“Trump is simply the most visible embodiment of a society that is not merely suspicious of critical thought but disdains it. Trump is the quintessential symbol of the merging of a war-like arrogance, a militant certainty, and as self-absorbed unworldliness in which he is removed from problems of the real world.”
He goes on, “What is clear in this case is that a widespread avoidance of the past has become not only a sign of the appalling lack of historical consciousness in contemporary American culture, but a deliberate political weapon used by the powerful to keep people passive and blind to the truth, if not reduced to a discourse drawn from the empty realm of celebrity culture. This is a discourse in which totalitarian images of the hero, fearless leader, and bold politicians get lost in the affective and ideological registers of what Hannah Arendt once called “the ruin of our categories of thought and standards of judgment.” Of course, there are many factors currently contributing to this production of ignorance and the lobotomizing of individual and collective agency. The forces promoting a deep seated culture of authoritarianism run deep in American society.”
Read Giroux’s thought-provoking essay here: Donald Trump and the Ghosts of Totalitarianism
What is the purpose of higher education? To create informed, critical thinkers who are engaged, thoughtful citizens? To create workers based on the needs of the market?
The latter reflects the thinking of the new neoliberalism, which now enjoys a broad popularity. The neoliberalist view of higher education is no longer just rhetoric. Colleges and universities have been transforming themselves for at least the last twenty years in alignment with this ideology. William Deresiewicz delves into the troubling consequences of this type of higher education on our society.
Deresiewicz defines neoliberalism as “an ideology that reduces all values to money values. The worth of a thing is the price of the thing. The worth of a person is the wealth of the person. Neoliberalism tells you that you are valuable exclusively in terms of your activity in the marketplace — in Wordsworth’s phrase, your [sic] getting and spending.”
Alternatively, he asserts, “we need to treat it [education] as a right. Instead of seeing it in terms of market purposes, we need to see it once again in terms of intellectual and moral purposes. That means resurrecting one of the great achievements of postwar American society: high-quality, low- or no-cost mass public higher education. An end to the artificial scarcity of educational resources. An end to the idea that students must compete for the privilege of going to a decent college, and that they then must pay for it.” I agree!
Please read Deresiewicz deliberative essay on this very important topic:
[Essay] | The Neoliberal Arts, by William Deresiewicz | Harper’s Magazine.
Here’s another worthwhile article on the subject of neoliberalism and education: “Organized Lightning: The liberal arts against neoliberalism.”
In his review of Richard H. Thaler’s Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics, John McMahon takes to task behavioral economics for its complicity in propagating the neoliberal project (i.e. promoting limited government and free-market capitalism), rather than questioning its dehumanizing assumptions. “The implications of behavioral research are constantly constrained so that they actually buttress foundational assumptions about markets. Why? Thaler disavows the role of the ‘moral philosopher,’ refusing to ‘render judgment about what ‘is’ or ‘should be’ fair’, because economics is supposed to be a ‘purely descriptive exercise’—and thereby preempts interrogation of the fairness of the market itself.”
Read Thaler’s trenchant review here: Training for Neoliberalism | Boston Review.