The Fear of Working Class Intellectuals


Global Center for Advanced Studies blog

Originally posted on GCAS--The BLOG:

Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 9.58.28 AMCalling a bluff is always satisfying especially if you know it’s a bluff.  A bluff is “an attempt to deceive someone (or a group) into believing that one can or is going to do something.”  To call someone’s bluff is to expose their deception.

People who grew up in a sustained context in which hardships were a perennial part of daily life develop an idiosyncratic creativity and a fighting spirit. Observing parents or guardians just trying to “make ends meet” to put food on the table, to constantly pay the rent and bills just to stay off the streets teaches one the basic truth of social reality.  Life is exceedingly difficult with each day bringing new and basic challenges to stay just above water.

Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 9.54.57 AMThis segment of the population is the most populous in American society according to Dennis Gilbert & Joseph Kahl (The American Class Structure). They…

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The Waiʻanae Coast Hall of Fame

I was very glad I went to the Waiʻanae Coast Hall of Fame induction ceremony. I initially went because my grandmother, Margaret Kaʻaʻa Apo (1910 – 2002) was being inducted, but I found that because it was the first set of inductees, it was a veritable “who’s who” of Waiʻanae over the last century.


My mother, Leialoha Apo Perkins (right under the word “of” in Hall of Fame) accepts the award for my grandmother

Most of the inductees were long passed (my grandmother in 2002), but included surfers Rell Sun and Buffalo Keaulana, rancher Sebastian Reiny, developer Chinn Ho, Katherine Maunakea, legislator James “Jimmy” Aki, Waiʻanae and Nanakuli HS teacher and coach Richard Engler, OHA trustee Frechy Desoto, slack-key guitarist Ray Kane, Hawaiian language specialist Kaʻupena Wong, and the original members of the Hanabusa, Tamura and Meyer families. The awards were given in four categories: Business, Education, Culture and Arts and Sports and Recreation.

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My grandmother was inducted for her work on the Hawaiʻi Board of Education, the state Constitutional Convention (Con-con) and helping make Hawaiian one of the official languages of the State of Hawaiʻi. As an article in the Star Advertiser noted at the time:

Apo was a member of the benevolent royal society Hale O NÅ Ali‘i for more than 50 years, said the society’s president, Hailama Farden.
“She was a mÅnaleo, a native speaker,” he said. “As part of the 1978 Constitutional Convention she had a big part in getting Hawaiian declared the state’s official language.”


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The need for a Hawaiian College

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have produced many of the most prominent African American figures in US history, including Martin Luther King (Morehouse, 1948), Spike Lee (Morehouse 1979), Toni Morrison (Howard, 1953), W.E.B. DuBois (Fisk, 1888), and Jesse Jackson (North Carolina A&T, 1964). The inner politics and purpose of a typical HBC are seen in Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. The idea was that traditional (read: white) colleges either did not admit African Americans or discriminated against them once they were there.

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According to

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s) have been around since 1837, the first one being Cheney University in Pennsylvania.

Today there are 105 Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the United States. A lot of people questions whether they’re necessary or not, but these colleges and universities have done great things for the African American community.

While HBCU’s only make up 3% of the college institutions in the United States, 75% more African Americans graduate from an HBCU than any other school, and over half of America’s African American professionals have graduated from an HBCU.

Similar to Native American tribal colleges, their progressive approach was to create their own institutions, as much racism is institutional and therefore invisible. Similarly, Hawaiians are often discriminated against in institutions of higher education. These instances are hard to see when they happen, but clear when outcomes are examined; Hawaiians comprised at one point only 8% of students at the University of Hawaiʻi, Mānoa and only 2% of the faculty. This needs to be compared to Hawaiians’ 19% in the general population and 40-50% in the prison population. One Hawaiian educator, now in his 60s, relates that when he was in elementary school and said he wanted to go to college, his teacher said “Hawaiians donʻt go to college.”

We are a long way from that now, but many problems remain. Even Kamehameha graduates only complete college at a rate of between 48 – 68%, and as a group these are the highest performing Hawaiian students, as Kamehameha has a 7-10% acceptance rate and a 98% college acceptance rate.

