and Empire: Education for Class Consciousness
Rich Gibson & E.
Revised chapter for
P. R., & Porfilio, B. J. (Eds.). (2014). The phenomenon of Obama and the agenda for education: Can hope
audaciously trump neoliberalism? (2nd ed.). Charlotte, NC:
Information Age Press.
If we are to face the crises of our day we must connect
cause and effect, the whole with the
parts, past-present-future. The task means connecting war with imperialism; economic
collapse with capitalism; and the imperial project to designs on schools, what
people know and how they come to know it. It means connecting solutions, that
is, recognizing that fights in health care are necessarily fights in education;
that the battles about immigration are also battles about wages, hours, and
benefits. It means recognizing what is afoot: class war, aninternational
war of the rich on the poor: the social relations of capitalism. The economic
restructuring through massive job losses in almost every sector going on now
will result ineither a horrific
defeat for the North American and world working class, or be mark as an
awakening when people recognized the many boots on their throats. Last, making
connections means transformation, overcoming the system of capital. Without that North Star, any social movement isdirectionless,
recreating injustice in slightly new ways.
Keywords: capitalism, empire,
imperialism, political economy, education reform, class work, class
consciousness, democracy, war, resistance, rebellion
Wayne Ross is Professor at University of British
Columbia and co-director of the Institute for Critical Education Studies. He is
the author of numerous publications on curriculum theory, politics of
education, and critical pedagogy. A former day care and secondary school
teacher he is also co-founder of The Rouge Forum. He is editor of the journals Critical Education (criticaleducation.org), Cultural Logic (clogic.eserver.org), and Workplace: A
Journal for Academic Labor (workplace-gsc.com) and his publications
include Neoliberalism and Education
Reform (Hampton Press) and a special issue of the journal Works & Days titled “Education for
Revolution,” both with Rich Gibson. Find him on the internet at ewayneross.net
Gibson, Emeritus Professor at San Diego State University, is a former
autoworker, elementary and secondary school teacher, organizer, and bargaining
specialist for several unions. He is the co-founder of The Rouge Forum, an
organization of school workers, parents, and students seeking to transform
education and society toward equity, democracy, and the freedom to live
creative, connected lives. His research, asking “what do people need to know,
and how do they need to come to know it in order to live in solidarity?” serves
that end. He is co-editor of the journal Cultural
Logic (http://clogic.eserver.org/) and his publications include Neoliberalism and Education Reform (Hampton
Press) and a special issue of the journal Works
& Days titled “Education for Revolution,” both with E. Wayne Ross. Find
him on the internet at richgibson.com.
and Empire Education for Class Consciousness
Rich Gibson & E.
“Empire as a way of life will lead to nuclear death … I do
not want empire. There are better ways to live. And better ways to die.”
WilliamAppleman Williams (1980)
The sky is, of course, falling. We are lambs among wolves. The core issue
of our time is the relationship of rising color-coded social andeconomic inequality
challenged by the potential of mass class-conscious resistance. This can now be
summed up as life and death, an issue that most North Americans avoided during
nearly eight years of war because, while the U.S. supports one of the largest militaries in the world, itspersonnel amount to less than 1% of the
population. The very real conflict also sets up a challenge often ignored: how
can people become whole, that is, live reasonably meaningful intelligible lives
in connection with others in the midst of a social collapse that can quickly
If we are to face the crises of our day we must do
what Nemesis author Chalmers Johnson (2007) claims
most Americans cannot do: connect cause and effect, the whole with the parts, past-present-future–as Johnson rightly believes
history is eradicated in America.
The task means connecting war with imperialism,
economic collapse with capitalism, and the imperial project to designs on
schools, what people know and how they come to know it. It means connecting
solutions, that is, recognizing that fights in health care are necessarily
fights in education, that the battles about immigration are also battles about
wages, hours, and benefits. It means recognizing what is afoot: class war, aninternational war of the rich on the poor: the social relations of
capitalism. The economic restructuring through massive job losses in almost
every sector—2.6 million during the great financial collapse according to
Goodman and Healy, (2009)—will
result ineither a horrific defeat
for the North American and world working class, or be mark as an awakening when
people recognized the many boots on their throats. Last, making connections
means transformation, overcoming the system of capital. Without that North Star, any social movement isdirectionless,
recreating injustice in slightly new ways.
Connections: The Elections of 2008, 2010, and 2012
Let us step back briefly and examine the elections.
The recent elections should not only be studied as how voters chose who would
most charmingly oppress the majority of the people from the executive committee
of the rich, the government. It should be studied, as how an element of
capitalist democracy, the spectacle
of the election, has speeded the emergence of fascism as a mass popular force (Moore, 1957; Singer, 2002).That
·the corporate state, the
rule of the rich, near complete merger of corporations and government;
·the continuation of the
suspension of civil liberties (e.g., 2012 National Defense Authorization Act,
which legalizes indefinite detention of United States citizens and the
prosecution of whistleblowers; Holder v.
Humanitarian Law Project, which hinders the ability of human rights and
humanitarian aid organizations to do their work by making it a crime to provide
“material support” to designated "foreign terrorist organizations"; Post-9/11
national security policies that function, not under the U.S. Constitution, but under
a new secret system that allows widespread surveillance and target killings,
e.g. Obama “secret kill list”);
·the attacks on whatever
free press there is (e.g., government responses to WikiLeaks);
·the rise of racism and
segregation (in every way, but especially the immigration policies —Obama
expelling more than 1,000 immigrant workers per day in 2013-2014);
·the promotion of the
fear of sexuality as a question of pleasure, (key to creating the inner slave),
the sharpened commodification of women (Sarah Palin to the commodified Hillary
Clinton to pole dancers), attacks on GLBTQI community (e.g., Arizona’s
discriminatory anti-gay bill, SB 1062); media’s objectification of transgender
people, e.g. Dr. V, Lavern Cox, Carmen Carrera)
governmental/corporate attacks on working peoples' wages and benefits (e.g., bailouts
of banks and corporate giants “too big to fail,” to “merit” pay, to two-tier
pay systems, to wage and benefit concessions and food stamp cuts);
imperialist war (sharpening , or losing: the war in Afghanistan sharpens war on
Pakistan, which provokes war on Russia, stumbling through and misreading the
farcical Arab Spring while funding jihadists in Libya, Egypt, and Syria; then
partnering with neo-Nazi ultranationalists in the Ukraine coup; and the U.S.
has not left Iraq's oil, but is being outbid by Chinese soft power while the
“pivot to Asia” causes Chinese war preparations to accelerate);
·the promotion of
nationalism (all class unity) by, among others, the union
bosses, teaching people the lie that someone else should interpret reality
and act for us, when no one is going to save us but us;
·trivializing what is
supposed to be the popular will to vile gossip, thus building
cynicism—especially the idea that we cannot grasp and change the world,
but also debasing whatever may have been left of a national moral sense;
·increased mysticism (is
it better to vote for a real religious fanatic or people who fake being
·arrests and harassment
of whistleblowers, both mainstream journalists and, assuredly, Chelsea Manning;
·incessant attacks on
That is a litany of the acceleration of fascism.
