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Culture, the academy, and the police; or reading Matthew Arnold in "our present unsettled state.".

[T]he encroachments of the rich are more destructive to the constitution than those of the people. (Aristotle 1993, 100)

Never did people believe anything more firmly than nine Englishmen out of ten at the present day believe that our greatness and welfare are proved by our being so very rich. Now the use of culture is that it helps us, by means of its spiritual standard of perfection, to regard wealth as but machinery, and not only to say as a matter of words that we regard wealth as but machinery, but really to perceive and feel that it is so. If it were not for this purging effect wrought upon our minds by culture, the whole world, the future as well as the present, would inevitably belong to the Philistines. (Arnold 1993a, 65)

I think people believe that the only strategy we have is to put a lot of police officers on the street and harass people and make arrests for inconsequential kinds of things. Well, that's part of the strategy, no question about it. (Gates 1988)


In his study of "the Arnoldian tradition" in American culture, John Raleigh observes that

Matthew Arnold's writings, literary, social, religious, and cultural, have enjoyed and still continue to enjoy an extensive vogue in the United States. . . . No other foreign critic, and perhaps few native ones, have acquired such a reputation and exercised such a palpable influence on American culture. What criticism needed at his time he provided. What it still needs he provides." (Raleigh 1961,(1))

Raleigh penned these words in 1961, and what strikes one today, in our present troubled times, so full of uncertainty, is Raleigh's absolute faith in the abiding cultural utility of Arnold's ideas. This paper leans on Raleigh's tribute in order to assess the contemporary ideological significance of the Arnoldian tradition. A large question looms over the landscape of issues explored here: is it the case that Arnold still "provides" what we humanists most assuredly need (Graff 1987)?(2)

One way to answer the above-question is through self definition - that is, we identify ourselves, and in the same process identify our needs.(3) Another way of investigating the controversy of Arnold's contemporary relevance is to interrogate the social world in which the humanities exist. The latter methodological approach - the line of vision informing my argument - is based on the assumption that the needs of humanists are shaped from without: thus, the question of whether or not Arnold still ministers to them, cannot be properly answered if we do not know why such needs exist in a certain (social) form. The interrelationships obtaining between culture, the academy, and the police form the objective criteria for evaluating the lasting promise, or growing irrelevance, of Arnoldian cultural imperatives in the contemporary moment. In my view, the latter measure of growing irrelevance is more eloquent of Arnold's status today. I suggest that "the Arnoldian program" (Raleigh 1961, 99) of making citizens through the genius of the liberal humanities has run aground on the hard, jagged rock of neoliberal society - a society whose principal agent of social discipline is less the educator than the police officer, less the school than the prison.

Our present unsettled state is causing the ground to shift as regards the very meaning of what it is to be a citizen.(4) Even as his cultural influence declines, Arnold can still help us to understand this profound geological activity. For as noted by Barry Cooper, Arnold's concept of "culture" is in one sense "an Aristotlean political science," which keenly serves as "a rational standard for political judgment as well as a motive for public conduct" (1976, 25, 35). Arnold's work offers us the challenge of thinking through a seminal contradiction: his "political science" holds value for both projects of social control and projects of freedom. As a discourse of social control, the Arnoldian text lends support to conservative notions of a monumental culture, allegedly our common heritage, which must be handed down from above (Bloom 1987). However, as a discourse of freedom, the Arnoldian text makes it possible to conceive of the liberal arts as a pedagogy of hope and moral courage. From this perspective, culture is not something we merely imbibe, it is something we do - "in the interest of creating critical rather than 'good' citizens," observes Henry Giroux (1990, 121). Before embarking on an exploration of Arnold's key ideas, we need to consider the contemporary versions of those forces of social discipline - culture, the academy, and the police - whose combined activity forms the ground for Arnold's thought.

The contemporary social scene is characterized by the long reach of the commodity-form into all areas of life. The general tendency therein is the colonization of "society" by the prerogatives of the market (Herman 1995). In the realm of culture this has led to an inauspicious situation. For example, consider the fact that, with the decline of governmental support,

museums have increasingly felt the need to obtain more corporate sponsorship for exhibits, and thus to adjust their overall orientation to attract this primary source of funding. Corporate expenditures on the arts rose from under $100 million in 1970 to more than $500 million in the early 1990's. One curator noted that "most corporate sponsors finance exhibitions based on centrist ideals and uncontroversial subject-matter." (Herman 1995, 9)

The colonization of "society" by "the economy" has also left its mark on the internal culture of the liberal academy. Lawrence Soley observes that "Government actions have promoted . . . increasing ties between business and universities. Although universities have always pandered to wealthy patrons, universities' toadyism intensified after President Reagan slashed spending on domestic programs. Reagan's cuts to student loans and funding for grant-giving agencies put the pinch on universities" (Soley 1995, 9). Leonard Minsky writes in the preface to Soley's book that "The past role of universities to serve the public has been hopelessly compromised. The cynical role now played by corporatized universities has made them untrustworthy arbiters of the public good" (1995, 11). The degree of truth in Minsky's assertions is of course debatable; but, nonetheless, his comments oblige us to take seriously the real social forces now confronting the Arnoldian program of citizenship through humanistic education.

The steady march forward of commodification has led to the wholesale dismantling of the welfare state. The welfare state - which places regulations or fetters on the drive for profit in the regions of health care, income, housing and education - was born out of the struggle of workers to keep alive fundamental values of "society" (Piven and Cloward 1979, 264-361). Said values (expressive of the need for dignity and community) originate in what Kees Van Der Pijl terms "the social, reproductive substratum" of the economic order, the non-commodified sphere of "authentic joy, love and friendship" (1997, 38). The collapse of welfare statism under the pressure exercised by "the despotism of capital" (Marx 1976, 793) threatens to exhaust the capacity of the social substratum to generate human values; and to this extent it facilitates what Jurgen Habermas calls a "legitimation crisis" - a crisis in the ability of a society to integrate (normatively) its various political elements (1975). Despotic capital (i.e., neoliberalism) brings on crisis because in its rending of the diverse "safety nets" attendant to welfare statism, it reduces large numbers of people to the status of "disposable human material" (Marx 1976, 785-86). But a population deemed "redundant" does not simply disappear; and so in order to control its menacing social presence, despotic capital gives over much of society to the logic of the police. This, to be sure, is the complex of forces which forms the background for President Clinton's assertion that "We need to put more police on the streets and more criminals behind bars" (Clinton and Gore 1992, 71). As culture and the academy go the way of corporatization, and as society falls under the omnipotent eye of the police, the "Aristotelian political science" of Matthew Arnold comes into its own.