Hawaiians have begun to redesign education at all levels, especially K-12, and experiment with alternative, and specifically Hawaiian pedagogy. The verdict remains out on these experiments, but relatively few have been performed at the tertiary level, partly because of institutional, state and Federal constraints.

This is not to disparage the real progress that has occurred at UHM’s Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies, Hawaiʻinuiakea School of Hawaiian Knowledge or UH Hilo’s Ka Haka ʻUla o Keʻelikōlani, but merely to offer another alternative. What does not exist is a Hawaiian liberal arts college.

It is beginning to become clear that the explosion in college costs can be attributed to the rise in non-teaching positions. For one college it was recently reported that of 19,000 employees, only 5,000 were teaching positions. Many of these positions were created with good intentions, but it canʻt be argued that it is fair to pass all these costs on to students, who are already drowning in debt.

What is implicated is a college that refocuses on teaching and is light on administration – such a model could keep costs much lower than is currently considered normal. Lecturers are already teaching for as little at $1000 per course at local colleges, so teaching talent is not expensive to attract. 70% of all teaching faculty in US universities today are lecturers, and less than a quarter are tenured faculty.

I am suggesting a private college that could charge tuition under $5000 per year by eliminating non-teaching positions. Its private status could be used to avoid the many restrictions which force public institutions into creating expensive “specialist” and administrative positions.

I grew  up from age 9 around the campus of the only private, non-religious college in the South Pacific, Atenisi University. Atenisi has existed – though several times this existence has been in jeopardy – since 1975, charging tuition of around $100 (Tongan – about $200 USD) per year, with no government or church support, or grants. This brainchild of the great Tongan sage Futa Helu is probably where I got the notion that such an institution is possible. A New Zealand film maker was inspired enough to make a documentary about Helu and Atenisi, linking them to the Tongan democracy movement (Atenisi is a transliteration of Athens):

Similarly, frustrated by the increasingly corporate-driven model of academia, the scholars Creston Davis and my PhD class/cohort-mate Jason Adams started their own university, the Global Center for Advanced Studies. GCAS features on its faculty many of the top philosophers and theorists in the world, such as Slavoj Zizek and Gayatri Spivak. Alain Badiou, formerly chair of Philosophy at the École Normale Supérieure and who Zizek has called “Hegel walking amongst us” is its Honorary President.

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Adams formed another school in 2014, the New Centre for Research and Practice, in Michigan.

There is beginning to be a small group of Hawaiian college administrators who could lead such an institution. As Ron Paul has noted, the current college funding system (debt – $1 trillion of it) is broken. This is just an idea of an alternative that could return university study to what it was originally meant to be – a place of teaching, learning and the building of skills, rather than a machine processing the monies from tuition, grants and sports. If nation-building is a serious goal for Hawaiians – and it is – an institution to educate our people our way is crucial.


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Reflective Practice #3 – Development

AT the lower levels of education – preschool and elementary – teachers know, intuitively or explicitly that they are dealing with children who are developing. This development is far from merely academic. Some are still potty-training and developing emotional resources to deal with the outside world. By high school, it tends to be assumed that we are dealing with mini-adults, and their issues with being functional and serious are attributed to “immaturity,” which is seen almost as a character flaw. But developmental psychology shows that during the high school years, there is one discrete phase that young people go through. Some call it “fulcrum three” – the first fulcrum, or pivot point being around five months, and the second around the time of potty training (two-ish). In each of these phases a discrete sense of self is developed. First, the sense that the child is not the mother, and second, an individual ego sense develops.

It is not until about age fifteen that children begin to break out of this egoic phase, and realize that they are part of larger structures – nation, community, tribe. Hawaiian educators spend a lot of time teaching that “itʻs a kākou thing” – i.e., that there is a collective dimension to an individual’s existence, and as self-identified “Hawaiian educators” we view the Hawaiian nation as the primary structure of this emerging identity. But I doubt that most do this consciously, and hence attribute any failure to societal or familial disfunction, when in fact it is normal growth, not yet completed.

