Published in Overland Issue 250 Autumn 2023 · Capitalism / The university Smug politics as elite capture Jeff Sparrow In early 2023 the Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Melbourne circulated what he called the institution’s new ‘anti-racism commitment’. The second section of the document (a passage headed ‘Racism: The University of Melbourne context’) began: The University of Melbourne was founded in 1853 by the Colony of Victoria. It is located on Narrm, lands stolen from the Wurundjeri and Boonwurrung peoples. Today the University also has campuses on the unceded lands of the Wathaurong, Dja Dja Wurrung and Taungurung peoples as well as the Yorta Yorta nation. The University’s founding was enabled by the racism that ‘justified’ the dispossession of Aboriginal people from their lands … Anyone who attends the University of Melbourne will already know the rhetoric, since both campus and online events invariably commence with senior personnel giving fulsome acknowledgments of country, generally using formulations about how ‘sovereignty was never ceded’. The property portfolio of the University of Melbourne exceeds, when you include the massive Dookie agricultural campus, some 2500 hectares (University of Melbourne 2018:10). By way of comparison, Coranderrk station— the ‘Aboriginal reserve’ so important to self-determination in the nineteenth century—occupied a mere 2000 hectares (Nanni & James 2013). If the university leadership now accepts that the institution rests on territory both ‘unceded’ and ‘stolen’, how can it not return such a significant portion of land? Obviously, the University of Melbourne does not intend to divest itself of property valued conservatively at more than five billion dollars. So what purpose do its acknowledgements of theft serve? In his recent book Elite Capture: How the Powerful Took Over Identity Politics (and Everything Else), the philosopher Olúfémi O Táíwò theorises the deployment of ostensibly radical rhetoric by fundamentally conservative bodies. Táíwò discusses the USA-centred Black Lives Matter movement as part of a struggle against police killings waged in Kenya, Columbia, Brazil and elsewhere. Elites everywhere, he says, responded with similar strategies: ‘performing symbolic identity politics to pacify protestors without enacting material reforms; and rebrand (not replace) existing institutions, also using elements of identity politics.’ Consider a widely circulated promotional video from 2021. It features a Latina woman walking the corridor of an initially unidentified but clearly important building. ‘I am a woman of colour,’ the voiceover says. ‘I am a mom. I am a cisgender millennial who’s been diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder. I am intersectional.’ She’s also, we discover, a CIA agent—and she wants us to become one, too, with her spiel part of a recruiting campaign called ‘Humans of CIA’. Other iterations of the same program feature queer and Indigenous people touting their happy careers in intelligence. Táíwò calls the hijacking of well-meaning political projects by the wealthy and powerful ‘elite capture’, a term he takes from development theory, where it referred originally to the appropriation of foreign aid by local ruling classes. He illustrates by discussing what he calls ‘deference politics’—the claim, familiar in both activist and academic milieus, that ‘lived experience’ provides an incontestable political authority. Though deference politics invokes the name of the oppressed, in practice, Táíwò says, often it facilitates the interests of the powerful. ‘In my experience as an academic and organizer,’ he writes: when people have said they needed to ‘listen to the most affected,’ it wasn’t usually because they intended to set up Skype calls to refugee camps or to collaborate with houseless people […] Instead, ‘centering the most marginalized’ in my experience has usually meant handing conversational authority and attentional goods to whoever is already in the room and appears to fit a social category associated with some form of oppression—regardless of what they have or have not actually experienced, or what they do or do not actually know about the matter at hand […] [T]he rules of deference have often meant that the conversation stayed in the room, while the people most affected by it stayed outside. The persuasive power of Elite Capture comes from such specific examples, many of which will resonate with Overland readers. Elsewhere, though, the book sometimes tends to abstraction. ‘Almost everything in our social world,’ Táíwò (2022) argues, ‘has a tendency to fall prey to elite capture’. Power imbalances enable ‘the advantaged few [to] steer resources and institutions that could serve the many toward their own narrower interests and aims.’ That’s true but almost tautologically so. What makes someone advantaged? One response might centre on their ability to accumulate resources and further their own interests. And how are they able to do those things? Because they’re advantaged! An historical examination of another of Táíwò’s examples—the evolution of the academic discipline ‘black studies’—helps concretise the process of capture. Black studies in the United States emerged from the 1968 Third World Liberation Front strike at San Francisco State College, a dispute that ran, astonishingly, for five months. Activists demanding a ‘pedagogy of liberation’ supported an academic unit known as the Experimental College that, according to historian Fabio Rojas (2010:58), allowed ‘students to convert informal “rap sessions” into formal courses and then bundle black-themed courses together into a package called “black studies”’. Rojas (2010:93) describes how: during the five years after the strike, from 1969 to 1974, approximately 120 degree programs were created […] The early 1970s witnessed other key events, such as the founding of journals and professional associations dedicated solely to black studies. Doctoral programs would come a bit later, but by 1973 black studies had developed the infrastructure that an academic ﬁeld needs for its long-term survival. (2010:93) Yet that infrastructure bore little relationship to the radical, community-controlled paradigm envisaged by the strikers. Rojas (2010) says that ‘black studies succeeded when it was organised as a more traditional academic exercise’. Táíwò (2022) cites Stephen Ferguson more forthright description of the contemporary discipline as ‘a bureaucratic cog in the academic wheel controlled by administrators, with virtually no democratic input from students or the black working-class community’. Elsewhere, I have suggested thinking about the influence of the New Left and the great social movements of the 1960s in terms of two different models of social change: direct and delegated politics (Sparrow 2018). Direct politics foregrounds the agency of ordinary people, emphasising democratic, participatory activity aiming at structural, material change, while delegated politics involves activists delivering change on behalf of the masses, generally by deploying the state or similar institutions. In every struggle, the two tendencies arise and compete. But specific circumstances meant that, by the time of the college strike, direct politics often predominated. Todd Gitlin describes how, in 1968 and 1969, massive and extremely militant protests took place all across America: In the spring of 1969 alone, three hundred colleges and universities, holding a third of American students, saw sizable demonstrations, a quarter of them marked by strikes or building takeovers, a quarter more by disruption of classes and administration, a fifth accompanied by bombs, arson, or the trashing of property […] Every week the underground press recorded arrests, trials, police hassles and brutalities, demonstrations against the war, demonstrations of blacks and then Hispanics and other people of color and their white allies, demonstrations by GIs against the war, crackdowns by the military […] and there were more of these underground papers, and their radio equivalents, all the time. (Gitlan 1993:328) Amid all of that, fundamental social change felt realistic, even likely. Activists from different tendencies saw progress as something that bubbled up from below, driven by ‘the people’, ‘the workers’, ‘the masses’ or a similar formulation. Constant mobilisations encouraged political generalisation: the demand for the national liberation of Vietnam resonated with and amplified subsequent calls for black liberation, women’s liberation, gay liberation and so on. In 1968, opinion surveys showed that a million students saw themselves as belonging to the left, with 368 000 people saying they ‘strongly agreed’ with the need for a mass revolutionary party (Elbaum 2002:17). This was the context for the San Francisco state strike, a milieu in which the direct politics slogan of a ‘pedagogy of liberation’ resonated with a mass audience. Sharon Martinas, a staff member who supported the Experimental College, recalled how: We had organisers in every rent strike, every welfare rights organisation, every women’s group. Every single organising project in the whole city by the spring of 68 had an SF State student as their organiser […] And we were making contact with the radical wing of the American Federation of Teachers and we knew almost every secretary in every department, and we knew what every administrator was doing before they did. […] We had a power base that touched every single ghetto and barrio in the city. (Elbaum 2002:17) Over the next years, however, the struggle subsided, and as early as 1972, campus demonstrations had drastically declined: anti-Vietnam-war protests faded with the end of the draft; a combination of repression and co-option decapitated the social movements; the economic uncertainty brought by the oil shock precipitated a downturn in industrial militancy. Gitlin (1993:409) describes how, by the mid-70s: The idea of The Revolution languished, to be supplanted by the practical pursuit of reforms […] As revolutionary visions subsided, many became crisp professional lobbyists: environmentalist, feminist, antiwar. A good number succeeded in winning local office, most of them in the Democratic Party. All were compelled to play by the political rules in an unfavourable political climate: to formulate programs, at last, and push them across in a time of tax revolt and shrinking revenues. (Gitlan 1993:409) Direct politics became much harder. Understandably, militants came to think of ‘the people’ less as an agent than an object: at best, the beneficiary of reforms delivered by other means. On campuses, activists sought institutional support for their projects—which meant adapting those projects to the university. A ‘pedagogy of liberation’ depended on mass mobilisations against the administration; black studies, as a ‘realistic’ academic discipline, integrated into the traditional structures of higher education. The historical narrative illuminates the class dynamic of direct and delegated politics. In a newly inhospitable political climate, ex-activists recognised that the tumult of the 1960s