Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Wikileaks in perspective

The Obama administration and U.S. congress are discovering a real talent for distortion, amnesia and hyperbole in their reactions to the release of classified documents by Wikileaks. Hillary Clinton has called the release an “attack on the international community”, the White House characterised it as “reckless and dangerous”, and the State Department noted that “[the documents] were provided in violation of U.S. law and without regard for the grave consequences of this action”.

Clinton’s remark is frankly idiotic. The release of classified documents is in no way an attack on the international community. What it might be (and this is not by any means a bad thing) is an attack on the near-monopoly that states and governments have on directing international relations, or on their ability to hide the often dishonest and immoral character of their relations to one another and to other global political and economic institutions.

Joe Lieberman deserves to have his response quoted more fully. He claimed that Wikileaks’ release of the documents constituted “nothing less than an attack on the national security of the United States, as well as that of dozens of other countries. By disseminating these materials, Wikileaks is putting at risk the lives and the freedom of countless Americans and non-Americans around the world. It is an outrageous, reckless, and despicable action that will undermine the ability of our government and our partners to keep our people safe and to work together to defend our vital interests. Let there be no doubt: the individuals responsible are going to have blood on their hands”.

This is laughably hypocritical coming from a politician who has been amongst the most eager in our country to eat up questionable intelligence without exercising his critical faculties, and use that intelligence to justify sending thousands of Americans to their deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan. Lieberman, with nearly all of his Republican colleagues and far too many Democrats (Clinton included), backed a war against Iraq that has not only claimed the lives of upwards of a hundred thousand Iraqis, but has also undermined our relations with long-standing allies around the world, and fostered an almost unprecedented level of mistrust if not hatred in the U.S. government and its motives.

People like Lieberman have far more blood on their hands than the likes of Julian Assange could soak up in a thousand lifetimes, and have done more to undermine our security and to create a gap between governments and the people they are meant to serve than the release of any number of documents.

The likes of George W Bush and Sarah Palin have also weighed in, the latter, predictably, using the “fiasco” as a stick with which to beat Obama for being “incompetent”. But the knee-jerk response of people like Palin (“Why was [Julian Assange] not pursued with the same urgency as we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders?”) also gives us a flavour of their outright contempt for freedom of information (“Shouldn’t [individuals working for Wikileaks] at least have had their financial assets frozen just as we do to individuals who provide material support for terrorist organizations?”) and of their internal philosophical contradictions—government is bad and therefore needs to keep secrets and relentlessly pursue those who threaten to expose those secrets. The equation of Assange with the Taliban or al Qaeda (and one suspects that Palin isn’t clear on the difference between the two) is absurd, as is the characterisation of Wikileaks as a terrorist organisation.

There has been an extraordinary amount of hand-wringing about the threat to diplomatic practise and the secretive conduct of international relations that the ability of an outside organisation to access classified documents poses. So much, in fact, that I’m left with the feeling that the real threat posed by Wikileaks is to a monopoly on information.

Or to the dishonest way in which that information is collected. Presumably the news that many diplomats double as ‘spies’ isn’t really new. It’s just that many in official circles find it unseemly that such practises get dragged out into public. But there should be a higher degree of transparency in the conduct of international relations (because after all, governments are supposed to be acting on behalf of the people they ostensibly serve).

One of the most disgusting revelations to come out of the Guardian’s publications of Wikileaks documents so far are Prince Andrew’s comments about the Serious Fraud Office’s investigation of BAE’s corrupt arms deal with Saudi Arabia. The Prince, who acts as the UK’s Special Representative for International Trade and Investment, reportedly referred to the ‘“idiocy”’ of the investigation and ‘”these (expletive) journalists, especially from the National Guardian, who poke their noses everywhere” and (presumably) make it harder for the British businessmen to do business”’.

Here is a British official, a representative of the government, a member of the Royal Family, condoning corruption, to the applause of the business community who were present—something which surely merits investigation. This is unlikely to happen given that Tony Blair killed the SFO’s investigations when blackmailed by the Saudis, and given David Cameron’s emphasis on an amoral business-oriented foreign policy.

