Tuesday, 11 January 2011

What you won't see at The Hegemon

It used to be the case that universities were politically liberal, and new universities were resistant to the forces of the state. There was a healthy distrust for the military, especially during periods in which illegal wars were being prosecuted across the globe. Student groups were also particularly active, objecting on pacifist grounds, on political grounds, or on feminist and queer politics grounds.

Not here. I walked into work this morning to find a tank, military truck and hordes of men in uniform wandering round, on a recruitment drive (I might take some pictures later). The Hegemon has aligned itself - apparently without concern for anything other than income - with the military-industrial complex and is content for our students to become cannon fodder for the next invasion. It's a very American model, in which the armed forces are so integral to the economy of every town - along the Roman lines - that a pacific polity is virtually unspeakable in the public sphere.

What a shame we don't have a degree in Farsi. It might come in useful. If this picture was taken here, the caption would be 'gissajob'. Never has 'The Hegemon' been a more apt name for this place.

Update: apparently it's part of 'Armed Forces Day', with the launch of an 'armed forces' degree ('how to torture'; 'spotting an illegal war'; genocide for beginners'?). 

One aspect of the day is that the armed forces have brought some vehicles and equipment with them to show the students. While this was well intentioned, my understanding is that this may have caused offence in some quarters due to the amount of it and its kind. Clearly this wasn't the intention and many apologies if this is so. 

Er… the presence of weaponry-porn is slightly disturbing, but leaving it hidden doesn't exactly address the point: we all know what armies do. It's the fact that an institution of learning has decided to embrace a culture of death as a viable and honourable career path for our students, many of whom are from cultures which are, or recently were, on the receiving end of British military hospitality.
I value our academic differences and our ability to be robust in debating and understanding the complexity of the world and our various engagements with it.
That's all very well, but one side of the 'debate' is heavily armed and one isn't. And they've occupied the staff room: not exactly subtle symbolism.


Zoot Horn said...

Yes. Last week I asked for permission to photocopy some short stories for a course. In my defence I said that I was economising elsewhere: on the 1960s course, for example, we weren't asking for any photocopying privileges, but we might borrow some tanks and teargas from the Armed Forces degree in the future as we were thinking of restaging Prague in 1968. I got permission for photocopying, but no mention of the tanks.

Sgt. Ed said...

So long as they don't recruit any gay students. I don't want gay people hanging around me when I'm killing kids.