Skip to comments.The Great Grad-School Experiment in Utopian Socialism
Posted on 04/10/2014 1:54:26 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
The Student Union of Michigan ran an interview last week about a gutsy move by six Duke graduate students: For the past two years, they have collectivized wages. That is, they take their stipends (university-speak for paychecks, a sleight of verbiage that gets universities out of all sorts of labor laws) and put them into one big bank account. This way, for example, if you have an engineering student who makes a whopping $25,000 a year because hes got summer funding, he or she subsidizes the medieval historian with two kids who gets only a swift kick in the groin from June to September.
The students didnt like how the university doled out funding unevenly (and at times secretly so), thus creating a culture of individual poverty and scholarly competition, so they decided to pool wages and create a culture of collective wealth and intellectual collaboration. The best part, according to them, was that they circumvented the bureaucracy entirely, evening outvoluntarily and in privatedisparities that were created to make them compete against each other............
(Excerpt) Read more at slate.com ...
Voluntary and so is not anything like a socialist government.
Neither is sharing your money with your spouse or mom socialism.
By 2015, they will be pushing for outright communism.
The problem of the Commons always appears.
It will here, too.
“Voluntary and so is not anything like a socialist government.”
But their philosophy is.
I wonder how they would view a grad student (or treat them) if they opted out of this arrangement.
Do they share their grades too?
She frames her piece as observing the situation -- chiding professors for not doing what these students have done.....wondering if the grad student's "collective" arrangement (financially, intellectually) to prevent competition will carry over into the workplace after graduation. But she praises them because they're doing something about "income equality" while others just talk about it.
From the link to the interview in the article above.
......”SUM: Tell us about the Duke Collective. How did it come about? What does it do?
DC: It essentially began out of necessity, where a couple of our friends had no means to ensure their livelihood during the summer or at least, thought they couldnt ensure their livelihood through their current habitual and epistemological limits. So we thought, my roommate and I, that we often engage in wage sharing practices with our friends on a daily basis, whether it be buying them a drink or going out for dinner, so why not extend that logic beyond its traditional limitations and see where it takes us.
And so it initially began as a kind of emergency fund, where we didnt put our entire wage in but only some of our stipend for collective use, mostly as a substitution for a lack of summer funding opportunities to friends who were on international visas, and therefore werent allowed to work, at least not legally. So it started with three people in the summer: myself, my roommate, and a friend of ours who isnt a graduate student.
Then, as time went on, more friends heard about the project and wanted to join in. So it grew to about 6. We then had a few discussions about why we were limiting it to a kind of charity fund, as opposed to going all in, with the idea that we should try and have our economic relations also reflect our social relations, that is, we are totally reliant on others for our subsistence, so why not reflect those relations economically, and see what comes of it noting that individuated wage and salary structures are probably the strongest enforcer in giving one a sense of individual autonomy, masking our collective reliance beneath an ideology of autonomy. That is, first you get paid individually, and then you start to believe you can survive on your own a kind of Pascalian materialism that Althusser drew on in his ISA essay..........”
College students learn about communism when they rent a house together. By the end of the year they can’t stand each other.
“It takes a village.”
From the Duke interview:
“............In any case, now it functions as an everyday practice. We pay our bills through the account, groceries, etc. There are few if not all together zero rules. Its actually quite mundane because we are fairly homogenous class, with rather equal pay (though there are upper year students who no longer receive funding but I can go into that later), it hasnt created drastic changes on our daily life except in little but important ways there is no talk of who pays for what when; our homes and cars are shared fluidly; weve tried incorporating to get discounted rates on wifi, heating, plumbing, and so on; money as a form social mediation has to some degree been mitigated in our circle, though it is obviously still present once we emerge out of our urban collective.”
And when they need something they can’t pay for from the ‘collective’ are mom and dad there to help?
>>Do they share their grades too?<<
If they were true LIBs, they would have to. Otherwise, they’re a bunch of students sharing expenses.
Granted it’s not really their money, so it doesn’t gall them as much as doing it with earned salaries would, but I wonder how long such an experiment would last if one or more of these “collectivized” grads were explicit about how they’re not paying anything in, but still using the money; particularly if they used it frivolously.
Good for them, voluntary communism, now let them try it when they get in the real world.
What the devil is that? It reads like the hagiography of St. Barry 0dinga of Indonesia ... Might as well be fawning over “Dear Leader”.
OMG, is that for real? What a bunch of bilge!
I notice that the group is small, only 6 students. So a certain amount of accountability is built into the system.
Such a scheme *could* work, but only if those who are in on it contribute and take roughly equal amounts. And the only way they could develop that kind of group dynamic would be by carefully screening anyone entering the group, and dealing with non-conformists strictly and quickly through censure or removal from the group.
Even with such a small group, the most likely situation is where one person contributes the bulk of the money, one takes the majority of the money, and everyone else is somewhere in between. And while the primary contributor may talk about how great their little experiment works, after a while, he or she will build up resentment over being the one that *always* pays. Then he or she will leave the group (along with his/her money), although possibly without giving a straight reason why.
Such a situation is difficult to maintain on a small scale where there is intergroup accountability. Scale it up to the point where the contributors and takers don’t know each other (like what we have in the real world), and it does not work.
Also, the group clearly hasn't had a big disagreement about spending priorities yet. That's only a matter of time.