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The new treason of the intellectualsCan the University survive?$
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Thomas Docherty

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781526132741

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526132741.001.0001

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Another brick in the wall

Another brick in the wall

(p.107) 4 Another brick in the wall
The new treason of the intellectuals

Thomas Docherty

Manchester University Press

Between 1945-1989 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 – characterised by an ‘open university’ - are potentially compromised. The chapter examines the historical constitution of the UK’s ‘Open University’ – as an explicitly democratising 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. Organisations such as the Russell Group embody this entrenching of inequality.

Keywords:   Open University, Social exclusion, Academic freedom, Nazism, Modernisation, Inequality, Russell Group, Competition, Karl Popper, Harold Wilson

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