Arnold's political science is expressive of "the liberal imagination" in action (Trilling 1950). Thus, in adjudging Arnold's contemporary relevance, one is actually considering the place of liberal values in a society that is born out of the rule of despotic capital. The crisis of legitimation is at bottom the crisis of liberalism. The following questions are therefore unavoidable. What import the liberal academy in a social order based squarely on the operations of private capital, which entail, as Marx points out, "the free exploitation of man by man" (1976, 875)?(5) What purchase liberal culture in a state system that increasingly reduces itself to the terms of the police? Finally, where should the self go to escape the hegemony of the Philistines, to commune with what Arnold called "the inmost impulse of . . . being" (1993b, 9)? Richard Ohmann writes that Arnold had "high hopes for literary culture"; he envisaged it as a means of holding at bay the colonization of society by economy (1987, 3). However, in our time, which bears witness to the strong rule of the market, the social structures necessary for the realization of liberal (and "literary") values are increasingly robbed of ideological authority. As Terry Eagleton remarks, "It is the logic of late capitalism to breed a more fragmentary, eclectic, demotic, metropolitan culture than anything dreamt of by Matthew Arnold - a culture which is then a living scandal to its own firmly Arnoldian premises" (1992, 34-35). In this respect, the question of whether or not Arnold still provides what the humanities need, is more properly an issue of can he provide what they need, given the larger social context.(6)

Arnold's writings demonstrate that culture, the academy, and the police are wedded together into a single social complex by the contradictory energies of liberalism: on the one hand, we meet in Arnold's prose a language of human values beyond the marketplace, still relevant to our times; but, on the other hand, Arnold devotes a small river of ink to the problem of disciplining workers. He strongly believed that "the excess of the working class in its present state of development" was synonymous with "anarchy" (1993a, 92). Insofar as Arnold's political science is addressed as the problem of "anarchy" from below, he lends considerable cultural authority to the class interest of capitalists.

As "the self-appointed apostle of culture" (Raleigh 1961, 37), Arnold advanced both disciplinary and liberatory values. On the one hand, he viewed the liberal educator as a propagandist against the workers' revolution: "the lovers of culture," wrote Arnold, "are unswervingly and with a good conscience the opposers of anarchy" (1993a, 182). But, on the other hand, Arnold was sharply critical of unfettered, despotic capitalism: its denial of community in the name of economic profit, and its generation of "our ever accumulating masses of pauperism" (1993a, 175) were, for Arnold, intolerable assaults against the "social substratum," the realm of moral community. In the spirit of Arnold (against "the diseased spirit of our time" [1993a, 168]), and in league with the argument developed in Aristotle's The Politics, I contend that the need to place ethical limits on the social influence of the marketplace is a matter of the utmost exigence, for without such limits, culture, in the Arnoldian sense of "becoming something rather than having something," the idea of "growing towards some measure of sweetness and light," cannot even begin to elicit "our best self, or right reason" (1993a, 62, 103, 100). Consequently, the democratic body politic (and its concomitant notion of community) is degraded therein.

If one accepts Lionel Trilling's dictum that culture "is not a flow, nor even a confluence; its form of existence is struggle, or at least debate" (1950, 20), then one is obliged to seek out, in the present moment, a language of culture that resists the totalitarian monologism of the marketplace. To quote Henry Giroux, liberal educators, the would-be purveyors of cultures, need to link the liberal arts "to the imperatives of a critical democracy, [so that] the debate on the meaning and nature of higher education can be situated within a broader context of issues concerned with citizenship, politics, and the dignity of human life" (1990, 121). It is my view that the fate of liberal education (whatever the character of the curriculum) rests in the balance between values of "humanity" and values of social discipline. I submit that if the latter prevail over the former, we shall enter a political era (characterized by cities and suburbs of the dead) where the basic human decencies - "openness and flexibility of mind" (Arnold 1993b, 25), the "love of our neighbor, the impulses towards action, help and beneficence" (1993a, 59) - will be rare birds, indeed.(7)


Arnold's writings are often informed by a fundamental conflict between binary and dialectical modes of social inquiry. Couplings like "Hebraism and "Hellenism," "culture and anarchy," the "State" and the "individual," "curiosity" and "machinery" behave on occasion like binary oppositions, the first term simply canceling out the second in a hierarchically organized discourse. However, one also finds conceptual pairings in Arnold's work that exist in a dialectical rather than antithetical relationship: in this scenario the first term feeds into the second and vice versa, in a volatile rhetorical economy of charged signifiers.

Thus, in his dialectical mode, Arnold argues that one should not "hellenise" or "hebraise" to the total exclusion of the opposing principle; one should plot one's course with a view to what Aristotle called "the realization and perfect exercise of excellence" (1993, 174) - in Arnold's terms, the cultivation of "our best self~' in "the world of ideas, not the world of catchwords and party habits" (1993d, 34). If the "governing idea of Hellenism is spontaneity of consciousness," while that of Hebraism, "strictness of conscience" (1993a, 128), then Arnold, in the words of Vassilis Lambropoulous, is "able to preserve the tension between his two main terms without sacrificing one to another, without banning totally the joy of self-affirmation from the process of salvation" (1989, 172). Arnold's dialectical tendency can be seen as a stand against the waste of human energies in the adventure of history. For just as Marx is able to preserve the progressive aspect of capitalism in the notion of the liberatory potential of the productive forces, so Arnold (as a committed Christian) is able to preserve the moral value of pre-Christian civilization.(8)

The binary mode of inquiry commits Arnold, as a political commentator, to a logic of social closure, whereas the dialectical mode implies an open ethics of imaginative "becoming." The ideological controversy of social closure ranged against imaginative becoming translates into values of "discipline" ranged against values of "humanity." No coupling has greater impact on this ideological controversy than that of capitalism and democracy. This is a coupling that is thematically implicit in many of Arnold's prognostications; it is, one might say, the logos that organizes all else into theoretical principles ("culture and anarchy," "criticism" and "policy," "right reason" and "fetishism," etc.).

As fellow travelers on that treacherously winding road we call modernity, the measures of capitalism and democracy provide key insight into the language of liberalism, and its contradictory being in the world: democracy implies community, the public square, and "the Rights of Man"; whereas capitalism implies class division, the marketplace, and private property. Now Arnold does not accept one or the other but accepts both in piecemeal fashion. This accounts for the twin allegiance of his texts - to discipline and closure on the one hand, to human felicity and "becoming something" on the other. The crux of the matter, for Arnold, as a liberal educator, a man who spent much of his practical life as an inspector of schools, is the quality of social power invested in the institutions that make up the State. Should the State serve democracy or capitalism? To what degree can it serve both? Here lies the rub for progressive liberalism: as regards "the action of the State" on a contested body politic, can the State bring about a "collective and corporate character" (1993b, 13, 23)? Is there a social arena where "the bond of a common culture" (1993b, 3) might come into its own, with a view to resolving class struggle in nationhood? One immediately recognizes the general social mission of the public school and the liberal academy in the modern world. But before I speak of the politics of education, I must describe that ethos of the State which supports the cultural hegemony of the liberal educator.

