The aim of this paper is a diagnosis of the dynamics between state and public higher education in the United States. Specifically, I contend that the changes seen at public research universities are not the result of a top-down relationship between state and university. Instead, it is a dynamic symbiosis between two separate but similar rationalities concerning capitalist ideology (I will explore this theme in greater detail). As such, the current problem faced by the liberal arts at universities is not how to fight capitalist ideology, but how to subvert an incipient rationality concerning its contours. I argue that the conditions relating to neoliberalism and university development are, in part, a result of the gradual entanglement of resonant interests between state, business, and higher education. Higher education, in particular, has deepened its commitments to capitalist ideology by an amplification of characteristics and practices united under the heading of academic capitalism posited by Sheila Slaughter and Gary Rhoades in Academic Capitalism and the New Economy: Market, State and Higher Education.

Wendy Brown’s Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism's Stealth Revolution argues that neoliberal political-economic rationality is displacing classical liberal notions of subjectivity and gradually de-democratizing the United States of America. Her argument is aided by Michel Foucault’s capillary approach to understanding power. Brown incorporates his model of dispersion toward understanding neoliberalism as a rationality which spreads through new notions of governance and management within democratic society. Her book ends with an examination of the effects of neoliberal rationale on state universities and higher education. She paints a dismal and hopeless picture of the current state of affairs and leaves little room for reform in the education sector. If she is correct, there is to be little done to loosen the stranglehold on the liberal arts within major public research institutions. Her analysis predicts a hollowing out of the core of democratic society.

Louis Althusser in Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays recognizes institutions of higher education act as ISAs or, Ideological State Apparatuses. i ISAs function to reinforce the ruling ideology of the elite in their attempts at social control of the populace. Their primary purpose is the extension of soft power through reproducing the conditions of production. Universities play the largest role in reproducing ideology through assuring the intergenerational continuity of values. In contrast to RSAs — Repressive State Apparatuses — ISAs entrench ruling class ideology without automatic recourse to violence against the populace. RSAs, on the other hand, function to ensure the reproduction of the conditions of production through violent action. ii Both serve as arms of the State Apparatus which is wielded by the elite in order to maintain their dominant position within society.

My aim is to expose the dynamics created by the symbiotic relationship shared between neoliberalism and academic capitalism. Taking Brown and Althusser together, the picture is clear that if these trends are not reversed, the United States stands to lose its democratic values in favor of a hyper capitalist rationality that marketises, financializes, and instrumentalizes everything it touches. It is important to recognize that I do not conceive of neoliberalism as anything but a governing rationality and this is distinct from an ideology. Recognizing academic capitalism as conceptually distinct from neoliberal capitalism is important because supplemental capitalisms can serve as sites of rupture as they couple or decouple from other forms of capitalist ideology. iii Thus there is a little more hope for democracy than Brown recognizes if the evolution of liberal rationality can be steered away from its more neoliberal aspects.

I argue that academic capitalism and the new knowledge/learning regime increasingly adopted by American universities is a supplementary capitalism needed by, but distinct from neoliberal capitalism. This symbiotic relationship recreates and perpetuates class power and works to the advantage of the elite because universities, under academic capitalism, serve as training sites for the next class of knowledge workers. I focus on how the traditional public private boundary has been obliterated by the dual forces of neoliberalism and academic capitalism. The destruction of this border has allowed the neoliberal state, through public universities, to use students to subsidize the private sector as the United States transitions into the new economy.

This paper offers an analysis of both neoliberalism and academic capitalism. As such, I contend that universities are not being neoliberalized in the sense of one outside actor coercively pressing an agenda. I agree that part of the explanation for the current state of affairs in university development is due to the actions of outside actors, namely those of the state, and industry in shaping the demands of the new economy. However, it is insufficient to say that these actors are responsible for the reorganization of higher education. Instead, I view academic capitalism as a kind of supplementary set of activities, processes and structures in part arising from liberal ideology and friendly to neoliberalism. The ascendance of neoliberalism as hegemonic has tapped existing proclivities by incentivizing market and market-like behavior. In particular, neoliberalism emphasizes one component of economic forms of life: entrepreneurship. Neoliberalism finds resonance in universities similar to how it finds resonance in evangelical Christianity. iv Academic capitalism both feeds into and strengthens neoliberalism.