Al Szymanski outlined the functions of the
capitalist state’s democracy three
decades ago. This is a reminder:
·To guarantee the
accumulation of capital and profit maximization and make it legitimate;
·Preserve, form, and
temper, capitalist class rule;
·Raise money to fund the
·Guarantee and regulate
the labor force;
·Ensure buying power in
·Directly and indirectly
subsidize private corporations;
·State sanction of self-regulation
of corporations; and
the overseas interests of corporations.
Democracy does not dominate capital. Democracy
submits, atomizes voters to individuals huddled in ballot booths asking capital’sfavorite question: What about Me?
Let us continue to make connections, this time
foreign and domestic policy.
Connections: U.S. Foreign Policy and the Collapsed Economy
What is U.S. foreign policy? It is largely unchanged post-Bush–but
speeding headlong. It is war for empire, regional control, markets,natural resources, in particular, oil. That is why the U.S. is
in Afghanis tan (it is not Al-Qaeda that was at one point nearly out of
business, but isnow virtually merged with the Taliban and grows throughout Africa and the Arab world, and it is
not the Taliban whose potential
pipelines werehugged by the U.S.
years ago—though worries about nuclear Pakistan destabilized by a Taliban-ruled Afghanistan are real enough).
Empire is why the U.S. has been in Iraq, and is not
going to leave (the mercenaries remain). The permanent bases, six by our count,
say otherwise, and so does every military expert working in the Obama
administration. The wars’cost,
depending on your analyst, about $2 trillion, though we must acknowledge the
military budget is obscured by secrecy.
Failed wars have a lot to do, but not entirely to
do, with the economic collapse that continues to spiral while Obama, like the
sorcerer's apprentice, tries to contain it. The containment, so far, adds up to well over $12 trillion,
though that too is a secret, as are the recipients, in themidst of proclamations about transparency.Bloomberg is one of the few news groups willing to sue for the
information (Chittum, 2009).
The Troubled Asset
Relief Program (TARP) and bailouts were sheer robbery achieved by the
use of power that goes to the nature of U.S. society itself. When we hear“the economy, “ and “our government, “ we should think, “Their economy, their government.”
Where the bailout money has gone is still largely a secret. Where it is going to go
is a secret. Which banks the FDIC visited isstill even asecret. No big
bankers are jailed or prosecuted, although J. P Morgan’s Jamie Dimon appears to be a serial fraudster: tens of million
in fines led toa 70% raise. This
all may be made palpable by the press who portrays those who seek prosecutions
and jailings as filled with, for example, “blood lust” (Jackson, 2014).
The bailout is not trickling down. Why should banks
lend to people who are already in debt at a rate more than their annual
incomes—about 50% of Americans? The total debt of the U.S. government,
including unfunded entitlement obligations such as Social Security, Medicare,Medicaid, etc. adds up as a debt of more than $190,000 per
citizen, more than $57 trillion and that is before the bailouts began (America’sTotalDebt Report, 2011; Foster, 2009). To nearly all economists, before the bust,
that was a secret. Societies whose veins run with secrecy, which runon
rumors and fanciful hopes, verge on tyranny. But it is no secret that the
stimulus is already stimulating sharp battles between state, county, andcity governments over who gets what, and who holds the
reins—must assuredly not those who do the work.
The stimulus missed one key element. It represents a
conflict inside the U.S. ruling classes, who use the government as their
executive committee and armed weapon, with the man Glenn Ford, of the Black
Agenda Report, calls the “more effective evil,” Obama, as the Chair (Ford, 2012)
This battle can be oversimplified as a struggle
between old-line capital, as with the Rockefeller backed Council on Foreign
Relations, and newer capital, like the Bush/Cheney crowd, as well as a struggle
between finance capital, investment banks, and more immediately productive
industrial capital, like the “Big 3 “ automakers (we can easily see the
financier winners and auto losers in that). Nevertheless, it is a fight with
each player acting, not out of high aims for the patriotic good, but the
narrowest forms of opportunism, what Lady Astor called, “running offhiggledy-piggledy,” after the nearest dollar. Before the TARP,Treasury Secretary Paulsen asked J. P.Morgan’s Jamie Dimon to chip in to save theU.S. banking system. Dimon responded, in
a fit of patriotism, “...I’d do anything for you and this country, but not if it’s going to jeopardize J. P.Morgan” (Sorkin, 2009).
The many heads of finance never separated from the
many bodies of productive industrial capital, but the heads of finance serving
as generals of the moneyed class believed they did, until the bodies of
overproduction, corruption, and waste pulled them back.
“We are readying
ourselves to enter a long tunnel full of blood and darkness.”
(July 28, 1914)
The U.S. is in a desperate situation. The military
was fought to a standstill in Iraq. The best the U.S. can hope for is a draw in
Afghanistan. Stephen Biddle (2009) of the Council on Foreign Relations (members
are sprinkled all over the Obama regime) testified to that effect beforeCongress. The Obama line tracks behind Biddle’s writing. Biddle is quite clear: The U.S. is going to be
in Iraq a long time, and probably longer inAfghanistan, at a cost of perhaps 50 to 100 dead a month. As we write today, the appearance is that the U.S. has
left Iraq, or so the public believes,and
is about to leave Afghanistan, but the mercenaries, the Joint Special
Operations Command, Obama’s private army, the CIA, will remain atwork—and the drones will continue
to fly–while Iraq unravels into a civil war and, again, a staging ground
The U.S. is a declining world power ideologically,morally,politically,economically, and militarily. The government stands exposed asopposing the common good—as with
the massive opposition to the first bailout before the Obama/McCain
election—it cannot meet the elementary needs of the people, housing to
jobs to health care to veterans’benefits,
to food stamps (cut in a shockingly callous move in early 2014) to old age
U.S. elites are aware of their own weaknesses, so
are their potential enemies. We saw
Russia attack Georgia, a U.S. ally, and the U.S. didnothing. Russia challenged Europe and
shut down pipelines. The U.S. and Europe only whined. Obama drew a “red line,”
around Syria’s Assad,was upended by Vice President Biden, then challenged by Russia’s Putin, and forgot about the red line.
And, as we write this, a familiar scenario is
playing out in Ukraine, following an Obama-back coup in which an ultranationalist,
neo-Nazi coalition, Right Sector, played a key role in deposing a fairly
elected, though thoroughly corrupt government. The Ukraine coup is no
democratic revolution, rather an imperialist consolidation of the capitalist
counterrevolution by western finance capital (Vogt-Downey, 2014). In February, 2014, the U.S. responded to the
Russians (during the quite successful Olympics) with a CIA/National Endowment
for Democracy faux revolution, by backing Ukrainian nationalists, many of them
flying swastikas, against a corrupt Putin-backed, but elected, Yanukovych regime.