Throughout his writings Arnold characterizes the liberal bourgeois State as the guardian of our collective becoming on the open road of ethics: the State institutionalizes "high reason and right feeling" and forms "a rallying-point for the intelligence, and for the worthiest instincts of the community, which will herein find a true bond of union" (1993b, 15). The State encourages us "to rise above the idea of class to the idea of the whole community . . . and to find our center of light and authority there" (1993a, 93). In short, Arnold conceived of the State as preserving human values against the dehumanizing tendencies of "the mechanical and material civilization" that increasingly dominated the nineteenth-century social scene (1993a, 63). However, Arnold also spoke of the bourgeois state in its other guise, as an engine of class power - the power of "merchants and master manufacturers" (Smith 1986, 201) over workers. Arnold was cognizant of the fact that "many Englishmen, perhaps [the] majority," opposed "strengthening the hands of the State," even in the name of "democracy," because they feared the despotic tendencies of statism per se (1993b, 1, 16). Arnold met such "fanatics" head on: he would have them know (especially the middle-classes) that there is an excess on the political horizon to be greatly feared, more feared than the excesses of the typical state - namely, the excess of "anarchy," the political conceit of the working-class. As Arnold put it:

I propose to submit to those who have been accustomed to regard all State-action with jealousy, some reasons for thinking that the circumstances which once made that jealousy prudent and natural have undergone an essential change. I desire to lead them to consider with me, whether, in the present altered conjuncture, that State-action, which was once dangerous may not become . . . the means of helping us against dangers from another quarter. (Arnold 1993b, 2).

The values of discipline and the logic of social closure reign supreme in this passage. The State is accorded the office of counterrevolutionary agent par excellence: as imagined by Arnold, it is a complex of moral and physical force which negates the "dangers" offered to the body politic by the "Populace," that "vast portion . . . of the working class which, raw and half-developed, has long lain half-hidden amidst its poverty and squalor, and now is issuing from its hiding-place to assert an Englishman's heaven-born privilege of doing as he likes, and is beginning to perplex us by marching where it likes, bawling what it likes, breaking what it likes" (1993a, 107). Lest we forget, the Victorian liberal reformer was genuinely concerned with matters of social justice, but rarely could he or she identify with workers as complex social agents. As pointed out by Richard Johnson, in his study of Victorian educational policy as social control (1970), the militant worker was routinely identified with political anarchy, thus committing liberal reformism to a conception of political stability that necessarily favors the interests of merchants and master-manufacturers.(9)

Arnold's disdain for workers bespeaks more than mere snobbery. His portrait of the Populace (or more accurately, his caricature) plays on an ideological myth that seeks to direct moral force against proletarian activism: the myth of the dangerous classes.(10) Here the politics of metaphor is crucial: Arnold's language exploits the stereotypical notion of the Populace as "the Great Beast," the supreme exemplar of "the plain faults of our animality" (1993a, 69). Thus the Populace issues forth "from its hiding-place" like a savage predator, "untamably" bent on blood and destruction. Arnold refuses to consider seriously such demands as the right to the franchise, the right to the shorter working day, the right to organize unions, and the right to better wages - all volatile issues of the day. Instead, he advances the myth of the dangerous classes, in a language of blatant moral prejudice about those who are "raw," uncivilized, insolent, envious and ignorant, those whose actions in the public square can never rise above "anarchy," whose nature is properly conveyed by an alleged propensity for "sheer violence" (1993a, 109).

In large measure, we labor in "the immense field of life and literature" in the shadow of Arnold (1993d, 51). The statist concern with social order embraced by Arnold, which typically sidelines the question of social and economic justice, has been a key factor in the praxis of liberal education, in the school and the academy. It has accorded the liberal educator a definite conservative function. As Richard Ohmann suggests, the humanities have been used within the universities "to harden class lines and teach the skills and habits of mind that will serve the industrial system" (1976, 334).

Arnold would have us believe that the supposed beastliness of the working class - namely, its attraction to "bawling, hustling, and smashing," and its love of "beer" and "gin" - is really "the eternal spirit of the Populace" (1993a, 109). That is to say, his democratic sensibility does not preclude his giving voice to elitist pieties. We learn in his essay "Democracy" that "the bulk of . . . persons . . . need to follow an ideal, not set one" (1993a, 14). Elsewhere he contends that "the mass of mankind will never have any ardent zeal for seeing things as they are; very inadequate ideas will always satisfy them" (1993d, 41). Arnold's elitism should not only be seen as the unfortunate and unnecessary by-product of middle class, Victorian reformism; instead, one should approach the deep philosophical investment in what Arnold called "the scale of humanity" (1993b, 7) as singularly expressive of "the will to power" on the part of the liberal educator. In other words, the inegalitarian anthropology of the liberal educator is integral to a self-aggrandizing discourse.(11)

Arnold assures us that "religion comes to a conclusion identical with that which culture . . . likewise reaches. Religion says: the kingdom of God is within you; and culture, in like manner, places human perfection in an internal condition, in the growth and predominance of our humanity proper, as distinguished from our animality" (1993a, 61-62). Note that religion has long performed the office of naturalizing social relations - God, the angels, the monarch, the nobles, and the commoners was, for centuries, a normal gradation. In the post-feudal world of Victorian England, culture becomes a "secular religion," a moral solar power, as it were, which aims to transform "the raw masses" into well-done viands that can be incorporated into the body politic and subsequently broken down into harmless elements. This, to be sure, is a fantasy scenario, where the political reality of the working class simply disappears. What role does the liberal educator play in this (ideal) hegemonic process?

If the "mass" of the Populace is a beast that must be led into the sunlight of "our humanity proper," then the liberal educator becomes a tamer of the wild, a missionary. To be sure, nineteenth-century colonialism and the rhetoric of "progress," based increasingly on evolutionary principles, played central roles in widely disseminating the motif of "the civilized man" bravely confronting the "darkness" of "savagery" and "ignorance." As evidenced by the political tone and "theological" bent of his discourse, Arnold seeks to profit from the symbolic capital associated with the figure of the missionary. If the missionary brings "sweetness and light" to the "natives" in the overseas economy of colonialism, then the liberal educator performs the same office, with respect to workers, in the domestic economy of capitalism. Thus we arrive at a controversial juncture in the liberal reformer's political being, which might be clarified as follows: Arnold certainly recognizes that industrial capital traduces democracy and generates social conflict; but his political science is aimed at curbing the activities of workers rather than masters.(12) As a consequence of this emphasis, Arnold can only imagine the preservation of democratic values - ethical ideals that unambiguously bespeak "a general humane spirit" (1993a 110) - not so much in the practical sphere of mundane "life," but in the ideal sphere of "culture, with its disinterested pursuit of perfection" (89). In the sphere of "culture," the liberal educator will undertake the progressive task of binding classes into nationhood. Indeed, liberal educators are "the true apostles of equality"; their mission is simply "to make the best that has been thought and known in the world current everywhere" (79).

