"Being a teacher is like being a prison guard"

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fort-da game
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Aug 7 2010 19:12

Dear Cobbler,

In reply to your previous post:

cobbler wrote:
It is very difficult for teachers to avoid taking an authoritarian social management role. I did used to work in schools, and I recall that on my first day a teacher who knew me from the Quaker meeting (my parents were Quakers) telling me that I'd be hard pressed to maintain my principles. This did prove to be true at times. I think that teachers with a libertarian outlook, based on equality of people, can find ways to act, but it's not easy, and sometimes due to the constraints of the job you are forced to act in ways you'd rather not, as the current system is based on conformity, not providing outlets and alternatives (Though this has changed a little since those days with the 14 -19 curriculum and greatr flexibility to, for example, allow young people who do not get on in school to attend colleges instead. Not perfect, I admit).

My parents were not Quakers and worked on a production line all their working lives and I undertook similar work for the first decade and a half of my working life. Perhaps for this reason questions of maintaining or realising my principles did not come into it for me and generally I tend not to view these matters in these terms – for me, the strange call for the abolition of work retains its power over the idea of modifying existing institutions, the latter appears to me the discourse of those sections of society with whom I have no common ground. No doubt this is the result of my long experience of powerlessness and thus a psycho-social flaw.

With both reference to G’s comment above about the difference between working for a wage and working as a salaried manager and to someone else who wrote the comment below privately, I would say that many of those involved in the teaching profession who are attempting to preserve their values in the workplace along the lines of ‘critical’ thinking only illustrate how middle class professionals mystify ‘what is possible’, and it is this mystification (i.e. the ideals of ‘freedom’ and equal opportunities within an exploitative context) that goes unexamined and that that is exactly the 3rd estate’s political function:

X wrote:
Back to the teacher thread...

I just watched this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc&feature=channel

I had heard about these things before, but I think it speaks to the difference between working class and professional positions. In the former, struggles are about wages. In the the latter, struggles are about autonomy and purpose and stuff like that (if you read that thread, this is definitely true... teachers in the thread are primarily concerned about their ability to define curriculum and so on).

cobbler wrote:
Teachers don't 'produce' in the same way a farmer, builder or manufacturer does, but one way or another I do think that providing education in one form or another will always be an important role which can't easily be dismissed.

This only illustrates how you do not understand what we have been saying. The point is the specific function of state education and the instituted role of teachers in capitalism. and why it should be opposed. There are nuanced arguments to be had about what should be retained and what should not in the reproduction of social relations from capitalism to post-capitalism but it seems to us that the basic position to everything in this society should be one that begins from (and probably ends with) outright critique – otherwise, why talk of revolution or communism at all?

cobbler wrote:
Teachers are also 'wage slaves' like any other employed person, and although not directly employed by capital, are subject to the terms of capitalist society.

Our argument has been the contrary to this given the managerial role of teachers. It is not that the teachers manage children so much as the ‘nature’ of the forces that they must direct, i.e. they manage quantities of children, quantities of knowledge, quantities of time and these quantities have a specific commodified form. The idea that this management can be separated from the form and develop a different, non-commodity form whilst retaining a preserved eternal use-function is premature and idealistic at this juncture. Who is to say what use-value may be cut away from the commodity? Why not just maximise the use-value element within the commodity by means of reformism? In other words, critique of society is entirely lost from your arguments, you say nothing that a liberal would not say (I do not mean this insultingly, this constitutes all of our everyday opinions – which is my point).

cobbler wrote:
In terms of action, no, they won't stop the economy in the way that lorry drivers could, but if and when we arrive at a point of more general strike, or attempt to overturn the government, their presence on the streets or wherever would be as valuable as anyone else's.

But as professionals, as possessors of knowledge they have traditionally performed a classic 3rd estate role and through their (mystified) perception of the class struggle they have tended to convert it into political terms and this, given their experience of managing given quantities, tends to put them and their demands/perceptions at the front of any generalised struggle. In our opinion this has a negative effect on genuine proletarian interests.

cobbler wrote:
Education has varied origins and wasn't entirely created by capitalist social relations. I do agree that it's current structure in the industrial world has become dominated, as has everything else, by these relations.

There was no such thing as education before capitalism. Retrospectively we can identify educational aspects in previous cultures and there were certainly schools, academies, universities, religious orders and so on but education itself was instituted in response to certain class based questions arising in response to mass/global processes of urbanisation/industrialisation as the modern state began to discover its new disciplinary role.

cobbler wrote:
I would not use this argument to turn away from education, even under current conditions, since people do, one way or another, benefit from education. Good teachers will not simply impose conformity and work related knowledge, but also critical thinking skills etc. To avoid education on the basis of your point would be to deliberately dumb down, which is not a good option in my opinion. Of course, you could opt out of state education and home educate... (an option with its own set of pitfalls)

As I said in another point, the soldiers of the Somme were products of the education system as are the ‘underclass’ of the present. Just as a certain predicted proportion of the population graduate from university so a certain proportion fail utterly, each is equally a calculated product of the system. The question here is not a matter of avoiding education, nor of home education, it is a matter of gaining critical distance on a system in which we are all enmeshed and cannot escape, a system which dominates every horizon – this ‘don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater’ stuff is the substance of every reformist argument ever. The point is not to suggest or make gestures concerning ‘alternatives’ but to bring into focus how and why particular institutions function from a hostile perspective and with no illusions about our capacity to change them or ameliorate their impact. We heart nice teachers. We are nice teachers. That doesn’t change the educative relation and its function within the productive relation.

cobbler wrote:
Largely, my kids think as they do not because of school but due to what went on at home and in other places. Not that they think quite as I'd like them too, but at least they've made their own choices. I think it's worth bearing in mind that the majority of young people do instinctively rebel against the authority and structure of school to some degree.

I am talking about mass reproduction of general tendencies within populations where individual quirks and innovations only function as niche markets. The form rebellion takes is already established, and permitted. The behaviour (permitted and not) in classrooms today would have been inconceivable in my day and yet this ‘rebellion’ finds no purchase on society as a whole, it is calculated within the process and even serves a useful function for society. The critical thinking produced by schools is equivalent to the liberal political values of liberty, equality, fraternity – i.e. it functions to obscure that which it cannot grasp but which has produced it precisely to function as a mystification. Democracy and the institutions of democracy work because they anticipate and head of the real polarisations within the productive relation by means of 2nd level or even altogether false polarisations. Critical thinking is not critical if it does not radically take to task the institutions which produce it and thereby establish the limits of permissable critique within those institutions. To put it another way, if a teacher hasn’t been suspended, or a department closed down, the critique generated is not critical enough (I am not suggesting that teachers should be critical in those terms (although of course, someone like Simone Weil was), only that they need to understand the objective limits of their ideals and how close they are to them in practice).

cobbler wrote:
Yes, state institutions must be dismantled. But what follows is not a necassary conclusion. State institutions must go, but functions required for cociety must be created, or continue to exist. So, for example, though the NHS was set up as a state institution (arguable for the promotion of a healthy work force) I would expect us to retain hospitals, doctors, nurses et al.

