Opportunism, Sectarianism, Ravitch, Education and Change
To beat what should be a dead horse to death some more....
Regarding the defenders of the shifty Ravitch:
Ravitch is neither an ally nor a friend of those who seek equality and justice. Nor is she a pal of reason itself.
Supporting her on the grounds that she finally saw the light and is now somehow on our side misleads people who need to learn how to unravel why things are as they are--in some ways like she deceptively pretends to back the education resistance when in fact the last thing she wants is real resistance.
She's an enemy. She's been an enemy for decades. There is no fundamental change in her position. The Ratt did not change her spots. If she is getting a lot of corporate press and making alliances with other unprincipled, or mistaken, people, then it's a good time to attack her for what she is.
Ravitch is no confused liberal who wandered into an epata meeting apologizing, seeking redemption. She is and always has been an extraordinarily well paid, privileged, entrenched agent of class domination.
Serving Bush as a propagandist, not an educator, Ravitch consorted with racists, top-level CIA agents, profiteers, war-makers and war-planners, imperialists of several stripes. She has not recanted.
NCLB is not the only thing she is guilty for.
Serving on the institute named for the racist labor boss, Albert Shanker, one of the original hacks who fashioned what former NEA president Bob Chase called New Unionism, that is, the unity of labor tops, government officials and corporations in the "national interest," Ravitch invariably trafficked with people like Tom Donahue, the connection between the AFL-CIO, the National Endowment for Democracy, and the CIA. She has backed Shanker's kind of bogus unionism for at least a decade.
She issues a commentary about teaching methods and we are expected to offer a welcome hug and urge her superficial work on others?
Our task is an educational one, at the least. What kind of education do we offer earnest readers when we urge Ravitch on them without harsh criticism?
To back her, and urge that error on others, is to fashion mistakes in both tactics (grabbing up whoever might smile upon us), but strategy as well (teaching that Ravitch is a friend misreads, completely, why things are as they are).
Opportunism sacrifices the needs and goals of our real friends and
allies for petty advantages about second tier issues. It's to build on sand.
That goes directly to unwillingness to criticize--attack--the vacillating reactionary, Ravitch, when she appears to have changed sides, when she has not switched sides. She merely altered her method of rule. Shall we prefer the carrot or the stick?
I remain puzzled by the partiality of so many people linked to Whole Language for disconnected analysis and fragmented people.
Schools sit in society.
What defines this society?
It is the core problem. It is the world Whole.
What is Ravitch defending? Methods to buttress capitalism. The rest is details. She is still a propagandist for witless patriotism; the vile notion that we should ally with our nation's ruling class as they make war on us and others. It's suicide through class unity.
The core problem of education and society is clearly not merely a cabal of bad people who just incidentally have held office since, say WW2 (pick your date, I'd say after the signing of the reactionary Constitution). It is not just the Bushites, evil Cheney, or the bad people whispering to Obama.
It is the rule of capital and its government where the rich fight out their very real differences, then turn on the rest of us with a vengeance: exploitation married to methods of domination.
At every turn, we see the multiple results of the failed system of capital: wars, racism, terrible segregated education systems, spectacles, constant surveillance, booming inequality, hysterical irrationalism, mass joblessness or meaningless jobs---worldwide millions of people starving, still.
Capitalism debases and overwhelms democracy, whittling down and atomizing the common good to capital's favorite question: What about ME? Capital's impulses create the thousands of forms of selfishness that keep it on its relentless hunt for profits.
This is what produces academics who can say, "Obama shares many of my values," a statement stamped with the brand of social class, meaning those values are selfish, disconnected from the reality of Obama's wars, bank bailouts, takeover of the auto industry, lies about health care and offshore drilling. That's what underpins his pontificating and pretense of intelligence.
There is nothing offensive about noticing the rule of capitalism.
Capitalism is so widely rejected by people today that the Texas school board wants to wipe the word from its history standards, in favor of "free" enterprise. http://www.thenation.com/doc/20100405/foner
Even so, capital's revolutionary nature, especially with technology now, has united the world through systems of production, communications, exchange, and transport.
Yet the world is divided in deadly ways by nation, religion, race, sex/gender, and class--an endless war of all on all.
This is what Ravitch wants to preserve, rejecting the obvious nature of failed NCLB educational methods, in favor of other school maneuvers---neither tactic new at all.
Methods do not dominate substance. Even Henry Ford, whose project was profits mixed with social control, grasped that what most people would call constructivist teaching methods were useful avenues to train people. He employed them, to a remarkable extent (and one greater than the vast majority of schools today) in the schools he ran for kids all over the US.
Worse, Ravitch wants to protect what in the US is now the corporate state, the near seamless merger of corporate profiteering with government policy (TARP, wars, twisted health care scheme, endless war, etc)--a full scale attack on poor and working people at every conceivable turn.
The corporate state sharpens as US capitalism rapidly decays and leaps from crisis to crisis: failed wars, collapsed banks, massive unemployment add up to potential rebellion that needs to be re-directed, or crushed.
Ravitch separates school and society---deliberately.
To shift gears about the results of uncritically backing Ravitch and organizing for educational and social change:
Opportunists may arrive with numbers of people in their base---who know nothing truly important. Those people will be fickle at heart.
