"Being a teacher is like being a prison guard"

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Valeriano Orobó...
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Jun 18 2010 15:49
Nyarlathotep wrote:
Valeriano Orobón Fernández wrote:
No, the ability to learn it's not only aimed at sell better your work force.

Well yes there's also ideological indoctrination, which goes hand and hand...

I love how you're so brainwashed by capitalism that you think that capitalist schools have anything to do with "learning", or that they might even have some sort of monopoly on "learning"

Centralized education emerged, in the US, in Iberia, in Greenland, in South Africa, Australia, France, Polynesia, Uganda, and so forth, throughout the global capitalist world, to meet the needs of capital, not humanity. Children who skip or walk out on school, vandalize school property, etc. are committing humble acts of proletarian resistance, in order for a mass-uprising to occur, students will have to abandon their posts as students en masse. To demand a general strike among productive workers but also encourage students to remain in school is vile hypocrisy.

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When someone knows that is able to change the sector he works in (or optimize the value of his work force if you prefer) the chances to fight exploitation get better

With all due respect, what the hell are you talking about?

Assuming school actually accomplishes such a thing, (which, in the modern economy, it really doesn't) your claims are still patently false. The most privileged and professional sectors of the working class are, historically, the ones least likely to rebel...

Listen! (let’s use your style) If the origin of compulsory school don’t follow your stupid scheme it’s your problem, not mine. If you could read (obviously you can’t) Rob Ray’s post would have clear you how this got to be stablished:

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- It was in part a reaction to the growing influence of worker-controlled educational establishments as a means to rein in radicalism. By providing schooling for free they undermined a key strength and source of influence for the left.
- It was ALSO a response to growing demands from the working class itself for education which could be a major cause of social conflict if left unchecked.
- The state needed a means of creating an educated, re-trainable workforce to stabilise/undermine the wage demands of skilled workers.

You know simply fuck all about education out of the states. In my country education it's liberal shite: that means no jingoism, no pledge of allegiance, yelling is forbbiden and so on, and that's as authoritarian as the former one but it has to be dealt with differently. Nothing to do with your reductionist poo.

Where the fuck have i said that in a strike kids shouls stay at school? And, yes, of course the fight against alienation starts from alienation itself, how could it be otherwise? Do you know a Neverland ? Where could it be otherwise? You vomit crap.

Valeriano Orobó...
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Jun 18 2010 12:09
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?

Just let him/her go and tell their parents what happened and wait for their answer about let him go or not. Sort your fucking traumas out!

Wellclose Square
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Jun 18 2010 01:01
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Listen! (let’s use your style) you fucking retarded twat! If the origin of compulsory school don’t follow your mongoloid scheme it’s your problem, not mine.

?

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jesuithitsquad
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Jun 18 2010 03:42
RedHughs wrote:
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

I pronounce Martin teh winner of teh thread...

seconded.

carterburke
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Jun 18 2010 04:52
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I don't see the whole population of almost every country spending at the very least 8 years from the age of 6 to 14 (most other countries considerably more) at a grocery store for 7 hours a day, 5 days a week, 300+ days a year - but maybe you have.

But that's a red herring, which is why my comparison included both the consumption and the production of various "goods", a fact which you seem to have ignored in your reply. In other words, while no one spends 8 hours a day shopping in a grocery store, this is besides the point, because the people who work at the grocery might easily do so. Is their time being wasted any less than a student's in school? Is it any more or less compulsory?

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Making equivalents such as this is just a way of avoiding what is fundamentally true about fort-da game's thread; and he and Garco say this as people who work/have worked as teachers.

Unfortunately, their experiences have evidently not provided them with anything that might sustain the special (and I think somewhat odd) critique of teachers they've outlined. I mean, it's perfectly valid and valuable and necessary to point out how the industry works and how it perpetuates capitalist exploitation. That's great. But that's not what Garco set out to do. He set out to tell us that teachers are somehow less necessary, and more complicit in the system, than administrators, janitors, and people in other trades. And he simply hasn't said anything (drawn from his own experience or otherwise) to substantiate that element of his argument.

Samotnaf
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Jun 18 2010 06:45
Quote:
cantdocartwheels wrote:
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Unless you think 6 year olds should run their own classrooms

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How about abolishing the classroom as an instrument of capitalist exploitation, and allowing children to learn by freely perusing their natural interests within reason?
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No I don;t want to hear about your mad hippy plan for your family about holing them up in the woods in some rural commune and givin them some full mental homeschooling before sending them foraging for mushrooms.

