A Marxist critique of the academy
About this session
Universities have often been described as ivory towers, where academic elites hide out from the real world, coming up with esoteric theories to explain society. Today universities are mass institutions, with billions in revenue, pumping out millions of graduates every year.
Some of the lustre of the ivory has been worn away by crude economic rationalism but the academy still has appeal as a bastion of supposed free thought and enlightenment. But the university academy has been useful to capitalism since way before universities became institutions of profit. The bulk of scientific research and knowledge produced by academics has been used to advance capitalism. The humanities academy is far less empirical and instead mostly produces ideology that helps to justify and bolster the system. This is true even of left-wing academia.
This session will explore the political and methodological problems with looking to the academy for insights and clarity. In particular it will explore the "academicisation" of much of the left and argue for an alternative approach to intellectual engagement, that rejects eclecticism and compartmentalisation and is instead connected to the political project of the emancipation of the working class.