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Neoliberalism at Bedtime



This is a revolutionary period in world history. The collapse of finance capitalism, the bankers’ bailouts across the globe, the continuing bankers’ bonuses, and the intrinsic problems of finance capitalism have, under current `bourgeois’ parliamentarist rule, resulted in ordinary families, workers and communities,`paying for the crisis’. All this, while the national and international capitalist classes and organisations impose austerity capitalism on a reeling public and public educational, social, health and welfare systems. This `austerity capitalism’ has led to an eruption of discontent-against political, economic and financial dictatorship, through the Arab Spring, the indignados in Spain, the Occupy movements throughout the world, and the million strong protests against the 13 Feb 2012 austerity programme enforced by the international capitalist `troika’ (European Central bank, International Monetary Fund, and the European Commission) on the Greek people.

These developments raise questions about the nature of bourgeois capitalist parliamentarist democracy as much as they do about the nature and morality and cruel impacts of capitalist economy — of life under/within capitalism. They also raise questions about social and economic inequality, meritocracy, equality and egalitarianism, and the role of education and of political activism. 

A question that must be asked is how does the socio-economic and political system of a country work in complicity with the corporate media and how does this impact the school system? There is no automatic mechanistic and deterministic relationship between an economic structure, such as the capitalist economic structure and resulting social relationships on the one hand, and society’s social and political structures on the other. But there is a relationship, even if not mechanistic and unproblematic. There is resistance, at various levels, by individuals, by groups, in what is a permanent `culture war’ between the ideas of the ruling capitalist class and their mouthpieces, and resistant, counter-hegemonic individuals and groups, such as students, critical intellectuals, and organizations such as workers’ organizations (though many have been `incorporated’ into the system).

It is fair to say, drawing on Althusser’s (1971) and Gramsci’s (1971) Marxist conceptual framework, that the apparatuses of the state do not brook much dissent for long: if it starts to threaten either the riches of the rich, or the capitalist system itself, which is essentially the same thing, then the state steps in, using either the wagging finger warning of repercussions, the iron fist in a velvet glove, or, ultimately the hammer of tear gas, bullets and prison cells.

Schools and universities, echoing Althusser (1971) are ideological state apparatuses whose purpose, for the capitalist class, is to preach and instill pro-capitalist and anti-socialist beliefs and, as Rikowski (for example, 2001, 2004) argues, to re-produce tiered hierarchicalised and socialized / quiescent labour power for the workplace


The full article can be read at:


Reference as:

Hill, D. (2012) Fighting Neo-liberalism with Education and Activism, Posted at Philosophers for Change, 1st March, online at:

This article first appeared in Philosophers for Change, which can be viewed at:  


‘Human Herbs’ – a new remix and new video by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon:

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Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

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