On the hypothetical off chance we have an anarcho-communist society, i would assume i'd be ''working'' 25 hours or so a week, or more if some weeks less others. My kids would be going to a place where trained and knowledgable staff could facilitate their learning (otherwise known as a school) this would involve one member of staff being assigned to X numbers of children (we'll call this unit a class), who would be taught in classrooms.

Every time the anarcho-liberal cantthinkoractoutsideanythingotherthanthedominantwheels reads a fundamental critique of things (prisons, schoos, etc.) he calls the person a "hippy", a bit like conservatives of the 60s. How easy everything is to call those who oppose you a "hippy", a bit like "nigger-lover" or "fucking lesbian" for women who don't respond to your advances, except, in libcom terms, more PC. What is your notion of the new society - there'll be work, prisons, schools, possession of kids - all the separations of this world minus....money? ...the State?...hippies?...what exactly will be different in your blind vision of the new society? "Out with the old hierarchy - in with the new", as The Who almost sang. Enough about him - he's merely the crudest representative of some of the most conservative elements on libcom.

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) .

Mike Harman
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Jun 18 2010 11:42
Wellclose Square wrote:
While looking for something entirely unrelated, I came across this quotation from William Blake:

"Thank God I never was sent to school, to be flogd into following the style of a fool"

Now I quote that not to extol 'home education', but as a reminder that a significant dimension of 'education work' has long been recognised as a form of ideological conditioning - following the style of a fool, as Blake puts it. In this respect, what some posters euphemise as 'education work' has a quality not shared with working as a greengrocer or busdriver, which is why you will tend not to find rhymes like these:

"Thank God I never went to the greengrocery, those brussels sprouts don't do anything for me"

"Thank God I never hopped on the bus, wage slavery is going nowhere for us"

...

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Put the cheddar in the pocket
Put the rest under the jacket
Talk to the cashier, he won't suspect
And if he does...
Do a runner!

Ten quid for the lot
We pay fuck all
Babylonian won't lose much
And we'll have dinner tonight
Do a runner!

Camera's trying to watch us
Mirrors and TV
But they're not gonna catch us
'Cause we're gonna gonna gonna run run run
Do a runner!
Run!

Ten quid for the lot
We pay fuck all
Babylonian won't lose much
And we'll have dinner tonight
Do a runner!
Run!

(I've pissed in my knickers)

.

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The Driver on the bus says "Move on back,
move on back, move on back;"
The Driver on the bus says "Move on back",
all through the town.

wink

Mike Harman
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Jun 18 2010 12:01
Quote:
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?

This is why "same as prison guards" is just as bad as "no different from checkout assistants".

If a kid walks out of a class (note only in compulsory education, post-16 in the UK the teacher would likely do nothing, possibly note it in register) then the teacher is likely to call school adminstrators, who'd try to locate them, or notify their parents, or potentially call the police (although likely to locate rather than discipline them at least directly). Frankly if a primary school kid did this I'd be shit scared in that situation that they were going to get hit by a bus or something, it gets a bit more tenuous post-11.

However, if I walk out of a shop without paying, the checkout assistant would have to contact their manager or store security, who'd either chase me down themselves and/or call the police (and may or may not press charges).

Same with driving away from a petrol station.

Same with walking out of a restaurant without paying the bill.

Same with someone who walks out of casualty with a head injury or otherwise in a confused state (that's equivalent to the primary school kid IMO - the potential danger outweighs their 'liberty' if they don't know what's happening at the time).

Are those examples as institutionalised as a school? Are we required to go to particular shops every day and pay them for goods (some remote areas you might not have an actual choice though)? No they're not, but they're on a spectrum of which prisons and the police are on the very far right, and teachers are somewhere not to the left of those jobs, but there's definitely an argument of how far they are on either side. That element of this discussion completely obscures the much more important points about identification with the role (which I think is a problem for many 'public service' jobs and also some skilled labour in the public sector), and the transmission of ideology.

Like some of the recent arguments on this thread, I understand where the Duponts are coming from, and they appear to recognise that at least some of 'Libcom' on this discussion actually aren't that far off. But the 'same as prison guards' remains ridiculous.

Valeriano Orobó...
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Jun 18 2010 12:12
Wellclose Square wrote:
Quote:
Listen! (let’s use your style) you fucking retarded twat! If the origin of compulsory school don’t follow your mongoloid scheme it’s your problem, not mine.