Academic Capitalism

Academic capitalism has shifted the role of faculty members from publicly supported researchers into serving as entrepreneurs who must secure funding for their research and institutions by engaging national as well as private sources of support, including corporate interests. v Public university partnerships with external actors deepen this inclination as those institutions encourage their faculties to seek grants and research funding to replace support previously provided by the state. State support for higher education has gradually decreased since 1966 when then California governor Ronald Reagan first pressed for a reduction of his state’s support for public higher education on the basis of a neoliberal rationale. In the ensuing 40 years, states have shifted from a broad understanding of higher education as a public, or quasi-public good to an increasing acceptance of the claim that it should be treated like any other private good. Universities have had to adjust to this shift in orientation strategically and have increasingly adopted a variety of tactics to do so. For all intents and purposes, higher education in the United States is seen as a private good. Defining inquiry in this way commodifies information and values research on the basis of whether it appears to be immediately beneficial to readily identifiable stakeholders. In this view, inquiry is not seen as a public good, but instead as commodifiable property. This attitude shifts the mission of the university from producing knowledge to benefit society generally to acquiring or discovering information for specific interests. This scenario also creates asymmetric information gaps between universities and the public as higher education institutions seek support by competing with each other. A search for competitive advantage thereafter drives the uneven development of universities as each strives to outdo the other by engaging in research and promising outcomes beneficial to targeted private interests.

Slaughter and Rhoades argued that academic capitalism does not quickly and fully replace the traditional, or meritonian, knowledge regime but instead displaces it over time by transforming the mission of the university and shifting the focus of research undertaken within. vi They highlight a shift in how universities treat knowledge and education under academic capitalism. vii The academic capitalist knowledge/learning regimes’ defining characteristic is a redefinition of the fundamental purpose of universities as the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, to an understanding of knowledge that is directly translatable into immediate workplace applications, copyrightable material, or otherwise profitable initiatives. viii Higher education institutions today are evermore in the business of creating knowledge that is alienable and commodifiable. ix To this end universities capture external funds for research initiatives through four active institutional processes: the creation of new circuits of knowledge; the creation and growth of interstitial organizations; the growth of intermediating organizations; and expanded managerial capacity.x Taxpayer resources have partially supported these processes at public research universities. xi

University market behavior is resulting from increasing adoption of corporate actor rationality that treats scientific discovery and idea generation differently than the previous knowledge/learning regime. Corporate actor rationality grounds and legitimates knowledge in the act of doing suggesting that knowledge must be actionable and serve a “use” that implies satisfaction of immediate or short-term goals. Ideas are considered and conditioned by market rationality in this environment. This implies that the generation, dissemination, and recognition of what constitutes knowledge at universities is at least partially conditioned by the political-economic environment in which higher education institutions operate.

Academic capitalism posits that universities are not passively being corporatised by outside forces pressuring them to adopt market behaviors. xii Instead, Slaughter and Rhoades argue that academic capitalism results from the demands the ‘new economy’ places on higher education along with new abilities granted to universities through policy decisions. xiii The university, far from being a passive actor, engages in academic capitalism as a result of a social reimagining of what education is, and how society must pursue higher education. xiv Universities have actively restructured to capture funds from external sources. External sources include government organizations such as the National Institute of Health (NIH), and corporate actors ranging from agribusiness giants to information technology firms like Google. Profit-seeking and market-like behavior of universities are features of academic capitalism. xv

