The University of New South Wales’ website banner asks, “How will you change the world?” The answer, presumably, is, “By clearing poor people out of places that rich people don’t want them to be in”. How else to explain last year’s appointment of Andrew Walters to the position of vice-president of finance and operations?
The university advertises Walters’ “extensive experience in the mining industry as Chief Financial Officer of the Botswana operations of diamond mining company DeBeers”, a position he held between 1999 and 2002. In 2001 he oversaw the privatisation of the company. By moving from public to private ownership, DeBeers hid its involvement in the Botswana government’s oppression of Bushman tribes. Survival, a global advocacy group for tribal people’s rights, noted in 2002:
“The last self-sufficient ‘Bushmen’ of the Kalahari desert have been brutally thrown off their land and dumped in resettlement camps. Behind the government’s actions lurks a deep-seated racism – and the prospect of riches from diamonds under the Bushmen’s land …
“In February, in an operation overseen by a retired army general, trucks moved in, the Bushmen’s water pump was disabled and their water tanks emptied. (Since surrounding cattle ranches use most of the previously available water and have lowered the water table, the Bushmen, whose land is desert, now depend on water pumped from boreholes.) Almost all the Bushmen were trucked out; some were threatened with being burned in their homes if they resisted.”
In response to demands from Survival for DeBeers’ policy on the Bushman, the company said that “a policy to cover indigenous rights would head straight down” the path of apartheid South Africa.
Background in a company like DeBeers is perfect for gaining employment in Australia’s institutions of higher learning. Vice-chancellors and university managements have spent years pushing for further privatisation and deregulation of tertiary education, which has become Australia’s third largest export industry.
The profit-driven university system doesn’t want you on a campus if you don’t have the money to pay. Students are treated as customers, maximum amounts of labour are squeezed out of academic, support and tech staff, and business administrators are hired to manage all of this as efficiently (profitably) as possible.
For all the talk from the university about global responsibility and international citizenship, the appointment of Andrew Walters starkly shows its ultimate interests. The “global citizens” UNSW wants to create are those who fit his image: individuals who have the tenacity and cunning to run corporations that traipse across the world exploiting, thieving and killing for profit.
“You’re just a performing fucking monkey”. A racist barb, and one of many pointed moments in Jacky, a Melbourne Theatre Company production currently playing at the Arts Centre. Jacky is about the politics of performing monkeys. It is about racism and exploitation, hypocrisy and resistance.
Academic workers at Rutgers University in New Jersey have achieved a stunning victory with a serious campaign of industrial action, centred on an open-ended strike. Their approach is a model for unionists in Australia.
The South Australian government has followed New South Wales and Victoria to undermine democratic rights. A bi-partisan bill has been rushed through parliament’s lower house, which proposes fines up to $50,000 or three months in jail if protesters “intentionally or recklessly obstruct the public place”.
NTEU Fightback, a rank-and-file union group of the National Tertiary Education Union at the University of Sydney, is calling on staff to vote No in the upcoming ballot on the proposed enterprise agreement. The campaign was launched at a forum on 25 May, attended by over 50 people. A members’ meeting on 13 June will consider the agreement. This week will probably be the first time that members are provided with a full list of proposed changes to our working conditions.
A recent NBC News poll found that 70 percent of US voters don’t want Joe Biden to recontest the presidency next year. Sixty percent feel likewise about Donald Trump. Yet the two men are currently odds-on to face each other in a 2024 re-run of the 2020 presidential election.
Allyship presents itself as a way that people can show support for the rights of an oppressed group that they themselves are not a part of without “taking the space” of those who are oppressed. Marxists, conversely, argue that solidarity is the key way we can win reforms for, and ultimately liberate, the oppressed. Allyship and solidarity might sound like much the same thing, but there are important differences in these strategies for social change.