Education and class struggle

Education and class struggle

Education and class struggle

The only thing that the school has in her hand to contribute to an eventual revolutionary social and economic change that breaks the class gap is the transmission of knowledge

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Xavier Massó


It may be unpleasant to dig up the class struggle that is so well buried in such identitarian times as the current ones, especially on the side of the supposedly empowered left. I won’t say anything about right because it has understood its own issues much better, especially since they’d read Marx. In addition,  right can shed its enlightened clothing and still remains right; The left, instead, if it detaches itself from Enlightenment, it turns into pure doctrinal negativity or, eventually, puritanical neomillennialism or Flower Power.

However, as Baudelaire already warned us, the devil’s best trick is to convince us that he does not exist. Nobody says to believe in witches either, but then they add that nevertheless, there are still witches. I have the impression that something similar happens with class warfare, I mean from a materialist approach, of course. In fact, even though many may have forgotten it, left was once materialist, wich does not mean nihilist.

The current educational system consists on convincing the poors they must keep eating transgenic chips with industrial sausages and frozen halibut; fresh hake, T-bone steaks, oysters and caviar, those are disgusting richmen habits, and they should refrain from because it’s not part of they cultural heritage. The goal is, obviously, to avoid they ever try it because, just in case they’d like it, they may find out they can’t  afford it because their miserable salaries and the systemic precariousness they are destined to. So the less they know about, the less they get concerned about.

The great pedagogical gurus have pointed it clear: the main educational target must be the basic and (barely) elementary knowledges, to «know how» to do something, but not to be aware about what’s really going on, nor why. There are of course many higher “desirables” knowkedges too, but that’s a different issue, those are not for the masses to be learned, but just for those who can afford to pay to be properly thaught: that’s the authentic hidden curricula. You won’t learn these «desirable» knowledges in a comprehensive school, the inclusivity and the politicaly correct morality instilled by the indoctrinating sermonizing are worth enough for the poors, so  everything ends up fitting into the true educational goal: the output profile. Let’s everyone to be convinced he’s autonomous to make his own decisions, but make first sure what he’s looking for must be what it has been previously determined to be. Just like Epsilons in Huxley’s Brave new World.

“Learnig: the treasure within” says Jack Delors Report for UNESCO (1996); nothing but an invitation to embark on the “Hispaniola” and set to sail in search of the loot to plunder. Because that is what it turned out to be such a precious treasure: a loot, a chance for bussiness to take profit from. It wasn’t poor Jim Hawkins who got the treasure this time, but Long John Silver.

Did the marketization of education begin with the Delors Report? No, but it was the global starting signal. It actually came from before. “Comprehensive” schools and “inclusive” exclusivism were put into practice since Margaret Thatcher applied the Warnock Report (1978). Let’s say Margaret Thatcher was the Tory British Premier in the eighties (1979-1990). Almost everything has been said about her, unless being politically left-wing. Since in Spain it has been the left who has adopted her educational pattern, that’s something whose responsibility does not fall on her, but on the left. Thatcher never hid her ideological militancy, something that honors her as much as should embarras the spanish self-named left.

How many years ago did public High Schools in Spain stop having higher academic performance than private ones and began to plummet? How long has it been since academical outcomes comparisons among schools were forbiden – so it would go as unnoticed as possible– and the only ones we have on hand so far are those from international assesments?

Let’s clarify one thing, just in case: the problem of the commodification of education is not because of private schools, nor is their fault that the spanish governors, whether right or left, whether centripetal nationalists or centrifugal ones, have  become so ruthless in their aim to destroy the public education. Then, of course, no one is bitter about a sweet and private education knew how to take advantage. Anyway the commodification began with a law (LOGSE, 1990) that was promoted and inacted by the socialist party (PSOE). It has not been a mere market reform, as it is usually thought, it is not that education has been subordinated to the market requirements, but else were, education has become a market itself. Not in terms what is thaught there should agree with the marquet requirements; This is not the cause, but the effect. What was commodified was the whole idea of school itself: students have become a commodity.

In other words, it is not the education system has to provide the professional profiles and workforce that markets may require –this would merely be an update; No, “the Great Leap Forward” was to put schools into the market. And this is a novelty, because it had never been so before. Every educational system has always been linked to society and markets, but to be linked means to be «something else», autonomous and external. Not just an inner gear. Let’s say it that way, while you’re being trained, you’re kept out of the game; now you’re in. Before, school was expected to be at the service of (teaching) mathematics, whether the market gets directly benefited from this learning or not; Now the school is a market and the teaching of mathematics is determined his rules since is expected to produce comodities. It is not the same to make business with education than turning education into a business.

