James Cersonsky

is a writer and activist, originally from New Haven, Connecticut. He edits the Nation's "Student Dispatch."

Black Liberation on Campus, 2015?

Black Liberation on Campus, 2015?

As this inquiry demon­strates, cam­pus activism has taken myr­iad forms – from peren­nial die-ins and walk­outs to a cam­paign for a Level 1 Trauma Cen­ter. Still, what many share is a rejec­tion of the mythos of “Black pro­gress.” What they embrace, in turn, is that the endur­ing con­di­tion of Blacks in the United States is one of strug­gle, neces­si­tat­ing agi­ta­tion for the re-imag­i­na­tion of equity in an equally endur­ing white-suprema­cist order.

Do You Know the $8.25 Man?

Do You Know the $8.25 Man?

The $8.25 man, Bloomberg News wrote in Decem­ber, has worked at McDonald’s for twenty years. Still, he can’t get forty hours a week or any­thing more than min­i­mum wage. He can’t make rent pay­ments, can’t afford a com­puter, and has to go to the Apple store to update his Face­book. After pick­ing cig­a­rette butts out of a bath­room drain, he has to clean off before his next job—at another McDonald’s.

When Professors Strip for the Camera

When Professors Strip for the Camera

If TED took a turn to left­ist (or any) cri­tique, Žižek, the pro­fes­sor of “toi­lets and ide­ol­ogy,” would be the keynote speaker. The irony of the ani­mated lec­ture, “First as Tragedy, Then as Farce,” is that a dia­tribe on “global cap­i­tal­ism with a human face” would get over 900,000 views on YouTube. With YouTube’s help, the acad­emy where Žižek’s per­sona was born is an increas­ingly vis­i­ble ter­rain of so-called “cul­tural cap­i­tal­ism.” The last decade has wit­nessed a rev­o­lu­tion in open course­ware, a source of short-cir­cuit con­sump­tion in which any­one with a com­puter can drink elite uni­ver­sity Kool-Aid with­out earn­ing credit. The move­ment has been so explo­sive – the Hewlett Foun­da­tion, which pro­vides the mother lode of fund­ing for uni­ver­sity ini­tia­tives, sup­ported a whole book on it, Tay­lor Walsh’s 2011 Unlock­ing the Gates – that one won­ders how long the polit­i­cal econ­omy of edu­ca­tion that it anchors, con­tra Žižek’s hip­ster-friendly fan­tasies of con­sumerist dystopia, will last.