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Challenging the Capitalist University

This is an abstract submitted by Professor Mike Neary for inclusion in the forthcoming conference in June at the London School of Economics: Governing Academic Life:

CHALLENGING THE CAPITALIST UNIVERSITY – research, teaching and the recovery of revolutionary communist science

Contra to Foucault’s assertion that the state is a ‘mythicised abstraction’ (College de France Lecture 1979), this paper argues that the state is a real abstraction whose concrete violent political substance is derived from the dynamic dysfunctionality that lies at the core of the capital relation: the struggle between Capital and Labour.  The importance of the power of abstraction for the social sciences was developed by Karl Marx in his mature social theory in Capital and the Grundrisse where he revealed the real nature of Capital’s other violent real abstraction: Money. It is the concept of  abstraction in relation to Money as a form of Capital that provides the basis for Marx’s major theoretical breakthrough in the Social Sciences. By applying this methodology to the Capitalist University it is possible to reveal not only the logic of  ‘academic capitalism’, but to develop strategies to challenge the Capitalist University based on the dynamic contradiction that lies at the core of the production of capitalist knowledge:  the dysfunctionality between research and teaching, and to establish a framework for action out of which new forms of revolutionary communist science might emerge. The arguments made in this paper will be set against the work of Ball (2008) and Jessop (2008), specifically their views on the nature of state regulation and its consequences for higher education,  and illustrated with reference to two experiments in reframing the relationship between teaching and research inside and outside of an English university: Student as Producer at the University of Lincoln and the Social Science Centre, Lincoln.


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