From the Halls of the University to the Shores of Tripoli: the New University-Military Relationship

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Student Presentation

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Arthur Scarritt


The military institution and the values that support its interests play a key role in today’s dominant political-economic theory: neoliberalism. The theory touts privatization, free trade, limited state intervention, the free market’s power to shape the well-being of society and individual rights; however, the neoliberal state in practice is riddled with contradictions. One such contradiction is that surrounding the focus on individual rights; “individual” being used in both the traditional sense of the word, as well as to mean corporations and businesses legally classified as individuals. According to a number of scholars, neoconservatism offers a solution to the chaos created by neoliberalism’s focus on the human and more so the corporate individual by placing importance on military control in the health of the nation and rallying a nationalist sentiment that results in a measure of solidarity and organizes individuals into a group that supports the neoliberal model. However, after having conducted, transcribed, and coded 27 qualitative interviews I argue that students’ interactions with the military as an employer depoliticizes the military institution and justifies military spending on an individual economic level. These interactions largely stem from experiences with military-affiliated peers and family members whose economic opportunities and education benefits as a result of their military participation become a neoliberal solution to some of the problems created by neoliberalism itself.

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