?

I deleted the insults that still are in the wellclose square above, cos they ain't no arguments. I apologize for them. I maintain the rest.

Samotnaf
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Jun 18 2010 13:33

Mike Harman:

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the 'same as prison guards' remains ridiculous

Obviously it's an exaggeration, but if the title of this thread had been "Being a teacher is being a transmitter of capitalist ideology and hierarchical social relations and an essential part in the reproduction of human capital" I doubt if it would have atracted so much attention (I, for one, might have fallen asleep just reading the title). There is an element of being a teacher (particularly one who doesn't simply teach numeracy and literacy, particulary those in secondary schools) which is like being a prison guard, and all those conflations of grocery store clerk (store manager might've been a bit more comparable), bus driver (ticket inspector might've been a bit more comparable), or miner (foremen would've been a bit more comparable) are ways of saying "well, we're all proletarianised and teachers are no less than the others." Undoubtedly teachers are NOT "labour aristocracy", but they ARE middle class professionals in the way that bus drivers, grocery store cashiers and miners clearly aren't. Part of the function of the middle class are as the conveyor's of the ruler's ideology and enforcers of their authority; the more ideological aspects there are to work the more the worker (proletarianised or not) identifies with his role; to the point where many libcom professionals will defend science, for instance, or will think of themselves as 'more conscious' than workers who rebel or revolt in ways that are not "theoretical" (the most obvious ones that come to mind are those who are so "class conscious" - ho ho - that they'll even condemn looting). They remain "teachers" in their spare time - teaching class consciousness in a hierarchical manner similar to their conditioning as part of their teacher training, considering "class consciousness" as a possession to be transmitted down to the masses (hence they never progress in their consciousness, because in their terms, they are already "conscious" - it's only others who aren't yet).

I'd guess that all you who magically turn all the various jobs into equivalents are somwhere at the back of your minds aware of the fact that you're deceiving yourselves, but find it too much of an upset, involving too much self-questioning, to seriously analyse the differences. And yet there are some teachers who seriously recognise that teaching does involve being a bit like a prison guard (with all the qualifications): see, in French, "Dans le ventre de l'ogre" (link seems to be messed up, but for those who speak French, I could put it out in the libcom library, if the link is permanently broken). This was written by a few women in Paris, one of whom is a teacher. Certainly worth a read.

tsi
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Jun 18 2010 15:14
Nyarlathotep wrote:
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.

Not that this is super relevant to anything, but I thought I should mention that where I live bus drivers earn quite a bit more than new elementary and high-school teachers. When compared to early-childhood educators (pre-school, kindergarten) and after-school care workers this margin is probably the difference of around 20-30k per year.

carterburke
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Jun 18 2010 16:22

Some people have suggested that because teaching is a type of "ideological" work, its workers have some kind of special complicity in the reproduction of capitalism; and by "special" here I don't think we can mean qualitatively unique, since each and every industry participates in the maintenance of capitalist relations in a different way; rather we appear to mean that "ideological" work -- education, journalism, publishing, recording, marketing, public relations, mass entertainment, etc. -- is somehow more important, and those within these fields more culpable, than every other type of work. I say "suggest" and "appear" because, so far as I can tell, no one in this discussion has actually presented an argument for why we should treat teachers differently than any other worker in a capitalist industry.

Some have said that this implies that teaching is identical to other types of work, or to deny that "ideological work" exists, or to say that all wage labor is "the same". But this isn't really a valid conclusion based on the critique. The critique is asking, essentially: "Why do teachers deserve to be identified with the interests of their industry in this special way?" Supporting the rights of retail workers does not imply that one condones the system of commodity capitalism which they work in and maintain. Supporting the rights of clerical and administrative workers does not imply a support for their employers' essential role in the capitalist system, nor is the support for government workers the same thing as condoning the structure and ideology of the bourgeois capitalist state. To confuse one act with the other just seems like crude sectarian moralism.