Obama threatened “costs,” but was rather boxed in by his need for Russian
support vis-à-vis the Syrian civil war and the revised “hope and change” dreams
about Iran’s nuclear program. This
all only heightens international tensions and distracts from the U.S.stated “pivot to Asia”(read China’s rise, preparations of their own blue water fleet, and provocative moves toward Taiwan and Japan).
In Europe, national political and economic rulers
retreat to the comfort and protection of their home militaries as the notion of
a united continent evaporates in a wash of economic realities and old hatreds.
But, the contradictory nature of capital popped up when General Motors demanded
a bailout from Europe, after decades of “Buy Americanism” from both GM
management and the United Auto Workers.
The collapsed economy and failing wars turn up in
domestic policy where, we note with humor, Obama has participated in, and now led,perhaps
the most massive transfer of wealth in history, gone on a breathtaking spending spree, yet he promises to balance the budget.
Connections: The Economic Meltdown Sparks Global Unrest; Prompts Plans to use
Military Power to Curb Civil Unrest
As global capitalism implodes there is has been a
marked up-tick in social upheaval worldwide. Now establishment analysts are
expressing their concerns about “class conflict “ and “civil war “ in the USA.
The financial crisis has sparked unrest globally and
particularly across Europe, with demonstrations, strikes, and protests in 16 European
countries (Factbox, 2009). Here are a just a few examples:
·Tens of thousands of
workers marched in Lisbon, Portugal on March, 2010 against the policies of the
Socialist government, which unions say are increasing unemployment and favoring
the rich at a time of crisis;
·Hundreds of workers at
Bulgaria's Kremikovtzi steel mill protested in 2010 over planned lay-offs and
unpaid salaries, demanding the Socialist-led government find a buyer for the
insolvent plant; thousands of police officers marched in Sofia on Sunday to demand
a 50 percent wage rise and better working conditions;
·In Greece, the fatal
police shooting of a 15-year old in December 2010 sparked the country's worst
riots in decades, fueled by anger at economic hardships and youth unemployment.
Anarchists and left wing guerrilla groups have followed up with a wave of
attacks against banks and police; Greek unions, representing about 2.5 million
workers, have also staged repeated protests against the government saying its
measures to tackle the global crisis only burden the poor. There have been 30
massive general strikes by Greek workers between 2010-2013 (General strike
against cuts brings Greece to a halt, 2013);
·In 2009 over 100,000
people marched against cutbacks in Ireland. (Crimmins, 2009). In early
2014, the National Union of Mineworkers of South Africa, having led numerous
job actions that were violently attacked, murderously so, broke with the
African National Congress and its guiding hand, the South African Communist
Party, while threatening more on the job direct action;
M15/Indignados (“the outraged”) movement in Spain has continued, since 2011, a
series of ongoing demonstrations that have brought between 6.5 and 8 million
Spaniards to the streets, in over 80 cities, protesting privatization, budget
cuts, and other austerity measures that aim to satisfy the demands of finance
capitalists and redefining the relationship between finance and human rights (Aigner,
2013; Sanchez, 2012).
·The Arab Spring,
followed by the Ukrainian insurrection, on the one hand indicates a rejection
of both Soviet and Chinese style socialism —a return to
medievalism—and on the other hand, a rejection of authoritarian
corruption and a turn back toward fascism. All of that, however apparently
mindless it may be, underlines Zbigniew Brzezinski’s fear, enunciated in
“Strategic Vision,” (2012) that the people of the world are becoming
sufficiently politically conscious, literate, to recognize grotesque
inequality, oppose a single hegemon, and act— even if in our eyes without
a rational grand strategy.
High unemployment rates have led to protests in
Latvia, Chile, Greece, Bulgaria and Iceland and contributed to strikes in South
Africa, Britain and France (Salmarsh & Jolly, 2009; Schwartz, 2009).
Mexican truckers shut down the countries highways to protest high fuel prices (Truckers protest fuel prices, 2009). In
Oaxaca,teachers struck again and
again, demanding job protections, pay, and teaching resources, between 2006 and 2014. In late 2013 and early 2014,armed citizens, called “vigilantes” by
the U.S. press, attacked drug cartels in Michoacan, a force that occasionally
had the support of the Federales, but worried elites like newly elected
In December 2009, Russian riot police busted up
protests in Vladivostok against new taxes intended to “help prop up Russia's
domestic car industry and prevent people buying cheaper, imported products.” BBC reports that the protests were
fueled by the severe impact of the globaleconomic
crisis on Russia. According to Newsweek ,
“the Russian Interior Ministry set up a special command center in Moscow, packed withsurveillance equipment designed to deal with street unrest. The
Duma, on Kremlin instructions, added seven new articles to the criminal code
including a law that makes“participating
in mass disorders “ such as the one in Vladivostok a 'crime against the state”
(Matthews & Nemtsova, 2009). Eight hundred thousand Russians lost their
jobs in December and January, making
the total number of unemployed more than 6 million or8.1 percent. Gennady Gudkov, former KGB colonel and current
chair of the Duma's security committee, said, “We are expecting massunemployment and
mass riots. There will be not enough police to stop people's protests by force” (Younge, 2009).
There a have been massive general strikes in the
French territories of Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Réunion (Fidler, 2009). The generalstrike in Guadeloupe prompted the French
government to fly in riot police (Guadeloupe is a French “overseas department “
in the Caribbean). And while the general strike lasted 6 weeks—it ended
on March 4 with an agreement among the strike collective, the employers
federation and local and French governments, which granted 20 of the strikers
primary demands and set out negotiations on a long list of remaining
issues— strikes and protests continue, involving tens of thousands of
workers (Martinique demonstrators, 2009).
Just as the general strike ended in Guadeloupe
(Guadeloupe strike ends, 2009), social unrest over economic conditions spread
to Réunion, a French “overseas department “ in the Indian Ocean (French unrest
There is a pattern developing worldwide. U.S. elites
are starting to worry about what might happen if the American workers take
action as a result of their frustrations with massive economic inequalities.
United States Prepares
for Class War
Sociologist Immanuel Wallerstein (2009) discusses the breakdown of taboos as the
world's economy continues to disintegrate. He notes establishment analysts,
such as Alan Greenspan, Senator Lindsay Graham, and economist Alan Blinder have seriously discussed “nationalization”
of banks and industry.
But Wallerstein's most dramatic example of the breakdown of taboos is the open discussion of the
possibility of class war breaking out inthe
U.S. Zbigniew Brzezinski, noted above, apostle of anti-Communist ideology and
President Carter's National Security Advisor, appeared on amorning television
talk show in February 2009, and was asked to discuss his previous mention of the
possibility of class conflict in theUnited
States in the wake of the worldwide economic collapse.
Brzezinski was straightforward about the belief that
class war in America is real possibility:
JOE SCARBOROUGH: You also talked about the possibility of class conflict.