had created opportunities for them in the educational curriculum. The creation of black studies (and parallel programs reflecting changing attitudes to gender, sexuality and so on) required academics of a different sort, people equipped with knowledge and skills derived from the social movements. A new generation of activist-scholars emerged, still committed to social change but increasingly detached from the communities from which they had emerged and in whose name they still spoke. If they retained their hostility to the racism and sexism of the old hierarchy, they articulated that opposition in different terms, attracted more to cultural, linguistic and symbolic reforms that could be won within (and even by) the university, rather than demands for structural and material change that necessitated a full-scale confrontation with the institutions on which they depended. A recognisable similar evolution unfolded in the public sector, the arts, NGOs and so on with the expansion of a ‘new middle class’, a layer that provided a social base for the distinctive preoccupations of identity politics. Because delegated politics centred on activists articulating demands in the name of an oppressed group, it meant, as Verity Burgmann (2005:3) puts it, the proclamation of ‘a community of interest between feminist bureaucrats and female welfare recipients, gay studies academics and working-class homosexuals, ethnic affairs advisers with unemployed immigrants and so on’. A certain terminological ambiguity facilitated that rhetoric. Consider ‘representation’: a perennial concept in identity politics. In Keywords, Raymond Williams (2014:267), explains that, as early as the fourteenth century, ‘represent’ could mean both to ‘make present to the mind’ but also ‘standing for something that is not present’. The tension between these senses is critical. For advocates of direct politics, ‘representation’ means to ‘make present’ the excluded: as when the strikers at San Francisco State College sought to subject the university to popular control so that it came to ‘represent’ the community around it. But representation can also imply a delegation of agency. It is in that sense that we speak of, say, ‘representative democracy’: a system in which elected politicians ‘stand in’ for a public that is not present and wields no direct power. The exclusionary potential of this kind of ‘representation’ becomes apparent in the philosopher Lorna Finlayson’s (2018) account of the response to institutional sexism within her discipline. She describes how her well-meaning colleagues overwhelmingly frame the issues within philosophy as problems of ‘representation’. In response, she suggests that ‘the formulation of the problem and solution in terms of representation’ often facilitates a top-down, elitist politics. In the case of corporations […] the call is for more women bosses, not more women interns or secretaries. In the context of philosophy, focusing on the top means focusing on the relatively small set of well-remunerated, permanent academic posts, and the most prestigious professorships above all. A tendency for the gaze to drift upward, to focus especially on what is seen as most prestigious and desirable, is noticeable both outside and within academic contexts—if not so much among feminist academics themselves then certainly and markedly among those who interpret and respond to their efforts from management positions or media platforms. (Finlayson 2018:780) The logic of delegated politics encourages this upward gaze from even its most principled adherents. They understand themselves as working on behalf of others and it’s easy to consider their own elevation a victory for an oppressed constituency, with the actual exclusion of that constituency obscured by the ambiguities of ‘representation’. Delegated politics often evolves into what I call ‘smug politics’: a model of social change in which the masses are neither a source of agency nor a constituency to be serviced but a problem to be policed. Smug politics is typically structured by a binary between the ‘progressive’ attitudes of an elite and the backwardness and bigotry attributed to the working class. Exponents of smug politics regard themselves as enlightened and they consider the masses so intractably racist, sexist and prejudiced that they must be constrained in the name of progress. Smug politics can manifest within the activist left: think of supposed radicals dismissing the public as the brainwashed dupes of the Murdoch media. But it particularly suits so-called neoliberal ‘reformers’, who combine performative gestures of personal tolerance, environmental consciousness, racial awareness and so on with an unstinting hostility towards ordinary people. We should remember that while many of those who pushed through the neoliberal turn (Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, John Howard) associated themselves with moral conservatism, and the marketisation they fostered legitimated a certain version of freedom, sweeping away, as Marx put it, ‘fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions’. Neoliberalism tended, in other words, to undermine social conservatism as it drew more and more of social life into the circuit of capital. A later generation of free market politicians (Barack Obama, Justin Trudeau) could thus combine a commitment to neoliberal economics with an ostentatious support for marketised social inclusion. Yet they embraced that rhetoric even as the invisible hand of the market took increasing control of the public sphere. Typically, neoliberalism