Thomas Docherty
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Another brick in the wall
in The new treason of the intellectuals
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Between 1945 and 1989 we can trace a growing conflation of economic liberalism with social and cultural liberalism, such that social liberalism becomes engulfed by neoliberal capital and subsumed under market fundamentalism. As a consequence, there emerges a political debate about liberal societies – in Popper’s terms, ‘open societies’ – and their relation to authoritarian and totalitarian regimes and institutions. However, this misses the point that, when social values are essentially monetized, the institutional values of academic freedom – characterized by an ‘open university’ - are potentially compromised. The chapter examines the historical constitution of the UK’s ‘Open University’ – as an explicitly democratizing institution - and sets that against the contemporary logic of zero-sum competition, which envisages the failure and closure of some Universities as a sign of the success of the national and global system. The paradox is that, as more Universities open, so the range of intellectual options for critical thinking actually diminishes. The consequence is the enclosure of the intellectual commons and the re-establishment of protected privilege and the legitimization of structural social inequality. Organizations such as the Russell Group embody this entrenching of inequality.

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The new treason of the intellectuals

Can the University survive?


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