I don’t have anything against people who want to stay at university as long as possible: this is, after all, my life. Well, if you are failing everything, than perhaps there is a reasonable argument you shouldn’t be there.

I think long term economic trends point in this direction though.

With improving technology and automation and so on, it may well be that there aren’t enough jobs to go around for everybody. I don’t think we’re anywhere near a science-fiction type situation where robots can do all the work and humans can live in paradise (would it be paradise?), but it’s certainly the case that we don’t need all adults working 40 hour weeks to produce our current level of wealth. The pandemic has conclusively demonstrated that we can essentially shut down vast portions of the economy, without shortages of food, without shortages of essentials, without losses of basic amenities or utilities, and in fact without shortage of most luxury consumer products either.

There are of course many types of hardship going on, great sadness and loneliness and alienation, and many of the failings of our society have been exacerbated.

But the economic point remains: our society really can produce more than everybody needs, with only a relatively small proportion of the working population.

In that case, pandemics aside, we don’t have to “work”, in the usual sense of the word, very hard to produce all our society’s requirements. Rather than sitting around unemployed, a civilized society would spread the work around, shorten the working week, and provide more and more opportunities for self-development, through art, literature, science, and education — and whatever else, for that matter.

There are plenty of platitudes spoken by politicians about “lifelong learning” — why not make it formally possible to continue learning throughout your entire life?

Capitalism cannot do this. A civilized society could.

University forever
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