means technocratic supervision of central economic and political decisions, leading to what Colin Crouch (2004:4) describes as a ‘post-democratic’ order, in which, while elections still take place, ‘public electoral debate is a tightly controlled spectacle, managed by rival teams of professionals, and considering a small range of issues selected by those teams’. The ostentatious enthusiasm of some neoliberal politicians for a vocabulary once associated with progressive social movements thus emerged alongside the excision of the social realm from which those movements emerged. To facilitate that process, ‘smug politics’ often repurposed the vocabulary of representation. It relied, in particular, on ideas about ‘representative democracy’ that had originally been developed precisely to minimise popular agency. For instance, Alexander Hamilton, an important theorist of representative democracy, explicitly saw the concept as necessary to quell the unrest associated with the American Revolution. Famously (though perhaps apocryphally), at a public banquet, he responded to another diner’s egalitarian enthusiasm with a snort of contempt. ‘Your people, sir,’ Hamilton said, banging the table. ‘Your people is a great beast!’ (Prindle 2006:36) For Hamilton, representation would tame this ‘beast’, through a parliamentary system designed so real power remained not with the people but with the special layer of legislators who stood in for them. ‘Nothing but a permanent body [of representatives] can,’ he insisted, ‘check the imprudence of democracy’ (Ferguson 1962:255). For all that the contemporary world differs from eighteenth-century America, Hamilton’s formulation encapsulates neoliberal smug politics. Other theories of democracy incorporated rallies, marches and strikes as valid manifestations of public sentiment, while Hamiltonian representative democracy rendered them innately illegitimate, since they undercut representatives properly appointed by the electoral process. Where an old-style authoritarian might have invoked law and order to crush protests, ‘representation’ allowed neoliberals to oppose popular agency in the name of democracy itself: a perfect formulation for smug politics. The marketisation of social life also increased the importance of what Raymond Williams calls the conceptual ‘overlap between representative government and representative art’ (2014:25). Today, the word ‘representation’ often invokes a certain kind of cultural politics focussed on the extent to which books, films, movies, video games and other cultural products allow people from traditionally marginalised groups to ‘see themselves’. Arguments about cultural representation are not new. I’ve argued previously in Overland that contemporary slogans like ‘representation matters’, ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’ recall the arguments developed by social realists in the 1950s and feminist critics in the 1970s (Sparrow 2022). The devastating theoretical critiques to which these were subjected have not prevented the elevation of their underlying methodologies to become, in recent decades, almost a kind of progressive common sense. That might be explained by an aestheticisation of politics associated with the diminution of the public realm. Most of us now feel entirely unable to influence parties or political leaders; the goings-on in parliament or on the world stage seem as attenuated as the events in a movie or a book. Consequently, artistic and political representation blend, with public figures assessed in precisely the same way as characters in works of art—that is, in terms of the extent to which they, simply by existing, ‘represent’ a particular identity. This aestheticisation of representation plays a crucial role in elite capture. Cultural representation depends on visibility, since the ‘positive heroes’ in a work of art only inspire the masses to the extent that work finds a mass audience. The more successful a cultural production, the more important its representations might be said to be. By extension, politicians (or even CEOs and entertainers) can only be said to ‘represent’ identities in public life because of their access to an audience. The more visible they become—the more fame or status they acquire—the more significant their representative function. Representation at the top of the ladder—in parliament, the boardroom, the world stage—thus matters more than representation at the bottom rungs (which, almost by definition, remains largely invisible). The call that Finlayson describes for more women bosses rather than women interns flows logically from the aesthetic understanding of representation. That’s why representation (understood in this way) facilitates the key tenets of smug politics. It legitimates power but it also positions equalitarian sentiments as innately reactionary, on the basis that they undermine the status on which representation depends. By way of illustration, consider the response of the Daily Show’s Trevor Noah to a scandal that erupted over President Obama’s decision, following his presidency, to accept $US1.2 million in return for speeches given to Wall Street firms. When critics pointed to the responsibility of these companies for the global financial crisis that devastated Black America, Noah would have none of it. ‘So the first black president must also be the first one to not take money afterwards?’ he said. ‘No, no, no, no, no, my friend. He can’t be the first of everything. Fuck that, and fuck you. Make that money, Obama!’ (Jilani 2017). In smug political terms, Obama’s payout from a Wall Street he’d bailed out after the Global Financial Crisis did not represent a grotesque betrayal of his supporters but a precedent-setting manifestation of progress. The real problem lay with those Noah dubbed ‘haters’. By condemning Obama’s personal success, they undermined his stature as a ‘representative’. Smug politics of this kind finds an especial purchase in higher education, precisely because the delegated politics hegemonic there already encourages the gaze to drift higher and higher. Many progressives might consider the performative gestures now common in Australian universities as, at worst, irrelevant and, at best, benign: indicative, perhaps, of how much the concerns of the social movements have been mainstreamed. But that misses their utility as a management technique. Famously, when Frederick Taylor articulated the necessity for ‘scientific management’ of the labour process, he based his argument on the innate incapacity of working people. Factory employees were, he said, ‘oxlike’ and akin to ‘intelligent gorillas’; they required their bosses to determine every element of their daily routine (Taylor 2005). His arguments arose from the conditions that they justified. The routinisation of the assembly line, the subjection of human toil to the rhythms of machinery, the systematic destruction of craft skills gave a veneer of credibility to Taylor’s defamation of the factory workers he described. Very different circumstances prevail in higher education, even after decades of neoliberal ‘reform’. Universities still require people with specialist knowledge; university employees enjoy a far greater degree of autonomy than workers experienced in twentieth century factories. As a result, a rationalisation of management prerogatives on the basis of a Taylorite argument about working-class incapacity lacks ideological power. Smug politics provides an effective substitute, simultaneously valorising hierarchy and presenting subaltern agency as a threat to progress. When the cultural theorist Annamarie Jagose became Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Sydney, the cuts she implemented provoked campus demonstrations. Confronted by protesters chanting, ‘Annamarie, get out, we know what you’re all about/Cuts, job losses, money for the bosses,’ Jagose fired off a faculty newsletter complaining that: while taking up the clear-eyed, all-knowing, hermeneutically suspicious position of the protestor who sees through the spin to the real core of managerial corruption, this chant […] made an insinuatingly gendered recourse to my first name only. I’m not the first person to note that, while the authority of the public man is augmented by referring to him via his patronymic surname, the authority of the public woman is undermined by the familiar claim to her personal name[…] [P]erhaps in my case, some uncertainty hangs over my Parsi surname—the relative exoticism of which causes some to produce its ‘J’ as ‘Y’ and others to introduce an extra syllabic beat—against which ‘Annamarie’ appears to many a reliably known quantity (2021). Jagose’s intervention attracted widespread ridicule. But her argument illustrates the ease with which a certain rhetoric of representation can be structurally assimilated by management. A dean from a previous generation might have attacked the protesters for their militancy, denouncing them as dangerous extremists. Jagose, however, portrays the chanting students not as too radical but as insufficiently so. More exactly, their demonstration manifests their backwardness, unleashing sexism and racism that Jagose had been challenging simply by representatively occupying a position of power. Accordingly, Jagose concludes her response with the imperative ‘Know my name’ (and a hyperlink to a National Gallery of Australia exhibition of women artists), the scholarly equivalent of ‘Make that money, Obama!’. How, then, should we respond to elite capture? The vacuity of ‘progressive’ corporate rhetoric can induce some progressives to disavow the concerns that identity politics claims to address, by, say, asserting class as the only legitimate preoccupation of a fighting left. This is a disastrous mistake. Racism, sexism and other forms of bigotry remain real issues today just as much as in 1968 and any political program that does not address them will deservedly fail. To put the problem another way, because oppression harms people at the bottom of society infinitely more than those at the top, an effective response to it constitutes an absolute precondition of any progressive politics that seeks a mass base. But that’s also why elite capture cannot simply be ignored. The ‘anti-racist commitments’ of huge corporate entities represent more than just empty posturing. As a key management technique, smug politics disrupts, demoralises and forestalls the agency of ordinary people—and so fosters the precise oppression it claims to oppose. Take the epidemic of sexual harassment and abuse within higher education. Academic research consistently finds that harassment proliferates within hierarchal settings dominated by industrial precarity, a conclusion that makes an immediate intuitive sense. Yet, for decades, the neoliberal reforms implemented by vice chancellors have centred on marketisation and casualisation, policies that inevitably foster that inequality and precarity. Smug political announcements about top-down anti-harassment schemes both buttress management authority and delegitimise the union organisation that represents the most obvious precondition for a safer