higher education and the
discipline of shock
The Shock Doctrine: ‘control by imposing economic shock therapy’.
• structural re-adjustment: competition and coercion (internationalisation)
• a tightening/quickening of the dominant ideology (student-as-
• the transfer of state/public assets to the private sector (efficiency)
• the lock-down of state subsidies for ‘inefficient’ work (Bands C and D
• the privatisation of state enterprises in the name of consumer choice,
economic efficiency or sustainability
• a refusal to run deficits, catalysing pejorative cuts to state services
• extending the financialisation of capital and the growth of consumer
debt, through increased fees
• a controlled, economically-driven, anti-humanist ideology
Klein, N. (2007). The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.
Metropolitan Books: New York
New system transfers the cost of HE
from the taxpayer to graduates
Dearden et al. (2010) http://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/5354
HE is no longer immune from the systemic,
internal, totalising logic of the capitalist system
[c.f. Hardt and Negri, the social factory, Empire,
‘we’re living in a moment when, for the first time,
capitalism has become a truly universal
system.... Capitalism is universal also in the
sense that its logic – the logic of accumulation,
competition – has penetrated almost every
aspect of human life and nature itself’.
Meiksins-Wood, E. (1997). Back to Marx. Monthly Review, 49(2), 1.
“student debt, in its prevalence and
amounts, constitutes a pedagogy, unlike
the humanistic lesson that the university
traditionally proclaims, of privatization
and the market.”
Jeffrey J. Williams, “Tactics against Debt”:
Debt is a way of life.
"Anyone put off... university by fear of...
debt doesn’t deserve to be at university in
the first place“.
Michael Gove, quoted at Next Left: http://bit.ly/foMuBQ
the logic of 'security' is the logic of an anti-
politics in which the state uses 'security' to
marginalize all else, most notably the
constructive conflicts, the debates and
discussions that animate political life,
suppressing all before it and dominating political
discourse in an entirely reactionary way.
Neocleous, M. (2007). Security, Liberty and the Myth of Balance: Towards a Critique
of Security Politics. Contemporary Political Theory 6, 131–149. http://bit.ly/gariqH
for the idea of the University?
“The struggle is not for the University,
but against what the University has
Professor Mike Neary (2010): http://bit.ly/9Milqc
In. Against. Beyond.
‘the universalization of capitalism not just as a measure of
success but as a source of weakness... It can only
universalize its contradictions, its polarizations between
rich and poor, exploiters and exploited. Its successes are
also its failures.’
‘Now capitalism has no more escape routes, no more
safety valves or corrective mechanisms outside its own
internal logic... the more it maximizes profit and so-called
growth – the more it devours its own human and natural
Meiksins-Wood, E. (1997). Back to Marx. Monthly Review, 49(2), 8-9.
The Really Open University: http://bit.ly/bYc22h
The University of Utopia: http://www.universityofutopia.org/
The UCL occupation: http://ucloccupation.wordpress.com/
The Social Science Centre: http://socialsciencecentre.org.uk/
The University for Strategic Optimism: http://bit.ly/fSx9wC
The Really Free School: http://reallyfreeschool.org/
The Third University: http://thirduniversity.wordpress.com/
“At the heart of it all is a new sociological type: the
graduate with no future”.
Paul Mason, why it is kicking off everywhere
“The big takeaway from today is that the trade union
movement is certainly a force to be reckoned with: what it
chooses to do now will be interesting because Miliband's
strategists certainly want nothing to do with the mass, co-
ordinated strike movement”.
Paul Mason, A snapshot of the 26 March demo
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