One thing that I think is missing from this (very interesting) discussion
is a consideration of the changing nature of the global economy, the
declining influence of the nation state and the exponential growth of a
global corporate shadow state.
If market discourse is creeping into every sphere of public (and private)
life at this historical moment, this has everything to do with the growth
of corporate power and the Milton Friedman Chicago School free market
ideology espoused by the organic intellectuals of this powerful movement.
We are living a time of extraordinary change; the deck of public discourse
has been reshuffled and as the cards are being played the rules of the
game itself are being changed.
Some have asserted that we have always been subject to the requirements of
the markets, that we owe are own well-being to the engines of economic
growth. In fact, a historical overview of the consolidation of corporate
power will bear out that (cultural, social, economic, etc.) "development"
has often occured despite the wishes of big business, not because of them.
We pay (public) taxes and (private) profits. Our taxes have paid the bills
for educational institutions; the profits which WE HAVE PAID, have not. So
why should we subject our public institutions to the dictates of those who
have not paid the bills?
BTW, many business organizations continue to recognize the value of
liberal arts education. That is the good news for those of you in English
departments. Now, with the whispers that Western may eliminate its
Faculty of Education, the pressure is on 'professional' fields to tailor
outputs to the needs of business (ie. too many unemployed teachers;
funding teacher education is now a 'waste' of public funds - an Orwellian
notion if there ever was one given that the free market ideology of the
Harris govt. has put many of these folks on the dole). This is the bad
news for those of us in education.
One final point: in regards to the existence of private universities in
the US, let's not forget that our distinct national institutional matrices
arose in a different historical period. If private universities in the US
are effective, sometimes even better than public ones, we cannot
necesarily assume that the Canadian public system would benefit from
privatization at this time (and under the tutelage of our current