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New Political Science
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The Coming of the Corporate-Fascist
University?
Clyde W. Barrow

a

a

Universit y of Texas, Rio Grande Valley
Published online: 30 Oct 2014.

To cite this article: Clyde W. Barrow (2014) The Coming of t he Corporat e-Fascist Universit y?, New
Polit ical Science, 36: 4, 640-646, DOI: 10. 1080/ 07393148. 2014. 954794
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There is a well-respected classical tradition of radical critiques of the American university that includes the works of James McKeen Cattell. and Hubert Park Beck. teaching methods. 1913). NY: Monthly Review Press. 1997). CT. financial controls. 3 David N. II. NY: Basil Blackwell. Sheila . Smith. 36. Accumulation Crisis (New York. College for Sale: A Critique of the Commodification of Higher Education (Oxfordshire. Steven Best. Thorstein Veblen. Thorstein Veblen. Policing the Campus: Academic Repression. Upton Sinclair. Academic Repression: Reflections from the Academic Industrial Complex. McGrath. Beyond the Wasteland (New York. Clyde W. NY: Sagamore Press. Sheila Slaughter. No. The Goose-Step: A Study of American Education. The Higher Learning and High Technology: Dynamics of Higher Education Policy Formation (Albany. 2010. Barbara Ann Scott. 1983).1080/07393148. NY: King’s Crown Press. 1947). 1984). pp. Earl J. 1984).3 1 James McKeen Cattell.: Praeger Press. II and David Gabbard. 1990). 2014 Vol.org/10. and research agendas were being systematically reconstructed and realigned to support corporate capitalism and an emergent American empire. 1974). With the advent of economic globalization. Nocella. NY: Anchor Books.2 contemporary scholars have built a cottage industry on this foundation and extended it to an analysis of contemporary higher education. 590 pp. McGrath. WI: University of Wisconsin Press. Upton Sinclair. Barrow.2014. New York. Who Rules the Universities? An Essay in Class Analysis (New York. 259– 272. 1990). Hubert Park Beck.954794 Review Essay Downloaded by [UT Pan American] at 12:19 03 November 2014 The Coming of the Corporate-Fascist University? Anthony J. 2 On the concept of social structures of accumulation.doi. http://dx. Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis. Oakland. Wesley Shumar. see. 1957). Revised Edition (Pasadena.1 These critiques revealed the relationship between the transformation of the American university and the emergence of corporate capitalism and an imperial state in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Nocella. The Higher Learning in America: A Memorandum on the Conduct of Universities by Businessmen (New York. Anthony J. NY: State University of New York Press. Earl J. and the Occupy Movement. NY: Peter Lang. UK: Routledge Falmer Press. Surveillance. 1923).” Educational Record 17 (April 1936). CA: AK Press. “The Control of Higher Education in America. 223 pp. Men Who Control Our Universities (New York. NY: Science Press. and a renewed push by corporate and political elites to further integrate higher education into the new social structures of accumulation. administrative organization. Each of them observed that university governance.New Political Science. CA: Privately Printed. 1894– 1928 (Madison. curriculum content. and Peter McLaren. 4. 640–646. James O’Connor. Crisis Management in American Higher Education (Westport. 2013. University Control (New York. Universities and the Capitalist State: Corporate Liberalism and the Reconstruction of American Higher Education.