I was worrying about it because we’re going to have millions and millions of
unemployed, people really facing dire straits. And we’re going to be having
that for some period of time before things hopefully improve. And at the same
time there is public awareness of this extraordinary wealth that was
transferred to a few individuals at levels without historical precedent in
America… what’s goingto happen in this society when these
people are without jobs, when their families hurt, when they lose their homes,
and so forth?
We have the
government trying to repair: repair the banking system, to bail the housing
out. But what about the rich guys? Where is it? [Whatare they] doing?
Brzezinski went on to compare the current economic
meltdown to the“Panic of 1907”:
It sort of struck me, that in 1907, when we had a massive
banking crisis, when banks were beginning to collapse, there were going to be
riots in the streets. Some financiers, led by J.
P.Morgan, got together. He locked them in his library at
one point. He wouldn’t let them out
… until theyall kicked in and gave
some money to stabilize the banks: there was no Federal Reserve at the time.
Where is the moneyed class today? Why aren’t they doing something: the people
who made billions, millions. I’m sort of thinking of Paulson, ofRubin [former treasury secretaries]. Why don’t they get together, and why don’t they organize a National Solidarity
Fund in which they call on allof
those who made these extraordinary amounts of money to kick some back in to [a]
National Solidarity Fund?
… if we don’t get some sort of voluntary National Solidarity Fund, at some point there’ll be
such political pressure that Congress will start gettingin the act, there’s going to be growing conflict between the classes and if people are unemployed
and really hurting, hell, there could be evenriots!
Wallerstein points out that “almost simultaneously “ LEAP/Europe a European agency that
issues monthly confidential bulletins for itsclients—politicians, public servants, businessmen, and
investors—devoted its February issue to global geopolitical dislocation,
discussing the possibility of civil war in Europe, in the United States, and
Japan; and foreseeing a“generalized
stampede “ that will lead to clashes, semi-civil wars (Global Europe
Anticipation Bulletin, 2009).
Wallerstein (2009) quotes the Global Europe Anticipation Bulletin as saying if your country
or region is a zone in which there is a massive availability of guns, the best
thing you can do...is to leave the region, if that's possible. Wallerstein emphases that
these analyses are not coming from left intellectuals or
radical social movements.…Verbal taboos are brokenonly when such
people are truly fearful. The point of breaking the taboos is to try to bring
about major rapid action - the equivalent of J.
P.Morgan locking the financiers in his home in 1907”. (Wallerstein, 2009).
U.S. elites are obviously fearful enough to start
planning for military responses to potential social upheaval as a result of the
collapsing economy. The U.S. War College's Strategic Studies Institute
posited a number of “strategic surprises “ that the country should be prepared for,including
potential for disruption and violence caused by the economy's failure. The
Unconventional 'Strategic Shocks' in Defense Strategy Development,” says“widespread civil violence inside the U.S.
would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities in extremis to
defend basic domestic order and human security” (Freier, 2008).
For the first time ever, U.S. military units are staged and are training inside the country to address
civil unrest rising from inequality. TheArmy Timeshas reported
on the U.S. Northern Command's deployment of the 3rd Infantry Division's 1st
Combat Brigade Team on U.S. soil for“civil unrest “ and“crowd control “ duties. The 5,000-member force was one of first
units deployed in Baghdad (Cavallaro, 2008; Rothschild, 2008).
Education Agenda as a War Agenda
These factors all appear in schools where money
plays a very significant, but not the primary, role. The primary role of capitalistschooling
is social control, winning the children of the poor and working classes to be
loyal, obedient, dutiful, and useful, to ruling classes under a variety of
lies: We are all in this together;
this is a multicultural society, democracy trumps inequality, we all
can be President, etc. Kids learnthe
ethics of slaves, perhaps an important reason why there is so little outcry
from the rank and file of the military, engaged in war crimes worldwide, but well educated.
months before the 2008 election, that Obama will continue the
Reagan-Bush-Clinton-Bush education agenda that came into beingafter the ruling classes nearly lost control
of the schools and universities during and after they lost the Vietnam war—ran away. That agenda canbe summarized by:
·The regimentation of
curricula (phonics, abstract math, the eradication of history and academic
·Racist and anti-working class
high stakes examination;
militarization of schooling (JROTC, ROTC, CIA, NSA, ICE, HS, etc. all over
that, in some instances, Obama's cadre would turn to privatization and in
others they will not, depending mostly on the interaction ofprofitability and social control.
remarkable example of the merger of
the corporate and the government is Bob Bobb’s arrival in Detroit, tooversee the
Detroit Public School’s finances
(while a dysfunctional school board is allowed to pretend it control s whatever
is left). Mr. Bobb wason the DPS
payroll at about $250,000; his salary was supplemented by the right-wing Broad
Foundation, where he was trained, at nearly $100,000 per year. Bobb turned
three Detroit high schools over to WalMart; not privatized, but corporatized. Bobb left DPS and was replaced by an odd,“Good bank/Bad bank” school system, the
former the old Detroit Public Schools, the latter, an Educational Achievement Authority which was tovacuum up all the failing schools in Michigan (but really only
Detroit) and fix them—deepening separation in an already fully segregated
system. Then, in 2013, the entire Detroit teaching force was fired. The Detroit
Federation of Teachers did nothing
but sue for the right to force membersto
pay dues in what had become a right-to-work state—once the birthplace of
industrial unionism (Gibson, 2013, Feburary).
Arne Duncan, Obama’s Education Secretary, broadly followed
that path, rushing along with Race to the Top (RaTT) and later theCommon Core
plans for merit pay rooted in test results, the abolition of some teacher job
protection, a nationally regulated curriculum, more militarization in poor
areas and national service to siphon off middle class discontent, privatized charters like those favored by the BroadFoundation and the takeover of some urban
school system, like Detroit, by Broad-trained and funded Mr. Bobb. Leaders of teacher unions, theNational Education Association (largest union in the U.S.by far) and the American Federation of Teachers assist the Obama project at everyturn; AFTPresident Randi Weingarten said the union would “embrace the goals and aspirations outlined” by Obama in
his speech to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (Phillip, 2009). With NEApresident Dennis Van Roekel,
she and union operatives helped create theCommon
Core, another test platform, and urged member support for the curriculum written by the Gates Foundation.
