Wednesday, July 14, 2004



Some time ago I wrote an article critcising the (subsequently successful - by its own standards) student campaign against the then plans of the Irish government to reintroduce tuition fees (abolished by a Labour Party minister for education about ten years back) for students from better off backgrounds. In the course of his (inadequate, obviously) response a Labour apparatchik described me as "centre-right". This was half-true at the time, even if there was no very solid basis for deducing it from the piece; it is false now (again, obviously).

Despite my having taken a socialist turn since writing it, I stand by the article, and my support for the reintroduction of fees for the rich (in the form of a graduate tax if necessary). So I was very glad to come across this sentence from the Critique of the Gotha Programme:

"If in some states even "higher" education is also "free", this only means in practice that the upper classes can cover their costs of education from general tax receipts."

Which was exactly the point I was making.

Do you also agree, then, when Marx then goes on in the following paragraph to attack the entire system of state education, arguing (I paraphrase) that "government and church should be equally excluded from having any influence on the schools", adding that this is particularly true in Germany, "where the state has need, on the contrary, of a very stern education by the people"?
DC - As it has ceased to be the case that graduation from University will guarantee you a lucrative career, wouldn't it make much more sense to simply increase tax on high incomes? That way if someone really does get wealthy on account of their education, they will pay for it; similarly, if someone does not get wealthy on account of their education, they will not be unfairly penalised.
Yes, that did strike me as interesting. Before it though he approves of state funding, teaching qualifications, subject-setting and inspections, so I'm not entirely sure where he stood.

There was a post at Crooked Timber the other day on the parallel social institutions established by Social Democratic organisations in Europe. The SPD was especially advanced in this regard, I believe. Maybe these are the sort of things Marx had in mind.

In any case the state is more democratic - or at least more democraticly legitimate - today.
Last comment was in response to Chris - hadn't seen Len's comment.


I'm all for upping higher rate income tax of course - at least in principle. But this simply isn't on the agenda in Ireland - basicly we're all PDs (i.e. neo-liberals) now, and historicaly we have the weakest centre-left (Labour Party) in Europe.

Pending the revolution, or at least the advance of the left, you gotta be realistic. Universities are blissfully (as far as many are concerned) prole-free as it is, the money raised was due to be used to encourage disadvantaged students, and the grad-tax/loan repayments was only going to kick in as and when people could afford it.

The left-opposition (as Stalin might have said) was opportunistic.
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