Monday, March 09, 2009

“A world of pseudo-satisfactions that is superficially exciting but hollow at its core.”

Stanley Fish, whose new book Save the World On Your Own Time is meant as a salvo against political activism in academia, took to the New York Times recently to better define his stance in lieu of accusatory contrasts to the typical neoliberal agenda for college institutions.

He didn't mean to, but his cursory definition reinvigorated my disdain for neoliberalism and left me interested in what the hell he thinks universities are for:
The objection (which I am reporting, not making) is that in the passage from a state in which actions are guided by an overarching notion of the public good to a state in which individual entrepreneurs “freely” pursue their private goods, values like morality, justice, fairness, empathy, nobility and love are either abandoned or redefined in market terms.

Short-term transactions-for-profit replace long-term planning designed to produce a more just and equitable society. Everyone is always running around doing and acquiring things, but the things done and acquired provide only momentary and empty pleasures (shopping, trophy houses, designer clothing and jewelry), which in the end amount to nothing. Neoliberalism, David Harvey explains, delivers a “world of pseudo-satisfactions that is superficially exciting but hollow at its core.” (”A Brief History of Neoliberalism.”)

Harvey and the other critics of neoliberalism explain that once neoliberal goals and priorities become embedded in a culture’s way of thinking, institutions that don’t regard themselves as neoliberal will nevertheless engage in practices that mime and extend neoliberal principles — privatization, untrammeled competition, the retreat from social engineering, the proliferation of markets.
Not interested enough to read his book though.

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