UC system libraries vs. Nature Publishing Group: The big news in academia this week was the University of California making a stand against journal price increases demanded by NPG, which publishes the uber-prestigious journal Nature as well as many noted scientific and medical journals. UC, like all of California, is under tremendous pressure to make budget cuts and claims that NPG is jacking up the price of its journals by 400%. Baring a return to the lower price, the entire UC system is threatening to drop the journal from their libraries and ask all faculty to boycott NPG by abstaining from submitting publications, resigning from editorial positions on NPG journals, and refusing to conduct peer review for NPG.
* UC throws down the gauntlet: Faculty do all the work for you for free and then you sell it back to us at ridiculous prices.
* Nature’s retort: You can’t mess with us, your faculty needs our prestige.
* Cal responds to Nature: No, our faculty totally got our backs on this one.
* “The bigger, if duller, story here is not that a university library has stood up to the big arrogant publishing house, but that the world’s leading public research university is imploding via budget cuts.”
* TheScientist.com finds that Nature has few friends among academic librarians and faculty.
* Even on Nature’s own blog readers are leaving unflattering comments directed at the publisher.
* Coverage from Science is also followed by posts wholly in sympathy with the UC libraries.
What Jonathan’s work in Governing through Crime has shown, however, is that one of the few remaining–maybe the only remaining–domain in which the violence of governance seems legitimate to American voters is in the domain of crime control and punishment. It therefore has become the trope through which all American governance is filtered.
What we’re left with is, on the one hand, a massively inflated, impractical and unjust incarceration system and–importantly–on the the other hand, no way of conceiving any other legitimate form of governance.
This is not a question of corporate greed versus educational egalitarianism, or even good guys versus bad guys (as much as I’d like to hate on Mark Yudof along with everyone else), but of finding a way–literally–of justifying the very real kinds of violence involved in supporting education; of including higher education into the political calculus of life and death.
I admit i came to this a bit late, but Michael Bérubé has written an article over at The Chronicle of Higher Education, entitled “What’s the Matter With Cultural Studies?” that has caused quite a stir.
Now I hate to make light of the article, which I think is actually very good and extremely important, especially for those of us who are upset at what’s going on at the University of California right now–the article is extremely good at reminding us, not to get to Battlestar Galactica on y’all, that all of this has happened before. Stuart Hall predicted Thatcherism before it happened, he reminds us, so looking back at how the academic left responded, what worked and what didn’t would probably be pretty helpful. It probably would be most helpful, I think, for those of us state-side concerned with privatization of the university to read Policing the Crisis: Mugging, the State, and Law and Order (1978) and then Audit cultures: anthropological studies in accountability, ethics and the academy (2000) and make sense of what did and did not happen over there in the UK in between.
Having said all that, Bérubé does have a knack for punchy sentences. My three favorite:
- “… you might as well be asking about the carbon footprint of unicorns.” A group of cultural studies graduate students at UC Davis have actually taken this one up.
- “False consciousness, after all, is what’s the matter with Kansas.” This is in reference to Thomas Frank’s book What the Matter With Kansas?
- “It’s the neoliberalism, stupid.”