Highlighted Selections from:

The University, Intellectuals, and Multitudes


Stuart Hall, "The University, Intellectuals, and Multitudes," interview by Greig de Peuter, Utopian Pedagogy.

p.2: Research assessment also places tremendous pressure on the standardization of thought and of academic programs. Each discipline is supposed to produce a summary of what is 'basic' to their discipline and how their courses are teaching that content. This has damaged the diversity of programs. It also has the effect of straightening the disciplines up, because when you are audited you are required to respond within a known discipline. If you are interdisciplinary you fall between domains and so you have to report to more than one board. As a result, the experimentation in education is squeezed. -- Highlighted mar 25, 2014

p.3: The idea of the university as an 'open' institution, 'freely' in pursuit of knowledge, was, of course, never quite the case. It has always been a bit of a myth. That accompanies the elitism of academic life, the closure around the profession, and the hidden assumptions about who can benefit from it and who can't, and so on. Universities have always been selective institutions in one way or another, either formally or informally. This institution has always been ripe for democratization, especially in Britain, where it is immured in such a deeply hierarchical social system; it is riven with and shaped by the class system. -- Highlighted mar 25, 2014

p.3: The process of neoliberal restructuring in Britain, because it is intervening in an older, deeply hierarchical system, carries an ambiguous resonance. The market can portend to be more open than an old, basically aristocratic system. This is New Labour's version of neoliberalism, and it can represent itself as being a populist drive. It wins over many people who are attached to the democratization of higher education and of research institutions because it seems to be a way of bringing air into a closed system. But the form which this opening takes is encapsulated from on top: it is a market-driven opening, moving very much against the social democratic idea of education -- Highlighted mar 25, 2014

p.4: anybody who stands back and looks at what this has done to the conception of the university will see that it is now pulled or driven principally by vocational and economic questions principally in terms of its contribution to larger economic purposes. It is driven by a kind of managerialism. Managerialism is not only the hallmark of neoliberalism but actually what I would call the motor: if neoliberalism is a set of ideas, how neoliberalism then gets into the system is through managerialism. It has swept over and transformed the university, where every procedure has been managerialized. This is very different from the old system, where universities, in a way, managed themselves, always remembering that that autonomy was limited to a small number of people. But there was still a certain ideal of a free movement of ideas and of personal contact. The best of our education for students, which was an elite practice, was a one-to-one tutorial in the Oxbridge system where, whoever it was even the most outstanding scientist you, as an undergraduate, had an hour with that person reading him or her a paper you had written. You cannot have a bigger exchange be hveen the bottom and top of the hierarchy! That's going even at Oxford and Cambridge, and certainly can no longer be repeated elsewhere. -- Highlighted mar 25, 2014

p.5: The centre's students were initially graduate students in an English department. Now we were studying the popular press, the tabloids, and television. 'How do you talk critically about these forms?' 'What were we doing?' We had to give it a name and we called it 'cultural studies'! 'What seminars do you give these students?' You give courses in how to read critically, how to listen to language, including popular language, and how to talk about the visual domain. We were interested in the cultural dimension and in how to analyse the society in a way that intersected with more text-based studies. -- Highlighted mar 25, 2014

p.6: As a good Gramscian, I could see that what was at work at the centre was a different conception of the intellectual. Gramsci had a notion of hvo types of intellectual. 'Traditional intellectuals' merely refine exist ing knowledge as it is; they produce rarified and expanded knowledge but for the sake of the powers and structures that currently exist. In contrast, 'organic intellectuals' are those who are working critically and whose work is in some way aligned with emerging oppositional social forces. For Gramsci, that meant the working class, but the notion of the organic intellectual also stresses the general importance of critical work and carries an expanded notion of intellectual politics. It wasn't only that workers should be involved but that everybody was associated with an historical movement. -- Highlighted mar 25, 2014

p.6: We could only move at the centre in a utopian relation to this other force. We had to say: 'There is a force out there, and when conditions are changed, we have a tiny role to play in making available to it whatever "it" is critical knowledge about the culture which is currently not being generated.' It was an attempt to mobilize what Brecht called 'the means of mental production,' putting it at the service of somebody else. I began to think of the centre as a place where organic intellectuals could be formed. -- Highlighted mar 25, 2014