Brian Doyle has written that "the impulse towards a conception of the national culture seen in terms of an organically unified whole national way of life, promoted a related view of education as the central mechanism for the reproduction of this national culture" (1982, 23). As opposed to the divisive notion of socioeconomic class, "Englishness," for Arnold (as for other Victorian reformers), was a cultural category endowed with considerable synthesizing powers. Under the aegis of the "English nationhood," the contradictions of the liberal bourgeois state gave way to an ideal "spiritual" democracy, involving "reading, observing, and thinking" (Arnold 1993a, 97). Thus the contentious issue of the effect of private property on democracy can be put aside in favor of a gentler controversy - the debate over "a public and national culture" (184). Note that as culture attains real practical value as a "mechanism" for social control, its ideal existence - as a spiritual adventure of "growing and becoming" (95) - is morally degraded. For the subject (particularly the militant worker who can be nothing but a "popular rioter" in bourgeois discourse) is explicitly accorded a definite social destination, a final resting place for being: the law-abiding citizen. I consider this to be a moral degradation of the "high" version of culture because it makes "order" rather than "justice" the prime concern of the state educational system.(13)

One might say that, in our time, we are witnessing the agonistic passage of culture from being a force for "order" to a force for "justice." However, the move towards the consideration of justice in the culture of educational thinking occurs at a time when the objective conditions for the realization of social justice are fast disappearing. The so-called "culture wars" between those who advocate a culturally diverse curriculum and those who advocate a curriculum based on the Great ("Western") Books are best understood as political debates about the past, present, and, most especially, the future direction of nationhood. Will the nation include more or fewer of its citizens in the public conversation that underlies the institutional form of the humanities? That is the question. Thus, the struggle for a just curriculum is part of a wider struggle for critical democracy. As Henry Giroux writes:

the various questions that have been raised recently about either defending, reconstructing, or eliminating a particular canon in higher education can only be understood within a broader range of political and theoretical

considerations that bear directly on the issue of whether a liberal arts education in this country should be considered a privilege for the few or a right for the vast majority of citizens. (Giroux 1990, 113)

The contradictory value of liberal education is made plain here: on one side, we have the liberatory vision of a participatory democracy, a culture of all citizens; on the other, we have the disciplinary vision of elitism, a culture of the privileged few. What is at stake in both visions is the meaning of public culture.

The culture wars amply demonstrate that the very notion of a public culture involves contested claims about the real nature of the public and the culture most appropriate to it. These are no small matters in a country as racially and socially divided as the United States. I suggest that public culture is less a monumental or institutional field than a complex set of social narratives which describe, prescribe, and proscribe ways of thinking, feeling, and dreaming our being in the world. In the context of capitalist class relations, where public culture is increasingly infused with anti-proletarian values, liberal educators have played a crucial role in consolidating what can be thought, felt, and dreamt about the status quo.

Consider the fact that Arnold reduces the Populace to the category of "animality." The reduction of the worker to the gross, uncivilized body (and the corollary elevation of the liberal educator to the supreme civilized mind) is wholly consonant with the factor), ideology of the master manufacturer, who feels obliged, by the logic of capitalist production, to show the "hands" and the "operatives" how to employ the machines. In both situations - the educational and the industrial - the worker is the ward of a paternal figure, in a "pedagogy of the oppressed."(14) The Faustian bargain between liberal educators and the masters of capital goes to the heart of the relation between the liberal body politic and the profit-driven marketplace.


In the peculiarity of his political and philosophical outlook, Arnold was a man of his time. But it is worth noting that his model of liberal pedagogy is in many ways our own.(15) We moderns have made of Culture and Anarchy a key reference text for any serious debate about the place of "art and letters" in relation to the art of politics and the "art of wealth-getting," as Aristotle termed it (1993, 12). Lambropoulous has succinctly described the pervasive influence of Arnold's great treatise:

No other work in the Anglo-American canon of criticism and aesthetics has enjoyed its popularity. Successive generations of scholars, theorists, and teachers wishfully succumb to its seductive advocacy of beauty, reason, and letters, or at least feel obliged to address themselves to the same issues. Every discussion of literature, art, or culture in general will take it under serious consideration and acknowledge the continuing relevance of its critical vocabulary. . . . Our political understanding itself is indebted to his social philosophy, and consequently our culture has been largely Arnold's (Lambropoulous 1989, 172).

If our culture has been "largely Arnold's," what, then, of our State - the organ of our best collective self, "the much wanted principle of authority" that counteracts anarchy (Arnold 1993a, 89)? Since 1869, the date when Culture and Anarchy was first published, liberal democratic statism has undergone some impressive transformations. Consider, for instance, the bourgeois State in modern U.S. history. In this period the State has been shaped by: the extension of the franchise to the adult male, and, subsequently, to the adult female, populace; the enfranchisement of historically oppressed "racial" minorities; the establishment of specific governmental bodies, some of which place fetters on the activity of private capital in the marketplace (e.g., anti-trust legislation); the expansion of the ideological and repressive State apparatuses (e.g., schools, prisons, police forces, etc.); and, finally, the development of social welfare bureaucracies to insure certain necessities of life (such as housing), and to administer resources to that needy "residium" of the working class that the masters of capital cannot or will not employ. This broad sketch of the modern experience of the democratic State should be borne in mind as we enter further into our discussion of the collapse of liberalism.

My point is simply this: liberalism has historically served as a buffer between the ideals of democracy and the realities of a capitalist marketplace. Capitalism, when unfettered, tends to become a systematic violence against the democratic body politic, because the question of human community (not to be answered solely on the terms of homo economicus) is necessarily voided by the profit-motive, which cannot avoid commodifying and alienating activity, desire, and creativity. To be sure, the liberal body politic has helped to stabilize capitalist social relations, but in saying "no" to some of capital's more egregious practices (consider, for instance, the outlawing of child labor, a fairly common feature of the nineteenth-century industrial scene), it also helps to keep on the negotiating table issues of human welfare, not reducible to the logic of the marketplace. In short, as a philosophy of the State (and human community), liberalism makes of the relationship between capitalism and democracy a dialectic rather than a binary, and, in this respect, it keeps politics alive as an art of the possible.