I suspect that nothing earth-shatteringly new will emerge from the latest release of documents from Wikileaks. But as published in the NYT and Guardian, the documents reveal a pernicious culture of secrecy, a deep mistrust of the public, a fear of transparency, and a kind of moral void. It is easy to see how all of these things have historically translated into the cover-up of colonial abuses, the misuse of state authority to undermine emergent nations in Africa and Asia, the unscrutinised expansion of wars in places like Vietnam, and the slow, corrosive undermining of our rights because politicians are so ready to jump on any attempts at transparency and condemn them as “threats”, “terrorism”, or anti-freedom.

And all you have to do is look at Obama’s expansion of the war in Afghanistan to include Pakistan, the weakness of media in taking on the Pentagon over claims about the value of our wars, the impending arms deal with undemocratic Saudi Arabia, or the stamp of approval that the Supreme Court has put on official corruption with its rulings on campaign financing, to see that state secrecy is alive and well. A lot of abuse of our liberties, whether collective or individual, gets committed in the name of national security, one of our world’s most abused terms.

And so long as our governments persist in behaving unaccountably, I think that we need to applaud those who take the initiative to make the decision-makers and their processes accountable for their actions.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Talking to the Taliban: you couldn't make it up...

When American military officials defended the surge in Afghanistan, they often pointed to its role in forcing the Taliban to begin engaging in talks with the Karzai government, talks which were supported by ISAF and U.S. forces. As always, given the secretiveness of the military and the unwillingness of journalists to probe too deeply lest their ‘credible and anonymous’ sources dry up, there was little in the way of details about the who, the what or the how of those talks.

But I suspect that we all now know what was the basis for this supposed breakthrough in our military strategy. And I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we suddenly hear a lot less about the prospects for those talks, and if the military has to dig around for some other defence of their waste of American and Afghan lives, now that we know that the key ‘Taliban’ figure engaging in those talks was a fraud. He was supposed to be Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, a senior figure in the Taliban.

While we still don’t know who he really is, what we can be sure of is that he’s walked away not only with whatever large sums of money U.S. intelligence chose to bribe him with, but with even more of the credibility of the Karzai government and of U.S. military and intelligence strategists. That credibility is a precious resource given its scarcity, and this latest blow raises serious questions about the capability of our intelligence services, the ineptitude of the Karzai government, the use of highly questionable information by the military to defend their strategy, the value of that strategy, and of course, our continued presence in Afghanistan.

The story of U.S. intelligence pouring money and time into courting an impostor would be hilarious if it wasn’t also a sign of how out of our depth we are in Afghanistan, both in terms of our overarching strategy and the more basic ‘Who’s Who’ of the people we are by turns fighting and inviting ‘round to tea.

It is increasingly unclear what good our presence does either our national security—now the Obama administration’s primary rationale for our continued war—or the well-being of Afghans—the other argument made about the need to stay on, which rings particularly hollow given the ramped-up use of drones, the secretive expansion of the war into Pakistan, the night-time raids, the volte-face on negotiating with the Taliban, and the inability to focus our aims for either war or peace.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Opposition to the war in Afghanistan mounting in Britain

The week-end saw protesters marching through London in opposition to Britain's continued involvement in the war in Afghanistan and a Guardian columnist attack the artificiality of deadlines that will cost the lives of Britons and Afghans and call for a quick withdrawal from a war that is now nine years old.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Waging endless war

NATO leaders met in Lisbon this week-end and decided to push forward with their offensive in Afghanistan. The BBC quotes NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen as saying, “One thing must be very clear—NATO is in this for the long term [...] We will not transition until our Afghan partners are ready. We will stay after transition in a supporting role. If the enemies of Afghanistan have the idea that they can wait it out until we leave, they have the wrong idea. We will stay as long as it takes to finish the job”.

In practise, this means that NATO will continue to act in a combat role until 2014, at which point, its members agreed, it will hand over the fight to the Afghan government. But if Iraq is the blueprint (and it’s difficult to draw any other conclusion from the statements of American military and civilian leadership), there will likely be large numbers of U.S. and ISAF forces in the country after 2014. Rasmussen’s statement confirms this, and is worrying for its open-endedness.

The lack of self-awareness is also striking. No consideration appears to have been given to the idea that NATO and U.S. troops might be a part of the problem. No one is willing to consider that their continued presence in the country might be a real lifeline for the Taliban and/or Al Qaeda. Or that the human and material damage that drone strikes, night-time raids and military ‘surges’ do might be detrimental to Afghanistan’s future (and to our own).