Knowledge and education as alienable goods, and inquiry supported by declining state resources create a hypocritical picture of public universities that have adopted academic capitalism. Though academic capitalism stresses an entrepreneurial spirit within the host institution, research has shown, “the state continues to provide the largest share of resources for the shift in knowledge/learning regime.” xvi Universities create new knowledge circuits through interfacing with the government and private sector. xvii New circuits of knowledge involve groups of actors such as professors, industry researchers, university administrators, corporate board members, and government agencies tasked with linking the university to the new economy. xviii They accomplish this by using available resources to establish and fund interstitial organizations. xix

Interstitial organizations include research institutes that, “bring the corporate sector inside the university.” xx These organizations, “span and blur the boundaries between public and private sectors,” xxi by using state resources to link research underway with inquiry perceived as necessary for the country to compete in the new economy.xxii For example, a research institute may partner with a pharmaceutical company that benefits from the center's work by acquiring certain rights to the use of discovered information: “Taxpayers pay for the federal research that professors perform in universities, they effectively subsidize the corporations that partners with the universities to develop technologies based on federal research, they effectively pay again when they purchase various high-priced pharmaceuticals.” xxiii

Non-Fordist production methods xxiv, increased and expanding information infrastructure xxv, blurred public/private boundaries xxvi, and legal resources to alienate, and control information xxvii characterize the new economy. “Knowledge is seen as a critical raw material to be mined and extracted from any unprotected site; patented, copyrighted, trademarked, or held as a trade secret; then sold in the marketplace for a profit.” xxviii Knowledge, thus, is an alienable and tradeable commodity and universities are nodes of production in the new economy that serve as sites where knowledge is rendered alienable xxix through public/private interlocks xxx. Universities have benefitted from becoming market participants in the global economy, a stance which has been made possible through the Bayh-Dole Act (1980) enacted early in the Reagan administration. xxxi Bayh-Dole, “allowed universities to own and profit from federally funded research performed by faculty,” and serves as an enabling legislation for academic capitalism’s processes and practices. xxxii

Interstitial organizations are sites of knowledge production for the new economy because of Bayh-Dole, and public/private interlocks. The research undertaken at university institutes is a valuable raw material and, as a result, various forms of intermediating networks have arisen to protect and disperse such information. Intermediating networks and organizations serve to, “normalize corporate-university relations around commercial activity.” xxxiii Examples of intermediating networks and organizations include: university intellectual property offices, semi-autonomous non-profit university foundations, inter-university presidential and trustee networks, and university offices geared specifically to handle and disperse information resulting from university-spawned research. xxxiv These organizations span public/private boundaries and facilitate the market and market-like behavior of universities. The new economy redraws public/private boundaries, and as a result public higher education institutions are in constant negotiation with corporate partners concerning ownership and use of intellectual property. xxxv Administrative authority and expanded managerial capacity at universities have resulted as both parties act to protect their interests and remain competitive within the market. xxxvi

Expanded managerial capacity refers to the university’s ability to commodify, disperse, and protect information resulting from research and the rise of a new managerial class associated with these institutional capacities. xxxvii Academic capitalism occurs at both the university-wide scale via organizational restructuring, and at the administrative level by restructuring the roles of administrative overseers. xxxviii As academic capitalism takes root, university presidents more resemble CEOs xxxix , patenting and copyright offices work as venture capitalists selecting technologies to disperse xl, and administrative officials effectively co-produce knowledge products with faculty members xli. These expanded roles create a gap between faculty and administration by effectively alienating faculty from their work and create a division between a producer and managerial class. The administrative class is responsible for seamless interface with external actors and directs university development. xlii Thus, these actors shape how the university responds to external elements and how it links to the new economy. xliii There is a greater need for an administrative class as universities engage in economic activity under academic capitalism. This necessity creates a feedback between university market participation and expansion of the administrative class. “The more the market activity, the greater the managerial staff; the more the managerial staff, the greater the institutional effort to expand markets, as the professionals become an interest group seeking to expand its domains and career opportunities.” xliv The four institutional components of academic capitalism work together to blur the public/private border and embed universities in the new economy.


