The Neoliberal Assault on Australian Universities and the Future of Democracy: The Philosophical Failure of a Nation

Concrescence 6:20-40 (2006)
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Abstract
The transformation of universities from public institutions to transnational business enterprises has met with less resistance in Australia than elsewhere. Yet this transformation undermines the founding principles of Australian democracy. This democracy emerged in opposition to the classical form of free market liberalism that the neo-liberals have revived. The logical unfolding of social liberalism in Australia underpinned the development of both the system of wage fixing and the idea of public education as conditions for democracy. The lack of resistance to the destruction of democracy, as it was originally understood in Australia, by successive neoliberal governments has been due largely to the decadent state of Australian universities. These had come to be dominated by a crude form of empiricist utilitarianism, making Australia peculiarly vulnerable to the ideologues of global free markets and the power of transnational corporations who have sought to transform language to equate the dominance of all facets of life by markets as a defence of democracy. Only through a recovery of the philosophical tradition upon which Australia was founded and the development of this tradition through process metaphysics, it is argued, can genuine democracy and Australia’s public institutions, be defended.
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