and Higher Education in North America: The Emergence of a New Market Under NAFTA? (Dordrecht. 2011). and firing to deny and negate the right of professors and students holding “unorthodox. The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers. Globalisation. and lead political lives as they choose (p. Sylvie Didou-Aupetit. 1998). Academic Capitalism and the New Economy: Markets. 27). pp. Nocella. Footnote 3 continued Slaughter and Larry L. (Amherst. The editors define academic repression as the use of intimidation.Downloaded by [UT Pan American] at 12:19 03 November 2014 Review Essay 641 However. Gary Rhodes. MA: Beacon Press. 2001). Michael Parenti’s essay reviews several cases from the 1970s to the present. senior administrators. NY: State University of New York Press. more recently. Leslie. intimidation. The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why It Matters (New York. and Higher Education (Baltimore. While most professors think academic freedom was threatened in the past. NY: Prometheus Books. but was safeguarded by the founding of the American Association of University Professors (1915) or. Kenneth Dolbeare. II is the lead editor of two sobering books that examine the growing use of overt repression. which portrays conflicts between faculty and corporate trustees. 2005). the recent critiques of “corporatization”4 have been like Cassandra’s prophecies falling on the deaf ears of university faculty. nonconformist. Marlene Dixon. Academic Repression includes numerous autobiographical case studies from the United States.: The Corporate Corruption of Higher Education (New York. Stanley Aronowitz. faculty unionization. controversial. Academic Repression: Reflections from the Academic-Industrial Complex. Michael Parenti. and Peter McLaren have assembled a large collection of essays that break with the well-established tradition of liberal historiography. Policies and the Entrepreneurial University (Baltimore. 4 Henry Steck.” Annals of the American Academy of Social and Political Science 585 (January 2003). Inc. Sheila Slaughter and Gary Rhoades. ed. For example. 2004). publish. despite this extensive list. NY: Columbia University Press. NY: Basic Books. Managed Professionals: Unionized Faculty and Restructuring Academic Labor (Albany. Campus. while equipped with few political tools or economic resources to stem the tide. and John Mallea. 66 – 83. State. However. Trade Liberalisation. and harassment on university campuses in the United States and abroad to silence and discredit progressive scholars and scholar-activists across a broad spectrum of topics and fields of study. and the critical legal scholars at the New England School of Law. Frank Donoghue. and Africa that focus on a wide range of issues and ideologies subject to academic repression in the contemporary university. Clyde W. NY: Fordham University Press.”5 Nocella et al. 1955). The Development of Academic Freedom in the United States (New York. call it what is: academic repression. Angela Davis. University Inc. MD: Johns Hopkins University Press. including Samuel Bowles.. Bertell Ollman. Steven Best. speak. “Corporatization of the University: Seeking Conceptual Clarity. harassment. who may now find themselves in the latest and highest stage of the building of the corporate-fascist university. The Knowledge Factory (Boston. Jennifer Washburn. . Anthony Nocella. The Last Professors: The Corporate University and the Fate of the Humanities (New York. Academic Capitalism: Politics. Benjamin Ginsberg. penalties. the Middle East. 2003). 2000). 2008). teach. NY: Oxford University Press. Geoffrey White. the case studies in this book suggest that academic repression may be worse today than at any time in the last hundred years. 5 Richard Hofstadter and Walter Metzger. MD: Johns Hopkins University Press. In the first book. 1997). and dissenting views” to research. Henry Giroux. and political elites as a history of “the development of academic freedom in the United States. critical. Barrow.

As Nocella et al. These two mechanisms of repression are often linked to letter writing campaigns aimed at trustees and senior administrators.g. although usually with grossly inaccurate. exaggerated. sociology. while simultaneously waging a relentless campaign against tenure itself. who deny tenure to faculty on spurious grounds. such as David Horowitz.. Robert Jensen observes firsthand that these campaigns can have a “chilling effect” on other faculty who are afraid of guilt-by-association (p. media smear campaigns. discredit dissenting viewpoints or entire fields of study. bio-chemistry. and entire departments (p. and medicine. . pp. A third. the Pink Scare. which has a further chilling effect on junior faculty and graduate students. however. allows the new guardians of the right to penetrate deeper into the academy than government agents could ever to do in the past by monitoring courses. Notably. ‘leftist’. 6). and firing tenured professors” (p. 77 – 78 for examples). intimidate. and organized email assaults designed to embarrass. and area studies so that the old Red Scares have been joined by the Green Scare. from department chair back to the ranks of faculty). Moreover.Downloaded by [UT Pan American] at 12:19 03 November 2014 642 Review Essay Parenti observes that “One could add many more instances from just about every discipline including political science. 30). and sociology—have expanded dramatically to encompass animal rights activist-scholars. discourage. now regularly survey universities from coast-to-coast looking for “‘objectionable’. while also expanding to encompass proponents of radical feminism. and ‘un-American’ thoughts and values” in the curriculum (p. and to generate an atmosphere of fear and paranoia that can be exploited by its perpetrators. the Brown Scare. ethnic studies. including discriminating against job candidates. gay. First. point out. These campaigns seek to demonize individual faculty. this tactic not only requires aggressive trustees. and transgendered studies. mathematics. and isolate faculty who cut against the grain of orthodox right-wing opinion. psychology and even physics. A second mechanism is the organization of “campus watch” groups that send students into classrooms to monitor and report back on any left-wing or radical deviations from conservative orthodoxy. While such tactics may not discourage the brave of heart. radical environmentalists. humiliate. but the cooperation of multiple layers of administration and senior faculty. corporate-funded right-wing think tanks and rogue anti-intellectuals. and musicology” (p. biology. syllabi. and the Yellow Scare—a veritable rainbow of right-wing hate campaigns. and critics of bio-engineering in fields such as environmental science. observe that “Academic repression targets critical and radical scholarship and activism in manifold ways. lesbian.79). the Black Scare. economics. as opposed to government surveillance.168). as several of the essays document. history. Many have gone so far as to create and distribute black lists of ostensibly “dangerous” or “unAmerican” professors (see. demotion (e. Nocella et al. is the growing abuse of authority by college and university trustees. chemistry. economics. discredit. The book as a whole analyzes an array of interrelated mechanisms that are used to enforce academic repression. or false accounts of what actually transpires in the classroom. 116). tried and true mechanism of academic repression. literature. anthropology. the traditional targets of academic repression—political science. denial of tenure or promotion. ‘irrelevant’. this new form of social surveillance.

