Forget the Footnotes

Apathy

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I just realised I’m only one of two people in my department who actually is on strike! There are some other union members but they have chosen not to take part. The convenor of the government department is distributing our exams to other colleagues to mark and they apparently see no problem whatsoever in doing our share. There is a name for people like you!

Come to think of it, I was only one of three government department academics who initially signed on to the petition against the war in Iraq and one of the few who signed on to the recent Living Wage Campaign. Surprising, isn’t it? These are not radical, far-out or marginal causes, and I am by no means an activist or politico. In fact I’m not even proper left-wing, just occasionally morally motivated.

Signing petitions isn’t accomplishing much of course but why are government department academics quicker than others to draw this conclusion? Maybe they feel that holding political opinions is beneath an academic politologist? Maybe they know too much about the issues and can’t make up their minds? Judging by the names on various petitions, there is more staff with political convictions in the departments of economics and accounting. Who would have thought?!

There is a political science theory which says that apathy is good for democracy. Allegedly it is an expression of confidence in the political system. Judging by this theory, my colleagues really have a lot of confidence in the existing order of things.

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