In the same way, we will still require education in one form or another. The role of teacher will remain, albeit in altered circumstances.

Evidently, the product of a circumstance cannot continue except in contradiction if the circumstance changes – one way or another, the role must change if circumstances are altered (if you accept that greater forces (circumstances) determine lesser phenomena (roles)).

The tension between what is and a life lived otherwise becomes a tedious chess opening that has been played a thousand times. My only resolution to this problem is to state that it cannot be resolved by us discussing here but that our role as communists and anarchists within a wider struggle is to continue to push forward a critical attitude that takes everything that expresses and realises the capitalist social relation as equally unacceptable.

It is not for us to foreclose on radical measures in society just because we cannot see any alternative beyond the role of the teacher. We must remember that the best of society (and as communists we are typically snivelling failures who are seeking to change the rules of society because we cannot get on) has not yet got involved at a conscious level in the struggle against the commodity form... it is likely therefore that our minorityvision is a product of a limited demogaphic and that much greater projects for human society will become feasible once ‘living activity’ is undertaken by the masses of the world.

FDG

Samotnaf
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Aug 8 2010 13:18

I've just posted this article in the library: "Education, Stupefication, Commodification" , most of which was written over 12 years ago. Pretty pertinent to this thread.

cobbler
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Aug 8 2010 21:18
Samotnaf wrote:
I've just posted this article in the library: "Education, Stupefication, Commodification" , most of which was written over 12 years ago. Pretty pertinent to this thread.

Intersting article.

cobbler
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Aug 8 2010 22:35

Hi, thanks for the reply.

fort-da game wrote:
My parents were not Quakers and worked on a production line all their working lives and I undertook similar work for the first decade and a half of my working life. Perhaps for this reason questions of maintaining or realising my principles did not come into it for me and generally I tend not to view these matters in these terms – for me, the strange call for the abolition of work retains its power over the idea of modifying existing institutions, the latter appears to me the discourse of those sections of society with whom I have no common ground. No doubt this is the result of my long experience of powerlessness and thus a psycho-social flaw.

You seem to assume things about my parents work (or what it wasn't) from the fact they were Quakers. Why? Do you think you stand on solid ground in this assumption? And why does working on a production line mean you cannot have any principles? Does working on a production line mean you can't hold a principle of fairness and justice, of the basic equality of people, rejection of imposed authority?

What exactly does this sentence mean?
"the strange call for the abolition of work retains its power over the idea of modifying existing institutions" If you mean schools, then in your discussion with me it's a bit of a red herring: I'm not arguing for a simple modification of what exists.

I also wonder if you assume that being the first in a family to gain a degree, and then feeling obliged to enter a suitable profession makes one less inclined to feel alienated by the process of having to sell yourself for work?

Quote:
With both reference to G’s comment above about the difference between working for a wage and working as a salaried manager and to someone else who wrote the comment below privately, I would say that many of those involved in the teaching profession who are attempting to preserve their values in the workplace along the lines of ‘critical’ thinking only illustrate how middle class professionals mystify ‘what is possible’, and it is this mystification (i.e. the ideals of ‘freedom’ and equal opportunities within an exploitative context) that goes unexamined and that that is exactly the 3rd estate’s political function:

That may be true, but I can't really speak for others.

Quote:
cobbler wrote:
Teachers don't 'produce' in the same way a farmer, builder or manufacturer does, but one way or another I do think that providing education in one form or another will always be an important role which can't easily be dismissed.

This only illustrates how you do not understand what we have been saying.

Then enlighten me wink

Quote:
The point is the specific function of state education and the instituted role of teachers in capitalism. and why it should be opposed.

Okay, I have no real disagreement with that.

Quote:
There are nuanced arguments to be had about what should be retained and what should not in the reproduction of social relations from capitalism to post-capitalism but it seems to us that the basic position to everything in this society should be one that begins from (and probably ends with) outright critique – otherwise, why talk of revolution or communism at all?

Nor that. Am I missing something?

Quote:
cobbler wrote:
Teachers are also 'wage slaves' like any other employed person, and although not directly employed by capital, are subject to the terms of capitalist society.

Our argument has been the contrary to this given the managerial role of teachers.

Yes, I'm aware of that, but I'm also aware of the fact that many teachers teach because they need the money: it's an area in which they can find employment. In this it's no different to being a welder or a driver.

Quote:
It is not that the teachers manage children so much as the ‘nature’ of the forces that they must direct, i.e. they manage quantities of children, quantities of knowledge, quantities of time and these quantities have a specific commodified form. The idea that this management can be separated from the form and develop a different, non-commodity form whilst retaining a preserved eternal use-function is premature and idealistic at this juncture. Who is to say what use-value may be cut away from the commodity? Why not just maximise the use-value element within the commodity by means of reformism? In other words, critique of society is entirely lost from your arguments, you say nothing that a liberal would not say (I do not mean this insultingly, this constitutes all of our everyday opinions – which is my point).

I'm not sure exactly what you're trying to say here, but I certainly don't recognise my thoughts there. Perhaps I haven't expounded enough and you've filled the gaps with assumptions.
I despise schools as they are: they are coercive, authoritarian, divisive both within each school and within the system as a whole. They make academic success to be the most important success one can have.

What I've argued against is the idea that it's invalid for a teacher to be part of a revolutionary organisation (though it is fraught with possible contradictions), and I've suggested that in some form, teachers (or educators) will be required, as educators, not social managers.

cobbler wrote:
In terms of action, no, they won't stop the economy in the way that lorry drivers could, but if and when we arrive at a point of more general strike, or attempt to overturn the government, their presence on the streets or wherever would be as valuable as anyone else's.

But as professionals, as possessors of knowledge they have traditionally performed a classic 3rd estate role and through their (mystified) perception of the class struggle they have tended to convert it into political terms and this, given their experience of managing given quantities, tends to put them and their demands/perceptions at the front of any generalised struggle. In our opinion this has a negative effect on genuine proletarian interests.

You're entitled to that opinion. Do you expect they to form a significant proportion of revolutionary organisations? Surely guarding against such a trend is part of the process of gaining membership?

Quote:
cobbler wrote:
Education has varied origins and wasn't entirely created by capitalist social relations. I do agree that it's current structure in the industrial world has become dominated, as has everything else, by these relations.

There was no such thing as education before capitalism.

