Here's another post coming from a Facebook prompt. QV pointed me towards Krugman's column "Ignorance is Strength" in today's NYT. My response:
There is so much to say in response here. First: I do think the turn, in the humanities and sciences, toward materialist, ecological, and rhetorical theories does directly oppose conservative economy and ideology. If everything is "indebted" to everything else, then there is no robust individualism, no invisible hand, only a collection of bodies working on/through each other.
Second, the increasing economic disparity of the 1990's and 2000's, combined with a globalized economy, has left America with more people than careers (let's say careers instead of jobs to include under-employment). No amount of education will counter this problem (sorry, President Obama). But, on the other hand, cutting funding to education is not a solution either. (Sidenote: there was an interesting article in the NYT the other day on increases in tuition, stressing that it is much easier to cut funding to schools than it is to cut funding to prisons, since inmates can't pay for their incarceration). What we need is a change in ideology such that we recognize the extent to which our economic system does not provide equal chance to everyone, such that winners recognize they have an obligation to support "losers" (as part of a system that makes possible their success--back to the ecological, material, rhetorical model).
I could probably say more, especially given the Texas-Florida (Perry-Scott) fiasco. Without delving too deep into conspiracy theory, there does seem to be a calculated assault on humanities education in higher education, no doubt driven by a belief that the industrial sciences will be far less vocal in opposing conservative economy and ideology (especially since their funding, via grants, is tied to those industries). But, I think, Krugman's post shows the extent to which we still need social anthropology, beginning at home.