We need to begin thinking of the teaching of higher grades, and college, as a extension of the process begun in pre- and elementary school. We also need to realize that this growth is by its nature slow, and can continue well beyond fulcrum three. Models that look for quick growth – within a year or even a semester – are therefore very flawed and likely detrimental to healthy development.

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The Other Lost Generation

The realization is slowly dawning on scholars  that because precarious adjunct work is the new norm in academia, a generation (going on two generations) of scholarship has been lost. What could have come out of this generation had they been offered normal, full-time academic positions? It’s really impossible to say, but if we look back at what previous generations brought us, it may give an inkling of the potential that has been, and is being squandered by the pay-per-student university model, as 70% of the academic teaching workforce are now  lecturers.  Just a sampling of the traditional model of the academy shows its fruits:

The late-nineteenth century brought us existentialism, early theories of modernity, Nietzsche’s theories of power, atheism, Marxism, anarchism and young Hegelians.

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Friedrich Nietzsche

The first lost generation (WWI) brought us Freud’s ego, id and superego, Jung’s collective unconscious, and Husserl’s phenomenology.

With the WWII generation, we gained Arendt’s  banality of evil, Heiddeger’s dasein,  Marcuse’s one dimensional man, and the insights of Walter Benjamin and the Frankfurt school in general.

Though the glut in PhDs began with them, the boomers gave us postmodernism, Derrida’s deconstruction, liberation theology, Said’s orientalism, and many of the critical and areas studies (Women’s studies, Black/African American Studies, Ethnic Studies).

Generation X was the first to be hit with “adjuctivitis,” and it has shown – ours is not really associated with any major intellectual movements. Just more postmodernism and a vague sense of trying to catch up with our forebears, who seemed to think up this stuff between sips of champagne (World Wars notwithstanding), tea and some heavier stuff. On the contrary, in our time, the death of theory has been (albeit exaggeratedly) proclaimed. Now as the early millenials begin to enter the halls of academia, the prevailing mode is not liberation, but a new frugality, even while burdened with unprecedented debt.

If we are to take just the very rough outlines of these developments in thought, we find modernity (scientific rationality) and postmodernity (a simultaneous acceptance of multiple world views), which suggests the next development would have been “beyond” postmodernism. One approach, which I have written extensively about, was ironically (or perhaps not so ironically) developed outside academia: Integral. As integral takes the best of both modernity (the use of reason) and postmodernity (the understanding that truths are context-dependent), it seems feasible that it could be, or could have been, a next step. As Generation X grew up at the cusp of liberalism (Carter) and conservatism (Reagan), it also seems feasible that it could be, or could have been, the first integral generation – inside or outside of the academy itself. Philosophers were not usually professors until Kant. Hegel was a high school teacher until he was 46. Though many had some type of patronage – from the time of Aristotle through Rousseau – academic posts are not the only way to be productive. It’s just that we have yet to find a better model.

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Why I am a Leftist

I wrote recently on how Hawaiian sovereignty transcends left and right. But I did not mean to suggest Iʻm ambivalent about where I stand on that spectrum.

I always knew I was a “liberal” – my first political memory is the election of Jimmy Carter (probably the most Left President of them all), and of being very happy about it. I was 5. But as I got older, “liberal” became a bad word for me, not because of the reasons Bill OʻReilly might think so, but for the opposite reason; liberals are not Left enough. My political development was somewhat slowed by attending Whittier College, alma mater of Richard Nixon. But in Massachusetts I came into my own as a card-carrying Leftist. I cut my teeth at Political Research Associates, a think tank that monitored the Right wing, and where wearing oneʻs politics on oneʻs sleeve was a badge of honor. I sat a couple of feet from the great researcher Chip Berlet and by understanding the psychology of the Right, came to understand that of the Left.

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The understanding that emerged for me was that while liberals believe that problems arise from repairable flaws in “the system” and a lack of access to it, Progressives (or Leftists) felt that the systems needed to be fundamentally redesigned. Some held a Marxist bent, but many did not. Issue by issue I came to understand the internal logic of the Left position: pro-choice, pro-immigrant rights, pro-gay rights, etc.; in short, pro-democracy.

