How higher education can win the war against neoliberalism and white supremacy - 2021-10-24
The exhaustion of the future does not even leave us with the past. Tradition counts for nothing when it is no longer contested and modified. A culture that is merely preserved is no culture at all. — Mark Fisher
Since the 1980s, higher education has been subject to devastating attacks as a result of punishing neoliberal austerity policies and ongoing attempts by conservatives to both privatize and defund public institutions. Right-wing attacks on the public good, the corporatization and militarization of higher education and a growing authoritarianism in the culture have led, as Christopher Newfield observes, "to the abandonment of egalitarian and democratic impulses."
The effects are visible in the gutting of tenure-track positions, increases in tuition, an onslaught of administrative positions, and the redefinition of higher education as a competitive and profit-making institution. The attacks on tenure have been especially effective in transforming higher education into an adjunct of corporate interests. Writing in the College Post, Marianne Besas reports that "in 2018, 23.7 percent of faculty members at institutions across the country were tenured, and 10.2 percent were on a tenure track." Tenure, along with the power of faculty, is in absolute decline. Only about one in five of the overworked and beaten-down faculty members in the academic labor force have tenure.