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Authoritarian Populism contra Bildung: Anti-Intellectualism and the Neoliberal Assault on the Liberal Arts

The following regards my recent article from Cadernos CIMEAC – v. 7. n. 2, 2017.

Abstract

A synergistic movement is taking place in American society combining authoritarian populism, the neoliberal transformation of the university, and anti-intellectualism. In the first part of this paper, I pin my notion of intellectualism (and hence anti-intellectualism) to a specific frame of reference, namely the German notion of Bildung as it is discussed in writings of Nietzsche and Adorno, which I associate loosely with the traditional American liberal arts model of higher education. In the second part of the paper, I outline the neoliberal assault on the liberal arts, rooting my analysis in Wendy Brown’s work, which is influenced by Foucault. In the third part of the paper, I describe the relationship of this anti-intellectualism to the rise of populism and the threat of authoritarianism in the United States. In the final section I tie the discussion into the general analysis of Horkheimer and Adorno’s analysis of fascist tendencies in liberal-democracies, emphasizing the continued relevance of their ideas to contemporary developments in education and beyond.

Click here to read the full article.

 

 

 

Keywords: liberal arts, neoliberalism, intellectuals, populism, authoritarianism

Jeremiah Morelock
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