The English crisis

In the universities, at least. I hear of whole departments, whether academic or administrative, in which every member is seeking work elsewhere and in which no position is filled should someone go.

Reminds me of Engels’s observation almost 160 years ago, in 1842:

England is by nature a poor country which, apart from its geographical position, her iron and coal mines and some lush pasture-land, has no fertility or other natural riches (MECW 2: 371).

The iron and coal mines are pretty much closed, and the last vestige of the fertility of ideas is draining away. As someone put it, during the time of the empire the ruling class perfected the art of fucking up a whole spate of other cultures and societies, so it was only a matter of time before that class, with no-one else to do over, turned in on England itself – like a parasite that runs out of hosts and begins feeding on itself.


11 thoughts on “The English crisis

  1. good metaphor. the ConDems do display some fairly necrophilic tendencies, a love of rendering dead and decaying that which is alive, as good ol’ Erich Fromm would say

  2. One of the major problems is that the current Bwitish government seems to be making its higher ed policy up on the spot. Except for the 80% cuts to teaching budgets – that’s settled. Everything else is pretty much up in the air. So universities are having a hard time setting budgets because they don’t know what their enrolments and income will be from the 2012 academic year onwards. They don’t know how proposed cuts to student visas will impact and they don’t know how many students will be turned off by 250% increase in fees.

    1. And most importantly, current Bwitish attitudes are deeply contemptuous of the university sector. There’s a ‘common sense’ (in the Gramscian vibe) belief that there are too many! universities and too many! university graduates.

      It’s a society that hasn’t shaken off its feudal cultural baggage and so believes that kids from working class backgrounds and brown skinned people with university degrees is an aberration that needs to be corrected.

  3. VM: if you have too many universities and graduates, you don’t have enough people who can put things together with their hands, or people who can do stuff with colours and so forth.

    1. They want a manufacturing-led recovery because they realized banking’s not so stable, and they look at Germany as the only thriving economy in Europe. (That isn’t Turkey.) But they want high-tech manufacturing which means competing with places like South Korea where 80+% of kids are going to university. They also like the idea that fewer university degrees will mean they can tell the ‘New’ Europeans in the service sector to go home.

    1. They deliberately brought in the cuts much earlier than the fee restructuring so that’s exactly the case – universities will be so desperate for $ they’ll have to accept whatever arrangements are foisted on them. But it’s not to say that there’s good old fashioned incompetence at work.

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