Bulletin #39

13 October 2002
Grenoble, France

Dear Colleagues and Friends:

In response to increasing political repression, social movements are
growing, and as could be expected, they are addressing issues beyond the
immediate crisis of War and Neo-Colonialism. Our research associate
Professor Fred Lonidier send us news from Orange County, California, home
of the late Richard Nixon and the University of California-Irvine, where
Professor Mike Davis is a member of the history faculty. In a creative
effort to demonstrate solidarity with the union of poorly paid and
permanently insecure teaching staff in the UC system, who are presently on
strike, this tenure full-professor has come up with a practical pedagogial
solution to combat  conservative anti-unionism on his campus. (See entry A,
below, for a copy of Professor Davis' "Open Letter" to Chancellor Dr. Ralph
J. Cicerone sent to us by Professor Fred Lonidier.)

Plus ca change, plus c'est le meme chose, say the French, often in disgust.
(The more things change, the more they remain the same.) The contemporary
U.S. rhetoric of Neo-Colonialism is ringing like a farce in the ears of not
millions, but millions of millions of people around the world. In the face
of this deja vu "all over again", the Grenoble Center of Advanced Study of
American Institutions and Social Movements is sending by Attachment (see
entry B, below) a short excerpt from Felix Greene's book, The Enemy, first
published in 1970. Perhaps it is time for a reedition of this book, or has
the world really changed since Greene's critical social class analysis of
the imperatives of capitalist imperialism, from the vantage point of the

A lot of disinformation has passed under the bridge since 1970, with more
than just a few casualties.... Perhaps re-reading Felix Greene would be a
good start for finding firm ground from which to view and combat the
bewildering currents of rhetoric and disinformation that wield so much
influence over so many of us.

for <Francis.Feeley@u-grenoble3.fr>
Fri, 11 Oct 2002 13:11:02 -0700 (PDT)
From: Fred Lonidier <flonidier@ucsd.edu>

         Ralph J. Cicerone, Chancellor

Dear Chancellor,
Thank you for your advice about the lecturers' strike. This spring I
will be teaching Twentieth Century U.S. History to several hundred
undergraduates. I plan to use your "restricted" communique as a topic
for student discussion. Question: Based on your readings about the
labor movement in the 1930s and the civil rights movement in the 1960s,
analyse Chancellor Cicerone's instructions to cross the picket line and
carry on business as usual. Discuss: (a) the ethical justification for
such dramatic disparities in renumeration, benefits and job security;
(b) the contrasting claims of labor solidarity and obedience to
appointed authority; and (c) the larger interests of California
taxpayers (most of whose children will never attend the University of
California) in this controversy.
I am sure our students will have diverse and often eloquent opinions.
Some may even feel so passionately about these issues that they engage
in the kind of heated and loud discussion that you seem to regard as
uncivilized. So be it.
For my own part, I will be picketing with the lecturers on Monday and
Tuesday. I was able to attend the University of California in the first
place, many years ago, thanks to a scholarship from my old union, the
International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Although crossing a picketline
may be, as you point out, a "legal right," it is also a betrayal of what
Abraham Lincoln called the second most fundamental of human solidarities
(after the family) - the common cause of labor.
As always with public-sector strikes, of course, the argument will be
made that our higher obligation, in all circumstances, is to maintain
our service to the public - in this case, our education of students. In
fact, I think the strike provides a moral instruction in democracy
infinitely more valuable than any lost lecture or seminar session. Many
of our students will soon confront the same dilemma as our lecturers:
the unjust and irrational skew of status and income in our so-called
"knowledge economy." Speaking as one aging and overpaid functionary of
the state educational bureaucracy to another, is it not our
responsibility to take the clear side of justice?
Mike Davis
Professor, History