education as a privately consumed good

What I can say is common between the founding intellectual ideas and the roll out [of neoliberalism] is that the idea that only two things ought to organise human life, you find especially well-articulated in Hayek as the sponetaneous orders that allow for cooperation without coercion. And the two forms of spontaneous order that Hayek and his fellow Mont Pelerin critters’ agreed with as well, but in different ways, the two forms are, on the one hand, markets: they need to be shored up, they need to be organised, they need to be supported, they need the presuppositions of law and support by the state, but once they are up and going they spontaneously organise us without coercing us. And the other […] is traditional morality. Now this means that once you start demonising the state as a force – saying it should not intervene in our lives, tell us what to do, organise justice, organise social life or public industry – all kinds of spheres of existence become appropriately, we could say, economised. We are understood as homo economicus wherever we are not simply organised by traditional morality. And that means, for example, that public education is increasingly configured as that which is, on the one hand, appropriate for marketising, and on the other hand, serving not students, not educated democracy, but consumers; private consumers who privately consume education in order to enhance their own individual capacity for an earning stream, for an income stream. […] Instead of educating for democracy, and we are seeing the consequences of that now (of not educating for democracy), we simply offer education as a privately consumed good – which of course makes the case for charging high tuition in what were formerly tuition-free institutions; for privatising research in what was formerly publicly supported research – and the University system as a whole, but also education more broadly, is simply understood as a private good to consume in order to enhance your own human capital. And that fundamentally transforms what we think knowledge is, learning is, education is, and democracy is; and that starts to happen everywhere. […] And that is exactly what somebody like Thatcher had in mind; that every aspect of life should be understood as fee for use, or privately consumed in order to enhance your own individual capacity to enhance your own capital.

Wendy Brown, The Ezra Klein Show, Neoliberalism and its discontents” 16:04min, vox.com/ezra-klein-show-podcast

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