To restate: I contend that academic capitalism is a supplementary capitalism to the development of the neoliberal state. Some features of academic capitalism have existed for nearly one hundred years prior to the ascendance of neoliberalism. Daniel Saunders crystallized the anachronism of concluding that universities are undergoing a neoliberalization:

As Barrow (1990) discusses, the corporatization of American higher education began in earnest at the beginning of the expansion of public education in the nineteenth century. Similarly, Bowles and Gintis (1976) chronicle the vocalization of the curriculum, corporatization of governing boards, and the focus on marketable technologies and meeting the needs of capital beginning over a hundred years before the rise of neoliberalism. These accounts help demonstrate that the changes that have occurred due to neoliberalism are not fundamental transformations of the roles and purposes of the university, but instead substantial accentuations of its previous functions. xlv

Frank Donoghue in The Last Professors: The Corporate University and the Fate of the Humanities notes that the business elite in the United States have long assaulted universities with their rationalizations. xlvi Neoliberalism activated and enhanced proclivities inherent in American universities by removing barriers to market-like behavior and market involvement. It did nothing more than grant power to university officials who would, in the face of diminishing funding, engage in capitalistic enterprise. The relationship between government, business and education is the product of symbiosis.

In using the term “symbiosis” I am borrowing from William E. Connolly in, The Fragility of Things: Self-Organizing Processes, Neoliberal Fantasies, and Democratic Activism. This is because both neoliberalism and academic capitalism are ascendant rationalities. They are in the process of coming to be. The fully neoliberal state exists no more than the fully academic capitalist university. There is no conspiracy behind their ascendance but they are nevertheless class-based movements. xlvii Powerful interests converge xlviii in both and propel their logics forward making the world into a reflection of their image. As processes, they displace that with which they interact. As rationalities they clash with extant logics embodied in institutions and policy. These conflicts create contradictions, driving the dialect of social and economic development. Neoliberalism displaces Keynesian and embedded liberalism. Academic capitalism displaces the traditional, or mertonian knowledge/learning regime. Thus Connolly’s language of process and its dynamics are appropriate in the study of the relationship between neoliberalism and academic capitalism.

Connolly thinks of symbiosis — for his purposes, symbiogenesis — as a mode of self-organization. xlix “Many force fields, on this interpretation, are susceptible both to impingement from others and to variable degrees of interpretation within them. This combination is part of what makes their relations so complex.” l We can think of “force fields” as the porous borders between: ways of being — everything from animate to inanimate objects; ways of living — cultural, philosophical and, etc.; down to ways of thinking about economic sectors — i.e. non-profit versus for-profit, versus government. These fields are subject to periodic disruption through entanglements with other fields and disruptions can spur moments of creative reorganization. Disruptions, “when triggered by a new event, can promote collapse or inspire a new bout of self-organization...It is called symbiogenesis. This mode of self-organization can for now serve as a template for diverse modes in several domains, even though different types and degrees of self-organization themselves deserve close attention.” li For my purposes: think of changes within university governance and structure as the results of symbiogenesis. That is, the clash of different force fields containing different rationalities surrounding the higher education sector and other economic actors. These clashes can take the form of governmental decisions, social demands, and adoption of terminology from other fields, or other types of cultural diffusion.

Connolly is working in a process framework. lii He is trying to examine neoliberalism in a world of becoming in order to understand the role of change within that world and how we, as agents, interact with and understand what is around us. Leaving the door open for change he writes, “In a world of becoming, periods of relative stability may emerge in this or that zone, but a zone may later slide or careen into a period of rapid change.” liii These periods of change offer opportunities to inject human agency in the form of ethical cultivation within the process of symbiogenesis,

Ethical cultivation, then, is crucial to the practice of practical wisdom. But it does not suffice. It is one element among others needed to come to terms with the ways of a world of becoming. A world of becoming is replete with multiple forces that sometimes intersect to throw something new into the world. So strategic events periodically arrive when it is pertinent to dwell in an exploratory way, in the gap between the disturbance of an emerging situation and those prior investments of bring to it. liv