1995). Many campuses now employ more than 100 to 150 police officers or enough armed men and women to form a full military company (or several platoons) in an armed combat situation. which is that campus police departments are not just expanding in numbers. but larger departments are creating specialized emergency response units. 479 –490).” university administrations now expend millions of dollars per year defending and initiating lawsuits involving faculty and faculty unions. “Beyond the Multiversity: Fiscal Crisis and the Changing Structure of Academic Labour. program and curriculum review. despite the incessant cry of a never ending “fiscal crisis. The number of police officers per capita on campus has also increased during this time. Gregory Tropea’s chapter analyzes how the de-tenuring of the professoriate endangers the very concept of the university by institutionalizing “structural repression” as a basic configuration of the twenty-first century university (pp. are consciously employed to threaten faculty with financial ruin regardless of how egregiously a university may have violated the law. UK: Open University Press. . Thus. ed. the academic labor force has been casualized over the course of decades . Policing the Campus also calls attention to another trend. . According to the US Bureau of Justice Statistics. or threats of legal action over minor transgressions.6 Academic tenure has always been the bedrock of academic freedom. and personnel processes as mechanisms for inducing cooperation or compliance with the corporate agenda in higher education. They are increasingly called upon to conduct criminal background checks of prospective employees (including faculty at many campuses). detective squads. They are employees-at-will” (p. campus police departments have largely completed the transition from unarmed security services responsible for building access. but as Michael Be´rube´ points out in his Foreword: “Underneath the radar. Barrow. or defending hopeless lawsuits against discrimination to the bitter end. cafeterias. Academic Work: The Changing Labour Process in Higher Education (Buckingham. Finally.Downloaded by [UT Pan American] at 12:19 03 November 2014 Review Essay 643 Fourth. . Roughly three-quarters of the people teaching in American universities are now working without protection – or even the hope of protection – of tenure. administrative perquisites. parking enforcement. where dependency and insecurity are the cornerstones of acquiescence and compliance. examines the expansion and arming of campus police forces and their use by administrators as an overtly coercive repressive apparatus on university campuses. and key control to well-armed professional 6 Clyde W. the structural transformation of academic labor supports and intensifies the chilling effect of academic repression.3). edited by Nocella and David Gabbard. which effectively inserts them into the faculty search and screen process.” in John Smyth. 159– 178. hallways. three-quarters of four-year colleges and universities with 2. . While Academic Repression analyzes the use of financial inducements. The increasing use of lawsuits. and campus grounds. Policing the Campus. The percentage of campuses using sworn officers has been steadily increasing over the last three decades. Campus police increasingly monitor expansive camera surveillance systems in dormitories. while increasing their use of more intrusive community policing. as many contributors to this book make clear. pp. bicycle patrols.. and special victims units.500 or more students in the United States are served by a campus law enforcement agency with sworn officers with full arrest powers. as has the number of campuses using armed police officers. and motorcycle patrols.