Which is kind of stupid: capitalism isn't held together by bubblegum and "ideology", it's maintained by the relations of production. Even people educated in ways that question society and include the ideas of revolutionary thinkers mostly go out and get straight jobs after college. Why? Because not paying your student loans has real consequences. As does not paying your rent. etc. Ideology is important, but it's not exactly the only thing holding back the working class. If that were really the case, capitalism wouldn't be such a bad racket; but as it happens this isn't true at all, the entire point of capitalism is that the system produces coercive, material forces which compel the worker to comply with the interests of the bourgeoisie. Getting overly riled up about "ideological" workers seems to me a distraction from that reality. There's more to it than just theory. They're important, so is media and education and all of that... but to treat them as the masterminds of the system is utterly stupid.

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cantdocartwheels
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Jun 18 2010 16:34

Oh great, so not only do we have whinging about how alientaing it all is and how putting 7 year olds in classrooms is opression, but then we have the same old sociological nonsense.

Firstly in the form of a simplistic aguement about wages,

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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.

which is wrong on numerous counts, so to name but three of the many many reasons why this arguement is rather foolish....
1) it doesnt matter what people earn, if a politician takes a ''workers wage'' they're still a politician
2) teachers don't earn that much anyway
3) Wages are a false ''value'' ascribed to labour by the capitalist class, why would we base our ideas on such things

Then the flipside of this arguement this time from fort the game

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For profesionals however, it is not enough to 'defend the wage' because the wage isn't really how their function is defined... because their role is ideologically set out, it is necessary for them to intervene at the level of social values if they are to make any contribution to the communist struggle. The fundamental difference here is between a 'job' and a 'role' in the economy.

Here, FTG ignores wages but swallows hook line and sinker capitalist ideology which says that professionals, the middle class and/or white collar workers identify with their jobs and are somehow above other workers.
Thats some pretty lousy and lacklustre arguements for anarchists/communists tbh

Boris Badenov
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Jun 18 2010 17:40
fort-da game wrote:
Vlad336 wrote:
Not to mention the fact that claiming administrative staff and teaching assistants have no supervisory roles within the education industry is completely false. Which really only leaves you with cleaners and maintenance workers, which, as people have pointed out above is nothing but the old workerist canard writ large.

Again (and I'm pretty relaxed and prepared to rebutt this misrepresentation over and over), it is not about supervision; it is not about bus drivers, dinner ladies or lollipop ladies. There are always grey areas but in the end there is a fundamental distinction between a role and a job.

I think you are beating around the bush now. Your pal Garco claimed above that teaching assistants and admin staff have NO supervisory roles in the education industry. This is false based on all available evidence (not just my personal experience as a teaching assistant and admin staff). This leaves you only with maintainance workers. How is this a "misrepresentation"?

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The question still stands, is a prison guard like a prison guard?

Is this a rhetorical trap? Because if not, it is a silly question to ask. A prison guard is doing a prison guard's job. "Like a prison guard" is a metaphor that does not literally refer to the duties of a prison guard. So yes, a prison guard is a prison guard. A teacher isn't.

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My answer is that on an individual level, obviously not but on a structural-functional level, obviously yes (and more so now than before, where the prison population was once romantically portrayed, they are now viewed as scum, a series like Porridge would never get made now – this is an indicator of the recent rapid advance of the disciplinary discourse

So because there is no Johnny Cash to sing the Folsom Prison Blues anymore and because series like Porridge (I'm not familiar with it, but I assume it's about prisons from a liberal pov) don't get made anymore, this is proof of a "recent advance of the disciplinary discourse." Please guide me through the logic of that argument, because it's not so obvious to me. The "disciplinary discourse" has been in power ever since the great "reformer" John Howard invented the modern prison. Its advances have been technological, but to speak of an ideological advance is, imo, a sort of alarmism based on the false premise that things were better back in the day (because pop culture cared about inmates).

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, as is the constant problematisation of children's behaviour into various disorders and medical complaints). The dispearance of the 'them' in the us and them divide since the '70's has been one of the great triumphs of capitalism.

Partly because pomo obscurantists have been successful at pushing their quack theories about "the death of the narrative" and so on. Part of this "discourse" has been an emphasis on the "fact" that there is no clear distinction between capitalists and the working class, and that a great portion of the latter is in fact equally responsible for upholding the current social order. Sounds familiar?