I'm sorry, I just plain disagree with you on this one. Yes, the form we have is different and specifically formed, but I think your semantic argument is a non starter.

Out of time: I'll come to the rest later.

Samotnaf
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Aug 9 2010 13:08

I note that a recent post about Theorie Communiste, by the Greek group TPTG, has this in it:

Quote:
TC are unable to understand the December 2008 rebellion as an attack against all forms of capitalist relations –the commodity form, the money form, the capital form, the waged-labour form, the state form (with all its particular manifestations such as police, school, prison)....

This was written by primary school teachers. Just thought it was worth pointing out. Though the title of this thread is obviously an exaggeration, there are some good radicals who recognise the contradictions in their particular form of survival. However, I would say that it is

Quote:
different to being a welder or a driver

unlike cobbler (above). Though the middle class is being increasingly proletarianised, you can't just flatten everything into an equality of alienation. For one thing, when teachers oppose this world they generally do not express themselves emotionally, but just intellectually. In fact, the repression of an emotional critique (as in the teachers' responses to the anger of Garco's - or fdg's, can't remember - son) is fundamental to social control, and though the education system isn't the only thing that represses anger, it's pretty fundamental in making individuals afraid of their own emotional anger ("anger management", "attitude problems", "issues" etc). In fact, ironically, I feel that fdg's over-controlled theorisation of the contradictions he opposes is an expression of this. Letting go - uniting the head and the heart, analysis with feeling, critique with love and hate - is possibly the most significant desire individuals have to repress to avoid arrest, the bin, family rejection or other forms of social control.

cobbler
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Aug 9 2010 20:49
fort-da game wrote:
X wrote:
Back to the teacher thread...

I just watched this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc&feature=channel

I had heard about these things before, but I think it speaks to the difference between working class and professional positions. In the former, struggles are about wages. In the the latter, struggles are about autonomy and purpose and stuff like that (if you read that thread, this is definitely true... teachers in the thread are primarily concerned about their ability to define curriculum and so on).

I found myself thinking about this section again today and fear that dangerous and shallow conclusions may be drawn.

Forget, for a moment 'working class' and 'professional' positions. What you'll find is that those on a low wage will be concerned primarily with wages, for obvious reasons, whilst those earning 'a more comfortable' amount will have other concerns. Are those who have other concerns invalid in some way?

(I must admit to being quiet annoyed once when working in a school, hearing two experienced (well paid) teachers who were married without children complaining that they did not have enough money!)

Each of us may come to anarchist/communist views from different positions. For me it is seeing the injustices in capitalism meted out on others via low wages and unemployment: not just in this country, but considering sweat shops etc... It is also through experiencing the pressures placed on life by employers who make huge demands upon time and life, destroying quality of life in the name of efficiency or productiveness. It is the power relations expressed daily in the workplace. It's about government and the control it exercises over the population, how it wages war, how it (inevitably) fails to act in the interests of the majority of people.

To me, the struggle isn't all about wages, which are a symptom of the disease: it's about the disease itself. It's about autonomy (just as the clip says) freedom and equality.

I also think it's important to view teachers' responses (and those of others) in the light of the thread and the specific points they may have been trying to respond to rather than extrapolating them to define the whole viewpoint about education.

cobbler
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Aug 9 2010 21:23

Completing my response...

fort-da game wrote:
cobbler wrote:
I would not use this argument to turn away from education, even under current conditions, since people do, one way or another, benefit from education. Good teachers will not simply impose conformity and work related knowledge, but also critical thinking skills etc. To avoid education on the basis of your point would be to deliberately dumb down, which is not a good option in my opinion. Of course, you could opt out of state education and home educate... (an option with its own set of pitfalls)

As I said in another point, the soldiers of the Somme were products of the education system as are the ‘underclass’ of the present. Just as a certain predicted proportion of the population graduate from university so a certain proportion fail utterly, each is equally a calculated product of the system. The question here is not a matter of avoiding education, nor of home education, it is a matter of gaining critical distance on a system in which we are all enmeshed and cannot escape, a system which dominates every horizon – this ‘don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater’ stuff is the substance of every reformist argument ever. The point is not to suggest or make gestures concerning ‘alternatives’ but to bring into focus how and why particular institutions function from a hostile perspective and with no illusions about our capacity to change them or ameliorate their impact. We heart nice teachers. We are nice teachers. That doesn’t change the educative relation and its function within the productive relation.

I think we're at cross purposes here. When I wrote the above statement I had in mind the idea of saying "Education sucks, it keeps our kids in prison, limits and constrains them (etc...) so let's not send them to school."

In the current situation, I would not do that, much as part of me would wish to. As you say, it's a "system in which we are all enmeshed and cannot escape". What I do is ensure I make my children think about the issues which I think are important.

I don't take issue with what you wrote about gaining critical distance: we can't currently escape the system, but we can aim to pull it down.

Quote:
cobbler wrote:
Yes, state institutions must be dismantled. But what follows is not a necessary conclusion. State institutions must go, but functions required for society must be created, or continue to exist. So, for example, though the NHS was set up as a state institution (arguable for the promotion of a healthy work force) I would expect us to retain hospitals, doctors, nurses et al.

In the same way, we will still require education in one form or another. The role of teacher will remain, albeit in altered circumstances.

Evidently, the product of a circumstance cannot continue except in contradiction if the circumstance changes – one way or another, the role must change if circumstances are altered (if you accept that greater forces (circumstances) determine lesser phenomena (roles)).

The tension between what is and a life lived otherwise becomes a tedious chess opening that has been played a thousand times. My only resolution to this problem is to state that it cannot be resolved by us discussing here but that our role as communists and anarchists within a wider struggle is to continue to push forward a critical attitude that takes everything that expresses and realises the capitalist social relation as equally unacceptable.

It is not for us to foreclose on radical measures in society just because we cannot see any alternative beyond the role of the teacher. We must remember that the best of society (and as communists we are typically snivelling failures who are seeking to change the rules of society because we cannot get on) has not yet got involved at a conscious level in the struggle against the commodity form... it is likely therefore that our minority vision is a product of a limited demogaphic and that much greater projects for human society will become feasible once ‘living activity’ is undertaken by the masses of the world.

No, you are correct, we can't resolve the whole of everything, but I think my point remains. I'm not looking to defend a status quo, but at that point was probably responding to the more general animosity towards educators which pervaded the thread at the outset.

I agree that the biggest challenge we face is to get larger numbers of people to critically consider the society they live in and realise it's relations for what they are: and following that, to turn against it.