As an ethical entity, the liberal State is based on a timeless moral sentiment: the notion of what Arnold termed "the essential unity of man" (1993a, 136). According to Arnold, "democracy is a force in which the concert of a great number of men makes up for the weakness of each man taken for himself" (1993b, 10). In this definition, democracy is synonymous with the values of solidarity and compassion; indeed, one might say that the spirit of democracy is only realized in relations of mutual dependence. Thus, no matter the actual letter of the law, the State that violates the principle of mutual dependency will necessarily fall short of the democratic ideal. Democracy recedes: when men and women are "separate, personal, at war" (99); when men and women come "to value machinery [primarily wealth and technology, but generally anything foreign to the pursuit of inward human perfection] as an end in itselF' (1993a, 83); when social ties are treated as unjust fetters on "our strong individualism" (63); when "our maxim of 'every man for himself'" (63) is left ideologically unchallenged in the public square and the marketplace; and finally, when large numbers of the working class, "this class pressed constantly by the compulsion of material wants," are made economically redundant and herded into urban slums (84). In short, what Arnold calls "the vital impulse of democracy" (1993b, 6) is dialectically tied to the sense of ethical community brought into the world by "culture."

The rhetoric of democracy as mutual dependency explicitly denies the monopoly on moral values claimed by the capitalist marketplace. In a treatise on the subject of "equality," which he published in 1878, Arnold severely questioned the moral propriety of limitless wealth-getting, and he denounced the doctrine of the inevitability of enormous social inequality. His notion of the authentic ethical community must be read, then, as a timeless critique of "the mere unfettered pursuit of the production of wealth, . . . [which] threatens to create for us, if it has not created already, those vast, miserable, unmanageable masses of sunken people" (1993a, 175). Arnold regarded the laissez-faire market (the linchpin of the neoliberal dogma that reigns today) as naught but "a mere fetish," a gross ideal that imprisons us ever more deeply in the "one-dimensional" world of "our ordinary selves" (150, 99). Far from being a force for human progress, the laissez-faire market is as much an agent of "anarchy" as the brutal Populace.

Liberal educators - "persons who are mainly led, not by their class spirit, but by a general humane spirit, by the love of human perfection," according to Arnold (1993a, 110) - promote a spiritual democracy of the rational, inquisitive mind and the considered aesthetic sense that serves as a stark moral corrective to those masters of capital, who vulgarize the body politic and marginalize "the world of ideas" (1993d, 33) in the name of increased production and ever-greater profits. The challenge to the liberal educator is to "lift us out of [the] vulgarity and brutality" of our ordinary lives (1993c, 237), in order to bring us to a true appreciation of human creativity, human intelligence, and human potential (237). The authentic education, however, does not reside in "merely toying with poetry and aesthetics" (1993a, 100), or in mere technical know-how; liberal pedagogy must concertedly aim at the development of the active social consciousness on the part of the student, the existential and ethical recognition that "because men are all members of one great whole, and the sympathy which is in human nature will not allow one member to be indifferent to the rest or to have a perfect welfare independent of the rest, the expansion of our humanity, to suit the idea of perfection which culture forms, must be a general expansion" (62). We must school ourselves in culture and school ourselves for being in the world.(16)

When the student - by leave of a sustained engagement with the "great civilizers," art and letters (Arnold 1993c, 229) - has fully come to terms with the transcendent message of culture, that "we are indeed, as our religion says, members of one body, and if one member suffer, all the members suffer with it" (1993a, 174), then the liberal educator can be regarded as having fulfilled his or her spiritual mission: to cast "the day of general humanization" into greater relief 1993c, 235). Thus, the liberal academy is more than simply "a recognized authority in matters of intellectual tone and taste," as Arnold defined it in his essay "The Literary Influence of the Acadamies" (1968, 52). It is also a putative moral center, where the anti-capitalist value of "a desire after the things of the mind simply for their own sakes" (1993a, 59) may not be perfectly realized but can at least be entertained, if only in abortive form. Which is to say, the liberal academy emerges as a key liminal space for analyzing the dialectical politics of "order" versus "justice," closure versus becoming, capitalism versus democracy. I believe that the well-being of the public square is intrinsically linked to the "free-play of thought" in the liberal academy (148). Then again, the well-being of the liberal academy is directly related to the effectivity of the barriers placed around the public square to protect it from the encroachments of despotic capital.(17) For in the absence of a liberal State, the adjective "liberal," as affixed to the nouns "culture," "education" and "academy," would surely be robbed of substantive meaning. This, in my view, is the process we are already witnessing in the increasing hold of the commodity on everyday life.


For all that it fell short of accepted international standards in the provision of health-care and the institutionalization of unemployment and social insurance programs, the U.S. Welfare State still symbolized the traditional liberal axiom - key to the logic of social contracts - that the masters are, in some measure, responsible for the well-being of the impoverished strata of the Populace. The political advent of Ronald Reagan, in 1981, set in motion a propaganda machine, dedicated to the singular task of convincing the public that the claims of liberalism were so much sentimental hogwash.

We can see today, in the complex of homelessness, drug abuse, chronic violence and fearful immiseration that confronts the individual in a thousand settings spread across the entire United States, that the machine wrought for its masters an infamous victory. I recall that at one point in the 1980's ex-British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was quoted as saying that there was "no such thing as society"; there was only "the market" and free-floating individuals. This extreme "Lockean" fiction (in Arnold's terms, the acme of Philistinism) was derided by many, but it also had its believers, thus indicating that the propaganda of the masters had gained considerable cultural ground in post-imperial Britain. The situation in the United States is no less disastrous.

Immanuel Wallerstein points out that of the three nineteenth-century ideologies that sought to make sense of the relationship between capitalism and democracy - "conservatism, liberalism, and socialism" - it was liberalism "that emerged triumphant. . . . For it was liberalism that was best able to provide a viable geoculture for the capitalist world-economy, one that would legitimate the other institutions both in the eyes of the cadres of the system and, to a significant degree, in the eyes of the mass of populations, the so-called ordinary people" (1994). The masters and their intellectual servants claim that socialism is morally and historically exhausted. But what of contemporary liberalism and conservatism in a public square that has suffered, in the last two decades, an unusually aggressive infiltration of marketplace values?

The dissolution of civic and social structures that stand for "the essential unity of man" severely undermines what Arnold called "the social idea" embodied in social contracts (1993a, 79); the likely outcome of this process is truly inauspicious. Doug Henwood observes that "As all the welfare state buffers that once softened the market's discipline are being dismantled, we're being returned to the savage rule of pure nineteenth century capitalism" (1997, 29). In other words, the last days of liberalism bespeak the advent of a morally devitalized society: a society that claims "the end of ideology"; a society of managers, consultants, and accountants; a society of elite workers, "contingent workers," and those who don't work at all; a society of the masters; a society of the masters' intellectual servants; a society given over to the police. In the following pages I shall endeavor to make plain the fundamental, nay, the necessary, link between the study of "art and letters" in the liberal academy and the political status of the police.

