Why the Neoliberal U is Making Us Stupid


  • Jyotsna Kapur


Marx’s theory of labor, Neoliberalism and the university, time, intergenerational relationships, class war


One of the lasting effects of neoliberalism on higher education is the total
dismantling of the very purpose of education, i.e., to enhance human potential,
individual self-realization, and social development. In this essay, I
read Marx’s theory of labor to indicate that Marx’s deeply held regard for
humanity as capable of self-production and transcending its conditions of
existence—which was, in fact the vantage point of his bitter critique of capitalism—
also underlies the conception of the true purpose of education, at least
since the Enlightenment. In critiquing capital from the point of view of labor
we can see how the goals of neoliberalism are anti-education, anti-human,
and wasteful. Taking the concept of time—i.e., the relationship between time
and intellectual labor and intergenerational relationships within the university—
as a key to understanding the nature of neoliberalism, I argue that
the public university is not just collateral damage in the neoliberal assault on
labor. Rather, it is one major site of the war itself.