There are times during the symbiogenic process that are well beyond the control of agency. It may be impossible during these shifts to predict the results of the process. However, that he leaves room for strategic events implies the possibility of agency to influence process itself. He writes of markets and change “we may become better equipped to respond sensitively to the fragility of things today, as seen from the broadly defined interests of the human estate in its complex imbrications with a variety of human and nonhuman subsystems. We may then embrace the need to infuse a new ethos inside markets.” lv The market is the site of interaction for human systems and non-human systems but we can think of the market as the site of interaction for all human relationships including the interaction between state, business and education. “The market” has its own ethos governing interactions among human and non-human subsystems. It, as a site of interaction, contains a rationality that works across an ideology. It is the difference between ideology and rationality and thus the very idea of neoliberal and academic capitalist governance to which I now turn.

Neoliberalism: Rationality, Not Ideology

I contend, along with Brown, that neoliberalism is a distinct political rationality that has been shaping American institutions and subjects since, at the very least, the 1960's. By a political rationality I mean a form of normative reason that neither, “emanates from the intentions of rulers or participants, nor, on the other hand as driven by material conditions or ideology.” lvi By normative reason, I understand Brown to be naming the governing structure of interaction between subject and object. It is a way of viewing and inferring from an object rather than a particular way of viewing the totality of objects — that is, the world. It is both outside of political action and sets the conditions of it. lvii Political reason “is not timeless or universal, but always comes in particular form, secures and circulates specific norms, and posits particular objects and relations.” lviii The dynamics of dispersion for political rationality are never far from the capillaries of power, but it does not necessarily imply that it is the result of power. Political rationality sets the condition for relationships of power but does not directly emanate from it.

Moreover, political rationality does not forge relationships but works through existing relationships to redefine the way interaction is conducted. Quoting Foucault, Brown writes, “at stake in neoliberalism is nothing more, nor less, than the form of our existence — the way in which we are led to conduct ourselves, to relate to others and to ourselves.” lix Neoliberalism amplifies certain attributes within liberal ideology. Without going into too much detail, neoliberalism does not posit the existence of certain objects, but instead dictates how to value them. Liberalism posits a citizen-subject that within democracy has a humanistic core. There are irreducible attributes such as dignity, inherent value, and a demand for political enfranchisement. Neoliberalism, on the other hand, posits only economic actors characterized as entrepreneurs. It has amplified the understanding of the sovereignty of the individual to that of the individual over the collective and has provided a basis for rationalizing the whole of social interaction and organization in terms of cost-benefit. Through its reworking of liberalism, it has displaced humans as a political animal — homo politicus — into subjects as mere economic actors who pursue self-interest at every moment and are always embedded within the market — homo oeconomicus. lx All relationships and interactions are governed by this understanding of the human subject and the shift has been characterized by a move from government to governance. This characterization of political rationality bears striking resemblance to Althusser's notion of ideology. Nonetheless, I believe it to be conceptually distinct from it.

For Althusser, ideology has no history. lxi This is not to say that ideologies have no history, but that ideology, which always expresses class positions, is omni-historical. lxii It cannot be assigned an origin because ideology, any ideology, is a structural component of lived experience and social development. It is a totalizing feature of our experience and structures representation. This is what makes ISAs so powerful. In effect, ISAs structure the boundaries of representation and lay the groundwork for the reproduction of the conditions of production. This is in contrast to a political rationality which, although without a prime mover or agent like ideology, is not universal nor is it timeless. Ideology is disseminated through networks of power — think of ISAs as nodes — but its purpose is not to reshape existing institutions.

Althusser posits two theses about the functioning and structure of ideology. They are: (1) “ideology represents the imaginary relationship of individuals to their real conditions of existence;” and (2) “ideology has a material existence.” lxiii Thesis one applies to neoliberalism and capitalism generally. Thesis two, however, shows that neoliberalism cannot be considered an ideology in Althusser's terms.