Obama’s education plan is based on the same rhetoric (fear mongering) and reasoning that
produced the educationally disastrous No Child Left Behind debacle (Stedman,
2010; 2011).Indeed, Diane Ravitch,
right-wing education policy analyst at New YorkUniversity, member of the CIAsponsored National Endowment forDemocracy, and Assistant Secretary of Education in the Reagan Administration opined, that
Obama has given President GeorgeW. Bush a third term in education policy
and that Arne Duncan is the male version of Margaret Spellings[Education Secretary in Bush’s second term]. Maybe he really is Margaret Spellings without the glasses and
wearing very high heels. We allknow that Secretary Spellings greeted
Duncan's appointment with glee. She wrote him an open letter in which she
praised him as“a fellow reformer”
who supports NCLB and anticipated that he would continue the work of the Bush
administration. (Ravitch, 2009)
Like his predecessors, Obama misrepresents public
education performance as a scare tactic and to open the door for both corporate
state schooling and privatization. The late Gerald Bracey has cataloged recent
errors in Obama’s claims about public
schools (Bracey, 2009). Here are a
·Obama claims that
graduation rates have fallen from 77% to 67%, but the U. S. Department of
Education says the best method for estimating it puts it at 74.5%
·Obama said dropout rates
have tripled over the past 30 years. But how does a 10% decline in graduation
rate equal a 300% increase in dropout rate?
·Obama claims “Just a
third of our 13- and 14-year-olds can read as well as they should. “ Bracey
calls this claim “outright garbage” (Bracey, 2007). Obama “raved about
South Korean schools but neglected to say that thousands of South Korean
families sell their children—yes, sell—to American families so
their kids can: (a) learn English and (b) avoid the horrible rigidity of Korean
schools. And, while the U.S. trails Korea on average test scores, it has a
higher proportion of students scoring at the highest level on the Program of
International Student Achievement (PISA). Moreover, it has the highest number
of high scorers (67,000) of any country. No one else even comes close.
·Obama praises charters
for creativity and innovation. But study after study of charters has come away
saying they were surprised at how much the charter schools look like regular
public schools. And charter schools don't score as well on tests as regular
public schools. You can't bash the public schools on test scores then praise
the charters, which have lower scores (Bracey, 2009).
·While this is all true,
it is equally true that U.S. schooling, as Marxist philosopher Bertell Ollman
says, “works.” It’s not failing when so many poor people are illiterate (over 40%
Detroit). It is doing what it must do. In this sense, it is not “public”
education, presumably a “leading out,” but capitalist schooling. After all,
every child in every school is represented by a dollar sign. In California,
each student is worth about $5,000 per year, notably down nearly $900 from
Obama’s education stimulus package continues the regimentation of curriculum and
test-driven approach to education by bribing states andschool districts to apply for $5 billion in grants largely aimed at boosting student test
scores. These grants, administered by the U.S. Departmentof Education’s “Race to the Top Fund.” The Common Core adopted a
similar strategy of bribe and punish; yet some states moved to reject theproject.
Obama, Duncan, and the rest do this because that is
what they must do in the social context they are in, and because they have
chosen sides in what is the class war, the international war of the rich on the poor, which the rich recognize and the poor, at least in the U.S., do not, yet.
Again, this is the core issue of our time: the
interaction of rising inequality and mass, class-conscious, resistance. That is
why the education budget is a war budget. It is class war, and empires’wars.
Those who reject this fact not only mislead
others—as did hundreds of liberal pundits and counterfeit radicals who
fashioned the hysteria that continues around Obama—but they also set up
poor and working people for the emergence of fascism, the corporate state that emergesaround us now. For example, the $12.9 trillion bank bailouts, money which
can never be retrieved, a move that can never be reversed (unlikestopping a war), cutting the legs off the future of youth and the corporate
state fully come forth.
This includes, for example, columnist Robert Scheer
who called the Obama near-bank nationalization, “fascist, “ then turned about andconcluded that Obama is okay (Scheer, 2009). Or education big-wig Linda Darling Hammond who waived pom-poms for
Obama, then wanderedoff from the Obama education department,
disillusioned, but never issued a self-criticism about what she did, or a
warning about what scared heroff(Bracey, 2009).
Those who feel betrayed by Obama, like Scheer and
Darling-Hammond, actually betrayed thousands of people themselves by marching
them into the teeth of his charming grin. And those who knew their operation
was a scam, like the education union bureaucrats, willfully set up their
members for defeat.
In many nations, schools are the centripetal organizing point of life. The
contradiction of inequality and resistance already appears ineducation worldwide. Those who are hit
first and worst, that is those who were born with the least inheritance or who
have lesser powers, are likely to fight back first—though not necessarily
with strategic or even tactical wisdom: New York University building takeovers, the March 4thstudent actions of 2010, graduate assistant resistance, a growing
movement of adjuncts, standardized test boycotters, Detroit school job actions.
But there is little organized class-conscious resistance. The anti-war movement
wasted the potential demonstrated when millions of peoplehit the streets against the Iraq invasion.
Most anti-war activity in the past years was aimed at electing a demagogue,
Obama, who was more open and honest than many of his liberal and left backers
in proclaiming he had every intention of sustaining and expanding the empire’s wars.
The anti-war movement failed not only to mobilize
action but, more importantly, it
failed to take up the pedagogical and practical tasks athand: teaching people how
to develop grand strategy,strategy, and tactics inside specific
communities rooted in rational
answers about whythings are as they are, and then, just what it is that needs to be done.
In education, pivotal to social mastery, the leaders of the two unions, the
NEAand the AFT, with a combined membership of nearly4,500,000, poured millions of dollars and thousands of
volunteer hours into the Obama election twice, diverting member attention from
their real source of power: their ability to control or at least influence
their work places, the curriculum, the assessments, the military invasion,
privatization, and the very reality of whether school should be opened or
Then the education union leaders worked behind the
scenes to snare workers in a union of the wreckage of the AFL-CIO and the
Change ToWin Coalition, the splinter group that firmly believes in
corporate state unionism—the unity of business, labor and government in
thenational interest. Leaders of
both teachers’unions are already
engaged in offering extensive
concessions, allowing layoffs, doing
nothing aboutmass firings (the
national office of the American
Federation of Teachersdidn’t blink as all Detroit’s teachers were fired, nor did the
purportedlymilitant Chicago Teachers’Union, nearby) encouraging school workers to hit out at other working
people as with the California TeachersAssociation demands that the state raise
the regressive sales tax.
Given the child abuse that is the No Child Left
Behind Act, the RaTT, and now the
Common Core, closed schools buttressed byfreedom
schooling in the midst of social strife are superior to most everyday schooling
(Gibson & Ross, 2007). To reach
that point, educationorganizers will have to fight their way
through a phalanx of union bosses.
Professional organizations in the field of education have been no better. The National Council for Social Studies, claiming to be the coregroup concerned with teaching for
democratic citizenship in the U.S., has had rare presentations from Rouge Forum
members, only, opposing thewars and predicting financial calamity. Absent that, NCSS said nothing
but to support imperialist war that sends the children of the poor, on allsides, to fight and kill children of the poor from other
nations, all acting on behalf of the rich in their homelands, that is, capitalist democracy.
During his initial presidential campaign, Obama
supported linking teacher pay based upon their students’test scores. He made good on his promise with RaTTmoney (Stout, 2009). But teacher pay for
student test scores is already an established practice in U.S. schools. Arne
Duncan, Obama’s Secretary of
Education, used test-based performance pay while he was C.E.O. of Chicago
Public Schools, New York City Schoolsembarked on a project to evaluate
teachers based on test scores. Washington DC schools chief, Michelle Rhee, bargained an agreement with theAFTthat teacher evaluations will be tied to
students’scores on standardized
tests. The Detroit Federation of Teachers mirrored that.
