[Marxism] Re: Capitalism and the Universities Query

Tony Hartin t.hartin at qmul.ac.uk
Tue Nov 1 09:22:44 MST 2005

Calvin writes....
>How/why is it that so much money is invested in paying rich kids to learn 
>obscurantist philosophy, for instance? Is it purely to expand (middle class) 
>consumption, keep the university big wigs earning, and disseminate esoteric 
>conservatism? I understand that many academic disciplines are directly 
>vocational, that is, serve the technical and administrative interests of 
>global corporations. But so much of academic study seems utterly worthless, 
>from the point of view of capitalism.
>There is, of course, a view that 'knowedges' are the motor force of 
>production in the new postindustrial age. This is, of course, rubbish, and 
>the entire tertiary education megalith is thoroughly unproductive, 
>parasitic, short-term and rooted in imperialism. Does anyone know of any 
>good works critiquing the ideology of postindustrialism?

This is the issue that got me interested in Marxism in the first place. 
I do have some pamphlets, but they are buried in my files in Australia 
somewhere. Your description " rich kids learning obscurantist 
philosophy" sounds like the university as it was before the second world 
war. With the post war boom, capitalism advanced in part through  
technological innovation which required a more educated workforce. Hence 
the expansion in university places on the cheap which led to the 
tensions in part underpinning the 60s student rebellions.

One of the issues of the rebellion was the right to study subjects 
socially criticial of capitalism.. and that has remained a bone of 
contention since. Seems to me like we want to defend the right to study 
"obscurantist philosophy" if its useful in its critiques. The expansion 
of the higher education system means that the bulk of students come from 
and return to the working class - albeit white collar working class.

If I discover any online sources I'll point towards them

Tony H

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