Moreover there is the appalling reductionism. In Rasmussen’s world (that also inhabited by the Obama administration, the Republican Party and neoconservative as well as so-called realist policymakers of many stripes), there are Afghans and there are the enemies of Afghanistan. The problem with this mindset is that many of the people we consider to be the enemies of Afghanistan are themselves Afghans. And NATO’s promotion of negotiations with the Taliban suggests that the alliance is prepared to fudge its own yardstick of success.

Finally, there remains the all-too-important question of what it actually means to “finish the job”. No one has convincingly presented a vision of the Afghanistan that NATO and the U.S. aspire to leave behind. Each contributing country, depending on the myth, half-truth or outright lie it needs to present its people with, has a different story, and these stories begin to diverge widely during election seasons. Changes in strategy necessarily affect the feasibility of that vision. But the sole consistent element is the fungibility of Afghanistan’s future—tragic given the blood spilt by too many parties, and the crocodile tears shed by too many American and European politicians in the name of ‘saving’ Afghanistan.

Democrats in the U.S. Congress are faced with a choice when it comes to Afghanistan. They can do as they have done since 2001 and allow the President, whether Bush or Obama, to drive a series of wars that are costing our people billions of dollars, thousands of lives, and our security. Our military action has also led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in the Middle East and South Asia, strengthened the moral legitimacy of the Taliban, and made the lives of countless people in Afghanistan and Iraq living hells. Our immoral and misconceived wars, neither of which seems to have an end-point, have wrought untold psychological damage on soldiers who have rotated too many times, in conditions too appalling for most of us to grasp, through combat zones in which there is neither an obvious enemy nor a clear objective.

It has been sickening, during the past week, to see George W Bush back in the news defending his invasion of Iraq. This is the man who allowed his Vice-President and Defence Secretary to claim that there was a connection between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. This is the man whose invasion of Iraq created the first tangible link between Iraq and Al Qaeda. This is the man who, together with Tony Blair, sent thousands of American and British soldiers to their deaths because, he told the world, Saddam was a bad man and Iraqis needed to be freed.

What we got was utter chaos: the destruction of infrastructure as part of a campaign to ‘shock and awe’; the implementation of systematic torture in U.S.-run prisons, the subcontracting of our military affairs to companies like Blackwater which showed total disregard for people’s lives; a situation in which we created a series of alternative power-bases within Iraq, effectively relying on factionalism to ‘pacify’ the country (the so-called Anbar Awakening)—a move all-too-appropriately redolent of colonialism.

George Bush and his administration misled us about the reason for invading Iraq. They manipulated intelligence to murderous effect. They abused the war-making powers that a supine Congress was all-too-eager to grant them.

We once heard the same story about Afghanistan...that we had to defeat the Taliban because they were oppressing Afghans and repressing democracy. But Obama has dropped this pretence, and is telling us that this is a war for our security. But we should remember that every missile that claims a civilian life, every Afghan shot in a botched night-time raid gone awry, contributes more to the cause of insurgents than the survival of any Taliban or Al Qaeda commander. And the longer we remain as an occupying force in South Asia, the more we are likely to foster a hatred of U.S. militarism, a hatred which has brought disaster upon us in the not-so-recent past.

The silver lining in Bush’s reappearance might be that it makes people reconsider Afghanistan, which for too long was considered the ‘good war’. But there remain those who champion the war shamelessly, invoking both the spectre of national security and militarism, and that of a civilising mission.

People like John McCain constantly enjoin Obama to listen to the generals. But when Obama follows his generals’ advice and suggests an openness to facilitating talks with the Taliban to draw down combat operations, McCain idiotically argues that when you fight a war properly, “You win, and then you leave. And that’s what we’ve done in Iraq”. Never mind that there are 50,000 U.S. soldiers still in Iraq. For McCain and some of his fellow Republicans, the war becomes an ego-driven exercise. It is about winning, whatever the cost. It is about victory, however entirely removed that victory might be from any goals. Materially, it is about sacrificing the lives of as many American soldiers in an effort to kill as many Afghans as necessary to persuade someone—never mind who—to surrender. Because that—killing people, injuring them, destroying their homes and roads and livelihoods—is what war is about, and we shouldn’t forget it.

