Inflation, democracy, and populism
in The new treason of the intellectuals
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The crisis in higher education is also simultaneously a crisis in constitutional democracies; and the two are intimately linked. The corruption of language that shapes managerialist discourse makes possible a corruption in the communications among citizens that are vital in any democracy. Democracy becomes recast first as an alleged ‘will of the people’, but a will whose semantic content is prone to political manipulation. In turn this opens the way to a validation of demagogic populism that masquerades as democracy when it is in fact the very thing that undermines democracy. When the University sector becomes complicit with this – as it is in our times – then it engages in a fundamental betrayal of the actual people in the society it claims to serve. Populism thrives on the celebration of anti-intellectual ignorance and the contempt for expertise, preferring instead the supposedly more ‘natural’ claims of instinctive faith over reason. Lurking within this is a form of class warfare that treats real and actual working-class life as contemptible.

The new treason of the intellectuals

Can the University survive?

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