And this goes for both public and private. This may certainly sound atonishing, but let’s have a quick glance at the spanish education pattern in the seventies, eighties and early nineties. Education was not commercialized, not beyond peripheral issues: its function was to teach, to transmit knowledge. On the public school side that’s very clear: the cost involved was borne by the State and its purpose was the training of students. In private schools the goal was the same one, but with an economic benefit required, so people had to pay for it. Nevertheless, it was out of the question wether the Pythagorean Theorem or the Gauss Bell were thaught in public or private schools since they booth did it. As Euclid replied to Ptolemy, there is no royal road to geometry; anyone, kings, citizens and slaves, had to go through the same path: study, attention and effort. That’s a genuine feature of knowledge that makes it so dangerous. In short: knowledge is not a commoditie. Artificial tolls will have to be set then.

Furthermore, private schools in Spain were only very incipiently commercialized since they were rather installed in pre-capitalist mental schemes to the extend they were mainly run by Catholic religious orders. Obviously, there was a very strong ideologic bias involved, sure. But the Pythagorean Theorem and Gauss’s Bell were too explained, because every school was subject to the servitude inherent to their function, marked by educational laws that established the  curricula of mandatory application for everyone, either public and private. In our current days instead, whether it is a public or private school, and whether it is located in a rich or a poor site, somethings might be thaught and some others not.

But how and why education has been commodified? Perhaps Rosa Luxembourg[1] has something to say about. Capitalism is a mode of production that tends to the commodification of all things. But not all of them simultaneously at the same extent. It needs as well peripheral or outer pre-capitalist areas that enable the center to keep runnnig. And even in the center there might be certain areas that remain incipiently commodified. The dynamics of the system itself lead the subordinates peripheral spaces to become fully capitalist, but the center headquarters then require new pre-capitalist areas to keep running on, because otherwise the whole system would collapse. In the meantime, when new peripheral markets to be fully commodified cann’t be taken over control for no matter what reasons, then the center headquarters areas not yet fully commodified are the targeted ones, so nor the “central” segments up to then “free” from exhaustive commodification spared from this unavoidable trend. The areas that constituted the welfare state, such as Education and Health, would be a good example. How all this ends up is not the point now, but just let us remain the fact that the enlightened educational system of universal and egalitarian education is has definitively been left behind.

Then they tell us about the futur new jobs that market will very soon “demand”, and although we still don’t know wich ones might ever be, school is nevertheless urged to get the new generations ready for. How is this to be understood? To get people ready for an unknown future: the great trap. Because even in case this would be so, whether we collapse or, it looks like more reasonable, we keep pushing hard teaching the real substantial knowledge –not mere skills or competences-  that is expected to remain and may help us to understand the transformations we’ll have eventually to face up. And, anyway, since it seems to be quite reliable to assume that whether the nature of these early futur jobs is known or not, what is undoubtedly known is the mode of production and the relations of production involved that take shape within, whose perpetuation may be garanteed –yes, old Marx reappears again. So, actually, whatever the new jobs may ever be, they dont’ care at all. What they are really taking care is to preserve the current relations of production, of course, as worsen as possible. That is what the school is expected to train his students for: teaching to endure the worsened relations of production they’ll find in their future jobs.

Meanwhile, some naïve people are still pushing to convert schools into anti-capitalist spaces and, of course, into the Paradise of diversity, the diversity that fits in with capitalist globalization: social dilution of citizenship and class segmentation through identity particularization. From the social into the cultural, from socialism into (ethnic, gender or whatever) culturalism; Technofeudalism, this is the goal.

The best way to put an end to the idea of ​​any selection based on intellectual and skills criteria is giving no chance to the previosuly castoff ones so that they may not even consider it as an actual possibility, first, because they will not have been trained to and the mere idea will be out of their mind; and second, because it will be done in order to a properly renewed caste system. Everything, of course, in cute politicaly correct terms. In school they will only be taught what they will be required as labor cannon fodder.

The only thing that the school has in her hand to contribute to an eventual revolutionary social and economic change that breaks the class gap is the transmission of knowledge and the aim of forming more cultured generations, capable to have their own judgment and  therefore autonomous and critical. On the other hand, if the traced goal is to revolutionize the school itself by renouncing or trivializing knowledge transmission, especially in those who cannot receive it anywhere else, that’s a great deal, no doubt. But this is, no matter how you call it and no matter whoever carries it out, a class aggression,

Then, if this is not class struggle, it may only be because one side has previously surrendered. Warren Buffet, a Wall Street billionary american businessman had already pointed clear: “There’s class warfare, all right, but its muy class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning”.

[1] Rosa Luxembourg, The Accumulation of Capital (1913)

Source: educational EVIDENCE

Rights: Creative Commons

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