Paying teachers for student performance is not new. History shows that most of the gains
from such programs are destructive illusions thatnarrow the curriculum and encourage teachers and administrators
to cheat—as we have seen with the so-called “Texas Miracle “ under the duo ofGovernor GeorgeW. Bush and his first Secretary of
Education, Rod Paige, who presided over Houston schools when test scores there
wereenormously inflated (ATexasTallTale, 2008; Heilig & Darling-Hammond, 2008).
WelfordWilms and Richard Chapleau of UCLAhave examined pay for results schemes
implemented in England, Canada, and the U.S. inthe last two centuries and conclude few results that are forced
on the schools (especially destructive ones like pay-for-results) will ever penetrate the classroom and
positively change the teaching and learning processes (Welms & Chapleau, 1999). Yet, the Obama stimulus planincludes a
continuing bribe to school workers. And, the U.S. Department of Education’sTeacher Incentive Fund is providing $200 million forteacher and principal compensation linked
to student test scores.
How long will educators continue to exchange
reasonably good pay, benefits, and
some security for staying mum about the nature ofimperialist warfare, for implementing racist high stakes exams
that not only intimidate and make dishonest everyone in a class room, but that
also segregate children wrongly by class and race–under a fictitious
veneer of science, hiding privilege behind a veneer of accomplishment? The
tests, in turn, are being used to segregate teachers as merit pay, linked to test scores, expands under
the Obama administration—proving out the manysteps of alienation: no control of the process and product of
work, becoming less human to self and others, the test scores reified as
measures for real estate values, becoming an instrument of your own servitude;
The stimulus package provided an immediate $44
billion in temporary money for schools and comes with instructions from Duncan
that schools should “spend funds quickly “ in ways that increase test scores
and keep the receipts. While there is still a veil of secrecy around even the
real education money, it appears that
much of it is dedicated to school buildings, technology, etc. Much of the money will go to developers;unionist construction workers will battle with their non-union
counterparts for what is left—another example of the ability of capital’s relations tosort, divide and rule.
State financial crises are as real as the federal
crisis. It is unclear as to whether the stimulus will be sufficient to offset cuts to programsand
personnel in recent years, much less cuts to state education budgets in the
coming year. For those who continue
to have jobs, that state, cityand
federal taxes will wipe out any income boost now promised. California’s sun shines on the best
example; even with the bailout, the stateremains
in the red.
Ruling classes have experience with suppressing
rebellion. They know uprisings are often initiated by disgruntled, angry, educated,members of the middle or upper middle classes, who are cut off from opportunities during hard times.
Keeping those people inside theevanescence
of limited privilege is important. It is an ethic that pops the bubble, says, “No” and leads to action.
The ethics that drove the civil rights movement and
the anti-war movement were wiped away by decades of mendacious pluralist
postmodernism (religion with an angry cloak, which discarded the labor theory
of value, the key role of exploited labor and made peace with the capitalist
state) , years of consumerism (70 percent of the U.S. economy until the bottom
fell out), by the absence of example from turncoat leaders in the trade unions
and professional ranks; by the elimination of history in classrooms as Chalmers
Johnson forewarned; the upshot being that inside a nation teetering on the
brink of the collapse of its ruling classes, the resistance must resurrect its
memory of what it is to be in a truly moral fight–right against wrong,
equality against inequality, justice
Here are four resistance ethics worth restoring to
·We are responsible for
our own histories, if not our birthrights.
·Solidarity and equality;
an injury to one only goes before an injury to all.
·It is wrong to exploit
other people. Justice demands organization and action where it counts.
·It’s right to rebel.
Reason To Passion, Passion To Ethics, Ethics To Organization, And Organization
in Counterpunch, we do not need to be lambs among wolves.
There is a real fight ahead (Gibson & Ross, 2008). Wesuggested a
financial collapse could speed the rise of fascism, arriving in respectable
garb. We make no Cassandra claims
about our ability to predict the future—nor anyone’s desire to believe us. We came to the conclusion that economic collapse and imperialist war was
inevitable yearsago. In the
nineties, meeting with middle school teachers, we said,“You are looking at
the troops in the next oil war. “ We foresaw the wars, butnot September 11, 2001 (Chalmers Johnson came close). We did that by using dialectical and historical materialism,
Marxist political economy,as an investigatory tool.
We especially appreciated work by John Bellamy Foster, whose incisive work outlined the looming disaster. Foster recently summed uphis view in
response to a question that may make it easy to grasp:
No I am not equating stagnation, stagflation, and
overproduction. though they overlap. Stagnation, i.e. slow growth, rising
unemployment/underemployment, high excess capacity, etc. reemerged in the 1970s. Initially, there was a period of
stagflation (stagnation plus inflation). The inflationary part was brought
under control but not the underlying stagnation, which continued. Under
monopoly capital (or monopoly-finance capital) actual overproduction is not the
dominant tendency since the demand shortfalls show up in overcapacity rather
than overproduction. Corporations cut back on output pretty quickly and lower
their capacity utilization (fully competitive capitalism didn't work this way). You could say, though, that it is a case of implicit overproduction, so
there is no real contradiction. Of course a build up of productivecapacity, which is increasingly underutilized, fits just as well with Marx's statement,
‘the real barrier of capitalist production is capital itself.(Foster, 2009)
Foster’s repeated insistence that there are no sustainable
solutions within the capitalist system that will serve what is the common good
Robert P.Brenner, interviewed in the Asia Pacific Journal , said,
What mainly accounts for it is a deep, and lasting, decline
of the rate of return on capital investment since the end of the 1960s. The
failure of the rate of profit to recover is all the more remarkable, in view of
the huge drop-off in the growth of
real wages over the period. The main cause,though not the only cause, of the decline in the rate of profit has been
a persistent tendency to overcapacity in global manufacturing industries. What
happened was that, one-after-another, new manufacturing power entered the world market—Germany and Japan, the
Northeast Asian NICs(Newly
Industrializing Countries), the Southeast Asian Tigers, and, finally, the Chinese Leviathan. These later-developing economies producedthe same goods
that were already being produced by the earlier developers, only cheaper. The result was too much supply
compared to demand inone industry
after another, and this forced down
prices and, in that way, profits.
The corporations that experienced the squeeze on their profits didnot, moreover, meekly leave their industries. They tried to hold their place by falling back
on their capacity for innovation, speeding upinvestment in new technologies. But, of course, this only made
overcapacity worse. Due to the fall in their rate of return, capitalists were
getting smaller surpluses from their investments. They, therefore, had no choice but to slow down the growth of
plants and equipment and employment. At the same time, in order to restore profitability, they held down employees’compensation, while governments reduced
the growth of socialexpenditures.