But it is a choice that other people must make as well, not just an American public and Congress.

In Canada, Stephen Harper announced that Canadian forces will end combat operations at the end of 2011. That will be small comfort to the families of soldiers who are killed in post-combat operations—the grossly misnamed stage at which the U.S. finds itself in Iraq (with 50,000 soldiers still occupying the country). And Harper, true to form, has bypassed Parliament in making this decision, with the craven support of the neoconservative Liberal Leader, Michael Ignatieff, and his party.

Harper’s parsing of the Canadian presence attempts to mislead people into taking December 2011 as the end of Canadian operations in the country. Ignatieff, who has a history of advocating the failed wars of the U.S., has suggested that Canada needs to embrace a foreign policy which “combines military, reconstruction and humanitarian efforts together”.

Across Scandinavia, governments argue that they are trying to do right by remaining in Afghanistan—that theirs is a nation-building, humanitarian exercise. But their governments are deluded if they believe that this is what the ISAF mission in Afghanistan has become. Bare-bones security is the only serious goal of the United States and Britain at this stage. But Scandinavian countries have fewer than 2,000 soldiers in Afghanistan. Britain, whose Prime Minister recently assured a foreign policy audience that “We are there to help Afghans take control of their security and ensure that al-Qa'ida can never again pose a threat to us from Afghan soil”, has around 10,000 soldiers in Afghanistan. The U.S. over 100,000. Neither country’s government is seriously committed to good governance or nation-building. If we were, we probably wouldn’t be embarking on a program of razing homes, on a strategy of relying on bombing a country from miles in the air, or undertaking the funding of unaccountable warlords whilst funding Pakistan’s brutal and corrupt military and intelligence services.

There are agencies and organisations from the U.S., Britain, Canada, Sweden and Norway which are genuinely committed to improving the lives of Afghans. It is an open question whether or not meaningful political and social change can come from without, and whether these agencies and organisations have thought through how aid in creating an environment in which people can make their own decisions about how they would like to live their lives. But precious little can be done in an environment dominated by a massive occupying force.

A final issue, which has got very little press and has been the subject of almost no debate, is our expansion of the war in Afghanistan to include Pakistan. Obama’s West Point Speech, supposedly his blueprint for the war, did not outline any such military expansion. His dishonesty is reminiscent of the creeping expansion of the Vietnam War.

And this returns us to the choice which lies before Democrats. They can go along with Obama and his Republican allies. Or, because it is the right thing to do, they could oppose our continued presence in Afghanistan. They should make it clear to the President that if he wants the party’s nomination unopposed in 2012, and if he wants the votes of people who are concerned about the loss of life to Americans and Afghans or about the misdirection of our economic resources towards a pointless war which only benefits a criminal global arms trade, he must change his stance on the war.

Nancy Pelosi should lead Democratic caucus in the House into taking a more aggressive approach in confronting the President. Together with Democratic Senators, who at least in theory control that chamber (its medieval structure makes that control terribly tenuous), they should grill the President and his administration (particularly about the expansion of the war into Pakistan), as well as irresponsible Republicans who have yet to answer for their role in forcing the U.S. deeper into Afghanistan.

And the public should begin to make some noise. Polling suggests an underlying worry about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. But that has yet to translate into any real action or serious concern about what it means that we have been fighting a war for nine years, and have been told by our leaders that we should expect to continue fighting those wars for another four at the very least.

I could not disagree more profoundly when Republican politicians suggest that our government should rein in its efforts on behalf of the public, particularly those members of the public who are most vulnerable at a moment of great economic uncertainty. Their suggestion is all the more hypocritical when it is accompanied by the assertion that one of the two major things that government ought to be undertaking (the other being a full-court economic press on behalf of the wealthy and the corporate) is the waging of endless wars that misdirect our resources, imperil our country, and take the lives of tens of thousands of people.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