288). but with rare exceptions they simultaneously enhance the surveillance and intimidation capabilities of senior university administrators.Downloaded by [UT Pan American] at 12:19 03 November 2014 644 Review Essay police departments with detective. it might be easier to analyze the problem than to propose solutions. What is to be Done? These stories and insights are chilling. 3). Thus. and a free society should not merely tolerate but actually support controversial scholars” (p. neither of these proposals is sufficient to confront the current situation in academia. is that “oppressed scholars have at their disposal few resources with which to fight back” (p. 195 –96). 281. . in the present situation. . Law enforcement agencies and senior administrators have justified these changes as necessary to provide “security” for faculty and students. xvii). 7). to be sure. assuming the roles of narcissistic careerists rather than concerned citizens” (p. as Rik Scarce observes in Academic Repression. . David Gabbard observes a “general criminalization of dissent and activism” on campuses through the use of free speech zones (pp. Too many look out only for themselves. 164). many of them also draw on the work of Michel Foucault to illustrate how “college campuses are coming to mirror the signature features of the larger ‘surveillance society’” (p. . and even para-military units. While necessary. Robert Jensen argues that “we should work to hold onto what protections for academic freedom exist to provide some space for critical thinking in an otherwise paved-over intellectual culture. bag searches. Robert Jensen concludes that “the most important aspect of the current controversies is how they mark the complacency and timidity of faculty members themselves” (p. Be´rube´ goes beyond this purely defensive position to suggest that we need “an account of academic freedom that emphatically and explicitly defends a scholar’s right to be controversial . surveillance. and expulsions (p. The problem. Too many cower and duck for cover. . Scarce is correct that “too many within the academy accept the desiccation of academic freedom. in scenes reminiscent of the novel 1984. This trend is acutely manifest in how university administrators and campus police responded to the Occupy Movement on campuses. . In Academic Repression. xii). Thus. stop and frisk – to then develop the mental and cultural autonomy necessary to build effective protest movements and achieve progressive social change” (p. 8). Moreover. xvii). 164). Like many other contributors to Academic Repression. Christian Parenti warns “It will be hard for a generation raised under constant surveillance and police bullying – in the form of metal detectors. In the same work. with an eye on the long-term” (p. While some of the essays in Policing the Campus deepen the analysis found in Academic Repression. [A]cademic freedom is essential to a free society. but they fall short of the activistscholar imperative to ask what is to be done. Jensen . when Victoria Fontan reflects in the same volume on her own experience of academic repression. these volumes speak indirectly to why. she reports that “weak or non-existent solidarity and support networks” for progressive scholars is a problem for those who come under attack by the media and right-wing organizations (p. 287– 288) and she fears that the War on Terror has “thoroughly intimidated and decimated progressive academics and the US left” (p. suspensions. And together.

p. 344. and Abrams suggest that there is quite a bit to be done and quite a bit that should be done now. Barrow http://dx.Review Essay 645 suggests that “the vast majority of faculty members are like the vast majority of any comfortable professionals in a corporate-capitalist empire: Morally lazy. 197). The members of it who have risen to administrative positions and are charged with formulating and executing policy know which master they serve. The more secure members keep quiet to make sure their privilege is not disturbed.org/10. In such a setting. As in a previous phase of academic rebellion. No. Vol. 8 When I proposed this same strategy to my former faculty union during the Occupy UMass Dartmouth and Occupy Boston movements. . particularly in the climate of cowering and covering that Scarce (correctly) identifies. Thomson.” in Hans H.doi. a well-disciplined intellectual class. 1958). 174) and. “Politics as a Vocation. . and Henry Giroux’s contribution to Policing the Campus argues that “faculty should join with Occupy Movement protestors on college campuses” as the first step in reconquering our captured institutions (pp. 3 (September 2010). . 177 – 183). Contributions like these are very welcome. 32. He claims that “faculty are ill-equipped to assess threats to academic freedom or present an effective defense” (p. Wright Mills (eds) From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology (New York: Oxford University Press.2014. he argues. BARROW University of Texas.8 More substantively. 172). On the other hand.1080/07393148. Clyde W. Giroux.” New Political Science. 176). I have argued previously in this journal that there is really only one solution to the problem: “The progressive alternative will not be realized until faculty and students retake physical control of their campuses and join with other social movements to reconstruct power relations within those institutions and redefine their relationship to the state. Maura Stephens offers a remarkably practical 20 point plan of action that can be adopted by any faculty either alone or in solidarity with others (pp. corporatization of the university has finally achieved its objective: Downloaded by [UT Pan American] at 12:19 03 November 2014 . p.954794 7 Clyde W. Barrow. because they provide an action-oriented rejoinder to claims that there is not much to be done. hence.” which takes one back to Jensen’s critique of university faculty. and unwilling and/or unable to engage with critics” (p. usually cowardly.9 CLYDE W. but the system works well enough to keep things running relatively smoothly these days (p. elites cannot guarantee complete conformity from intellectuals. 201– 08). it was students leading the way with the Occupy Movement and faculty standing on the sidelines waiting for some knight in shining armor to rescue them from the “polar night of icy darkness” that has descended on the “iron cage” of the university. 128. Stephens.”7 We saw a brief glimpse of this alternative in the Occupy Movement. Ryan Thomson and Natalia Abrams share their experience in discovering “ways to combat police brutality on campus” (p. I was informed by the union’s executive board that Occupy was “a student issue. 9 Max Weber. Rio Grande Valley q 2014. And the less secure members shut up in the hope that they will be allowed to move up a notch. “The Rationality Crisis in US Higher Education. Gerth and C.

.646 Review Essay Notes on Contributor Downloaded by [UT Pan American] at 12:19 03 November 2014 Clyde W. He has also published numerous articles on state theory and higher education policy. Beard (2000). Barrow is Professor of Political Science at the University of Texas . More Than a Historian: The Political and Economic Thought of Charles A.Rio Grande Valley. Trade Liberalisation. and Higher Education in North America (2003). and Globalisation. His publications include Universities and the Capitalist State (1990).