I think the lesson is to narrow one's sights early, with an eye toward getting a modest dissertation topic picked out now, and just finish the fucker, never mind if it's revolutionary or even particularly interesting, so long as it gets me out. (By the way, can I say once again how much academic Marxism pisses me off? It's so fucking smug. Don't you see, they tell you, the text is all about labor, and then they lean back and smile and close the novel, while outside the campus service workers are striking for health benefits.)
Rock-and-roll Marxism won't change the world either, but at least you can dance to it. We caught Gang of Four at the Fillmore last night. Simple rule: punk = going berserk at the end of a song, picking up a baseball bat, and smashing a microwave, while post-punk = providing the basic beat for a song by metronomically smashing a microwave with a baseball bat, at forty beats per minute, while you croon about alienation.