History 10: Mau Mau in Kenyan history and geography

Images, top to bottom: agricultural land at the edge of the Aberdares National Park//farmland and homesteads on the border of the Aberdares Range//the Aberdares range, where much of the Mau Mau war was fought//the Aberdares Range//a cave used by Mau Mau fighters in the foothills of Mt Kenya//the forest in the foothills of Mt Kenya//a cave used by Mau Mau fighters in the foothills of Mt Kenya//a statue of Mau Mau leader Dedan Kimathi in central Nairobi//Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga making the pitch for constitutional reform at Uhuru Park (which has been heralded as a 'Second Republic', meant to address many of the land-related issues which fuelled Mau Mau) and which went largely un-addressed by post-Independence governments.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The threat to English and Californian universities

In England this week, a once-progressive party was dragged over the coals, both by the opposition Labour Party in the House of Commons and by students in the streets of London. For most of the twenty-first century, the Liberal Democrats have been Britain’s most progressive major political party. They proposed tax increases for the wealthiest, they opposed the war in Iraq, they argued vociferously against tuition fees at universities, and they worked hard to integrate environmentalism into economic and social policy before it was fashionable. But it is their erstwhile stance on tuition fees—a manifesto pledge at the election—that is getting them into trouble with young voters, traditionally a bastion of support. For that reason, students in England are taking to the streets in protest, and are hoping to use electoral laws to force by-elections in Liberal Democrat-held seats in an effort to hold their representatives accountable.

That students in England feel that mounting an attack on Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties’ headquarters is the only way to make their voices heard illustrates the fundamental weakness of unrepresentative democracy. People were under no illusion that a Conservative government would have readily ransacked the country’s education system—for that reason and others, only 36.1% of Britons voted Conservative. Somewhere around 60% of the country voted for parties that presented themselves as progressive. But the country’s undemocratic electoral arithmetic put the Conservatives on the brink of being able to form a majority government, and the Liberal Democrats formed a coalition government with them—truly one of recent political history’s more strange alliances.

The result is that the Liberal Democrats’ grassroots appeal and more progressive wing are being used to cover the Conservative Party’s assaults on public services in general and on higher education in particular. So students’ anger is particularly understandable. It is only strange that, given the Labour Party’s assault on any non-utilitarian value that public universities might offer, that it has taken students in England this long to react.

Former education-secretary Charles Clarke was perhaps the most outspoken when it came to articulating the Labour Party’s approach to higher education, maintaining that “universities exist to enable the British economy and society to deal with the challenges posed by the increasingly rapid process of global change”. There is no place, he went on, for state funding for the “medieval concept of the university as a community of scholars seeking truth”. Many of us would beg to differ, and in fact see the fusion of different fields of study into a quest after the answers to fundamental questions as being at the heart of any institution of higher education.

Peter Mandelson renewed New Labour’s assault, releasing policy documents calling for universities to focus on training rather than educating, for bringing industry in to design courses around what they perceive as their needs, and for allowing the top universities more latitude in charging ‘competitive’ tuition fees.

The Conservatives have been much more careful with their language, but the approach is essentially the same, and is accompanied by massive cuts. The Labour Party should fight Coalition policy, but Ed Milliband has tied his own hands by embracing the graduate tax (which I believe is a bad idea). So real opposition will come from LibDem and Labour backbenchers in Parliament and, far more importantly, from students and instructors at universities.


Why does this all matter to us in the United States? In part because the President of the University of California has just proposed to raise undergraduate tuition by a further 8%. I say further, of course, because this year tuition was raised by 32%. As of 2007, undergraduate fees had risen 90% over six years. The hikes since have been equally dramatic. Today’s undergraduates pay about twice what my class did upon entering the University of California as first-years in the fall of 2004. And the willingness to raise tuition repeatedly demonstrates that there is no real upper limit.

Mark Yudof and the Regents have consistently argued that they are leveraging increased financial aid to offset tuition hikes. And it is true that there is more financial aid available for low- and lower middle-income students, and that the latest proposal provides grants for upper middle-bracket students for the first year of the hikes (it’s hard not to see this last as a cynical move to placate students and to stave off the prospect of further system-wide protests against the tuition hikes).

However, only someone chronically out-of-touch with the experience of first-time college attendees would argue that financial aid is a decent substitute for manageable tuition. First-time college attendees often lack a support network knowledgeable about the application and financial aid processes. Because high schools are facing economic pressures and are losing staff, teachers and counsellors are becoming increasingly overworked, and are less able to take students through the application process. And of course schools educating the most first-time college attendees are also those facing the most severe pressures, and which have the fewest resources to support those students who might have the grades, the ambition and the potential to attend a top university, but who might lack the financial resources or the informed support-network that could alert them to the fact that there is financial aid out there to cover or at least alleviate the cost of higher education.