But in lieu of a very well-orchstrated alternative plan, the Right steamrolled us throughout the 80s and 90s and well into the “naughts” (early 2000s). Part of the problem is the Left’s distrust of charismatic leadership, and their belief in bottom-up organizing. While the Left sought “leaderless” movements and wrote endless editorials in publications like The Progressive, the Right organized down to the local level, taking on the most mundane policy issues. I co-wrote a report on one such initiative, the Pioneer Institute in Massachusetts, which worked on conservative state-level policy issues of privatization, and virtually controlled education policy in ways far outstripping its size and budget.

But pendulums always swing back, and this happened with Obama and the Occupy movement, where leaderless revolution seemed to almost spontaneously emerge. There seems to be a progressive ground swell, with even fairly mainstream media like Salon and the Huffington Post making progressive arguments and even cogently showing their practicality (something the left wasnʻt quite so good at previously).

They say “if youʻre not liberal when youʻre young, you donʻt have a heart and if youʻre not conservative when youʻre old, you donʻt have a brain.” And I have to admit the left has lost me on a couple of issues. Iʻve been a bit amazed to see the resistance against wind energy (though I can understand the arguments, I donʻt see a good alternative), and if the Left comes out against solar, I might turn in my card. Surely, there needs to be balance, but despite the above reservations, the Left has shown itself to be much more often on the “right” side of history.

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A Table of Contents

Keokani Marciel did me the great service of indexing all the articles in the umiverse on Hawaiʻi/Hawaiian history/Hawaiian kingdom topics (its most of the 180 posts):

Hawaiian Kingdom in theumiverse: Table of Conents with Short Links

theumiverse by Umi Perkins:

2015/02/02 – My article in The Nation – the original:

2015/01/31 – Defense Mechanisms:

2015/01/21 – The Greatest Hawaiian Thinkers of All Time:

2015/01/19 – WikiReVu – Selma by Kawika Liu:

2015/01/18 – Hoʻokuʻikahi Reconciliation Service: St. Andrew’s Cathedral:

2015/01/17 – The Overthrow: a blow-by-blow:

2015/01/16 – Is Hawaiʻi an Occupied State?

2015/01/13 – Ancient Hawaiian Culture: a Brief History:

2015/01/06 – Reconciliation Redux:

2014/12/10 – International Law: A Primer:

2014/12/08 – [Avoiding] The Perils of Nationalism:

2014/12/02 – Why Hawaiian Sovereignty Transcends Left and Right:

2014/09/25 – Hawaiian Education:

2014/09/24 – Obliterating Objections to Independence:

2014/09/17 – Occupation redux:

2014/09/11 – The Kingdom Exists:

2014/09/09 – Legal Pluralism:

2014/09/07 – Sanford B. Dole, the Congregationalists, and Annexation, 1902:

2014/09/02 – Occupation:

2014/09/01 – The Burden of Proof:

2014/08/21 – 55 Years of Hawaiʻi Statehood:

2014/08/20 – A People Without a Past: Mythology and History:

2014/08/19 – My Department of Interior Testimony:

2014/07/26 – Kaulia’s invitation to Morgan, 1897:

2014/07/27 – Indigenous Knowledge and Complex Systems Theory:

2014/07/28 – Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea: Restoration Day:

2014/07/10 – Federal Train Wreck: Another Response to Ian Lind:

2014/07/02 – ʻĀina and Mana, or Privatizing ʻĀina part 2:

2014/06/27 – Law and Power:

2014/06/26 – Media Coverage of DOI Hearings Off-Base:

2014/06/24 – First Hearing – Dept. of Interior — Honolulu:

2014/06/20 – The Department of Interior Visit and the Hawaiian Response:

2014/06/17 – The Psychology of Mālama ʻĀina:

2014/06/14 – Sovereignty and Mental Models:

2014/06/12 – Kamehameha’s Unification – for Kamehameha Day 2014:

2014/06/10 – Issues that Matter with Lynette Cruz: Privatizing ʻĀina:

2014/05/27 – The Race for Nationhood:

2014/05/27 – Hiki Nō: PBS Student-Produced News Segment on the New Version of Hawaiʻi’s Story by Hawaiʻi’s Queen:

2014/05/15 – The State of History:

2014/05/13 – Reconciliation:

2014/05/12 – A Few Notable Signers of the Petition Supporting OHA CEO Kamanaʻopono Crabbe:

2014/04/29 – Kuleana: A Genealogy of Native Tenant Rights:

2014/04/10 – Lahainaluna:

2014/04/08 – What’s the Verdict with Generation X?:

2014/03/07 – The Lind-Perkins sovereignty debate: The Sovereignty Movement is based in Historical and Legal Fact, not Faith:

2014/02/27 – Response to Ian Lind: Sovereignty groups no laughing matter:

2014/02/20 – Mark Twain in Hawaiʻi:

2014/02/18 – Melville in Hawaiʻi:

2014/01/30 – Book Review of Pacific Gibraltar by Makana Chai:

2014/01/28 – On the Road … again:

2014/01/17 – 121 Years Later – the Overthrow and the Way Forward:

2014/01/12 – The Pacific Problems of Cloud Atlas:

2013/12/11 – Kanaʻiolowalu:

2013/12/04 – The Hawaiian Renaissance:

2013/09/25 – Missionaries:

2013/09/22 – SOHO: South Honolulu:

2013/09/19 – The ʻĀina Forum:

2013/05/19 – Hawaiʻi Book and Music Festival 2013:

2013/04/11 – Alexander Liholiho – Kamehameha IV:

2013/03/13 – Abstract for Kuleana: A Genealogy of Native Tenant Rights:

2013/03/05 – The Inner Circle: An Annotated Biography of the Architects of the Post-1845 Political Economy:

2013/01/17 – The Secret Session: Purpose of the Overthrow of Hawaiʻi:

2012/12/29 – Review of Patrick Kirch’s A Shark Going Inland is My Chief – Makana Risser Chai:

2012/12/14 – Kamehameha V — A Pono King:

2012/12/07 – Pearl Harbor — Day of Infamy:

2012/11/28 – November 28: Lā Kūʻokoʻa – Hawaiʻi’s Independence Day:

2012/11/26 – The State of Hawaiʻi – Part 2:

2012/11/17 – King David Kalākaua – on his 176th birthday:

2012/10/25 – Moʻolelo Refigured – TEDx Mānoa:

2012/10/08 – TEDx Mānoa Recap:

2012/09/16 – Moʻolelo Hawaiʻi:

2012/04/13 – All the countries in which people have read the umiverse:

2012/04/12 – Making Sense of the Ceded Lands: A Historical Assessment:

2012/04/12 – The OHA Ceded Lands Settlement:

2012/03/23 – Globalocal: Where are the signs of globalization in the community? Part 1:

2012/03/20 – Hawaiʻi’s “Brain Drain”:

2012/02/22 – Affirmative Action and Beyond:

2012/02/09 – The Queen and They: WikiReVu of Sydney ‘Iaukea’s The Queen and I:

2012/02/08 – Defending Hawaiʻi?:

2012/01/28 – Hawaiian History at the Movies:

2012/01/21 – The Evolution of Sovereignty – continuing the conversation with Kyle Kajihiro:

2012/01/21 – Moana Nui wrap on ʻŌiwi TV:

2012/01/20 – Rethinking Sovereignty: a response by Arnie Saiki to What is Sovereignty?:

2012/01/19 – What is Sovereignty?:

2012/01/17 – Moana Nui discussion with Arnie Saiki and Nalani Minton:

2012/01/17 – The Overthrow:

2012/01/16 – Sovereign Sunday:

2012/01/09 – The Massie-Kahahawai Case – by John Rosa:

2012/01/07 – My Moana Nui – A Recap:

2012/01/06 – A Brief History of Hawaiian Homelands:

2011/12/19 – Native Insight:

2011/12/19 – Introduction (ma ka ‘olelo Hawai‘i):

2011/12/15 – The luxury bubble:

2011/08/25 – Moana Nui conference promotional interview video with Kekuni Blaisdell:

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Exploding the Revisionist History of Hawaiʻi (ERHH):


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