But the consequence of all these cutbacks in spending has been a long-term
problem of aggregate demand. The persistent weakness of aggregate demand has
been the immediate source of the economy’s long-term weakness. (Brenner, 2009).
The bottom line is that, like Roosevelt, Obama can be expected to take decisive
action in defense of working people only if he is pushed by way of organized direct action from below.The Roosevelt administration
passed the main progressive legislation of the New Deal, including theWagner Act and Social Security, only after
it was pressured to do so by a great wave of mass strikes. We can expect the same from Obama…where
they should be active is in trying to revive the organizations of working people. Without the re-creation of working class power, littleprogress
will be possible, and the only way to recreate that power is by way of
mobilization for direct action. Only through working people taking action,
collectively and en masse, will they be able to create the organization and amass the power necessary
to provide the social basis, so tospeak,
for a transformation of their own consciousness, for political radicalization. (Brenner, 2009, emphasis aded).
Marx went to the heart of the issue: shortage of effective demand. For Marx, there was
never any doubt about the root cause of capitalisteconomic crises. “The ultimate reason for all real crises always
remains the poverty and restricted consumption of the masses as opposed to the
drive of capitalist production to develop the productive forces as though only
the absolute consuming power of society constituted their limit” (Marx, 1967,
However, Professor Foster’s profound analysis
of the source of crisis offers no
radical project on how to get from here, capital in ruins, tothere, the transcendence of capital, no
strategy and tactics, about how people might take on the system of capital,
even as a beginning, and transform it.
Brenner believes the world’s ruling classes hope to use the U.S. military might as an
international police officer, preventing wider wars.
We believe inter-imperialist rivalry
will sharpen, especially over oil, but also over regional control, water, markets, cheap labor, the usualsuspects of imperialism. U.S. social, military, and moral weaknesses only exacerbate the tensions and
make conflict more likely.
Given the mantra, true as it is, that the Second
World War alone solved the depression, armed conflict could be tempting to some
who have never witnessed it. War means work and profits, setting up popular national unity, even if fleeting.
At the same time, we are troubled by wild-card
players who could set off unpredictable warfare: Al-Qaeda, Israel, Pakistan, etc. Ourestimate is wider war over time.
Weoffer an expansion on the foundation that Foster,Brenner, and others are fashioning. We return
to Marx’s combat with political
economists of old who treated the system of capital as a collection of gods
with minds and livesof their own. Today, we see mainstream economists, really
apologists, suggesting The Market does this, The Market does that, when it is
peopleat work, and other people
dominating work. And some Marxist economists (Foster and Brenner exempted)
focus in much the same way, tracingthe movement of finance capital—its
volatile expansions and busts—in great detail, without examining what is
key about capital: social relations; people in their struggle with nature to
produce and reproduce life and its means, to seek rational knowledge in order
to survive, and for freedom.
Simultaneously, we see much of what most people think of as the left dodging the failure of
socialism—capitalism with a party claimingbenevolence in the lead—the betrayals of the world’s “communist” parties and trade
unions, the real dilemma of the imperial payout to theempire’s working
classes and especially their mis-leaders; meaning that without a sharp
historical critique of the past any future struggle isundermined.
also struck by this paradox: much of the left shies away from the use of the
term capitalism. We see two mistaken motives. Someof the left seems to believe that people
can only learn in baby-step fashion and cannot be told of the frights of the
world economic system—when the term is now in daily use on TVtalk shows. Others on the left, whose
tactics we surely understand, operate in what they seem to think are secret
wings of parties—meaning they cannot openly expose their claim to Marx
and surely not the heart of the theory—revolution; the upshot being that
the ruling classes and their police are fully aware of how these groups do
analysis, while the people they hope to influence do not.
problem arises from the faux left: a vacuum of thought between what is and what
ought to be. For example, David Bacon’s recentbook on immigration, The Right To Stay Home, suggests just that conditions should be so good in Latin America
and Mexico that nobodyshould have to
move unless they so choose. On one hand, conditions for the vast majority of
people in Mexico—even before the arrival of empires—have rarely
been so good that they would want to remain if better conditions appeared, and
on the other hand, if capitalism and imperialism are off the table of critique, as they are in this work, just what
is to be done? (Bacon, 2013).
Steve Early’sSave Our Unions, follows exactly the
same path. Early refuses to recognize that the U.S. labor movement, being the
AFL-CIO and National Education Association, has always been a project favoring
capital and empire, always divided people by job, race, class—and in the
case of the AFL, sought to destroy every major job action of the rank and file
since the its inception. Why save
that? (Early, 2013; Gibson,2013, October)
An extensive internet search demonstrates that both
Bacon and Early are extraordinarily close to the International Socialist Organization, aTrotskyist group
which also boasts the membership of Jesse Sharkey, the vice-president of the Chicago Teachers Union.
The absence of a serious critique of capital and
empire in the open work of all three leads to a brief discussion that directly
relates to the matter of education and empire: the dialectical relationship of
opportunism and sectarianism.
Sectarianism and opportunism are twins of the same mother, two faces of opposition to real
critical and democratic citizenship. Both reifytruth, locating truth outside the realm of tests in social
practice. The sectarians usually locate truth inside the party's central
committee, for the opportunists, truth is in their minds–or wallets.
Opportunists abandon the interests of the many for the interests of the few. Sectarians confuse theinterests of the few with the interests
of the many. Both sectarianism and
opportunism are based at once in deep fear of the people, elitism,contempt for mass class conscious
struggle; and in support of privilege, hero iconicization, mesmerized mass
action, or passivity. Past practicedemonstrates that once the party of
revolution is in power, stop
wondering about equality or the division of surplus value; wait for the
promisedland of abundance. Then we
will share, from benevolence. Sectarianism overestimates the primacy of the
material world, making it appear that matter changes only at its own reified
pace. Opportunism contends that matter is only changed through the force of
(too often secret) ideas, often individual ideas, and not concrete, analytical,
egalitarian mass struggle. Sectarianism and opportunism combine to form the
fatalistic belief that the world, matter, will surely change in ways we desire. Both finally limit or deny the
significance of fully reflective human agency—grasping andtransforming the world at its political
and economic roots. We have seen these
mis-estimations quickly turn into the opposites of their civic claimsfar too often. For left Hegelianism,
sectarianism, and right Hegelianism, opportunism, change happens along a line
of accumulated, predictable, nearly inevitable, ingredients or change happens
because we wish it so. Both reality and/or change are constructs of the mind,
usually the Mind in charge. Meet the
new boss, same as the old boss.
The resolution of this is a deep probe into the
intersections of mind and matter, in
the construction of everyday life, in using criticaltheory–originating in Marx–to make the reproductive
veils of capital transparent, and to grasp what useful elements of the future
are built into the present–and to look into the future.
aware of the dangers of the emergence of fascism, the remaining Patriot Act, the Snowden exposes of mass constantsurveillance, and we are not so foolish to
write what would be necessary should fascism arrive full blown, but in this
period we urge openness andthe related risks.