Thesis one describes the function of ideology within society. Its purpose is to form imaginary relationships in the minds — subjectivities — of political subjects for the purposes of domination. The subject is always within ideology and ideology, as a control of representation, constructs imaginary relationships between the subject and the real conditions of their existence — i.e. their relationship to the means of production and political power. Althusser says that ideology is both an illusion and allusion. lxiv It is an illusion in that it conceals and buries the real in false representation. However, for Althusser, there is a reality outside of ideology and this leaves the possibility of discovery of reality through dispelling illusions open to the subject. “We admit that they do make allusion to reality, and that the need only be ‘interpreted’ to discover the reality of the world behind their imaginary representation of the world.” lxv

Althusser dispenses with two options considering the how and why of ideology and the forces behind social control. I will call one, the despot thesis and the other, the conditions of existence thesis. Althusser does not think that ideology is the product of some despot or priesthood bent on controlling the populace through constraining their ability to represent freely. There is no malicious order behind the insidious character of ideology and its effect of alienation on subjectivity. This implies some sort of prime mover or cause for ideology and its adoption. The purpose of ideology, then, is to spin lies for the purposes of some agent existing outside and alongside ideology itself in order to dominate the populace.

The conditions of existence thesis posits that the “cause is the material alienation which reigns in the conditions of existence of men themselves.” lxvi In other words, the condition of subjects is to be alienated from reality. This option represents the opposite of the first thesis. The first thesis can be understood broadly as a top-down approach to understanding ideology. The second thesis, on the other hand, implies a bottom-up approach to ideological construction and alienation. We are alienated from reality because we construct ideology that inherently alienates us from the conditions of real existence. Paradoxically, however, the conditions of existence are by their nature alienating and ideology serves to soothe the psyche of subjects who exist within an alienated society that uses them for purposes of alienated labor. Ideology is not imaginary constructed relationships of the conditions of existence, but instead represents relationships to the real through a distorted lens taking subject, labor, and other objects within our existence as imaginary.

Neoliberalism and academic capitalism both reimagine the purpose of labor and relationships held between laborers and administrators through a rationalization of liberalism. Both posit that each laborer: is an entrepreneur; their ideas are alienable and commodifiable in terms of intellectual property; the worker is an atomic unit existing within a hypercompetitive marketplace at all times; and the purpose of each in their life is to increase their human capital in order to compete in the zero-sum game created by the conditions of capitalism. Neoliberalism reimagines the subject in relation to the state, business and civil society. In academic capitalism, the university's mission is to create knowledges which are actionable and commodifiable; the relationship between business and the state is reimagined; the relationship between university and business is reimagined; the relationship between the university and the state is reimagined; and the student is a customer in relation to the university which must cater to their desires reflecting the cultivation of and hypersatisfaction of desires found in neoliberalism. lxvii

The above discussion would seem to imply that neoliberalism and academic capitalism are, in fact, ideologies if not the same ideology embodied in different institutions. However, this is a mistake. Althusser’s second thesis posits that ideology has a material existence. He means that ideology is embodied within institutions and subjects and cannot be divorced from them. ISAs are the, “realization of an ideology always exists in an apparatus, and its practice or practices.” lxviii Key is that ISAs are already unified in their ideological commitments. They are the complete embodiment of ideology within a social institution. As stated, neither neoliberalism nor academic capitalism are complete. They are in a constant state of becoming because they are not ideologies but rather rationalizations of existing ideology. They both displace previous rationalizations of being and the relationship between subject and object but they do not completely erase what they displace. Neoliberalism cannot be fully realized within governing or business institutions. Academic capitalism cannot be fully realized within universities, which function as ISAs in Althusser’s framework.

I wish to salvage four components from Althusser's second thesis to understand the shift in political rationality happening in the United States: (1) that ISAs are the full embodiment of ideology; (2) ideology imagines the relationship between subject and object; (3) through observing the practices of universities we can understand their ideological commitments; and (4) hailing.