I have no intention of " foreclose(ing) on radical measures in society" and it would be a mistake to read me that way.

jef costello's picture
jef costello
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Aug 11 2010 13:04

I took another look at this thread and decided to wade through it, looks like Martinh expressed it more succinctly than I can manage so feel free to skip the rest of my post smile

martinh wrote:
Both fort-da game and Garco make some valid points, but are teachers really like prison guards?

Given that Garco is/was a teacher, and appears to have held these beliefs before becoming one, it seems to me there are two possible answers:
1. Yes, they are, and he'd have no problem being a prison guard either.
2. No, they're not, but it's a good rhetorical device to wind a lot of people up.

Regards,

Martin

Good point from cantdo here (in fact there are loads of good points, it hardly seems worth responding as they have been largely ignored.)

Mike Harman wrote:
Quote:
where the prison population was once romantically portrayed, they are now viewed as scum, a series like Porridge would never get made now

While not exactly Porridge, you haven't seen Prison Break or Oz?

Yes, also I think Porridge is pretty much the only example from the period and criminals are just as valourised as they ever were. e.g. Danny Dyer's entire career.

FDG you have referred repeatedly to Oaxaca. At one point you talked about basic literacy and numeracy as the difference. By that logic does that mean that literacy/ESOL/English/maths teachers are not prison guards?

You also argue that it is because of the structural role of capitalism, in which case why are certain teachers excluded? Are you arguing that capitalism is different in Mexico? I imagine that you will argue that capitalism is less advanced there, in which case surely the repressive nature of the education system would be augmented?

Nyarlathotep wrote:
jef costello wrote:
A bus driver requires people to behave on the bus so that it can be driven safely

Buses are unsafe because of capitalism, not commuting workers...however, the point is that teachers, prison guards, police, and so forth, are part of the labor aristocracy due to their wages, relationships to fellow workers, etc., whereas bus drivers are not.

Quote:
but a good teacher does not teach by bullying or scaring students

You could just as easily say that "a good law enforcement officer does not protect the safety of the community by bullying or scarring citizens", it would be no less of a bald-faced apology for capitalist conditions.

Quote:
and even official policy recognises this.

Yep, just as the official policy of virtually every capitalist state condemns tortue. I guess capitalist states never commit torture...

Don't be ridiculous. Bus travel might be less safe where it is expensive to make it safer but a semblance of order is still required for a driver to drive safely. In the same way as a parent might tell their children to stop fighting in the car not because they are an authoritarian but because the chance of crashing the car if a child accidentally kicks them in the back of the head is high.

Your point about the law enforcement officer is correct to an extent. Policing in England is based on the principle of 'policing by consent' which allows the police in this country to be less numerous than most. However the difference is this. In a future society the policing function would be aimed at preventing crimes against the person, ie assault, rape and murder, rather than property and existing relations. Also the policing function would be a personal responsibility with community force being the absolute last resort.

Your last quotation helps you score a point but it's not hard to do this if you ignore the context. Torture as an example is an interesting one. Capitalist logic is against torture on moral grounds (to an extent) and practical grounds. Just because torture is practised that does not make it logical for capitalism. It merely means that some elements find it effective, or believe it to be. Just as all businesses have the ideology of selling for a profit many will use loss leaders to attract business.

Nyarlathotep wrote:
cobbler wrote:
-a prison guard's main role is consciously to ensure that the prisoners remain incarcerated. They may add other aspects, such as hoping to help in rehabilitation, but their primary role is imprisonment.
-a teacher's main conscious role is to educate, teach, pass on knowledge and skills.

In both cases, the role is to keep individuals trapped within an institution against their will....what if a student randomly decided to walk out of a class with no explanation, without a hall pass or leave of absence, because she wanted to go home and paint, play music, read Das Kapital, bond with friends, meditate, lift weights, garden, make love, play basketball, check her e-mail, or go hiking? What role would the teacher perform in that situation?

Do you have any kids? Quite often children want to do things that are not good for them. If children are left to their own devices without the learning skills to be able to learn from their environments they will not learn anything. If you'd seen kids who sit in front of the TV all day and whose parents don't engage with them you'd understand. Learning skills and critical faculties are learnt and it seems sensible to my mind to let specialists paly a role in this development (although obviously parents should be playing a larger role) How many adults do you know that don't wish they'd paid more attention to a particular subject that, as a child, they didn't see the point of learning. The instituion of the school as it currently stands is not effective but the idea of using specialists to explain things and having areas designed to learn and be trained is simple common sense.

Samotnaf wrote:
Significantly, Mandela's first call after his release from prison was not for the immediate occupation of white's houses in Johannesburg but for the end of the boycott of schools by the blacks. Also significantly, the slogan of the Soweto uprising in '76 , against their domination by the ruler's language, was "The school for the oppressed is a revolution".

I'll try to get back to carterburke's confusing way he implies that consumption and production, wage labour and being a schoolkid are all equivalents (if i read him right) later - I've got to teach (an adult, btw, not under any direct compulsion to learn) .

I don't know too much about South Africa specifically but there is a difference between being forced to learn a particular language for all schooling that also requires students to accept racist ideology as a given for success and a liberal school system. (there is even more difference with a system actually designed to educate)

fortdagame: dinner ladies are involved in the disciplining of children. They constrict their play into 'acceptable forms' force children to treat food as a commodity that may only be accessed is certain places and at certain times. You've been called on the role of teaching assistants and admin staff as well.

Nyarlathotep wrote:
Quote:
teachers don't earn that much anyway

It's true, their wages are not much to write home about, compared to that of a lawyer, doctor, engineer, or any other professional, but compared the majority of the global working class which earns literally next to nothing they are squarely in the labor aristocracy. The average worker in the US toils away at a minimum wage service industry job, or, worse yet, survives pecariously in a state of indefinite joblessness, surviving off of shop-lifting, couch-surfing, welfare, etc. A teacher in the US, by comparison, is somewhat comfortable and has less immediate interest in challenging the bourgeoisie. (The fact that many teachers still rebel against the bourgeois social order is only a testament to Marx's insight that the world is further and further polarizing into two great camps)

So you agree but disagree. As has been said bus drivers earn more than teachers and compared to the global working class anyone who has a job or claims benefits in the UK is part of this aristocracy.
So if teachers are part of the proletarian pole then either your statement about being part of capitalism is meaningless (as it has seemed throughout) or you're practising an advanced level of doublethink.

Nyarlathotep wrote:
Quote:
Wages are a false ''value'' ascribed to labour by the capitalist class, why would we base our ideas on such things

Because the capitalist class imposes value by force.

That has nothing to do with his point. Does this mean that you are unable to respond to it?

