Put An End to Clique Rule in the Society for Cinema Studies HANDS OFF BOB NOWLAN Recently, when Rob Wilkie, a "duly elected" English graduate student representative at the State University of New York at Albany, protested the cronyism that passes as "policy" in the English Department's funding of graduate students, the "senior" graduate students who had benefited from the existing "policies" decided that he did not "represent" their interests and attempted to depose him as an official departmental representative of the graduate students. Rob Wilkie is a member of The Red Theory Collective -- a Marxist collective that has in recent years struggled against the overwhelming power of a coalition of conservative faculty and students who currently run the Department in a closed and autocratic manner; the aim of Wilkie and of the Red Theory Collective is to contribute to the rebuilding of the Department and its practices so that these will, in the future, be conducted in an open and democratic way. In its public writings and other interventions The Red Theory Collective has tried, among other things, to show how the bourgeois democracy to which these holders of institutional power declare formal allegiance is simply an ideological device for legitimating the interests of this clique in maintaining its own power. The clique in power respects the rules of election and terms of office only if members of the clique are elected to the office. Democracy, in short, is reduced to a set of purely formal procedures for protection of their private interests. Rob Wilkie insisted on public accountability and as a result became the target of a massive attack and vicious red baiting. As the triumphalist narratives of big business about the "collapse of socialism" fall apart (narratives which for a long time had reassured these businesses' "faculty lobbyists" in the academy of their uncontested control of universities and other knowledge institutions), and as a new generation of Marxist theorists and activists appears on the scene of contemporary knowledges, in turn newer and ever-more aggressive anti-red tactics are unleashed on campuses, in so-called "scholarly" organizations and conferences, on the editorial boards of academic journals, on supposedly "left" listserves on the Internet, and in college and university classrooms and programs of study. The aim of all these crypto-fascist and anti-democratic practices is to keep the red knowledges away from the very people who might benefit from them -- the workers, the students, and the citizens who have not yet completely yielded to the brand of cynicism bourgeois academics are today marketing as both the most advanced and the only legitimate form of "new" and "progressive" knowledges. Bob Nowlan -- the current Chair of the Caucus on Class of the SCS -- is the latest target of these neo-fascist and post-al McCarthyist attacks by the cronies of capitalism in academic film theory. Over the course of the last three years, Bob Nowlan -- a revolutionary Marxist theorist and editor, and a member of The Red Collective -- has attempted to open up the intellectually claustrophobic and politically self-validating practices of the SCS and to provide new spaces for transformative knowledges and practices to the Caucus on Class. His radical practices have created a "panic" among the "senior" holders of power in the SCS who cannot (owing to the bourgeois interests they effectively represent) engage his theoretical practices which tear the mask of serious, principled, and committed knowledge away from their reactionary preaching to show the hollow pragmatism behind this deceptive facade. Having failed to contain him intellectually, they have now, in a desperate move -- which is in fact a repetition of the maneuvers at SUNY-Albany -- initiated a deceitful and imperious attempt to remove him from his position as the Chair of The Caucus on Class on the ostensible grounds of procedural technicalities that they have in fact fabricated for this very occasion. In addition to the (newly invented) "policy" considerations which the ruling clique is deploying to get rid of Nowlan (considerations which contradict the very terms under which Nowlan agreed to stand for election and was elected), the clique is also, in the tried and true manner of all post-al reactionaries to get rid of the RED and the REVOLUTIONARY, attempting to redirect attention away from issues of principle to ones of "pragmatics" and (ethics of) "personality. " Thus one of the dominant narratives being circulated aims at attributing the source of the current contestation to the "individual" failures of Bob Nowlan and his predecessor as Caucus on Class chair, Terri Ginsberg, to speak, write and act in "properly" "responsible" ways -- ways which involve simply deferring to established institutional authorities and operating in blind obedience to entrenched traditions and pragmatic protocols. The members of this clique have gone so far as to invoke twisted readings of Nowlan's own "body language" to support its zealous quest to remove him, while also sarcastically deriding Nowlan and the few other "reds" on the listserv as simply a handful of infantile thinkers for proposing that the current contestation is ultimately rooted in serious intellectual and political differences and that it is important not to conflate "policy" with "politics," and, especially, not to reduce the latter to the former. Behind the clique's appeals to "policy" and "personality" is not the advancement of a "principled" and "democratic" agenda but the narrowly self-serving practices of a ruling minority who have recognized that Nowlan's practices are "dangerous" because his acts hold up for public inspection their own reactionary practices and, in doing so, remove the veneer of "the scholarly" and "the progressive" from their theoretical and pedagogical practices to show these for what they ultimately are -- lessons in allegiance to capital and its regime of escalating global exploitation. While these lackeys of global capitalism (who masquerade as "progessive intellectuals") are plotting their coup d'etat against Bob Nowlan, we call upon members of the Caucus on Class and others to join us in protesting these acts of red-baiting which are now becoming commonplace -- from classrooms and other sites of pedagogy to the "committees" whose primary institutional function is the bureaucratic policing of transformative ideas and practices in the interest of capitalist crisis management. We call upon all members of SCS and the Caucus on Class as well as all interested persons to join us in defending the university as a place of critique-al knowledges for social transformation and a site of open pedagogy: that is, a space for free exchange of ideas, rigorous critique, and open contestation -- practices that are constitutive of a democratic society. We urge all members to resist the behind-the-scenes deal-making and careerist wrangling for selfish and solipsistically personal and professional advantages. Support Bob Nowlan and oppose the authoritarian move to remove him as the chair of the Caucus on Class. For Red Critique, Jennifer Cotter, Kimberly DeFazio, Minette Marcroft-Estevez, Brian Ganter, Christopher Hank, Adam Katz, Deb Kelsh, Donald Morton, Grant Phelong, Erica Pittman, Brad Rothrock, Amrohini Sahay, Julie Torrant, Stephen Tumino, Rob Wilkie, Mas'ud Zavarzadeh * Note: For a further sustained critique-al engagement with the issues which are outlined here, refer to Bob Nowlan's "For the Caucus on Class," available by contacting Professor Nowlan at <[log in to unmask]>. For detailed red critiques of issues regarding the English Department at SUNY-Albany see The Red Theory Collective Web Site: http://cnsvax.albany.edu/~rw4653 or contact The Red Theory Collective at <[log in to unmask]>. For an extensive revolutionary Marxist engagement with the postintellectual "activist" left on the Net see _The Alternative Orange_ Vol. 5, No. 2, or contact the Revolutionary Marxist Collective at <http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Lobby/2072/>. ---- Screen-L is sponsored by the Telecommunication & Film Dept., the University of Alabama.