The new treason of the intellectuals

Can the University survive?

By Thomas Docherty

The new treason of the intellectuals


  • Hardcover

Book Information

  • Format: eBook
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-3276-5
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Published Date: June 2018
  • BIC Category: Philosophy & theory of education, POLITICAL SCIENCE / General, EDUCATION / Philosophy & Social Aspects, Literature & literary studies / Literary theory, Higher & Further Education, Tertiary Education, Society & social sciences / Politics & government, Philosophy & Theory Of Education, Education


The university is under threat. For forty years this indispensable democratic institution has been systematically betrayed by governments and the political class, who have redirected it from its proper social and cultural functions through a relentless programme of financialisation. Taking his cue from Julien Benda's classic polemical essay of 1927, Thomas Docherty exposes the forces behind modern university 'reform'. He demonstrates that the sector has been politicised and now works explicitly to advance a market-fundamentalist ideology that drives an ever-widening wedge between ordinary citizens and the privileged and wealthy. Against this, the intellectual and the university have an urgent duty to extend democracy and social justice. Looking to the future, Docherty concludes the book with seven hypotheses towards a manifesto and calls on intellectuals everywhere to assist in the survival of the species.


'Docherty's uncompromising account of how the University has been betrayed and diminished by the "totalitarianism of market fundamentalism" should be essential reading for anyone interested in the fate of higher education. He gives an impassioned and powerful defence of intellectual work and its significance. More, the book's intellectual depth and range - covering literature, philosophy, theory, history, art and popular culture - clearly demonstrates both the scholarly virtues for which he argues and his active dissent from complicity.'
Robert Eaglestone, Professor of Contemporary Literature and Thought, Royal Holloway, University of London

'Docherty's book is an elegant and powerful defence of the university as a space of free inquiry, a space that is increasingly circumscribed. Most worrying is academics' choice of a comfortable life and the rewards of office over the rigours and unease of the academic vocation. It will not be possible to complete a personal development performance review form with a clear conscience after reading this book.'
John Holmwood, Professor of Sociology, University of Nottingham


Part I: Betrayal
1 Private study
Part II: Crisis
2 Titles and entitlements: why 'university'?
3 The exceptional and the ordinary
4 Another brick in the wall
5 Inflation, democracy, and populism
Part III: Survival
6 Origins, originality, and the privileges of nature
7 Preliminary hypotheses towards a manifesto


Thomas Docherty is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Warwick

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