Actually existing solution

September 19, 2013

Alessandra Lopez y Royo argues that “free market principles have changed and ruined the academy” (Opinion, 22 August), and states that she would “think long and hard” before advising others to carve out a career in higher education. Julia King notes how universities are looking for business experience on their boards and people with “commercial know-how” rather than research records (“Putting women in the frame”, 22 August). Meanwhile in the same issue, ex-footballer Patrick Brady compares education to the sport and makes the point that both social activities are being hit hard by the “invisible hand” (“Poor results as market moves the goalposts”, Letters).

In her review of The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills by David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu, Kitty Stewart describes how the government uses the analogy of the household budget to justify cuts (Books, 22 August): Margaret Thatcher used the same “familial interpellation” for similar reasons.

I agree with Ruth Farwell that “transformational education” to develop “self- and social awareness” is a welcome alternative to market forces. However, to counter the continuing onslaught of austerity/immiseration capitalism, and because, as Stewart argues, the cost of politicians listening to “ideology rather than history” results not just in lost economic output but also human lives, the priority is not, in Farwell’s words, “emotionally intelligent and caring leaders”, but a fundamental change in the way we run society. The best actually existing solution is the anti-racist multicultural socialism in the making in Venezuela. This entails participatory democracy not just in education but also throughout society.

Mike Cole
University of East London

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