appeared, we had the following reading in our liturgy from St. Paul’s second letter to Timothy, I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus … proclaim the word, be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient: convince, reprimand, encourage, through all patience and teaching. For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine, but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers that will stop listening to the truth, … But you, be self-possessed in all circumstances; put up with hardship, perform the work of an evangelist; fulfill your ministry.” The Wikipedia entry states that providence is “care exercised by God over the universe, his foresight and care for its future”.

An important difference in our respective experiences is that Blake’s providential experience imposes the closed system of Church dogma on an experience, while Carl Jung’s open synchronistic concept relies on the individual to interrupt an experience as it relate to his/her individuation. Blake quoting Paul closes the door on academic freedom and self-actualization – people are not allowed to follow “their own desires and insatiable curiosity.” This may be an acceptable position for teaching Church doctrine but it is not acceptable when a Church affiliated school decides to teach secular courses. Any school not embracing individual desire and insatiable curiosity is not contributing to the challenge of globalization and defends globalization that Pinky likens to a fish swimming in bowl of water that cannot be seen.

Defending Globalization

Paul’s next words “will accumulate teachers that will stop listening to the truth,” is central to the challenge teachers and universities face today. The premise of secular education is to seek understanding and truth, not to preach dogma whether it comes from The Church or The Corporation. The challenge facing our schools is the disappearance of academic freedom , which is defined as, “the belief that the freedom of inquiry by students and faculty members is essential to the mission of the academy, and that scholars should have freedom to teach or communicate ideas or facts (including those that are inconvenient to external political groups or to authorities) without being targeted for repression, job loss, or imprisonment.” Both the Church and the Corporation have dogmas incompatible with institutions of higher education and when they form an alliance – it is most unholy!

The Corporation

A recent Up w/ Chris Hayes Show, The Battle of Virginia, examines this un-holiness in the recent  firing of UVA President Theresa Sullivan, which is a wake-up call to the assault on academic freedom. Hayes states that the UVA experience of corporate takeover of the university is occurring across the country as corporate donations fill the gap left by diminishing public financing of higher education. Universities’ Board of Regents are increasing dominated by corporate CEOs who are using their business models to run universities, where control comes from the top and is directed at making a profit not seeking truth. In this respect the Church and the Corporation have similar mind sets – a self-possessed sense of what is truth.

As business schools snuggle up to corporation, their ability to teach ethics is being questioned. Garten’s B-Schools: Only C+ in ethics, gives business schools a C+ grade in the teaching of ethics. He arrives at this grade by examining ethical failures of businesses like Enron. These corporations were and are managed by individuals taught ethics in our major school of business. Schumpeter’s The pedagogy of the privilege suggests that with business schools named after major business benefactors, with 50+% of universities board of regents holding corporate positions, and with many business school faculties earning handsome consulting fees, faculty members are not going to deeply examine the ethics of corporations.

Calvert’s article, Academia’s dirty little secret is derailing the tenure track (Forum 2007.02.11:A17), closely examines the logic of the business model now being applied to universities. Citing a report from the American Association of University Professors only 24 percent of higher educational faculties are tenured and only 11 percent are on a tenure track. Sixty five percent are contingents, adjunct, part-time teachers, and graduate students hired “because they are cheap” and pose no threat to the authority now coming from the top. Calvert reports that UND and NDSU are following the trends with 63 percent and 72 percent of their faculties’ contingent. Calvert states that an education system dominated by a contingent faculty won’t work because these teachers are powerless or even interested in the pursuit of new knowledge. This powerlessness is the threat to academic freedom and for any dedicated teacher, alienating!

As universities move closer to the corporate business model, besides top down authority and profits they increasingly look like corporations in terms of alienation. Universities are increasingly alienating their teachers and students and this is important to understand because it affects U.S. competitiveness in the world. Any encounter with exploitation and alienation, logical components of capitalism, is painful!