In other words, the numbers—whether 32% increase followed by 8% increase; a cost of over $12,000 per year and a total estimated cost of well over $20,000—really matter. The guarantee to low-income students doesn’t guarantee aid to cover living costs, and at Berkeley the average estimated cost for a student living on-campus is $28,312. This is an enormous cost, which creates a daunting financial and psychological barrier for low-income and first-generation prospective students.

Even if the generous Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan covers students’ $12,000 in tuition and fees, they are left with a staggering $16,000 per year in potential debt, which over four years adds up to $64,000.

While cutting the compensation for UC administrators won’t even begin to solve the problem and should not be advocated as a solution, there is no reason why we should be paying failed advocates what we currently are. Austerity, unnecessary in the context of California’s great if unevenly distributed wealth, should extend to the Mark Yudofs of this world who have the temerity to group UC administrators and executives amongst the “Tom Cruises of the academic world”. These people need to be reminded that they are not indispensable to UC’s mission.

I made the argument at this time last year that Yudof and the Regents needed to raise their game. That, as the defenders of public higher education in California, they needed to act decisively and morally to change the rules of the game and to put responsibility for funding education properly at the feet of California’s government and populous. If they were sincere, they would remind people that the University of California is just that...a University which needs to be accessible to all Californians, and not a department store specialising in pricey degrees.

Someone replied, “This is not a game. Responsible adults don't resort to blackmailing a bankrupt state in order to balance the budget”. But it’s precisely because it is not a game, because state government (as opposed to the state) has been bankrupted by bad political decisions and an undemocratic law-making framework, because people’s livelihoods and futures are on the line, that we need stronger advocacy and real action. Because blackmail is exactly what California’s affluent individuals, wealthy corporations and industries—the state’s economic gangsters—are practising when they threaten to leave the state if California takes action to tap their wealth to improve the prospects of the state community as a whole.

But if Yudof and the Regents are the most egregious offenders, their strategy to drive wedges between different sectors of the campus community has been frighteningly successful. There is little sense of community as the scientific side of campus, occupying the high ground both literally and in terms of utilitarian value, shrugs off the cuts and wonders what the fuss coming from the humanities and social sciences is all about.

I’ve heard plenty of students say that they feel powerless to affect change, to make their voice heard, to step out of class to raise their voices in protest of what is being done to public higher education. Their desire to defend their community (because that is what the University of California is for many of us—a home) is undercut by the unwillingness of university administration to rally the campus community in any meaningful way and by the outward display of indolence by the faculty since October of last year.

Truly, the response of faculty to the University of California’s crisis has been frankly pathetic. The few who have been active and outspoken are, unfortunately, the exceptions who prove the rule. These are the people who see students regularly, who should be able to act as conduits of information between the administration, departments, graduate students and undergraduates. They could use class-time to rock the boat and call attention to the damage that the assault on public higher education will do to the social and cultural fabric of our state. They could foster a serious campus-wide conversation about how to advocate for the University of California.

California’s constitution reminds us that, “a general diffusion of knowledge and intelligence being essential to the preservation of the rights and liberties of the people, the Legislature shall encourage by all suitable means the promotion of intellectual, scientific, moral, and agricultural improvement”. The language of the state constitution might sound a bit stilted, its tone unduly paternalistic, but it cuts to the heart of the matter in an important respect.

It doesn’t, for example, say anything about the economic and industrial improvement that we understand grows out of higher education. The basis for that growth is in the “intellectual, scientific, moral, and agricultural improvement”. Intellectual and moral imperatives are steadily being abandoned in the rush to create a university system which is primarily worried about creating a workforce that satisfies the needs of business and industry instead of one which can reorient, when necessary, the drive of business and industry toward moral and social questions.

This abandonment subverts the ideal of higher education in our state, which is the creation of a cohort of informed Californians, who are at once liberal individuals, conscious and jealous of hard-earned rights, and collectively-minded citizens, able to recognise that people’s free material and mental labours are what lead to improvement and, many of us would hope, toward greater equality.