Neoliberalism’s War on Higher Education
By Henry A. Giroux
Between the Lines (2014)
256 pages, $17.00
Henry Giroux’s passion for the subject of neoliberal policy effects over time on higher education is evident in his new book, Neoliberalism’s War on Higher Education. While the drive for privatization has spawned austerity policies in both the U.S. and Canada, he explains that money does exist for higher education. He discusses how government priorities have increasingly turned into a form of “economic Darwinism that pours money into military and private spending” while continuing to make cuts in the public sphere.
At a micro level, he points out how the system suppresses dissent using tactics such as placing blame on individuals for productivity issues in the workplace. If you can’t keep up with the pace of work, it becomes your own personal problem rather than cuts and lack of resources. While he speaks mainly of the effects on faculty, it’s fairly obvious that his arguments extend to staff.
Mostly American examples are given, which provide a snapshot of how the U.S. is much further along the privatization spectrum. The Quebec student protests are held up as a Canadian example of how a social justice movement can connect citizens in order to intervene in this kind of agenda. The Casseroles movement was a result of the student protests connecting with broader public sentiment. Broad-reaching flaws in political policies were publicly highlighted, which affect not only the quality of education but health care and other public bodies.
While his writing is rather dense and repetitious in places, his message is clear and relevant. All who work in education need to educate others by speaking and writing publicly. We need to create alliances between unions and outside social organizations to address damaging austerity policies in higher education.