I'm giving up on this thread again it's not really advancing and t doesn't look like it will. There have been some very good posts though.

fort-da game
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Aug 11 2010 18:08

Hi Cobbler,

A slightly jaded reply

cobbler wrote:
fort-da game wrote:
My parents were not Quakers and worked on a production line all their working lives and I undertook similar work for the first decade and a half of my working life. Perhaps for this reason questions of maintaining or realising my principles did not come into it for me and generally I tend not to view these matters in these terms – for me, the strange call for the abolition of work retains its power over the idea of modifying existing institutions, the latter appears to me the discourse of those sections of society with whom I have no common ground. No doubt this is the result of my long experience of powerlessness and thus a psycho-social flaw.

You seem to assume things about my parents work (or what it wasn't) from the fact they were Quakers. Why? Do you think you stand on solid ground in this assumption? And why does working on a production line mean you cannot have any principles? Does working on a production line mean you can't hold a principle of fairness and justice, of the basic equality of people, rejection of imposed authority?

Yes, sorry, this was a bit of cheap snobbery. I am talking about decisive influences on people's lives... I am contrasting historical/environmental conditioning with adherence to political ideals. For me, at the level of experience, teachers really belong to a different class and have different concerns...

cobbler wrote:
... many teachers teach because they need the money: it's an area in which they can find employment. In this it's no different to being a welder or a driver.

On an individual level there may be many similarities between all types of people (the source of many tv reality shows and hollywood movies) although at a class level sharp divergences appear between managers and workers. This difference of interest is located in the class function of managers which is to direct the economy within specific sectors. If you take an aggregate of individuals you get an aggregate of opinions and behaviours, when you examine a class behaving as a class you get definite patterns. In other words, whilst many individuals diverge within their class the class as a whole retains its coherence.

cobbler wrote:
What I've argued against is the idea that it's invalid for a teacher to be part of a revolutionary organisation (though it is fraught with possible contradictions), and I've suggested that in some form, teachers (or educators) will be required, as educators, not social managers.

Well, I have a problem with revolutionary organisations. I don't agree that a teacher function will in communist circumstances be required. My point was that revolutionary professionals tend to represent the class struggle in their own terms which is at odds to the actual class struggle... it tends to be the case that those most articulate and well educated represent those who are less articulate and educated. This relation ends with the 'natural' leadership describing what the 'people' want even where this want has never actually been expressed. The class struggle begins again but because the professionals have cornered the market in left wing ideology, the peasants and workers find they have no political language to on.

cobbler wrote:
cobbler wrote:
Education has varied origins and wasn't entirely created by capitalist social relations. I do agree that it's current structure in the industrial world has become dominated, as has everything else, by these relations.

There was no such thing as education before capitalism.

cobbler wrote:
I'm sorry, I just plain disagree with you on this one. Yes, the form we have is different and specifically formed, but I think your semantic argument is a non starter.

It is not a semantic argument. It is a historical argument. Do you think the state has always existed? Do you think capitalism has always existed? These historical relations have produced specific institutions.

Thanks for your comments

FDG

fort-da game
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Aug 11 2010 18:06
jeff costello wrote:
fortdagame: dinner ladies are involved in the disciplining of children. They constrict their play into 'acceptable forms' force children to treat food as a commodity that may only be accessed is certain places and at certain times. You've been called on the role of teaching assistants and admin staff as well.

There are many gradated subsidiary roles within the disciplinary apparatus. When I was a postman I had to deliver final demands and warnings about cutting off of services etc. My present job involves working with HV's and child protection procedures etc. However, the manager class as a class has a (to use a term from castoriadis) creative input/a social-capital investment ( even where individual members of the class do not) into the institution and their instituted role within it – and this creative input buys them their privileges and social status (and salary). It is sometimes in the interest of capital to breakdown professional demarcations just as it established them... in these circumstances 'the role' becomes depersonalised and is reduced to simple protocols. This proletarianisation of managers though cannot be allowed to go too far as capitalism is predicated on class struggle and divergent interests within the population must be maintained. If capital could overcome this obstacle and reduce everyone to proletarians without them developing a revolutionary class consciousness it will have won the war. As it is the distinctions are still functioning which is grounds for some hope.

Armed Sheep
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Aug 11 2010 20:55
Jeff Costello wrote:
"I'm giving up on this thread again it's not really advancing and t doesn't look like it will. There have been some very good posts though."

Looks like I've been called back. Excuse me, but I think anarchy needs to start young.

Jeff Costello wrote:
If children are left to their own devices without the learning skills to be able to learn from their environments they will not learn anything.

Are you serious? This is what children do! Explore and learn (selective mimicry, improvisation and innovation) from their environment. We call it play. More technically, it is free-play. The role of any adult in a community is to make sure children are not injured in the process, to help maintain their nourishment and well-being. This is called nurture. It is also easier than a whip to a whippersnapper (literally and symbolically)! Children are curious, questioning and capable of great mimicry until they are isolated and regimented. Children want to be adults until they observe that adults must give up their childhood in a life of sacrifice. Children are thereafter resented for their "freedom" and must be made to conform, "for their own survival", which is the new "good". Training is accompanied by a certain amount of breakage. What is broken is the (free -- this must stay in parentheses!) spirit.

Righteousness is then seen as the negation of dangerous naiveté -- wrong-think. From the child's point of view, when the parent goes off to the workplace, s/he has been abandoned to monsters. From the parent's perspective, the child is the only potential monster who must be controlled by appropriately delegated representatives. Suppose a child kicked the bus driver in the back of the head? Is that not a reflection on the parent? "What would people think?" When at a loss, teachers almost invariably attribute naughtiness to the parents and call for re-enforcements (the dean of punishment, counselor or national guard), unmindful to the fact that the parents have been given no time for parenting in the first place. Institutionalization begins at an increasingly earlier age. I'd say, if you truly like your job, petition to take your kids to work, where they can learn something useful. Strikes, negotiations, work slow-downs and sabotage for better productive relations and a funner workplace. You can give them those tedious chores like grading papers.

But remove the delegated teacher and class disappears in a puff of academic logic, a logical redundancy, that is. Teachers have been taught what is right and must pass this on to produce righteous little adults, no questions asked (except those given). These little adults go on to reproduce the disciplinary structure, erected in the first place because children intuitively reject imposed, ordered difficulty and are confident they can tell the difference between punishing stimuli and joy. Anyone accustomed to endorsing aversive stimuli (believers in what is right) can be a teacher and go on to impose order. Like a prison guard, teaching is a low-skill occupation, thinking itself important, providing an important social function, thinking itself productive. And in this, it is right! As I said before, the teacher is the representative of the state ideological apparatus essential to maintain prison conditions at the factory and factory conditions at the prison.

