The invitation to contribute an article on the contemporary relevance of marxism in education threw me into a crisis of petit-bourgeois self-questioning and doubt. Having been caught up in the administrativia of management in universities for the last five years - snowed under by paperwork, bogged in deadly committees, besieged by hordes of colleagues and students seeking assistance with this or that, doing most things just well enough and hardly anything really thoroughly - my first inclination was modestly to decline. I had almost forgotten what a book looks like, let alone had the luxury to follow what had been written about or acted upon in the radical journals that used to be my intellectual haven and source of inspiration. As a middle manager in a university, by my own lights and previous analyses, I could be nothing other than a sell out. At worst I was retreating into the private terrain of personal interest, doing it for the money and superior conditions; at best I was a reformist, no different in kind from those enlightened liberals who, increasingly marginalised and depleted in number, still carry forward some progressive agenda.