p.6: There are two points in Gramsci's argument about the organic intellectual that I want to stress. Gramsci shows us it is no use to have critical knowledge that is simply driven by polemic. Critical knowledge has to be ahead of traditional knowledge: it has to be better than anything that traditional knowledge can produce, because only serious ideas are going to stand up. There is no point changing the society in the light of a misconstrued analysis of what your culture and society is about. -- Highlighted mar 25, 2014

p.7: Critical intellectual work cannot be limited to the university but must constantly look for ways of making that knowledge available to wider social forces. That is why the centre published, why we tried to push out beyond the confines of the university. It had to be serious intellectual work done in the hope of making it spread. It is hard to say, and, in some ways, it is too early to say, whether that happened at the centre. Undoubtedly, cultural studies broke into other disciplines and transformed the university; its ideas were picked up and entered a wider discourse. But you could not guarantee all the points of transmission into the wider world. You could just think, write, and work always in the intention of doing that. -- Highlighted mar 25, 2014

p.9: The introduction of how to teach into the heart of what to teach was an important transformation of the pedagogic process; it was the equivalent transformation in the context of the Open University that collective reading and writing was in the centre. -- Highlighted mar 25, 2014

p.11: Teaching is therefore a process of activating knowledge in the social context in which you learn. That is, of addressing the 'how' of teaching alongside the 'what,' alongside the content of what you are teaching. Teaching is also a cultural practice in that our culture is stratified by class and power. The people who come into the learning process come into it already placed in this hierarchical system. You do not get out of a hierarchical system by pretending it doesn't exist; you get out of a hierarchical system by working against the hierarchies, by gradually equalizing the dialogue between teacher and taught. I am also for this: teaching has to be done with a respect for difference, with working at the differences, as a part of a long process a 'long revolution' in Raymond Williams' sense of gradually shifting those power indices around knowledge, by disengaging knowledge from power, insofar as that is possible. -- Highlighted mar 25, 2014

p.12: I also taught in a place where all the students I had were active members of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND). We read literature, a lot of which was Russian. It was a scenario for arguing through the question of the Soviet Union, the New Left, and the rise of the social movements. Literature provided an entry point for a debate about these political transformations. This was among people who wanted to go on learning as adults. They did not want a certificate; they just wanted to go on learning. -- Highlighted mar 25, 2014

p.13: Of the groups that affiliated around the New Left, I increasingly associated with CND. I would have seen my role as much pedagogic as activist. Many people would say: '1 know about politics at home but I can't understand what's happening in the world.' My function was to make understandable the dynamics of the Cold War, for example, what new weaponry was about, its dangers, and the ideological struggle between East and West as much as to say, 'Join us in a march.' CND itself had a pedagogic function in relation to nuclear weapons. I'm talking here more loosely about the pedagogic function in political work, which I think is always there. There is a pedagogic emphasis on dialogue, to make what knowledge you have available to publics out side the framework of formal educational opportunities and the social class structure. -- Highlighted mar 25, 2014

p.13: This returns to what I said earlier: there is a pretence that the social and class divisions do not exist, as if you can just jump them. I saw it in many of the left groups of that period including at the centre. 'I'm just one of the "boys." You are not one of the "boys." You had a privileged education from the time you opened your eyes, from the second you opened your mouth. Especially in England where the class registers are so unmistakable -- Highlighted mar 25, 2014

p.15: There has been this move away from organized politics and away from the state. That reflects something of the fact that the state itself has been weakened in relation to the market. This is neoliberalism. Oppositional movements are smart to see that power does not lie only in the state power but lies in civil society, in economic relations, in the market, and in culture as much as in the state. This is not to say that the nation state has disappeared or that the state is unimportant, but it is relatively weaker in relation to global forces and international capital than it was before. The social movements show us that there is not just an intellectual movement away from the party but there are changes in the circumstances and the structures within which resistance has to operate: this is a world where power is decentred. -- Highlighted mar 25, 2014

p.15: The social forums are a kind of response. There is no move to form a 'single party' or a 'single line: but rather, there is a search for the points of condensation, the points of overlap, the points of overdetermination that would allow people from many different traditions not to give up their differences but nevertheless coalesce at critical points. This seems to me to point to an acknowledgment that although power is decentralized it is not without its nodes. In a global world the technical infrastructure of capital is con nected from one node to another. These happen to be not from one nation to another, but from one capital city to another, from Tokyo to Malaysia to New York to London. This pattern is not one of structurelessness but of a new kind of power: nodal power, the power of net works. I suppose that until we understand better than we do how these decentred powers operate we will not quite know what exact strategy will effectively dismantle them or oppose them. -- Highlighted mar 25, 2014

