[-empyre-] Executives and corporatization

David Golumbia dgolumbia at gmail.com
Mon Nov 26 10:54:00 EST 2012


I want to thank Brian as always for his terrifically pointed, insightful,
and accurate comments.

I want briefly just to note that these issues connect to two others,
themselves connected. They are somewhat to the side of this month's
discussion, but I think they are too important to the general discussion to
let pass.

1) The neoliberal assault on higher education, endorsed and funded by many
of the most prominent conservative and neoconservative institutions
worldwide, exists primarily to limit the amount of critical thinking that
goes on in the minds of citizens, because democratic thought, with its
emphasis on critique, has become a major stumbling block to capital's pure
accumulation and acceleration. More accurately: it is one of the only
remaining stumbling blocks to capital's accumulation. The advent of the Tea
Party and in particular its know-nothing rejection of science and of
history, and its "coincident" alignment with the most heavily-capitalized
of industrial interests, gave a public face to a form of ideological
conditioning only remarkable for its success at this time, in this moment,
with so much "information" available, at inspiring so many people to reject
logic, fact, reason, emotion, communal solidarity, and even their own
self-interest. The instrumentalization and corporatization of the
University is one of the primary tactics this assault uses to realize its
strategy, and thus analyses that attempt to meet the assault halfway by
assessing liberal arts education on the basis of measurable outcomes,
especially related to particular lines of employment, can only add fuel to
the fire that is meant to burn down the University's most vital function:
the maintenance of democracy through the continued study of the many
discourses (I mean this as broadly as possible) that have gone into its
development.

2) Given the above, it is vital for educators to realize that the advent of
massive online education environments, including MOOCs, is not being done
primarily to "democratize" access to education, but instead as the decisive
tactic in the war to analyze forcibly each part of higher education on
instrumental and economic terms. This is a war we will lose. We should not
be negotiating with forces whose explicit intent is to destroy the
institutions to which we have devoted our lives and careers, and we should
not be mistaken in thinking their intent is somehow disconnected from the
one mentioned in my first point. They are one and the same. The "neoliberal
knowledge-based economy" Brian so rightly names is not the same thing as
the understanding of democracy necessary for its survival.

I've touched on this, especially the first point, in a preliminary way in a
blog post, "Centralization and the 'Democratization' of Higher Education":
http://www.uncomputing.org/?p=160; I plan to follow up on the first point
when time permits.

David


On Sat, Nov 24, 2012 at 1:30 PM, Brian Holmes
<bhcontinentaldrift at gmail.com>wrote:

> On 11/23/2012 07:28 PM, Susan E Ryan wrote:
>
>> I have witnessed the
>> escalation of university administration, both in the number of
>> administrative positions and in the rather breathtaking salaries that I
>> have heard
>> quoted to me.  These are elite corporate executives. I assume this is
>> part of the corporatization of the university, and that that is the real
>> culprit.
>>
>
> Well, there has been a kind of star-system applied to professors, to the
> point where salary scales have been all but abandoned in many places. You
> can look up the salaries of professors in the UC system (public servants
> you know) and it's interesting to see who gets what. But of course, the
> star system only affects the stars, leaving everyone else with the usual
> wage stagnation, while the actual faculty majority, the adjuncts, get the
> worst deal of all. The question is indeed why, for what and for whom?
>
> From all I can see, the neoliberal transformation of universities over the
> past thirty years is effectively driven by the administrators you are
> talking about, who typically give themselves three-figure salaries. They
> come in, you see, in the wake of economic crisis, in order to make the
> university *more efficient* -- ha ha, which is apparently why there is a
> tuition spike after every major recession, including a large one right now.
> The administrators go before Congress every couple years to raise the level
> of the loans that will be guaranteed by the government, and they use the
> proceeds, along with corporate partnerships and financialized endowments,
> to preside over vast expansions.
>
> I think the research university should be identified as the central
> institution of the neoliberal knowledge-based economy. The sea-change was
> the Bayh-Dole Act in 1980, which allowed for the patenting of publicly
> funded research. Corporations as well as government could then scale back
> their large laboratories and practice what's now called "open innovation,"
> where relatively small amounts of seed money are enough to catalyze
> research processes whose results can be selectively acquired by buying out
> the relevant patents. In a society where, since Reagan, only business is
> recognized as a value, this transformation of scientific research was
> enough to justify running the entire university like a corporation. The
> star system, the corporate partnerships, the precarization of academic
> labor, the competition for the revenue stream of student loans, and more
> recently, the franchising of major university brands in Asia, are all among
> the results. For what? is the best question. In my view, very sadly, it's
> for reducing knowledge to nothing more than a function of capitalism.
>
> The best book I've found on this is, fittingly, entitled Academic
> Capitalism, by Sheila Slaughter and Gary Rhoades. It's serious, anything
> but simplistic, a very impressive and wide-ranging piece of scholarship,
> check it out:
>
> http://books.google.com/books?**id=Y-mISmAUa38C&printsec=**frontcover<http://books.google.com/books?id=Y-mISmAUa38C&printsec=frontcover>
>
> Another good one is Chris Newfield's Unmaking the Public University,
> particularly the chapter "Facing the Knowledge Managers":
>
> http://humanities.wisc.edu/**assets/misc/FacingKnowledge.**pdf<http://humanities.wisc.edu/assets/misc/FacingKnowledge.pdf>
>
> Finally, my own attempt to sum these things up:
>
> http://autonomousuniversity.**org/content/silence-equals-**debt<http://autonomousuniversity.org/content/silence-equals-debt>
>
> No one yet has the solution to these problems, but the good thing is, over
> the last five years people have finally started to ask the important
> questions and to begin mobilizing around those questions. Student loans and
> corporatization are issues in themselves: but they are also part and parcel
> of a larger problem, which is the neoliberal development model. It can't
> address the problems of inequality and ecological unsustainability, and as
> long as it rules over the universities, we will get nothing substantial
> from them. A great loss, I'd say.
>
> in solidarity, Brian
> ______________________________**_________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
>



-- 
David Golumbia
dgolumbia at gmail.com
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