Friday, 1 April 2005

Australian Higher Education policy

I found this on the net somewhere. I don't know its provenance. Interesting.
Liberal Party Internal Strategy Document
Top Secret
For Leadership Eyes Only

The Student Problem

Student politics represents a threat to the ruling elite because student protest can sway public opinion in extreme cases, for example, an unsuccessful and badly planned war. We were really lucky to get away with Iraq. On the whole student politics is pretty ineffectual and more likely to sway public opinion the opposite way to that intended but if we can eliminate the risk of effective student protest, the government has that much more freedom to move.

Part of the risk is access to higher education by the riff-raff. If we can control access to higher education by making it too expensive for all but the offspring of our elite financial base, we can control student attitudes. We can also reduce the risk to our wealthy backers that some upstart riff-raff upsets their economic base through something risky like an innovative new business.

HECS Plus has solved part of the problem by making higher education more expensive. Voluntary student unionism will go a step further, by making student politics a less attractive option.

However, we need to go further, while we have time (i.e., control of the Senate).

We need to look at further measures to keep the riff-raff out. For example:
• future HECS increases will apply to current students, not just new incoming students
• a gradual move to a commercial rate of interest on HECS, leading to a phase-out of all forms of government-supported loans for student tuition
• a system of scholarships to replace HECS, biased to favour students from expensive private schools
• further marginalizing student politics on university campuses

To make all this work, debate on university campuses needs to be dumbed down so no one realises what we are up to until it’s too late.

An important part of the strategy is to build a climate of bigotry. Bigotry suits the cause well because it removes the need to win arguments on the basis of logic. Once we can rely on foot soldiers who can spew clichéd catch phrases like “I don’t want to spend my money on disabled lesbian black rights”, we have won half the argument, because this kind of argument will never turn to logic, the enemy of political control by the elite.

A problem though is that this level of bigotry is limited in its support in the wider population. The Dubya camp has told us how to work around this problem. Use coded messages. Sneer at people who drink chardonnay and latte. Ridiculing beverage preferences sounds harmless enough to the non-bigot, if a bit silly. The essence of bigotry is to despise those who differ from you, and the bigots will know, and think we are one of them. Naturally we need to play down differences, like they swill beer and drive utes, and we eat caviar and swan around in limos. As long as we put that message out, we can rely on the foot soldiers to do the rest. These are insecure people who think they can build themselves up by tearing other people down. They will sneer at whomever they despise, while echoing our views on higher education, and rational debate will collapse. Naturally we should pay close attention to ensuring that the foot soldiers do not realise how much we despise them. They are after all different from us (catch me in a ute) and we really are bigots too.

Draft 1.0 BN 1-04-2005