David Cromwell excels at identifying key points of friction between public and private interests. In this excerpt he examines how higher learning is being bent to fulfil its corporately mandated responsibilities to society.
“This [Academia] is a privileged sector where critical thought and enquiry into human society, the natural world and the cosmos ought to be the norm; not where overwhelming pressure to conform to state-corporate interests should be exerted on teaching and research agendas.
How can academic ‘collaboration’ with large corporations which are, after all, centralised systems of illegitimate power, not lead to compromise, distortion or worse? It is clearly not in the interests of such institutions to promote rational and honest study into the problems of a corporate-shaped society. It is in their interests to commandeer the publicly-funded research while co-opting supposedly neutral and objective academia as ‘partners’. And all the better if highly trained university researchers working in narrow, focused disciplines remain disconnected from the interests in other disciplines, or more importantly, from the concerns of the general populace.
‘To work on a real problem (like how to eliminate poverty in a nation producing eight hundred billion dollars’ worth of wealth each year) one would have to follow that problem across many disciplinary lines without qualm, dealing with historical materials, economic theories, political obstacles’, observed historian Howard Zinn, author of The People’s History of the United States, who died in 2010. ‘Specialisation ensures that one cannot follow a problem through from start to finish. It ensures the functioning in the academy of the system’s dictum: divide and rule.’ Zinn provided a potent example: ‘Note how little work is done in political science on the tactics of social change. Both students and teacher deal with theory and reality in separate courses; the compartmentalisation safely neutralises them.’
Any management vision of how the university sector, or any place of higher education, ought to develop that does not recognize the nature of the iniquitous capitalist society in which the university finds itself embedded, is short-sighted. And, moreover, any such ‘vision’ that is not committed to making radical changes in the way society is structured is tacitly, if not actively, supporting the status quo. The same argument applies to any major institution in society.”
-David Cromwell. Why Are We The Good Guys? pp. 216 – 217
So, great you have a degree, well done sport! Did they teach you to comply or to question the society that you inhabit?