If it is true that the crux of the matter is
inequality and imperialist warfare, children of the poor killing other children
of the poor on behalf of the rich in their homelands, at hyper-speed; contradicted by the chance of
mass, organized, class conscious
resistance, and if it is equally truethat
the ruling classes have little left but their mostly conspicuous lies and sheer
force, then it follows that while those who stand for equality and freedom have
a formidable, ruthless, enemy; we also have a chance, yet again, to supersede
capital—for freedom and equality—if we do more than construct
reason, but connect reason to passion, passion to ethics, ethics to organization, and organization to action. We make the theoreticalfight–write–because
we have seen what defeats men with guns: revolutionary ideas.
As above, it is possible that struggle will emanate
from schools where, presumably, ideas still have a role (recognizing the considerable, and armed, potential of
returned veterans whose grasp of empire is profound and practical, as with
in Counterpunch that schools are the
integrative organizing points of
North American life–centers of power struggles forknowledge, capital, labor, and freedom (Gibson & Ross, 2008). That is our strategic view.
Tactically, there are key choke points in schools, opposition to imperialist regulated
curricula, rejecting high stakes exams with boycotts,fighting salary cuts, tuition hikes, etc., and fighting the
campus military invasion, as the military and the struggle for what is true are
incompatible. We have already
witnessed two of the larger school
worker locals in the U.S., the United Teachers of Los Angeles and the ChicagoTeachers Union, pick up the test boycott
tactic, in admittedly limited ways, but a boycott nonetheless. In San Diego, a
coalition of parents,students, and
teachers has had remarkable success in limiting enrollment in high school ROTC
programs, through, above all else, sheer perseverance, leafleting regularly at
the schools. The March 4, 2010 ant-tuition increase movement, which openly
connected school, capitalism, imperialism and war, was heartening.
Since 2008, we participated in some of the largest teach-ins in the U.S.—the Rouge
Forum Conferences (in Louisville, Ypsilanti, Williams Bay, Chicago, Oxford, OH,
Detroit, Denver) and the SanDiego
San Diego Coalition for Peace and Justice teach-in. Combined those totaled over
a thousand; good in substance, far short in form. Nevertheless, the March 4th
movement included many of our Rouge Forum members—and ideas.
Around the world, students and school workers in
Greece and France started what became general strikes. In the U.S., the
education work force has been more malleable. The key terms that might describe
the majority of the professorate and k-12 U.S. educators would be: racism,
ignorance, cowardice, and opportunism–the latter a bribe from the empire
described by Lenin as:
The receipt of
high monopoly profits by the
capitalists in one of the numerous branches of industry, in one of the numerous countries,etc., makes it economically possible for them to bribe certain
sections of the workers, and for a time a fairly considerable minority of them,
and win them to the side of the bourgeoisie of a given industry or given nation against all the others. The intensification
of antagonisms betweenimperialist
nations for the division of the world increases this striving. And so there is created that bond between imperialism and
opportunism,which revealed itself first and most clearly in
England, owing to the fact that certain features of imperialist development were observable theremuch earlier than in other countries…
The schools, which were
always capital’s schools, became,
more than ever, missions for capitalism
and educators its missionaries. Whatchanges
Social conditions may change. Layoffs, wage cuts, pension elimination,
escalating class size; all add up. We worry they will add up piece-meal, leading to what we have already seen:
education workers continuing with the bad habits of everyday schooling and, at
the same time, pointing at others (the media specialist, the counselors,
support staff, like bus drivers or
food workers, etc.) to be cut loose first—or the workingclass taxed more to pay for the mis-education
of its children.
union leaders, who reject the reason most people believe they join unions, that
is contradictory interests of workers andemployers,
to lead a series of concessions—in the national interest (meaning their
own opportunist interest). Concessions will be sold as “the best that can be
done in hard times.” For example, the NEApartnered
with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers
to implement reforms outlined inTough Choices for ToughTimes, a report of the New Commission on the Skills of theAmerican Workforce (Gewertz , 2009). Tough-Tough was
authored by such educational experts as the director of the militarized
Lockheed-Martin, and university presidents whose incomes are frequently dependent
on grants from the military, earmarked for “research.” Tough-Toughcalls for national curriculum standards as a means of
recapturing the witless patriotism necessary to get people to work, and eagerly
fight and die, for what is
abundantly easy to see are the interests of their own rulers.
Concession bargaining is in full swing. The union leadership, and the very structure of
unions—dividing people as much or more thanuniting them—will serve as yet another layer of enemies
to be combated. The union bosses amount to a benign loyal opposition who seek
to save the rules of the system, for their own narrow desires. They reify the
division of labor at the heart of capitalist society, selling the pacified work oftheir
members in exchange for forced dues collection—that is precisely the
historical deal of “collective bargaining,” and given all theconcessions really
all that is left of it.
No concessions. None. Not one step back. Free k-university
education. Free health care for everyone. Tax the rich. Tax inherited,landed, and corporate wealth. Athirty-hour week with no cut in pay. No foreclosures. Bailout back
mortgages with payments right to the buyers.Or else.
One strike after the next. Mutinies in the military.
both the theory and practice of revolutionis to deny science
(evolutionary leaps), philosophy (dialectics into materialism),history (revolution on revolution) and
passion itself—a cornerstone of any movement for change.
We believe people will fight back. They will have to fight back to live. Will sense be made of resistance? Will protestors demand a shorterwork week, with no cut in pay, the end of foreclosures and
evictions, free health care for all, an end to education for domination, or
will people, inthe midst of a
confusing social collapse, demand more troops on the streets as we see in the
border cities of Mexico, strangling in the grips of drug gangs?
First resistance, as with March 4th movement, may
come from students who have had contact with a few thinking teachers. As hope
(a vital function of school, real or false) evaporates, students may rise. They
will need considerable support, and the notion that their struggle is a
workers’struggle as well. France
1968 is evidence enough.
If the happier possibility of a mass resistance is
to break out, we hope it combines the true passion of the ethics and call for
equality and freedom we outlined with the analytical tools of political economy
and the study of things and people as they change: dialectical materialism.
People can become whole, joyous, and free within a resistance movement that is
making sense of the crux of current conditions and that seeks to change the
Everything is at hand for a full rearrangement of
the social relations of daily life. Let us get to the real task connecting reason
to power, to ethics, to passion, to organization and action.
Brenner, R. P. speaks with Jeong Seong-jin. (2009,
February 7). Overproduction not financial collapse is the heart of the crisis:
the U.S., EastAsia, and the World.Asia-Pacific
Journal: Japan Focus. Retrieved fromhttp://www.japanfocus.org/-S_J-Jeong/3043
J. V., & Darling-Hammond, L.
(2008). Accountability Texas-style: The progress and learning of urban minority students in a high-stakestesting context. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 30 (2), 75-110.