LGS Blog

Martin McQuillan’s ‘False Economy’: Free text now available

Posted: Tuesday 30 Nov 2010
by LGS 1 comments

“It is the story of our children today who have had their IOU signed in advance by a generation of politicians who have thrown them into debt before they have even begun to read.  To inhabit capitalism is never a question of ‘paying off the debt’, it is always a case of having had the IOU signed for us in advance of our entry into capital.  The task then is not to refuse debt but to affirm another register of debt, an infinite and un-payable debt: our debts to the western tradition, to philosophy, and to the university.  One cannot live without faith or debt.  Today we need to articulate a counter-faith: a belief in the public realm, publicly funded institutions, the idea of the university, and a belief in the necessity of critical thought.  This would be a catechism so simple that it would be worthy of the term ‘a child’s story’.   It  is also the story of Vice-Chancellors in UK universities who are indebted to the very idea of the institution they serve prior to any understanding of what the institution might mean.  They have had their IOU signed for them in advance of their entrance into the Principal’s Office, in this way their debts and duties are infinite.  These Vice-Chancellors have a choice today, to accept the credit default swap that passes the debt of the university from state to student, or, to affirm the gift of higher education by refusing this sacrificial economy.  They may well predominately choose the former and so like Baudelaire’s narrator beat up the poor, but they will not do so out of the same theoretical motivation.  Rather, they will be like the somnambulant friend in ‘la fausse monnaie’ who thinks they are doing good by offering counterfeit money; seeking advancement while hedging themselves and their institutions against loss.  They, like Baudelaire’s false alms giver, deserve our contempt: ‘I will never forgive him the ineptitude of his calculation… the most irreparable of vices is to do evil out of stupidity’.”

To read Martin McQuillan’s new essay, click here: False_Economy


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