For those of you who see “ideas as material forces” and grew up in an environment where the university was “contested terrain,” that is, where ideas were discussed, common assumptions were challenged, and students developed intellectual as well as political solidarity, the linked article from Goldman/Sachs is troubling.
The idea of “the shock doctrine”. Naomi Klein tells us, is that economic and political crises afford the opportunity for the dominant classes to institute changes that majorities of people in usual times would not accept. In addition, a long time ago James O’Connor wrote about “The Fiscal Crisis of the State.” In the twenty-first century that has meant steep declines in public support for higher education. Finally, Nancy MacLean has written about the agenda of radical libertarians which includes reducing the role of the state as to administering, financing, and regulating public affairs, and relying more on market forces.
As the Goldman-Sachs memo suggests we might expect efforts by powerful forces to try to institute a “Post-Corona Virus Higher Education System” very different from the higher education many of us experienced.
Furthermore, the discussion of higher education in the context of the corona virus crisis is bringing to the foreground the profoundest of debates in society at large. The debate highlights those who celebrate individualism, the survival of the fittest, the market, and shrinking public institutions versus those who see community, solidarity, public institutions, and real democracy as our only hope for survival. Many of us learned about these two fundamentally competing worldviews in colleges and universities and we took our stand.