10. december 2007

Hans Hauge: “… if, like me, you do not belong to the Left you are the odd man out.”

Hans Hauge kommenterer Tabish Khairs anti-danske lyrik i New Statesman. Fra A Danish row on British shores.

“It is somewhat strange to find oneself attacked by a colleague, Tabish Khair, in The New Statesman. Khair teaches English literature in the University of Aarhus, Denmark. I teach in the same institution.

Frequently he voices his criticism of Denmark in various English newspapers. He apparently dislikes the country. A few months after the Muhammad cartoon crisis he complained to The Guardian that there was no space left for him in Denmark. The popular Danish-Palestinian politician, leader of the party New Alliance, Naser Khader, was silencing him. An absurd claim. Nobody silences Khair…

Recently he has attacked me and the cultural climate at large in this article for newstatesman.com: ‘Reds under Danish beds’.

He labels me quixotic because I have pointed out that Marxists, or whatever one is allowed to call them these days, still dominate universities, the arts, and the media. He cannot spot any. I see many; he sees none. We can’t both be right. Who is the most reliable witness?

All polls show unequivocally that the student body and a majority of university teachers vote for parties on the left, even the far left. Where does he think his own head of department belongs politically? I shall inform him next time we meet in the canteen.

The fact of the matter is that if, like me, you do not belong to the Left you are the odd man out. Writing, as I do, a weekly column for the newspaper Jyllands-Posten doesn’t make things better…

As to the universities he is on most points simply ill informed. No one, he says, read Marx, Adorno, Althusser and Fanon. If they do they are being weeded out. It is again an absurd remark. The fact is that if you want a job in the humanities you had better write about such people. Why does Khair think he was hired?

He is partly right when he says universities here, as elsewhere, are being restructured, but he is wrong when he says along neo-liberalist lines. It is done according to the principles of New Public Management.

He claims there is opposition against this. Indeed. We are a small group, including me, who keep protesting, but Khair is silent.

He then mentions gender and post-colonial studies. They are “less funded” than in other countries. Again he is wrong.

Aarhus University was one of the first universities in the world to institute post-colonial studies. It began with an Institute of Commonwealth Literature back in 1964. 1971 saw the first conference on Commonwealth literature with Wilson Harris, Shiva Naipaul, Sam Selvon participating. The Aarhus-based journal Kunapipi was a leading post-colonial one. I have just published a book of post-colonial essays. One of Khair’s colleagues refused to co-edit the book with me because it wasn’t Marxist.

Khair finishes his contribution with a number of anti-globalist phrases about “democratic international socialism”, and he sounds pretty much like the feisty Indian communist Prakash Karat. (CPI-M). For Khair and Karat globalisation is Capitalism.

Denmark is closed to non-European immigration, he writes, and I read that statement the very day a fairly large number of Indian doctors arrived in this part of the country to work in the region’s hospitals.

Tabish Khair mentions the “contradictions of Capitalism”. It is, indeed, a contradiction that the Danish state pays him so generously for spreading the message of international socialism, let alone why he happily accepts being paid by such a state.”

  • 28/11-07 Uriasposten – Tabish Khair om danske intellektuelle: “It is somehow fashionable not to be really left.”.
  • Oploadet Kl. 15:25 af Kim Møller — Direkte link5 kommentarer

    28. november 2007

    Tabish Khair om danske intellektuelle: “It is somehow fashionable not to be really left.”

    Lektor Tabish Khair filosoferer over dansk politik, og klynker over den manglende accept af marxistiske dogtriner på danske universiteter. Fra New Statesman – Reds under Danish beds

    “Despite the rhetoric of the right and Hauge, Danish universities are far less politically active in any ‘left-leaning’ cause than many British or even American universities. Anti-war protests, EU-protests, immigration-issues etc almost never impact on Danish campuses. Actually, high school students are more politically active on the streets than university students: something happens to them when they join universities.

    Areas like gender studies and postcolonial studies – which are usually sympathetic to left-leaning thinkers – are weaker in Denmark, and less funded, than in many neighbouring countries.

    There are at least three chairs in postcolonial studies in Germany, but I cannot imagine a chair in postcolonial studies coming up in any Danish university. A year ago, I looked for books by Marx in three Danish university bookshops and found only one title. Recently, I asked the most (and only) ‘reddish’ member of my Department – he has retired – what he thought of Terry Eagleton, and I was told that Eagleton is “too radical”.

    It is somehow fashionable not to be really left. This is nothing new: it has been fashionable in most Danish intellectual circles at least from the 1980s. But, unlike in some other countries, it seems to be getting worse.

    This is convenient in a rich state almost closed to non-European immigration. Because it prevents Danes from facing up to a central contradiction of Capitalism (but, of course, the ‘correct’ term these days is ‘globalisation’): that labour is still not as free as capital. And hence, the world has only two options: democratic international socialism, or ‘real Capitalism’ which will allow Third World labour to move about as freely as First World capital.

    I am not a Danish intellectual, like Hans Hauge: I prefer the socialist option.”

  • 7/4-05 Arbejderpartiet Kommunisterne – Terry Eagleton: Paven har blod på hænderne.
  • 11/2-06 Arbejderen – Kunstig religionskrig (interview med T. Khair).
  • Denne weblog er læst af siden 22. juni 2003.




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