Matt is a good friend and comrade. A mutual friend had some heavy stuff go down that I agreed to help out with, which meant I had to duck out of another commitment (in addition to not putting in my share of household duties and not being around enough at home, and my usually un-honored commitment to get a reasonable amount of sleep, but I digress, the point of this post is Matt’s awesomeness not my burnt-outness). Matt stepped up at very, very short notice and filled in by giving a talk. And the talk he gave is quite good. I particularly like these bits:

our tendency as academics is to get together and host conferences with jargony debates in which the question of organizing gets put off the table, or as only ancillary, as we endlessly lament the “neo-liberal transformations in the university structure.” Not that these debates are bad or not worth while. I think they are important, even necessary, but we should not confuse them with organizing.

This sums up my frustration and yet participation in a great number of things.

Graduate students also often commit themselves unquestioningly to extraordinary amounts of surplus labor (…) The point is not to ban these things, but to get paid for them. And not in the sense of “good experience” or “will look good in the service section of your vita” but in the sense of hard cash to put food on the table.

This makes for a clear link between academic work and the wages for housework etc analysis of unwaged labor in capitalism, as well as the functions of certain nonmonetary and usually immaterial exchanges instead of actual wages.

Check it out.

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