However, for the reproduction and growth of productive relations, the college of education must ensure that its novice teachers have inculcated the appropriately structured environment to pass on. The certificate is proof of the internalisation of the appropriate training regime. It matters not whether the institution is state, corporate or religious. These are variations on a theme, each with their own agenda on the kind of structure which is desired for the future of its children. Home schooling is the possible contradiction, but it is more than likely parent-teachers have themselves been appropriately educated in the primary ideology, that children come into the world unruly (which is true enough) and in need of order, discipline and the competitive spirit (which is not). Punishment and constraint are necessary to ensure the self-fulfilling prophecy of a punishing world. Proper parenting provides that children are thus pre-adapted to become institutionalised, "lifers", even before they enter the building.

Please keep in mind, we are discussing the generalised patterns the institutions (parenting, education) present, not any specific individuals who make them up:

fort-da game wrote:
If capital could overcome this obstacle and reduce everyone to proletarians without them developing a revolutionary class consciousness it will have won the war. As it is the distinctions are still functioning which is grounds for some hope.
cobbler
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Aug 11 2010 22:45
fort-da game wrote:
Hi Cobbler,

Hi

Quote:
cobbler wrote:
You seem to assume things about my parents work (or what it wasn't) from the fact they were Quakers. Why? Do you think you stand on solid ground in this assumption? And why does working on a production line mean you cannot have any principles? Does working on a production line mean you can't hold a principle of fairness and justice, of the basic equality of people, rejection of imposed authority?

Yes, sorry, this was a bit of cheap snobbery. (1) I am talking about decisive influences on people's lives... I am contrasting historical/environmental conditioning with adherence to political ideals. For me, at the level of experience, teachers really belong to a different class and have different concerns...

(1) Forgiven.
With regard your experience of teachers, I would say that in more general terms you are probably correct. What you have on LibCom are that very small minority of teachers (or ex teachers....) who do not recognise themselves in that description. But as Armed Sheep says: "Please keep in mind, we are discussing the generalised patterns the institutions (parenting, education) present, not any specific individuals who make them up"

Quote:
cobbler wrote:
... many teachers teach because they need the money: it's an area in which they can find employment. In this it's no different to being a welder or a driver.

On an individual level there may be many similarities between all types of people (the source of many tv reality shows and hollywood movies) although at a class level sharp divergences appear between managers and workers. This difference of interest is located in the class function of managers which is to direct the economy within specific sectors. If you take an aggregate of individuals you get an aggregate of opinions and behaviours, when you examine a class behaving as a class you get definite patterns. In other words, whilst many individuals diverge within their class the class as a whole retains its coherence.

I think what is displayed here is the difficulty in looking at aggregate positions and applying them to all. In Garco's words; "Teachers are members of the middle class;" but this is simplistic, and you note the possible contradiction yourself in the last sentence above. Garco extrapolated from the class position to declare that it is inappropriate for teachers to be members of an Education Workers' group. But as you acknowledge: many individuals diverge within their class. Why should those who diverge, who have a class conscience, not align with other education workers? The argument seems to be basedon the immediate struggles: "their ‘industrial struggles’ do not attack the economy, they only serve to attempt to protect their own specialised, professional position within it." (Garco) but to my mind, such an organisation should not simply be about immediate struggles, nor is it inevitable that the struggles will be as stated. For example: such an organisation could come up with a critique of education not dissimilar to your own: it's all part of the debate, all part of the struggle.

Quote:
cobbler wrote:
What I've argued against is the idea that it's invalid for a teacher to be part of a revolutionary organisation (though it is fraught with possible contradictions), and I've suggested that in some form, teachers (or educators) will be required, as educators, not social managers.

Well, I have a problem with revolutionary organisations. I don't agree that a teacher function will in communist circumstances be required.

I'm sure forms would be different. I'm interested to know how higher mathematical skills required in technology will be fostered without any form of 'teacher'. And are all parents to teach their children to read? As soon as you have someone with special skills in this to whom others delegate the task, you have a teacher.

Quote:
My point was that revolutionary professionals tend to represent the class struggle in their own terms which is at odds to the actual class struggle... it tends to be the case that those most articulate and well educated represent those who are less articulate and educated. This relation ends with the 'natural' leadership describing what the 'people' want even where this want has never actually been expressed. The class struggle begins again but because the professionals have cornered the market in left wing ideology, the peasants and workers find they have no political language to on.

There are certainly dangers along the lines you suggest, but I think you perhaps do an injustice to the working class in suggesting they will inevitably be hoodwinked in this way. It is up to those aligned with 'the cause' to work against this, without excluding those who do belong.

Quote:
cobbler wrote:
cobbler wrote:
Education has varied origins and wasn't entirely created by capitalist social relations. I do agree that it's current structure in the industrial world has become dominated, as has everything else, by these relations.

There was no such thing as education before capitalism.

cobbler wrote:
I'm sorry, I just plain disagree with you on this one. Yes, the form we have is different and specifically formed, but I think your semantic argument is a non starter.

It is not a semantic argument. It is a historical argument. Do you think the state has always existed? Do you think capitalism has always existed? These historical relations have produced specific institutions.

I don't think we're going to get very far on this one without having a whole further discussion. It is semantic because it boils down to what you define as education. A druid teaching a disciple is educating another in the use of herbs, etc.

ire
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Aug 12 2010 08:10
jef costello wrote:
Do you have any kids?

I don't see why this factor is necessarily relevant. If a person has been through and endured the education system themselves, they're entirely justified in relaying their experiences.
In any case, a sample base of two, three or four offspring hardly endows a person with the authority to make generalisations about all of humanity - which is exactly what you do when you state that ...

Quote:
[i]f children are left to their own devices without the learning skills to be able to learn from their environments they will not learn anything.

And what is this wild assertion based on? These are the sort of galling remarks upon which the entire edifice of mainstream education is constructed; yet they're never debated, never evaluated, and never seriously appraised. They're touted as "obvious", as "common sense", and then rammed down people's throats.

Quote:
it seems sensible to my mind to let specialists paly a role in this development

Right, so people are supposed to just step back and let the educators do what "seems sensible" to their minds, is that it?

In the current climate, given that people sometimes have little choice in what they wind up doing, I don't think anyone here is out to denigrate teachers themselves.
But implying that there is some sort of moral justification for the apparatus of compulsory schooling as a whole is quite different, and is far more problematic.

Has no one quoted Godwin yet? He anticipated the havoc that schooling would wreak 200 years ago.

Quote:
Study with desire is real activity: without desire it is but the semblance and mockery of activity [William Godwin, The Enquirer, 'Of the Communication of Knowledge'].
B_Reasonable
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Aug 12 2010 12:48
ire wrote:
jef costello wrote:
[i]f children are left to their own devices without the learning skills to be able to learn from their environments they will not learn anything.