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Also, again, patiently... the issue is this, if a school is like a prison (and I say it is because it was designed at the same time as prisons within the same totalising discourse as part of an integrated policy of 'correction' and disicipline) then teachers must play an equivalent role to prison guards.

modern curricula do share a lot of history with prisons, but formal schools have definitely not been designed at the same time as prisons, and have a much longer and complex history. Yes schools have always served the interests of the ruling class, but they haven't always been "correction" institutions in the foucauldian sense. That is strictly a modern, capitalist invention, and not inherent to education (as it is to prisons).
The medieval Islamic House of Wisdom for example was an institution based on upholding a certain ruling class ideology, but it was also a place of genuine learning where some of the most amazing advances in human knowledge have been made. In the same way, modern universities (and I have yet to see you or Garco make a clear distinction between the different branches of the education establishment; they are clearly not identical in terms of supervision and control), uphold the interest of the ruling class, but are not merely "instruments of control" (just mostly). As far as I understand, your thesis is that education as it exists today was invented by capitalists and is therefore entirely rotten and unsalvageable. This is not true however. Education, as I've already stated, has a different history than purely correctional facilities, and despite the fact that it is a capitalist institution today, like all institutions, it has not been fully uprooted from that history. It is in fact possible to strip away the role of capital and still have formal education (which is what I, and other people here, have been arguing all along).

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I like the basically correct part. Because I focus on individual experience and oppose the role of institutions I am an individualist?

I believe that is the literal definition of individualism actually.
I say basically correct btw, because I agree with your identification of education as a capitalist institution (obviously, I don't think anyone here has actually disagreed with that part), but not with your conclusion that it is wholly dependent on capitalist relations and inherently socially reactionary.

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That is a possible inference, but it is not necessarily so. The question is not about supervisory powers, as has been repeated many times, it is about ideologically defined functions within the reproductive apparatus of the capitalist social relation. There has been no condemnation of teachers only a staring in the mirror and asking, 'what am I doing and what is it doing to me?'

Yes there has been a condemnation of teachers ("they're all middle class"), "restrained" only by a snide remark that some teachers are indeed "nice people" but no more nicer than a prison guard who "worries" about prison conditions.

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We stand by that... if you want to have an effect as a militant, get a job in a factory.

What is a militant according to you? Please explain. It is a genuine question since most other people here are militants who are part of different organizations and clubs ("institutions" which you have been highly critical of)

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But even so, we have a critique of militantism and we do not say people should sacrifice themselves in that manner if they have other options (but even so they will learn a lot if they do – it is the route we both took).

It's nice of you that you don't say what people "should" do, given your intense hostility to directionism. But again, what exactly is this militantism and how does it work, if it's only a lifestyle choice. Assuming you think a communist revolution is both possible and desirable, how do you expect such militantism to play a part in that direction? Obviously the majority of workers worldwide are not within your norms of what constitutes the proper industrial proletariat. What can they do to to advance their lot in life (other than peruse Dupont's writings presumably)?

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Nobody, but that is my (I think interesting) question. Isn't arguing that they are not just workers, an analysis which 'leads straight into a sociological definition of class based on perceived levels of "supervisory powers," rather than relationship to the means of production'?

No I don't think so, because policemen and the army have always had a singular and exceptional role in capitalist society. Just because policemen are an exception, that doesn't mean that the working class is limited only to flat cap-wearing wrench-yielding Red Thors. Cops are not middle class by the way; many of them are on an income level not much different from that of a skilled worker. They simply have, as workers, a structural role of defending capital that other workers do not. So they are neither "just workers" who only need to be reminded of that fact, nor "middle class" (I am talking about the "rank-and-file" cop here)

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Our analysis is that these roles are fundamentally different from other jobs...

That is one way to see it; it is just as likely however that they are simply different, but not fundamentally.

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that they cannot be compared to otherson the level of the wage and their alienation from the means of production.

Yes they can, because it is only in this sense that there is any working class to speak of. I think it has been successfully shown above that once you make an exception for teachers as being middle class, you are forced by the logic of this argument to keep making exceptions until you are reduced to your "essential proletariat" which is nothing but a gross and ridiculously outdated abstraction (a strike on Wall Street is just as likely to stop society in a matter of hours as a strike at a giant power plant btw, so I fail to see how "potential to disrupt society" can dictate economic class, but that is perhaps another discussion)

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We are sure there are many well-meaning policemen and prison guards and the more policing is distributed to PCOS (if that is the right anacronym) then the more 'human' policing will become at the point of delivery. But that doesn't change the function of the police, or the role of individual policemen.

I agree, but I don't see how the same is true about teachers. Policing is an inherently capitalist institution; it did not exist until capital was already on the rise. Before that, and I assume in a communist society as well, communities did their own policing. Education, as I have pointed out, has an entirely different history. It is not just like policing, or just like imprisoning. It is different, and that difference matters.