The University of Mary’s Accelerated MBA Program is 90% staffed by part-time practitioner facilitators and when I joined in 2000, I was asked to re-design its initial MBA course. I design the course with a contingent pedagogy so that any facilitator could bring his/her Self to the course. Then in the spring of 2011, the initial MBA course was changed and I was presented with the new course’s syllabus and told it had to be followed. The Business School Dean said pressures to standardize syllabi across programs and locations were pressuring the University. The syllabus I was given was impossible to facilitate and after hours of discussion with its designer and administrators an understanding was reached that modification in content not structure could be made. I had fought to include my Self into the new syllabus and then taught the course three times to perfect its delivery. Still the time required to facilitate the course was excessive and UMary administrators avoided my analysis of student workload, facilitator workload, and fascinator compensation.

Then, a year ago, I learned a VP and I would be facilitating sections of the same course with approximately the same number of students, I smiled knowing that she would finally face the linkage between student workload, adjunct faculty work load, and compensation. The VP soon hit-the-wall as she scrambled to implement the original course design – her assessment to facilitate the course was the same as mine, 25-30 hours per week. Her calculation of our hourly wage rate was $10 and with Fargo’s average wage rate at $15, The University of Mary is clearly exploiting its adjunct practitioner facilitators.

Marx on Alienation

Besides exploiting wages another central issue in capitalism’s logic is alienations. Alienation  refers to “estrangement, division, or distancing of people from each other, or of people from what is important or meaningful to them, or of a person from their own sense of Self.” In my courses, the issues of a new depth ethics and self-actualization through the processes of individuation were being woven into a new approach to transformational leadership. This work at the center of my studies and my sense of Self requires of both the students and teacher exactly what the Blake warns about, individual desire and insatiable curiosity – only accessed with academic freedom.

Jung on Individuation

Last February when facilitating the online course with the pedagogy modification that had been agreed to, the UMary VP for teaching excellence entered the class 5-days from the course’s end of a five-week course and insisted that all syllabus changes be rescinded and the original syllabus reinstated. I asked why and was told UMary was insisting on standardized syllabi across all sections and campuses. I told him this could not be done at this point in the course. He then went directly to the students informing them not to complete what had been scheduled and not to contact me further. This was a direct assault on academic freedom and the students and my “sense of Self” – alienation clear and simple. The class was prevented from fully exploring new ideas on ethical leadership that went contrary to UMary’s Catholic teaching – of not looking deep into “our desires and insatiable curiosities.” Despite the demand not to interact, we did reach out to each other and all completed the course successfully.

The University of Mary’s Accelerated MBA program is seriously flawed and the flaw is not understanding the dynamics involved in realizing that the need for self-actualization, individuation requires both the students and teacher, the worker and manager, the follower and leader, becoming deeply involved in exploring their respective insatiable curiosities. To do this, teachers need freedom to pursue ideas wherever they lead. The experiences of exploitation and alienation reminded me of Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times The Factory Scene where the assemble line paces his work while his supervisor demands more and more effort to keep up. It captures what some universities increasing look like.

Modern Times The Factory Scene

The logic of capitalism is to standardize and mechanize the production processes from the top down in order to extract as much surplus value, profit, from its production system as possible. Schools of Business dominated by CEOs, faculties feeding at the trough of corporations, and increasing staffed by adjunct-powerless faculty members are not going to produce the world class ideas that will lead the U.S. to a more prosperous future for all citizens. I now suspect that UMary’s reaction to a deep teaching pedagogy is the same as St. Joseph’s School was toward Ms Sullivan’s belief. The Catholic Church and its affiliated schools seem unwilling or unable to tolerate open, critical, and creative thinking.

To be continued…. Kapitalism on the Couch

Scherling, S.A. (2012, October 18). Modern Times The University Factory System – Kapitalism on the Couch. High Plains Reader, 19 (7), 21.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Modern Times The University Factory

  1. Pingback: Don Juan and Giacomo Casanova – 21st Century Men? | Dialectic Analytical Man

  2. Pingback: Defending Globalization – Mission impossible | Dialectic Analytical Man

  3. Pingback: Trump death before dishonor | Dialectic Analytical Man

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s