And what is this wild assertion based on? These are the sort of galling remarks upon which the entire edifice of mainstream education is constructed; yet they're never debated, never evaluated, and never seriously appraised. They're touted as "obvious", as "common sense", and then rammed down people's throats

This isn't even a theoretical debate, there are plenty of examples that demonstrate that compulsion isn't necessary, and that it is detrimental. For example:
Sands School Devon
A S Neill on Wikipedia

Of course, any demonstration of a viable alternative can be shouted down as middle-class and/or hippy - as can many attempts at an alternative within our current society. That doesn't mean the point hasn't been proven.

It is worth noting that teachers seem to have been instrumental in running most successful free schools. I suspect part of the problem for many teachers on libcom is that if they admitted their oppressive role then they would be worried that their workerist comrades would re-categorise them as managers (or similar) and move to turf them out of their respective class-struggle organisations.

fort-da game
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Aug 13 2010 17:30

To Cobbler,

cobbler wrote:
I think what is displayed here is the difficulty in looking at aggregate positions and applying them to all. In Garco's words; "Teachers are members of the middle class;" but this is simplistic, and you note the possible contradiction yourself in the last sentence above. Garco extrapolated from the class position to declare that it is inappropriate for teachers to be members of an Education Workers' group. But as you acknowledge: many individuals diverge within their class. Why should those who diverge, who have a class conscience, not align with other education workers? The argument seems to be basedon the immediate struggles: "their ‘industrial struggles’ do not attack the economy, they only serve to attempt to protect their own specialised, professional position within it." (Garco) but to my mind, such an organisation should not simply be about immediate struggles, nor is it inevitable that the struggles will be as stated. For example: such an organisation could come up with a critique of education not dissimilar to your own: it's all part of the debate, all part of the struggle.

I agree (as you would expect) with Garco here. The problem is twofold, firstly that teachers/social professionals tend to dominate organisations because of their people management skills, as I have said above this means their ideas tend to float to the top (their proposals will be best presented, most conceptually articulated and always sound most reasonable etc). Secondly, their class position is objectively different to other workers even where it is subjectively experienced as the same and this objective aspect of their position will not always be apparent as their politics develop (this discrepancy is only to be noted when our focus shifts from an aggregate of individuals to the class as a class).

As to groups such as the 'EWG', this seems a euphemism to me and disguises the contradictions I have just mentioned. A better title would be something like 'anarchist teachers group' which could then integrate with other educational groups such as students and admin staff at a higher level of recursion politically (although of course economically there will always be tensions within cross-class based organisations).

Overall, though, I think the main strength of teachers is to act as exemplary individuals who use their skills and their social position individually within the educational context and thereby expose certain contradictions and perhaps illuminate the possibility of other options. They should teach at the edge of compromise. The prime example for me of this type of loose cannon is Simone Weil who not only was an extraordinary teacher (in that her pupils all failed their exams (whilst apparently gaining their love and gratitude) and she was forced often to move jobs) but that she stood up to both the stalinists and trotskyists, ran workers study groups, worked in factories and generally didn't compromise her vision at all. She was able to achieve all this because of her class background and her professional status which defended her at moments where real workers would simply have been blacklisted. I think teachers and other professionals of a similar standing would make a much greater contribution in this way than simply arguing that they really are workers and then submitting themselves to banal anarcho-syndicalist protocols.

cobbler wrote:
I'm sure forms would be different. I'm interested to know how higher mathematical skills required in technology will be fostered without any form of 'teacher'. And are all parents to teach their children to read? As soon as you have someone with special skills in this to whom others delegate the task, you have a teacher.

Firstly, an apprenticeship type relation doesn't have to reproduce the teacher-pupil relation. Secondly, it is because of your class position that you are so concerned with these issues of passing on information when for communists it is the nature of social relations that are of central concern. If I was king of communism I would set up a mathematics abbey on Lindisfarne, neophytes would have to travel there on foot (the roads having been ploughed over) or by homemade coracle along the coast. In other words, it is not for us to decide these problems, they can only be settled as the revolution in social relations works itself out from the most fundamental to the most nuanced (I am aware that many, anarchists and communisation advocates think the opposite is possible, that we can radicalise the local and that this will add together to form a totality... again, I think this only indicates a confusion between aggregate type approaches and recursive system type approaches)

cobbler wrote:
Education has varied origins and wasn't entirely created by capitalist social relations. I do agree that it's current structure in the industrial world has become dominated, as has everything else, by these relations.
Quote:
There was no such thing as education before capitalism.
cobbler wrote:
I'm sorry, I just plain disagree with you on this one. Yes, the form we have is different and specifically formed, but I think your semantic argument is a non starter.
Quote:
It is not a semantic argument. It is a historical argument. Do you think the state has always existed? Do you think capitalism has always existed? These historical relations have produced specific institutions.
cobbler wrote:
I don't think we're going to get very far on this one without having a whole further discussion. It is semantic because it boils down to what you define as education. A druid teaching a disciple is educating another in the use of herbs, etc.

The problem for me is the taking up of defined capitalist categories (which did not exist before capitalist institutions instigated them in the form of ever greater degrees of specialisation) and treating them as if they are our 'second nature', that is as if the revolution in social relations must follow the same specialisations. I think communism will not simply map onto the contours of capitalism and institute a dominion of use-value in place of the commodity form whilst everything else remains more or less the same; I think there has to be a transformation even of the categories through which human beings engage with the world.

FDG

cobbler
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Aug 14 2010 14:10
fort-da game wrote:
To Cobbler,

I agree (as you would expect) with Garco here. The problem is twofold, firstly that teachers/social professionals tend to dominate organisations because of their people management skills, as I have said above this means their ideas tend to float to the top (their proposals will be best presented, most conceptually articulated and always sound most reasonable etc). Secondly, their class position is objectively different to other workers even where it is subjectively experienced as the same and this objective aspect of their position will not always be apparent as their politics develop (this discrepancy is only to be noted when our focus shifts from an aggregate of individuals to the class as a class).

As to groups such as the 'EWG', this seems a euphemism to me and disguises the contradictions I have just mentioned. A better title would be something like 'anarchist teachers group' which could then integrate with other educational groups such as students and admin staff at a higher level of recursion politically (although of course economically there will always be tensions within cross-class based organisations).

Overall, though, I think the main strength of teachers is to act as exemplary individuals who use their skills and their social position individually within the educational context and thereby expose certain contradictions and perhaps illuminate the possibility of other options. They should teach at the edge of compromise. The prime example for me of this type of loose cannon is Simone Weil who not only was an extraordinary teacher (in that her pupils all failed their exams (whilst apparently gaining their love and gratitude) and she was forced often to move jobs) but that she stood up to both the stalinists and trotskyists, ran workers study groups, was able to achieve all this because of her class background and her professional status which defended her at moments where real workers would simply have been blacklisted. I think teachers and other professionals of a similar standing would make a much greater contribution in this way than simply arguing that they really are workers and then submitting themselves to banal anarcho-syndicalist protocols.