In July 1868, 60,000 British workers converged on London's Hyde Park to demand the franchise. The Home Secretary, however, closed the park, with a view to neutralizing "the mob." Most in the crowd took note of the sanction of the law, but some destroyed fences and pitched stones at the palatial homes surrounding Belgravia. The entire episode entered the historical record as the so-called "Hyde Park Riots." The Hyde Park Riots were the representative anecdote for Arnold's Culture and Anarchy. Arnold regarded "outbreaks of rowdyism" (1993a, 85) as perfectly illustrative of his essential argument: that where culture is not, liberty degrades into mere libertarianism (i.e., the barbarism of "doing as one likes").(18) As stated above, Culture and Anarchy played no small role in formulating that ideology of the humanities which we know so well as our own: namely, that the study of "art and letters" is key to the perfection of oneself, to the development of what Arnold called "the whole spiritual man" (1993e, 200), from the starting-point of "the raw person" (1993a, 64). Note that if "rawness" is a synonym for anarchy, then culture, as a synonym for order, is necessarily on the same side of the fence as the police. In other words, the cultivation of the liberal self harbors a disciplinary commitment to the law, however unjust. The cynical bargain struck between liberal educators and the masters of capital, concerning the propagandistic function of education, turns, then, on the moral capital withheld from the Populace but, in the same gesture, invested in the police.(19)

As linked to the ruling class interest in political closure, culture helps to consolidate the ideological conflation of political becoming with social anarchy. Arnold contends that the study of art and letters strengthens the social contract by contributing important values to the idea of national community; but he concedes that culture requires "a principle of authority" to supplement its work (1993a, 89). He writes: "whatever brings risk of tumult and disorder, multitudinous meetings in their public places and parks - demonstrations perfectly unnecessary in the present course of our affairs - our best, or right reason, plainly enjoins us to set our faces against. It enjoins us to encourage and uphold the occupants of the executive power, whoever they may be, in firmly prohibiting them" (100). One easily comprehends that the prohibitive force imagined here is none other then the metropolitan police, "the Cerberus of society," says Charles Christian in his 1812 treatise on policing New York City, whose "constant vigilance" secures all social relations, particularly those based upon the unequal distribution of private property (1970, 30). For Arnold, where culture fails to bond the community, the police (i.e., the law) must step in. Arnold's model of the smoothly-functioning polity combines liberal paternalism with a conservative concern for social order. Contemporary events, however, suggest the increasing irrelevance of the Victorian reformer's model of social control.

The passage of the extraordinary "Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Act of 1994" (better known as President Clinton's "crime bill") presages the advent of postliberal governance. The Act encompasses, among other things: the "three strikes" provision (i.e., anyone convicted of three Federal felonies automatically receives a life sentence, without parole); sixty new categories of Federal capital offenses; enhanced mandatory sentencing in Federal courts; the termination of Pell grants which enable Federal prisoners to receive higher education; the criminalization of street gang membership; and finally, the funding of the recruitment of 100,000 extra police officers, across the nation (Cockburn 1994).(20) Aristotle noted that "poverty is the parent of revolution and crime" (1993, 31). Historically, class-divided societies have dealt with the threat of revolution from below and the "anarchy" of widespread criminality by mixing brute repression with subtle modes of social discipline. But societies have also dealt with the offspring of poverty by imposing ethical and political limits on "the encroachments of the rich" against the integrity of the body politic. Thus Aristotle condemned "the unlimited acquisition of wealth," and he denounced those "who turn every quality or art into a means of getting wealth" (13-14, 14). Like Arnold, Aristotle regarded laissez-faire economics as utter barbarism, a savage assault upon the human spirit.

In writing The Politics Aristotle was moved by a question that cannot be fully explored in a society totally dominated by the masters: "What is the right use of property and wealth - a matter which is much disputed" (1993, 163)? We cannot explore this question with the seriousness that it deserves because where Aristotle argued that "extreme poverty lowers the character of democracy. . . . [Thus] the proceeds of the public revenues should be accumulated and distributed among the poor" (150) to secure their general welfare, our society looks to dismantle public assistance programs, and seems intent on casting large numbers of the poor to the winds of fate. Then again, Aristotle argued that "all trade should be excluded" from the public square, because the preeminent concerns of the marketplace - the selling of goods with an eye to profit, and the need to advertise one's wares to the prospective customer - are in many ways antithetical to the values of democracy. In contrast, our society freely allows the cries of the traders in the public square to drown out the full range of voices on which democracy depends.

We seem to have lost the historical memory that the "anarchic" or despotic conduct of the rich has always been an abiding concern of any society that aspires to "civilization." Alexander Cockburn notes that "for almost 800 years [1025 to 1844] the economic behavior that creates . . . [today's social problems] . . . were [sic] generally considered illegal and sinful. But religious institutions that once monitored engrossers [speculators, usurers, etc.] have disappeared as a force for social equity" (1994). In the nineteenth century, as regards a moral force that might monitor wealth accumulation, Matthew Arnold proposed "culture" as the substitute for religion. But in our time culture is increasingly inadequate to the job. In the coming postliberal society which is not easily avoidable, now that "the United States has become the most economically stratified of industrial nations," reports Keith Bradsher (1995); in the coming postliberal society where "the internal canker of publice egestas, privatim opulentia ['public poverty and private opulence']" (Arnold 1993a, 71) eats daily at the "social substratum," the ethical backbone of the democratic body politic, culture, in the Arnoldian sense of spiritual becoming, will struggle to find a meaningful role in the national political discourse. This because: society itself will struggle to hold onto values - of community, leisure, and creativity - that are not reducible to the logic of the unfettered marketplace.

In my view, the worthy ideal of "the whole spiritual man" and "the whole spiritual woman," is seriously threatened by the totalitarian universe - of buying and selling - ushered in by the wholly liberated commodity. Arnold accords culture a strong utopian significance: it "seeks to do away with classes" (1993a, 79). No doubt, the ideal of a classless education does much to advance bourgeois hegemony; however, historically, it has also afforded a context in which voices from below might struggle with, and even negate, the hegemonic narratives of culture which reduce "the public" to various constituencies of elites. In our time, the counterhegemonic potential of liberal education is increasingly undermined by dystopian social forces which work to segregate the poor (especially, poor people of color). Such forces - homelessness, unemployment, anomie, etc. - render "culture" irrelevant, reducing life to a Darwinian struggle for survival.

Arnold argued that "lovers of culture" should not ignore the plight of "our fellow men, in the East of London [a notoriously impoverished region in Victorian England] and elsewhere"; he strongly emphasized that "we must take [them] along with us in the progress towards perfection, if we ourselves really, as we profess, want to be perfect" (1993a, 174). To do otherwise is to do violence to our common humanity. To do otherwise is also to make of culture a vulgar ethics of those who have enough to eat - a hopeless travesty of the ideal of "sweetness and light." I think it certain that the misery of those considered "the underclass" corrupts us all to degree that we accept it as "inevitable." "No individual life can be truly prosperous," writes Arnold, "passed . . . in the midst of men who suffer" (1993c, 224). I unequivocally reject the normative and elitist aspects of Arnold's model of culture; but I regard the notion that culture is a principal means of making community as a valuable ideal that ought to be keenly defended in the liberal academy and elsewhere. I submit that without that spiritual mission, the modem humanities are lost.


Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher have reminded us that "merchant and master manufacturers" and their intellectual servants typically conduct class war with more venom than the Populace. The callous treatment of the poor, normalized in everyday social praxis, in my view, signals a Faustian descent towards real barbarism. One can envisage the day when society will be no more, and individuals will uneasily confront each other in a veritable Hobbesian universe, made safe only by a massive increase of the police. "This is the era of the police," said a Los Angeles councilman in 1988 (Davis 1994, 39). The zeitgeist of our time was perhaps illumined in a comment made by Senator Joseph Biden, with respect to the congressional debate on President Clinton's crime bill: "If someone came to the floor and said we should barb wire the ankles of anyone who jaywalks, I think it would pass" (Wright 1995, 36). When Charles Christian penned his treatise on law enforcement in the early nineteenth century, he imagined the police as "guarding from danger every man's door, protecting from oppression the innocent and helpless" (1970, 30). Can we honestly say that such sentiments are the moral measure of the police in poor communities today, particularly those poor communities in the inner city that are overwhelmingly Latino or African-American?(21)

Culture, in the higher sense of ethical becoming, was not able to prevent the slave trade, the First World War, the Nazi Holocaust or the dropping of the nuclear bomb. In all these instances of human barbarism, dread worldly forces prevailed. I take it for granted, however, that without culture - as an engine for "detaching ourselves from our stock notions and habits" (Arnold 1993a, 186) and as "a force for social equity" - things would yet have been worse. According to Arnold, culture "saves the future, as one may hope, from being vulgarized, even if it cannot save the present" (65). To this extent culture keeps our eyes on the prize of Utopia: the perfection of "the social idea," the completion of men and women as excellent social beings. "Culture," says Terry Eagleton, "can be defined in one sense as that which is surplus, excessive beyond the strict material measure; but that capacity for self-transgression and self-transcendence is precisely the measure of our humanity" (1992, 40). Yet the masters would have us believe that our present "Philistine" society is the only Utopia possible, whatever society one might dreamily imagine. In other words, they seek to convince us that the present set of social arrangements is decisively fixed, possibly for eternity. It is, of course, in the masters' interests that we accept the myth of the eternal present, for current property relations are then beyond question. The danger of the eternal present is felt everywhere today: in the extreme social commitment to the police, in "the end of ideology," in the marginalization of culture, in the collapse of civic life, and even in the theoretical edifice of "the postmodern condition."(22)

The closure implicit in the myth of the eternal present is, perhaps, the most serious threat to the integrity of the human spirit; for when the principle of "becoming something" is absent, the values of hope, regeneration and "self-transformation" - all dependent on "the movement of ideas" (Arnold 1993a, 91) - are difficult to entertain. Thus Arnold warned against the delusion of treating social arrangements as "part of the order of nature, that [can never] come to an end" (1993b, 12). Like Marx, Arnold believed that the sense of the eternal present must always be questioned in the name of a better human world that lies in the historical future.

The profound tension between capitalism and democracy, between the marketplace and the public square, between economy and society, between industry and the inner life, basically, the tension between the forces of "anarchy" and the forces of "culture," has been the key fact of the modern social experience. Arnold wrote that the divide between the individual and the State (the mundane reality of capitalist democracy) is the result of "one irresistible force, which is gradually making its way everywhere, removing old conditions and imposing new, altering long-fixed habits, undermining venerable institutions, even modifying national character: the modern spirit" (1993b, 25). The triumph of "the modern spirit" (as expressive of the promise of culture) is the fact that it shows men and women that history is theirs to make, that "human thought, which made all institutions, inevitably saps them" (25). Postmodernists tell us that "the narrative of progress," a key ingredient of liberalism, is no longer relevant to our times. Certainly, at this juncture in the historical process, in "our present unsettled state, so full of the seeds of trouble" (1993a, 138), it would seem a radical project even to hold onto mainstream Enlightenment values, particularly, the ideals of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity. Having said this, however, I firmly believe that we can ill afford to relinquish the concept of a morally-charged, historical narrative.

For are we to make peace with the misery daily visited upon millions of people, here and everywhere? Can we accept that "the due fruit of mankind's centuries of painful schooling in self-conquest" (Arnold 1993a, 133) is a society squarely based on what Adam Smith termed "the vile maxim of the masters": "all for ourselves and nothing for anyone else" (1986, 512). I believe that in both cases our common humanity obliges us to say "no!"; indeed, it enjoins us to explore, on a daily basis, the concept of "becoming something" and the value of struggle.


1 I would like to thank the following people for the helpful criticisms that they made of earlier drafts of this paper: Mary M. Gallucci, Nancy Churchill, Leigh Binford and Fred Pfeil.

2 Gerald Graff criticizes "the humanist myth" which proffers "the delusion that academic literary. studies at some point underwent a falling-away from genuine Arnoldian humanism" (1987, 5). Graff points out that "commercial and corporate interests" made laughable "the pretensions of the literary elite to cultural leadership" (12). I agree with the tenor of Graff"s remarks; however, the Arnoldian tradition in American culture is not reducible to a single history of spuriousness. Each age remade Arnoldian humanism in its own image. Thus however spurious it may be as a project for empowering "the literary elite," Arnoldian humanism is always a vehicle for genuine social concerns. Its status as a powerful moral ideal can help clarify the distance between the theory and practice of liberal education.

3 This was the strategy adopted by the American Arnoldian W.C. Brownell in the early decades of the twentieth-century. Brownell noted that criticism in the United States was "routine" and provincial vis-a-vis the criticism of Europe. Brownell sought to remedy the situation by stressing the need of "the Academy" to give "more standing to our criticism" (1924, 92). Like Arnold, Brownell outlined "the traits of the ideal critic" (93), and then advanced the academy as the place where the critic's voice comes into its own. See Kuklick (1990, 195-206), and Parker (1967, 339-51), for astute observations on the institutional birth of the humanities.

4 For a pointed critique of this development, see Eisenstein (1982, 567-88).

5 "We are asking for trouble," contends Anthony Platt, "if we simply pretend that the university can become an island of inclusion and equality in a society that is obsessed by race and divided by class and becoming more so each day" (1993,77).

6 Compare Raleigh's nervous conclusion: "But, of course, although we know that Arnold asked the right questions, we cannot be sure he supplied the right answers. History, despite some portentous rumblings, has not finally spoken, and we still do not know whether Arnold's work and that of his followers is an augury of the future or a monument of the past" (1961, 265).

7 My thinking here is strongly influenced by Paulo Freire: "Within history, in concrete, objective contexts, both humanization and dehumanization are possibilities for man [sic] as an uncompleted being conscious of his incompletion. But while both humanization and dehumanization are real alternatives, only the first is man's vocation." (1990, 27-28).