Sectarians, on the other hand, arrive with no people.
Sectarians and opportunists produce, at base, very similar results.
To put this in relief, let us look at the US antiwar movement which barely exists today, down from millions of people in the streets at the outset of the Iraq invasion.
That is the result of the marriage of opportunism and sectarianism constructed mainly by a group called United for Peace and Justice.
UFPJ declared itself the leader of the US antiwar movement and many people believed it.
UFPJ was a Communist Party USA front. The CPUSA is a nice example of how to mix opportunism with sectarianism and fail, completely. It's true of their entire history, but especially true with UFPJ.
The CPUSA operated with open people inside UFPJ and, as usual, not so open people--members working in non-public ways---as the CP has worked for decades.
The open CPers worked in UFPJ's top leadership positions, all the while attacking those who wanted to identify the problem in the US as the system of capital; class war. CPers said that such claims offended people too much, that people could only learn about capitalism in baby steps, that people should be urged to vote away problems, particularly vote for the demagogue Obama who declared from the start that he would extend the Afghan wars and who is not going to leave Iraq.
The not-so open CPers operate in such secrecy because, in part, they fear the rise of fascism. The upshot of their work is that the police know all about them but the people they claim to represent know nothing about the ideas the CP really claims to hold dear.
Opportunism on one hand, sectarianism on the other.
The anti-war movement has managed to fully marry these twins of the same mother: rejection of radical, to the root, analysis and fear of the people.
The anti-war movement has, now, nearly nobody in it, and many of those who are in it, know nearly nothing important. Thank the many formations that, on one hand, hid the reasons for the wars (capitalism, imperialism, class struggle, racism, nationalism, etc) and on the other hand, urged people into the hopeless electoral arena. UFPJ's base vanished into the Obama vapors and never returned.
This marriage of opportunism and sectarianism add up to a form of liberalism that paves the way for fascism, the current corporate state. Liberals seek to empower a government that is not an ally, nor potential ally, but an enemy; the executive committee and armed weapon of the rich.
This appears in the call to "Defend Public Education," that is, to defend a myth.
Education was never public, democratic, in the US, but always segregated and, in the main, a mission for the system of capital and the vast majority of its teachers missionaries for capitalism---as is the case today.
A few teachers resist, fight for change. They matter. The others have terrific potential, seated in the central organizing point of N. American life, but as long as they just do what they are told, toll the bell, they are of but little account.
The corporate state, the near seamless merger of government, company bosses, financial titans, and union tops, is in place today, organizing the thousands of tentacles of fascist movements: Tea Party racists and homophobes, religious fanatics, Minutemen, Nazis, Klansmen, and others. None of these second and third tier movements need to operate in concert or even make much sense. Rather, they feed ruling class domination in dozens of ways and hence, just buttress the system of capital.
Liberal rejection of an analysis of capitalism, and its pollyanish backing of the state, the government, strips people of the kinds of class consciousness that would buttress a real movement for equality and justice. In the absence of that, a serious social movement, nothing---no real education, more war, more segregation, more foolish patriotism, more poverty and hence, more irrationalism.
Indeed, if people follow the natural lines of the economy, teachers will fight for teachers, students for students, industrial workers against public workers, and capital will win, once again--at terrible cost. The key is to build a truly class conscious movement to transform education and capitalism--at once.
Adopting Ravitch as a friend or ally walks this same path as the failed anti-war effort. We've already seen it produce similar results. I await the profound self-critiques of those who contributed to the hysterical outpouring for the easily-spotted demagogue, Obama.
Now, back to school....
The core reason for the Bi-Partisan NCLB and it's bad-seed child, Ratt, is class war and war for empire. Denying that is a very serious, un-whole, mistake.
The central issue of our time is the rapid rise of color-coded social and economic inequality coupled to the promise of perpetual war, this challenged by the potential of mass, class-conscious, resistance. Class consciousness is surely not what Ravitch builds. Rather, the opposite. She wants us to unite with those who want to demolish us and the youth.
This is a fight, not a chat. There are not infinite ways to win this fight. Not being able to distinguish friends from obvious enemies in the midst of a fight is an awful error.
March 4th meetings have taken place in Northern and Southern California. The next meeting is on April 24th, in Fresno. The students, who took the lead, have connected war, budget cuts, racism, the attacks on the form and substance and schooling. The students connected thought and action, linked capitalism and mis-education. The occupations, demonstrations, agitation, and education that youth sparked are worthy of an outpouring of support.
Their next meeting is tentatively scheduled in Fresno, April 24.
Ravitch--nothing but contempt. She's a patriot, a sap. If that's intemperate, it's also true. Beyond words---harsh measures. Passion is an important part of change.
Marx on Educational Workers
"...a schoolmaster is a productive labourer when, in addition to belabouring the heads of his scholars, he works like a horse to enrich the school proprietor. That the latter has laid out his capital in a teaching factory, instead of in a sausage factory, does not alter the relation. Hence the notion of a productive labourer implies not merely a relation between work and useful effect, between labourer and product of labour, but also a specific, social relation of production, a relation that has sprung up historically and stamps the labourer as the direct means of creating surplus-value. To be a productive labourer is, therefore, not a piece of luck, but a misfortune."