As ISAs, universities are the realization of liberalism as an ideology. They are responding to outside conditions created by government, business, and civil society by adjusting their practices to better fit the demands of external actors. The clashes with different rationalities understood through a symbiogenic framework implies a more organic reorganization of an invasive element which universities must adopt, co-opt, or adapt to in order to survive in an environment conditioned by neoliberal rationality. Academic capitalism is the symbiogenic response to their outer environment and the changes evidenced in university behavior are not to be confused with neoliberalism generally understood. Neoliberal political rationality changes everything it touches as it spreads to other forms of being through the existing porous force fields surrounding zones, modes, and understandings of being. Capitalism and liberal rationality already have compartmentalized the social, physical and psychic aspects of reality and neoliberalism is reimagining their relationships through a totalizing rationality which spans and blurs the borders of previously understood realms. As such, neoliberalism builds on what was there and demands, through its nature, to be the only method of rationalizing existing relationships. The dynamic between neoliberalism and academic capitalism is more nuanced and organic than ideological overthrow, top-down approaches positing active agents working on passive subjects, or bottom-up approaches understanding the destruction and recreation of existing relationships as the product of a collective reimagining of the purpose and relationship of universities to the public. Althusser’s concept of hailing within his discussion of the interpellation of the subject highlights how ideological shifts occur but I wish to adjust this idea in favor of another Connollian dynamic: resonance. Unfortunately, due to space, I cannot give a full and strict interpretation of Connolly's use and understanding of resonance, but I will give an exposition of Althusser and nod in the direction of how to adjust his thought toward the adoption of resonance.

Althusser believes that ideology cannot exist apart from the subject because ideology directs the construction of meaning through constraining representation. lxix The subject is a category constitutive of all ideology but, “only insofar as all ideology has the function of ‘constituting’ concrete individuals as subjects.” lxx I understand Althusser as saying that the subject cannot think of itself as an individual without ideology. Ideology imports the ‘I’ into subjectivity itself. Althusser says that we are, “always already subjects, and as such constantly practice the rituals of ideological recognition, which guarantee for us that we are indeed concrete, individual, distinguishable and (naturally) irreplaceable subjects.” lxxi As subjects we cannot be anything but the embodiment of ideology because without it we cannot think of ourselves as subject. Ideology does not exist apart from the subject but is the condition of the subject's existence. Ideology functions and exists through the creation of subjects who guarantee the creation of the conditions necessary for the reproduction of the conditions of production. It operates through interpellation which can be thought of as akin to hailing: “all ideology hails or interpellates concrete individuals as concrete subjects, by the functioning of the category of the subject.” lxxii Oddly, this formulation implies that concrete individuals exist apart from ideology. However, we can understand this simply as atomic beings before they are subjects. He writes, “I shall then suggest that ideology ‘acts’ or ‘functions’ in such a way that it ‘recruits’ subjects among the individuals, or ‘transforms’ the individuals into subjects by that very precise operation which I have called interpellation or hailing, and which can be imagined along the lines of the commonplace everyday police hailing: ‘Hey, you there!’” lxxiii Hailing creates the subject through a call and response mechanism in which one actor calls and the other responds. The individual becomes the subject through that response because the individual recognizes the call as addressed to them. The thought of the ‘I’ apart from the ‘us’ imports ideology directly into the individual and transforms them into a subject. I suggest that universities in the United States have heard something similar to a hailing but that it may be conceptually distinct because they were already imbued with ideology as ISAs.

Connolly supplies a concept helpful in understanding the spread of neoliberal rationality among an environment populated by different fields surrounding different capitalisms. Resonance is the mechanism through which a call is heard from one type of subjectivity to another and it implies an active response and reorganization of values in both parties. As neoliberalism spreads through its environment it calls to supplementary capitalisms to support it from other zones, sectors and understandings of being. This environment, ala Althusser, is conditioned by liberal ideology and thus the resonance built between neoliberalism and supplementary capitalism is a symbiogenic reorganization of values in both the hailer and the hailed. We can, and should understand the relationship between state, business, and university as a sort of symbiogenesis motivated by resonances within the subjectivities created by liberal ideology.