8 If Arnold's dialectic preserves human creations against the cynical profligacy of history, then, it must also be admitted that this work of preservation takes place in a primarily idealist realm. Unlike Marx, Arnold has nothing substantial to say about the abiding material reality of human history since the Fall into class-divided societies: what Fredric Jameson has called the "scandalous fact of mindless alienated work," which has been the lot for innumerable generations of people (1988, 162). That Arnold could celebrate "the Greeks" as "the great exponents of sweetness and light united" (1993a, 141), but nowhere mentions the economy of slave labor that underpinned "Greek civilization," is itself an eloquent testimony of the abstract idealist bias which consigns the real contributions of the despised "masses" to the historical margins.

9 Adam Smith noted that the question of "political stability" is invariably answered on the terms of the masters, that law is an expression of class power. "Whenever the legislature attempts to regulate the difference between masters and their workmen," Smith observed that "its counselors are always the masters" (1986, 246). One wonders what it would take to demystify the workings of the law, as based on class power, when so much social energy is invested in the spectacle of working-class crime. As Jeffrey Reiman has written, "the criminal justice system [makes] it look like crime is the work of the poor. And it does this in a way that conveys the image that the real danger to decent, law-abiding Americans comes from below them, rather than above them, on the economic ladder. This image sanctifies the status quo with its disparities of wealth, privilege, and opportunity, and thus serves the interests of the rich and powerful in America" (1979, 5).

10 For an historical overview of this specter which comes and goes with the nature of economic times, see Morris (1994).

11 Richard Johnson argues that educational policy in early Victorian England was shaped by the need "to create powerful systems of control, centering upon the teacher as social missionary and the school as a functioning center of sound influences" (1970, 116). Johnson points out that the teacher was imagined as a "substitute parent," while the school became a substitute family. This because working-class culture was viewed by liberal reformers as being pathologically incapable of supporting the proper family structure. Thus, the victims of capitalist exploitation were made responsible for the evils that beset them. Johnson clarifies the moral motivation of this strategy: "by blaming the poor for their poverty (and much else besides) the educationalist was enabled to believe that his was a humane, an adequate and an essentially Christian response to potentially removable evils" (105).

12 Arnold proffers the notion of intellectuals as a class unto themselves; however, his claim cannot stand so long as the statist tendencies of the intellectual class render it a useful servant to the masters of capital. I am reminded of the critique of intellectuals advanced by W.E.B. Du Bois in the context of global exploitation: "the educated and cultured of the world... receive their training and comfort and luxury, the ministrations of delicate beauty and sensibility on condition that they neither inquire into the real source of their income and methods of distribution nor interfere with the legal props which rest on a pitiful human foundation of writhing white and yellow and brown and black bodies" (1986, 197). In their worst instrumentalist moments, the heirs of Arnold's legacy are surely vulnerable to Du Bois's critique.

13 Compare Freire: "The pedagogy of the oppressed, animated by authentic, humanist (not humanitarian) generosity, presents itself as a pedagogy of man. Pedagogy which begins and ends with the egotistic interest of the oppressors (an egoism cloaked in the false generosity of paternalism) and makes of the oppressed the object of its humanitarianism, itself maintains and embodies oppression. It is an instrument of dehumanization" (1990, 39).

14 The pedagogue as paternal missionary is a true proponent of what Freire calls "the banking concept of education," in which "knowledge is a gift bestowed by those who consider themselves knowledgeable upon those whom they consider to know nothing. Projecting an absolute ignorance onto others, a characteristic of the ideology of oppression, negates education and knowledge as processes of inquiry" (1990, 58).

15 Compare Raleigh: "In the academic world it seemed - to some anyway - that Arnold had become the preeminent English critic and that to be a professor of English meant being, by definition, an Arnoldian" (1961, 193).

16 Authentic humanist education opposes over-specialization to the degree that the latter functions as a form of what Donaldo Macedo calls "the illiteracy of literacy." In this scenario, according to Macedo, "we develop a high level of literacy in a given discourse while remaining semiliterate or illiterate in a whole range of other discourses that constitute the ideological world in which we travel as thinking beings." (1994, 27).

17 In a persuasive analysis of "teaching and research as economic problems," Patrick Hogan has noted that there is "no antagonism between teaching and research. There is, however, very serious, even debilitating conflict between both of these and capitalism" (1993, 24). See Soley (1994) and Honan (1994) for eye-opening accounts of the corporate advance on academic culture.

18 We should not allow Arnold's seductive eloquence to blind us to the fact that his analysis of working-class activism is redolent with tabloid vulgarities. As Raymond Williams has observed:

Calm, Arnold rightly argued, was necessary. But now the Hyde Park railings were down. and it was not Arnold's best self which rose at the sight of them. Certainly he feared a general breakdown into violence and anarchy, but the most remarkable facts about the British working-class movement, since its origin in the Industrial Revolution, are its conscious and deliberate abstention from general violence, and its firm hold in other methods of advance. . . . I think it had more to offer to the "pursuit of perfection" than Matthew Arnold, seeing only his magnified image of the Rough. was able to realize. (Williams 1982.133)

Williams reminds us of how easy it is for liberalism to slip into "bad faith," to fail to live up to its own promises.

19 The liberal self has long served as the model of "the gentle reader" in literary culture. To this extent, the implied reader of many literary texts is accorded the moral capital that liberal culture denies to working-class collectivities. In short, the reader is asked to align him or herself with the disciplinary politics of the police. For detailed analyses of literature's complicity with the police, see Bendient (1986), Miller (1988), and Lentricchia (1988).

20 For cogent explications of this appalling legislation, see Lusane (1994, 14-22) and Wright (1995, 3-17).

21 For telling discussion of policing in the racialized inner city, see Davis (1988), Bierma (1994), and DeSantis (1994).

22 In his study of "the Black Atlantic," Paul Gilroy notes that "it may be possible to argue that what is increasingly perceived as the crisis of modernity and modern values is perhaps better understood as the crisis of intellectuals whose self-consciousness was once served by these terms. . . . Reformist and revolutionary leftists alike are now being challenged to defend the protocols of secular reason and the ideal of human and social perfectibility" (1993, 43). In my view, "the crisis of intellectuals" is intrinsically, tied to the decline of welfare state liberalism under the impact of despotic capital. The theoretical moment of "the postmodern condition" might well be regarded, then, as the expression of a kind of resentment. A society that sidelines its critical intellectuals, will, according to intellectuals, want for myths to live by. This reading warrants further study.


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Phillips is assistant professor of English at the University of Connecticut. He has published articles on Herman Melville, Frances Hodgson Burnett, and Edmund White and has contributed chapters to Recasting the world' Writing After Colonialism, Whiteness: A Critical Reader, and Cannibalism and the Colonial World.
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Author:Phillips, Jerry
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Date:Sep 22, 1998
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