(Pix source here)
I have been studying the approaches of Marxist Leninist societies--businesses and governments--especially in the way in which institutions founded on Leninist principles with Marxist objectives relate to markets. The traditional view of such systems viewed markets with suspicion and sought to substitute an objectives based central planning apparatus--driven by a well trained and motivated bureaucracy--for the choice and efficiency structures of the market. The idea was that better choices would be made and more efficient use of productive forces could be sustained. But at its foundation was the Leninist notion that market driven choices were inherently ideologically tainted against which a bureaucracy of planners was necessary to avoid the errors of popular choice in the service of the construction (or preservation ) of a Marxist society.
That approach was transformed in the decades since the breakup of the old Soviet Union. Over the last 40 years two distinct approaches have arisen. The more traditional Central Planning Marxist-Leninism continues to embrace at its core an anti-markets principle and the object of the state is to remake individuals to better suit the needs of central planning. The other, Markets Marxism, increasingly embraces markets and markets based mechanisms as a means of social, economic and political progress compatible with the state's long term objectives. In that case markets are the means used to achieve objects, as opposed to the traditional Marxism in which the objective was to avoid the market. (Discussed HERE).
Yet, one might ask, why would a site focused on university governance have any interest in Leninism and market ideologies? Because, it seems, universities in the West (and large western multinational enterprises) appear in the early 21st century to be the heirs and most vigorous centers of anti-market, central planning ideologies in both their operation and in the institutional cultures that they advance. The result, of course, is highly ironic where these institutions are meant to serve as the knowledge production foundation of political-economies founded on both principles of representative democracy and of markets. But irony is the stuff of dinner parties. There is real effect as well--internal central planning in the knowledge production and dissemination industry substantially determines who decides what one learns, how on studies and what knowledge is produced. The power over those decisions has been shifting from individuals and from the stakeholders within the university, to bureaucracies asserting managerial controls through the exercise of administrative discretion. In centrally planned economies, the result is usually a substantial loss of productivity, a shifting of the focus of productive capability, and the loss of innovation. Have American universities now adopted cultures of central planning or Markets Marxism as the basis for their operations?