I understand what you are saying here and have some sympathy with it, though not complete agreement. I agree that it would be unhelpful if teachers were to gain the ascendancy and become some bourgeoisie ruling elite within an anarchist movement. To guard against that, raising the issue, as you do, is a good and helpful thing.

In terms of teachers 'arguing that they are working class' what you have is a recognition by some of the circumstances they work under: they are as oppressed by capitalist relations as any other worker (though their wages may be higher than some (but I've known lorry drivers and window cleaners to earn more)). They have the same interest in seeing these relations destroyed.

I'm interested to note that the argument has shifted from the question of whether teachers should be in any sort of anarchist organisation within the workplace, to one of the name it should be called: "As to groups such as the 'EWG', this seems a euphemism to me and disguises the contradictions I have just mentioned. A better title would be something like 'anarchist teachers group": Although presumably it forces teachers into their own separate clique. Would there be separate organisations called "Anarchist lecturers group" and "Anarchist instructors group"?

Quote:
cobbler wrote:
I'm sure forms would be different. I'm interested to know how higher mathematical skills required in technology will be fostered without any form of 'teacher'. And are all parents to teach their children to read? As soon as you have someone with special skills in this to whom others delegate the task, you have a teacher.

Firstly, an apprenticeship type relation doesn't have to reproduce the teacher-pupil relation. Secondly, it is because of your class position that you are so concerned with these issues of passing on information when for communists it is the nature of social relations that are of central concern.

No, I disagree with your last assertion. It is because I perceive a need to have information passed on, or that the desire to learn things will remain. There is no contradiction between the "issues of passing of information" and "the nature of social relations {being} of central concern. Both are tied up in this thread.

Quote:
In other words, it is not for us to decide these problems, they can only be settled as the revolution in social relations works itself out from the most fundamental to the most nuanced (I am aware that many, anarchists and communisation advocates think the opposite is possible, that we can radicalise the local and that this will add together to form a totality... again, I think this only indicates a confusion between aggregate type approaches and recursive system type approaches)

But... One argument I have in this thread is the assertion that there will be no place for any type of teacher or educator in a future communist society. Is this not an attempt to decide something for the future? Are you not creating a contradiction by making this assertion?
I don't think anyone has argued that there should be this or that form in the future, just that some perceive that some sort of education will still be of benefit: in whatever form

Quote:
cobbler wrote:
I don't think we're going to get very far on this one without having a whole further discussion. It is semantic because it boils down to what you define as education. A druid teaching a disciple is educating another in the use of herbs, etc.

The problem for me is the taking up of defined capitalist categories (which did not exist before capitalist institutions instigated them in the form of ever greater degrees of specialisation) and treating them as if they are our 'second nature', that is as if the revolution in social relations must follow the same specialisations. I think communism will not simply map onto the contours of capitalism and institute a dominion of use-value in place of the commodity form whilst everything else remains more or less the same; I think there has to be a transformation even of the categories through which human beings engage with the world.

FDG

I agree with what you have written here and do not consider that I have contradicted it at any time in this discussion.
The only difference is, I have no hang-up with using the work 'education' without necessarily relating it to the particular set of relations we have at present. (That's why I called it a semantic issue)

Armed Sheep
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Aug 14 2010 14:45
Quote:
the assertion that there will be no place for any type of boss, bank-manager or governor in a future communist society...

Is this not an attempt to decide something for the future? Are you not creating a contradiction by making this assertion?

Quote:
I have no hang-up with using the word 'education' without necessarily relating it to the particular set of relations we have at present. (That's why I called it a semantic issue)

And this is an admirable position, The First Humpty Dumpty Semantic Principle (and I completely endorse it!). But it is handy to stay in the same contextual domain (or level of recursion) when engaging in mutual poetry-reading. This suggests no endorsement of contradiction but rather, the ability of a word to meander in its course and still retain the option of going home.

cobbler
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Aug 14 2010 19:05
Armed Sheep wrote:
Quote:
the assertion that there will be no place for any type of boss, bank-manager or governor in a future communist society...

Is this not an attempt to decide something for the future? Are you not creating a contradiction by making this assertion?

I'm assuming that your quote above is intended to be a parody aimed at me. (If I'm wrong, you can safely ignore this reply)

When have I said that it is not helpful to decide some things for the future? In fact, I seem to remember posting, not so very long ago, a reply arguing against the tendency of some to say that all they were concerned about is the destruction of what is, and that it was invalid to make suggestions for the future.

cobbler
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Aug 14 2010 19:08
Armed Sheep wrote:
Quote:
I have no hang-up with using the word 'education' without necessarily relating it to the particular set of relations we have at present. (That's why I called it a semantic issue)

And this is an admirable position, The First Humpty Dumpty Semantic Principle (and I completely endorse it!). But it is handy to stay in the same contextual domain (or level of recursion) when engaging in mutual poetry-reading. This suggests no endorsement of contradiction but rather, the ability of a word to meander in its course and still retain the option of going home.

It is useful to have a shared meaning of a word, which is exactly why I said the argument was partly semantic and why, for clarity, I set out how I perceived the use of the word.
If FDG wishes to use the word as a synonym for the whole state/capitalist controlled edifice then that is also his perogative, and as long as we know how each is using it, I think we'll get along fine.

At least, even though we are not agreeing every issue, we do at least appear to be succeeding in holding a positive discussion, without resorting to point scoring.

Armed Sheep
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Aug 14 2010 23:26

Not so much a parody as a reminder of the close relation between logic (and other doxa) and paradox. How often is scoring points just a function of the frustration often wrapped up in communication itself, a point I often forget myself.

And, again, you are right: without consideration of the future, imagination disappears. I usually consider the phrase, "Destroy the totality!" a death-wish. But the opposite, of course, the planning and enforcement of Utopia, is another death-wish. Perhaps "they" should remove sophistry altogether from each and every curricula, or at least illustrate that it all comes down to word-play:

sometimes it's fun if no one's keeping score.

cobbler
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Aug 15 2010 10:34
Armed Sheep wrote:

And, again, you are right: without consideration of the future, imagination disappears. I usually consider the phrase, "Destroy the totality!" a death-wish. But the opposite, of course, the planning and enforcement of Utopia, is another death-wish.

Yes, I agree: you can't develop a blueprint of future society to be imposed. But having some consideration for how things could be worked out is useful. I can't march towards a vacuum.

CRUD's picture
CRUD
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Aug 26 2010 21:28

Foucault wrote some interesting stuff concerning education.