Sunday, August 20, 2017

The career academic in authoritarian regimes



Education in authoritarian systems reproduces the student as the disciplined subject, always ready to submit to the goals, techniques, and tools of authority. The ability to succeed in such a system is directly tied to one's compliance with the diktats of the system, subjecting the self through the strict and narrow regimens of everyday performance that are directly tied to the incentives one receives.

The message that is passed on early in life is this: the greater your adherence to the rules and frameworks of the structure, the greater the number of opportunities that will be available to you.

The high performing students in elite schools of authoritarian systems learn the techniques and strategies of performed consent through an intricate web of reward-and-punishment mechanisms. The student internalizes the diktat- get in line, follow the steps, and you will be rewarded; question the system, and you will be punished.

Academia as a career is tied to incentives that are implicitly tied to performing obedience to the structure.

The career academic in an authoritarian system is the A-performing student that has perfected the techniques of performing consent. The greater you abide by the structures of the system, the greater your rewards. The opportunities that will be available to you in life will be directly correlated with your ability to use your academic talents as a tool of the structure, serving its diktats and strategic agendas.

In addition, an authoritarian system builds in rewards for academics that can position themselves as the intelligence gatherers of the system. Behaviors such as reporting on sites and spaces of critique are rewarded through a variety of incentive structures and processes. Built then into the academic culture is the specter of being reported on, being found out, being called up for writing or saying something that is critical. The career academic here is the precise instrument for the perpetuation of the structure.

For the career academic, academic freedom is a performance, something you perform to cast a global narrative in the service of the structure. Context is an excuse for recycling the rules and norms of authoritarianism, performing authoritarian norms as cultural norms.

In sum, the career academic in an authoritarian regime is less of an academic, and more of an instrument of surveillance, tool of control, and apologist for the excesses of authoritarian control.

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