- Professor of Sociology at City University of New York
- Indoctrinates his students with Marxist politics
One of the leading figures of the academic left, Stanley Aronowitz has been a Professor of Sociology at the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center since 1983. He also has been Director of CUNY's Center for Cultural Studies since 1988, and he is a Board member of the leftwing academic journal Social Text, of which he was the founding editor.
Born in 1933 and raised in New York City, Aronowitz earned a bachelor's degree from The New School in 1968 and a Ph.D. from Union Graduate School seven years later. From 1972-76, he was an Assistant Professor in Community Studies at Staten Island Community College; from 1977-81 he was a Professor of Social Science and Comparative Culture at the University of California, Irvine. He also worked short stints as a Visiting Professor at various schools, including the University of Paris (1976 and 1988), Columbia University (1979-81), and the University of Wisconsin (1995).
Aronowitz states that CUNY originally hired him “because they believed I was a labor sociologist.” But as he admits in Social Text, he decived CUNY administrators into viewing him as such. “First and foremost I’m a political intellectual ... [I] don’t follow the … methodological rules of the discipline.” After being hired as a sociologist, Aronowitz created the Center for Cultural Studies to escape the rigors of his professional discipline. “Cultural Studies” provided him with a broad umbrella under which to pursue his Marxist politics and pass them on to his unsuspecting students.
Aronowitz is the author or editor of more than twenty books, including Just Around the Corner: The Paradox of the Jobless Recovery (2005); How Class Works: Power and Social Movement (2004); The Knowledge Factory: Dismantling the Corporate Universtiy and Creating True Higher Learning (2001); The Death and Rebirth of American Radicalism (1996); and Dead Artists, Live Theories and Other Cultural Problems (1993).
Aronowitz's most celebrated book is Science As Power: Discourse and Ideology in Modern Society (1988), whose core thesis is the Stalinist proposition that science is an instrument of the ruling class. Of this publication, a reviewer for the Times Literary Supplement said: “If the author knows much about the content or enterprise of science, he keeps the knowledge well hidden.”
In 1996 Aronowitz and his fellow editors at Social Text fell prey to a hoax by the physicist Alan Sokal, who submitted a phony paper (on quantum mechanics and post-modernism) designed to demonstrate that the magazine would publish pure nonsense about science, if the nonsense was politically correct. Although the Sokal article was an international scandal, Aronowitz’s own university seemed not to have noticed that its professor had been exposed as an intellectual fraud, or that, by his own admission, he had long since abandoned the discipline that he was hired to teach. He was made “Distinguished Professor of Sociology” at CUNY in 1998.
Aronowitz is a proponent of shorter work weeks for all Americans. Though he earns a six-figure salary, he teaches only one two-hour course each week -- a seminar in Marxism. “What I enjoy most,” says Aronowitz, “is the ability to procrastinate and control my own work-time, especially its pace: taking a walk in the middle of the day, reading between the writing, listening to a CD or tape anytime I want, calling up a friend for a chat.” “We know,” writes Aronowitz, “that the charges against us [professors] -- that university teaching is a scam, that much research is not ‘useful,’ that scholarship is hopelessly privileged -- emanate from a Right that wants us to put our noses to the grindstone just like everybody else.”
In his 2001 book The Last Good Job in America, Aronowitz argues that Americans have "no time for democracy," meaning that because people must work so many hours in order to cover their necessary expenses, they are left with virtually no free time to relax and enjoy their lives. For so devouring their leisure time, Aronowitz places the blame squarely on the capitalist economic system and corporate-directed globalization. According to book reviewer John Marsh, Aronowitz "even welcomes the more radical elements of this [globalization] movement, including the infamous anarchists who were last seen swarming through downtown Seattle chucking rocks through Starbucks’ windows [and] dismantling Niketown ..."
In Aronowitz's view, the 2003 American invasion of Iraq "was not a war for democracy, to fight terrorism or, of course, to eliminate Iraqi weapons of mass destruction," but rather "a war to establish U.S. dominance over the Middle East." Aronowitz contends that "Iraq’s conquest is only one component of the intricate, but interlinked U.S. [M]iddle [E]ast intervention" which similarly empowers "Israel to pursue ... a new colonialism in the region." "An important part of the [Bush] administration’s strategy," he says, "is to support, by indirection indicated by the U.S. government’s silence on the bloody results of the occupation and the relentless forward march of Jewish settlements."
Apart from his academic career, Aronowitz was formerly an organizer for the Clothing and Oil and Chemical Workers Unions.
A member of the Democratic Socialists of America, in 2002 he ran for the New York State Governor's seat on the Green Party ticket.
In 1998 Aronowitz married his longtime companion, the radical feminist and journalist Ellen Willis, who died on November 9, 2006.