Where do we go from here? Brown’s analysis of the importance of the liberal arts to the creation of democratic subjects is still standing. If she is right, we liberal democrats have cause to worry for we may lose our very ability to represent the relationships held by democratic subject and civil society. My analysis of neoliberalism and academic capitalism is a diagnosis of their relationship. Neither neoliberalism, nor academic capitalism are ideological revolutions but are creeping rationalities sharing a symbiotic relationship. My aim in exposing this relationship is to better understand the monster we in the liberal arts are fighting. Ideological overthrow is not the only option for educational reform. I hope to expose sites of resistance created the symbiotic relationship between neoliberalism and academic capitalism but for now I must settle on maintaining that this essay has argued: (1) that the changes happening in universities cannot be merely the result of top-down ‘neoliberalization’; (2) the dynamics inherent in the social changes of neoliberalism and academic capitalism are the result of a symbiogenesis as a response to the conditions of the new economy; and (3) neither neoliberalism nor academic capitalism can be understood as ideological shifts but must be understood in terms of rationalities that are redefining the interpretation of extant relationships that are the product of liberal ideology without positing new relationships implied by an ideological shift.


i Althusser, Louis. Lenin and Philosophy, and Other Essays. New York, New York: Monthly Review Press, 2001. .p.103

ii Ibid, p.97

iii Brown, Wendy. Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism's Stealth Revolution. ed. New York, NY: Zone Books, 2015. p.216

iv Connolly, William E. The Fragility of Things: Self-organizing Processes, Neoliberal Fantasies, and Democratic Activism. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 2013. p.95, 117-18

v Slaughter Sheila, and Gary Rhoades. Academic Capitalism and the New Economy: Markets, State, and Higher Education. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004. p.192-3

vi Ibid p.29

vii Ibid p.83-4

viii Ibid p.2

ix Ibid p.86

x Ibid p.1

xi Ibid p.6

xii Slaughter and Rhoades, 2004, p.12

xiii Ibid p. 1

xiv Ibid p.230

xv Ibid p.4

xvi Ibid p.306

xvii Ibid p.1

xviii Ibid p.1

xix Ibid p.1

xx Ibid p.1

xxi Ibid p.12

xxii Ibid p.15

xxiii Ibid p.6

xxiv Ibid p.16

xxv Ibid p.242

xxvi Ibid p.52

xxvii Ibid p.16

xxviii Ibid p.4

xxix Ibid p.16

xxx Ibid p.242

xxxi Ibid p.129

xxxii Ibid p.20

xxxiii Ibid p.323

xxxiv Ibid p.25-6

xxxv Ibid p.27

xxxvi Ibid p.25

xxxvii Ibid p.155, 157

xxxviii Ibid p.207

xxxix Ibid p.250-52

xl Ibid p.25

xli Ibid p.152

xlii Ibid p.209

xliii Ibid p.254

xliv Ibid p.307

xlv Saunders, Daniel. “Neoliberal Ideology and Public Higher Education in the United States.” Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies 8, no. 1 (2010). Accessed May 2, 2015. p.55

xlvi Donoghue, Frank. The Last Professors: The Corporate University and the Fate of the Humanities. New York: Fordham University Press, 2008. p.11

xlvii Harvey, David. A Brief History of Neoliberalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005. p.35-36

xlviii Ibid p.36

xlix Connolly, 2013 p.27

l Ibid

li Ibid

lii Ibid pp.25-29

liii Ibid p.27-28

liv Ibid p.134

lv Ibid p.25

lvi Brown, 2015, p.115

lvii Ibid

lviii Ibid

lix Ibid, p.117

lx Brown, Chapter 3

lxi Althusser, 2001, p.107

lxii Ibid, pp.107-8

lxiii Ibid, p.109

lxiv Ibid p. 110

lxv Ibid

lxvi Ibid, p.111

lxvii This list is by no means exhaustive.

lxviii Ibid, 112

lxix Ibid, p.115

lxx Ibid p.116

lxxi Ibid, p.117

lxxii Ibid

lxxiii Ibid p.118

Copyright (c) 2016 Alexander T. Stubberfield