campus. Similarly, management utilises rhetoric about diversity because it resonates with employees who recognise the modern university as deeply exclusionary. The most obvious steps to foster diversity include making higher education more affordable for students and less toxic for staff, since high fees and precarious employment pose far more of a challenge to those from traditionally marginalised backgrounds. Yet any campaign, such as those led by unions or student groups, fighting the material barriers to inclusion immediately comes into conflict with university management. We should neither endorse nor ignore the rhetoric of elite capture. Instead, we should respond to smug politics with direct politics. To that end, the ambiguity of terms like ‘representation’ provides something of an opportunity, allowing us to assert the agency of the masses as the only real solution to the problems management pretends to solve. The ‘anti-racist’ statement adopted by the University of Melbourne also incorporates the ‘working definition of anti-Semitism’ devised by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). It’s widely condemned by Palestinians and their supporters since it describes criticism of the Israeli apartheid state as inherently ‘racist’. As Nick Reimer (2023) wrote in Overland’s online magazine, ‘the IHRA definition is a hammer to crush Palestine advocacy’ and has been the subject of intense debate internationally for several years’. By becoming the first major educational institution to endorse the IHRA position, the University of Melbourne demonstrates precisely what it actually thinks about settler colonialism and stolen land. Nevertheless, the anti-racism commitment still provides an obvious opportunity for a conversation about political agency. The university acknowledges that it rests on stolen land. Well and good! So, what kind of forces might be assembled to enable a real rather than merely rhetorical recognition of sovereignty? What would that sovereignty entail? Such a discussion would immediately reverse the tendency for the upward climbing gaze and would instead foster a much-needed debate about how best to mobilise the many against the few. In a sense, smug politics implies its own negation. The answer to elite capture lies in mass liberation. 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Jagose, AM 2021, ‘From the Dean’ FASS News, 17 June 2021’, accessed February 17, 2023, https://fass-comms.sydney.edu.au/pub/pubType/EO/pubID/zzzz60c80364ee1b9374/interface.html. Jilani, Z 2017, ‘Barack Obama Is Using His Presidency to Cash In, But Harry Truman and Jimmy Carter Refused’, The Intercept, 2 May 2017, https://theintercept.com/2017/05/01/barack-obama-is-using-his-presidency-to-cash-in-but-harry-truman-and-jimmy-carter-refused/. Nanni G & A James, 2013, Coranderrk: We Will Show the Country, Aboriginal Studies Press, Prindle, DF 2006, The Paradox of Democratic Capitalism: Politics and Economics in American Thought, JHU Press Reimer, N 2023, ‘Deadly Word Games: Universities and Defining Antisemitism’, Overland online, 2 February 2023. Rojas, F 2010, From Black Power to Black Studies: How a Radical Social Movement Became an Academic Discipline, Johns Hopkins paperback edition, The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA. Sparrow, J 2018, Trigger Warnings: Political Correctness and the Rise of the Right, Scribe Publications, Brunswick, Victoria. Sparrow, J 2022, ‘Socialist Realism, Overland and the Politics of Representation’, Overland online, 10 November 2022. Táíwò, OO 2022, Elite Capture: How the Powerful Took over Over Identity Politics (and Everything Else), Haymarket Books, Chicago. [unpaginated ebook] University of Melbourne 2023, ‘Anti-Racism Commitment’, https://about.unimelb.edu.au/diversity-inclusion/anti-racism-commitment. University of Melbourne, 2018, Guiding Our Estate. https://about.unimelb.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0024/153483/Guiding-Our-Estate-Final.pdf Williams, R 2014, Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society, Oxford University Press. Taylor, FW, 2005, The Principles of Scientific Management, 1st World Library, Fairfield, IA. Jeff Sparrow Jeff Sparrow is a Walkley Award-winning writer, broadcaster and former editor of Overland. More by Jeff Sparrow › Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places. If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate. Related articles & Essays First published in Overland Issue 228 6 September 202312 September 2023 · The university Rows and columns, or the logic of the contemporary university Hayley Singer The art of bookkeeping is the privileged art form of the university. It seems to get more layered and complex, year-on-year. 'How can the artist’s time be quantified? How can art be captured as output and those outputs sorted into data sets and returned as value?' These are just some of the bizarre questions I think the university is fixated on. The question I am fixated on is what words poets can give to the transformation of creativity into productivity? First published in Overland Issue 228 29 May 202330 May 2023 · The university Universities as tools of apartheid Nick Riemer In his new book Boycott Theory and the Struggle for Palestine: Universities, Intellectualism and Liberation (Rowman and Littlefield, 2023), Nick Riemer mounts a comprehensive argument for the institutional academic boycott of Israel. This edited extract outlines the central rationale for the boycott—Israeli universities’ institutional role in enabling apartheid, occupation and anti-Palestinianism.