In a video shot at #Occupy Chicago, Aisha Karim, a professor from Saint Xavier University, is shown preaching the gospel of Karl Marx to a cheering crowd in a display of stunning economic and historical ignorance – but was her speech part of a wider effort to unionize St. Xavier?
The video titled Communist Manifesto Teach-In @ Occupy Chi showing a speech by Professor Aisha Karim has flown under the radar for a couple of months – it had fewer than 400 views when I found it – but it’s another clear example of the explicitly Marxist strain in the #Occupy movement, how it relates directly to unionization, and how just plain silly its ivory tower thinking actually is.
Professor Karim is molding the minds of American’s young adults through her work as a teacher at places like the University of North Carolina, Greensboro where parents have spent their hard earned money so their kids can sit through classes like English 209: The Terrible Logic of Capitalism: A Survey of Postcolonial Literature.
Currently, Professor Karim teaches at Saint Xavier University, Chicago’s oldest college. In this video of her teach-in, she begins by asking the Occupy Chicago crowd whether it’s time to reconsider whether Marx, socialism and communism aren’t actually pretty awesome after all (1:33 to 2:00):
And what we want to do at point is to wonder (unintelligible) if we are still skeptics about socialism or communism, we need to wonder if Marx was also right about socialism and the necessity for capitalism to turn into something completely different.
(Whoops and applause from audience)
Professor Karim then goes on to discuss Marx’s central concept of the exploitation of labor, and she makes an revealing choice for her example of an exploited worker: Professor Karim herself (2:30):
I’m going to take my example of what I do and how my labor is actually taken away from me–the fruits of my labor is taken away from me–but it is not just me. This is representative of every single person in this world who works for wages in this world right now.
(Audience member – “That’s right.”)
Professor Karim goes on to disclose her shocking plight:
I get about $8000 per class. Roughly, of course. Right now I teach a (unintelligible) class that has about 34 students in it. Each of those students pays about $2500 for just that class. You do the math. If we take simply 30 students in that class, they are paying all put together about $75,000 for simply that class. I am getting paid to teach that class $8000. What’s the difference?
(Audience member : Too much!)
$67,000. Yes, exactly It’s too much! Now that is for a relatively high paid worker, which is what I am. (clip) There are adjunct teachers who are getting $2,500 for that same class! That is bullshit! That is what capitalism is about! It actually takes away from our control!
But even Professor Karim making $8,000 a class is way too 1%-y for one man in the #Occupy Chicago crowd, who storms off after accusing her of making too much, and then being shouted down by the crowd.
Back to poor Aisha Karim and her tragic exploitation, already in progress. It’s so simple! Obviously Professor Karim is being exploited because the students are paying $75,000 and she’s only getting $8,000 of that. While the 1% and their abject minions may think she has a nice, cushy job teaching a bunch of useless anti-American claptrap to nineteen- year-olds–not so! The fruits of her labor are being taken from her!
In Professor Karim’s narrow and entitled worldview, the University doesn’t provide or create any value at all. This shows how shallow and childlike the economic thinking of the #Occupy movement and pro-socialism ‘intellectuals’ like Professor Karim is. It doesn’t take very much thought at all to realize what Professor Karim apparently misses-that the classroom full of students she shows up to lecture to didn’t just magically appear.
Saint Xavier University has an entire financial aid, guidance and admissions staff that all needed to be paid, as well. The building in which the classes meet and the chairs win which the students sit all cost money, as does the electricity that brings light and power to the classrooms and offices. The accountants who process Professor Karim’s $8,000 check cost money, and so do the people who maintain the college grounds, manage student schedules, or run the various departments. The college also invests money in new projects like its recently opened Visual Arts program. I could keep going, but you get the idea–and Professor Karim doesn’t.
Despite Professor Karim’s shriek that capitalism “takes away her control,” there’s nothing in the world stopping hew from posting a free ad on Craigslist and offering the class herself in her living room. She could even undercut St. Xavier’s price and offer the exact same class for half the price or less, perhaps $999.95 per student.
How many students do you think she’d get for her bargain basement living room class? Probably zero, because she has no way of offering a degree. And although this may shock the professor, the students aren’t really taking her class because she’s built such a big fanbase for her work. They want the diploma. The fact that adjunct professors are teaching “the exact same class” for $2,500 while Karim makes $8,000 shows that Karim is the one making out like a bandit…although, I’m guessing that Karim must have some advantages over the other professors that cause St. Xavier to value her (and therefore pay her) more.
Now, cut to a month after the professor’s teach-in on communism at Occupy Chicago. It’s November 16th and in a (warm, lit) classroom at St. Xavier University, a small group has gathered to put Professor Karim’s words into action. It’s union time:
The topic of adjunct unionization has been a sensitive issue, with tensions heightened after the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled last spring that SXU did not pass the “substantial religious character test,” and thus was not exempt from the NLRB’s jurisdiction. SXU is currently appealing this decision. Executive Director of Media Relations Karla Thomas was in attendance and pointed out during audience discussion that very few adjunct faculty have approached President Christine Wiseman to discuss the issue. Kirstein was quick to answer. “You don’t have to be sweet when you want a union. It’s not equivalent,” said (Professor of History and Political Science Peter) Kirstein.
Got that? You don’t to be “sweet” when you want a union. Sweet means talking about your concerns with the University Presdient, apparently. What’s a good example of non-sweetness? How about the #Occupy movement? The article continues:
Both Aisha Karim, associate professor of English and foreign languages (who also addressed the crowd), and Kirstein drew connections between the Occupy movement and the adjunct unionization efforts. Karim said it is necessary for adjunct union supporters to be “savvy” for their fight while the Occupy movement is going on. Kirstein said supporters need to occupy SXU, calling attention to the Occupy movement’s history of consciousness.
The thoughts of one undistinguished Chicago college professor who supports unions and the Occupy movement would hardly matter–if that didn’t also describe the President of the United States of America.