Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

October 26, 2010

So you want to get a PhD in the humanities

Filed under: Academia — louisproyect @ 9:34 pm


  1. Thank God I’m getting a Regents Bachelors Degree. Once I get out of college it’s gonna be punk rock and activism all the way… and of course a soul smashing day job so I can continue to eat and be housed.

    Comment by Rob — October 26, 2010 @ 10:42 pm

  2. To clarify, I should say thank god I’m settling for an RBA.

    Comment by Rob — October 26, 2010 @ 11:27 pm

  3. Right on Rob. I started working at 8 shining shoes for a quarter. As an only child, a latch key kid with divorced working class parents, I wanted money in my pockets. At 12 years old I hired on at a drug store moving freight for $1.50/hr. I pilfered tuinols & placidals there for extra income. Then I signed on at 16 at a printing/bindery factory in Chicago (a city one could almost always find a job in until today) the city of “big shoulders” that ironically is probably the most segregated city in the world, with at least a million Black proletarians compounded into a few bleak square miles, with Cops that make the Abu Girab torturers look like Boy Scouts.

    Back then there were half a million Mexicans in Chicago, hardworking, peaceful people, mostly undocumented. Imagine that number today!

    I’ve never stopped working since. Dropped out of school at 16 and like an urban Jack London I hustled a living off big city streets and travelled the globe like a hobo on sheer wits & audacity. Went to college at 25 on an agreement with a Judge to stay out of Prison and stayed on through good grades & Pell Grants to grad school and after all those years I’ve got an utterly useless PhD in Sociology yet now I wrench on vehicles for barely a living.

    Just lost my house I lived in for 13 years. Turning 50 on 12/16 & have no retirement, no savings, no health insurance, no vacations & no future but relentless toil from month to month.

    Am I bitter about the success of the organized crime of capitalism and their sophisticated global kleptocracies and the failure of the agency of working class consciousness & solidarity to counter them — you’re fucking eh right I am. I’m still bitter about the collapse of the USSR. I’m for rolling heads & dirty hungry kids kicking skulls like soccer balls down boulevards running Red in gutters.

    The fact is the American University system is so corrupted by the Pentagon that Departments that cannot contribute to militarism starve. The least funded Depts across America start with History and progress across the humanities spectrum to Sociology, Political Science & Anthropology, the latter being useful only to the extent imperialism can figure out ways to thwart insurgents by thinking like they do.

    Of course their theories have limited effectiveness because they always underestimate the determination of the subjugated but alas that’s the nature of class struggle, the biggest force besides gravity that makes the world go round.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — October 27, 2010 @ 2:39 am

  4. That’s quite a story, Karl, and it’s great that you’re still committed to the struggle after all that. I’m a relatively privileged white boy, as you probably could have guessed, and while I’ve worked some shitty summer jobs (the hospital laundry service being shitty in the literal sense) I can’t even begin to compare. I’ve actually considered dropping out of college, but at this point, my parents are over $50,000 in the hole and I think I at least owe them a degree. I actually just transferred colleges hoping to find a larger level of student activism in the supposedly liberal town of Shepherdstown, WV, but it’s really just the same old shit as “conservative” Buckhannon where I hail from. It’s actually worse. On the weekends, hoards of tourists from D.C. and it’s suburbs converge on the downtown area to consume at the “quaint shops” and “hip boutiques”.

    Comment by Rob — October 27, 2010 @ 1:40 pm

  5. So what I really would like to know is you went from 16 high school dropout to 25 attending college, and have a Phd. in sociology with a job as a mechanic? Okay you are the fool then!!!! And to conclude it must be your fault your turning wrenches, and did not save or invest your money wisely, and while were at it let us blame those who took advantage of the idiots here in America, who did not put there own best interests in mind!That is precisely why America is so fucked up now!! Because you fucked up and did not pay attention to the trends in the market, you expect soeone elseto feel sorry for you and take care of you! FUCK YOU, you got what you deserve dumbass!!!!

    Comment by larry walker — May 23, 2011 @ 8:37 pm

  6. Welp…to my disappointment most of these comments are about the money. you would be a mechanic anyway. theoretically what you studied in college ought to have been greater than what you could get otherwise. i know this is not true in real life, as it is warped by terrible academia, and its hierarchy. but come on…dont call someone an idiot for wasting money in humantites degree. it isnt their fault its not free. and furthermore you can educated yourself…but unfortunately the perspective college may give you may in fact, be important in more ways than one. at the start i was altruistic about the whole thing then i saw how it was almost a microcosm for things that were wrong in our society as creeping cynicism set in.

    Comment by Hippolyte — February 21, 2012 @ 2:11 pm

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