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

Jeremiah Morelock

Jeremiah Morelock holds a Masters Degree in Sociology and teaches at Boston College. He is also the Director of the Critical Theory Research Network. His research interests include critical theory, infectious disease, and discourse analysis; as well as epistemology, bureaucracy, age norms, and film and media studies. His recent work has appeared in Social Theory & Health.
Jeremiah Morelock

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