p.15: Nodal power presents certain difficulties when we ask what the right strategy is. The right strategy is to transform a structure. You have got to understand how the structure works in order to transform it. -- Highlighted mar 25, 2014

p.16: My suspicion is that the idea of 'act locally, think globally' is one part of that strategy. It is a movement towards the local community, towards particularity, towards concreteness. That is the play of difference that has entered the world, in how both capital and countercapital organizes itself. But whatever has come in the place of state power, which is the driving force in the nature of global capital and I mean that in the widest sense, including cultural industries and how they are organized, the flow of information, technology we cannot leave that alone. That would be to settle for improvements here and there, without looking at the broader division. -- Highlighted mar 25, 2014

p.16: It is not a simple North-South question, as critical to network power is the collusion of elites in the underdeveloped world with the elites in the developed world. You may not be able to draw it spatially any longer, but however you draw it, there is a line that cuts between those who are designed to benefit from the global organization of the economy and those who are not. -- Highlighted mar 25, 2014

p.16: This poses questions about alliance, negotiation, and combination. The combinations may be strategic for this purpose or that purpose, but behind them there has to be some general sense that these kinds of interests and those kinds of interests are different. I believe that any politic requres the symbolic drawing of the boundary; there has to be some symbolic divide. It may not be permanent and it does not mean that all the 'goodies' are on one side and all the 'baddies' are on the other side. But there has to be a sense of 'us' and 'them.' No politics is possible without a sense of 'us' and 'them.' -- Highlighted mar 25, 2014

p.19: I have never thought that radical change could do without its utopian dimension. This is because change presupposes the movement from what is towards something else. It is dependent on becoming as well as being. Becoming will always have to have a certain utopian dimension to it, because it is always configuring something that doesn't yet exist. On the other hand, what I would call a 'bad' utopianism configures a future-becoming as a complete break from what already is. I don't think that is a very useful way of thinking about the future, because the future is always made in part out of who you are and where you are. I think the possibili ties of utopian thinking arise from the fact that we are that hybrid thing: already attached, already embedded, and already embodied but alongside a desire, a longing, for things to be what they are not. Utopian thinking has to operate on the basis of the tensions between those two unreconciled arms within individuals, within groups, within communities. In some ways this is why I have never been, in the absolute sense, a revolutionary. I do not believe in Year One. I don't think there is any pure break of that kind. -- Highlighted mar 25, 2014

p.19: Indeed, to convert a local centre of resistance into a system is itself the pull toward the past, to slow it down, and so on. The very institutionalization of cultural studies has represented a certain loss of freedom, a loss of experimentation, a loss of its political impetus. I am not sure if that is not built into the institutionalization process itself. Institutionalization always awaits or lies in the path of too rosy a picture of alternative communities. But if you view them correctly as laboratories for how to build relationships which are not entirely governed by existing hegemonic ones then they have a tremendous amount to teach us. -- Highlighted mar 25, 2014

p.20: I think migration is the undecide, the joker, in the path of globalization. The one thing that should not move is people: messages can move, technologies can move, industries can move, capital can certainly move but people always stay where they are, because capital cannot take advantage of differential conditions unless there are poor workers in Indonesia, and so on. There is no point in, say, all of Pakistan moving to Los Angeles and requiring West Coast wages. That disrupts the whole thing. Capital needs the periphery. -- Highlighted mar 25, 2014

p.20: But when I think about migration I know who the multitudes are: they are not organized for anything, and they are not, I am afraid, often in produc tive labour. These people are doing the shit work of global capital: they are servicing it, feeding it, washing its windows late at night, cleaning its offices, and looking after the children of the global entrepreneurs. -- Highlighted mar 25, 2014

p.21: But they are everywhere: they refuse to be tied down; they refuse to lose their language; they refuse to lose their religion; they refuse to be only migrants. Migration, the refusal to stay in one place, is often at the cost of horrendous poverty, civil war, ethnic cleansing, and religious and political persecution. Yet whatever it is at the cost of, people move. -- Highlighted mar 25, 2014

p.21: This is now just a disruptive force. It is not yet an organized force. This is globalization-from-below rather than globalization-from-above. These are counterinstances, counterlives. Du Bois once said, 'The color line will be the central problem of the twentieth century.' I think migration will be the central issue of the twenty-first century something around the capacity to move, to be not rooted, to maintain an identity while it is plural. -- Highlighted mar 25, 2014