Is the class war also a culture war? I ask because of this by Stefan Collini:
Underlying so many aspects of [higher education] policies...is the fallacy of uniformly measurable performance. The logic of punitive quantification is to reduce all activity to a common managerial metric. The activities of thinking and understanding are inherently resistant to being adequately characterised in this way. This is part of the explanation for the pervasive sense of malaise, stress and disenchantment within British universities...The true use-value of scholarly labour can seem to have been squeezed out; only the exchange-value of the commodities produced, as measured by the metrics, remains.
What he's driving at here is a conflict between two cultures, between what Alasdair MacIntyre called the goods of excellence and those of effectiveness. The former are goods which are internal to a particular practice, such as mastery of a craft or vocation, or great scholarship - goods which can only be conferred by other practitioners. The latter are money, wealth and fame - external goods which are conferred by outsiders. Managerialism is the attempt to supplant the former with the latter.
It's not just in universities that this is happening. Theodore Dalrymple has complained that a similar thing is happening in medicine. It's long been a theme on the left - from The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists through Harry Braverman to Richard Sennett - that bosses try to degrade craft skills in the cause of profit. It's a cliche in the music business that bands want to make art whilst record bosses want "product" that'll sell. In my business, there's a bigger market for quack macroeconomics than there is for good economic science.
And this conflict extends far up the income scale; it seems to have contributed to Neil Woodford leaving Invesco Perpetual.
There is a grain of justification for the imposition of managerialist values. Without them, we might get a futile perfectionism in which nothing gets finished; Leonardo da Vinci might have benefited from a bit of management. And the pursuit of excellence can be a mask for self-indulgence or even idleness; several Oxford academics in the mid-20th century preserved their reputation for brilliance by dint of not publishing much.
Nevertheless, there is, as Stefan says, a tendency to push the managerialist value system too far.
If we're being kind, this is an example of deformation professionelle - the tendency of any profession to exaggerate the general applicability of its own peculiar value system. This can be aggravated by a selection effect; managers recruit people in their own image, which causes managerialism's "punitive quantification" to spread.
If we're being less kind, we could call this a form of totalitarianism - the attemtpt to impose a single value system or ideology upon society, to the exclusion of alternative cultures.