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but it is just a theory, it is not real life... if others think it is worthwhile, if they find it challenging, they will spend time of their own free will and will modify it or refute it. If they don't like it, they will ignore it. As Foghorn Leghorn said, 'If you keep a-pitchin them, I'll keep a-hittin them.'

I did not attack your right to express your views here, FDG. But you did misrepresent the way "Libcom" (I use the scare quotes because there is obviously no monolithic libcom to speak of, unless you mean the tiny political group of the same name, but even then, I think they differ on some things) reacted to your argument, by moving the goalposts from teachers' supervisory roles to "it is not about supervision" and so forth.

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Nyarlathotep
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Jun 18 2010 18:10
Choccy wrote:
Not that communists should actually use simplistic shit like wages as a definition of class interests

Why? The bourgeoisie uses wages as a way of buying the proletariat's allegience. This is why cops earn more than librarians, garbagemen, waitresses, etc.

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but anyway, the starting wage for a teacher in the UK is below the national average and median UK wage for fulltime workers. In fact in London, I'm told most bus and tube drivers earn more than classroom teachers.

Fair enough, the current capitalist crisis is leading to drastic restructuring of the educational-industrial complex which includes firing and downsizing many teachers and assimilating the resent into the standard, marginalized workforce. However the same is happening here in the US to park rangers who I would also consider (at least once) part of the labor aristoracy. Here in the US, high school teachers still earn more than the average worker, and, I can speak from personal experience that the route to becoming a high school teacher involved a labored process of institutional hurdles that typicaly weeds out left-wing dissidents.

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'relationships to fellow workers'? I'd like you to expand this also.
A classroom teacher (forget middle managers, I'm taking about rank and file teachers) have no workers under their control so I don't know what 'relationship' you're talking about.

You are brainwashed by patriarchal socialism into not thinking school-children are members of the proletariat. In fact children have always been an extremely over-perportionate segment of the workforce, and the transition from directly productive child labor to primary education (which really only occured, for the most part, in the most developed reigons of the capitalist world) is only a transition from one sphere of capitalist exploitation to another.

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If you're on about kids then it's a moot point for the reasons Cantdo outlined earlie in this thread.

Wait, I'm supposed to read everything in this thread? I hope I'm not going to be quizzed...

Without going through the unnecessary trouble of digging up the specific comments you're referring to, I think it's in incredibly bad form to dismiss the real experiences of working-class people's exploitation and alienation as "a moot point". Maybe someone else will decide that the misery and suffering you experience under capitalism is a "moot point"...

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most education workers that post on here very much give a shit about the 'bread and butter' of how fucked education is under capitalism, and that it cannot be reformed, because capitalism cannot be reformed.

Well if most workers, in the sphere of "education", or otherwise, were already libertarian communists, the world would be a much easier place.

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Nyarlathotep
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Jun 18 2010 18:23
cantdocartwheels wrote:
your mad hippy plan

Seriously? That's your argument? Why don't you go ahead and recreate the Progressive Labor Party?

Quote:
holing them up in the woods in some rural commune

I'd actually rather the rural and urban proletariat unite to overthrow the global bourgeoisie so that we don't have to waste our lives away in concrete prisons and schools, but that's just me...

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givin them some full mental homeschooling

Most practical examples of "homeschooling" are forms of capitalist exploitation because the family is a microcosm of capitalism, read Engels' Origins of the Family for more information

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sending them foraging for mushrooms.

Wait, you have something against mycology now too? Nihilist! hand

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On the hypothetical off chance we have an anarcho-communist society, i would assume i'd be ''working'' 25 hours or so a week, or more if some weeks less others. My kids would be going to a place where trained and knowledgable staff could facilitate their learning (otherwise known as a school) this would involve one member of staff being assigned to X numbers of children (we'll call this unit a class), who would be taught in classrooms.

This sounds like collectivist-capitalism to me, not communism....

Under communism, the concept of productive work will be totally abolished. What you think of as work will be subsumed by recreational free time, the creation of goods motivated only by whatever want or need any person chooses to fulfill. Children will not exist under the servile domain of their biological parents and nuclear family units, but will, rather, like the rest of humanity, live their lives freely, exploring the world around them and persuing their dreams, under the guardianship of the extended community. There will not be designation zones of "learning" and "production" but rather the entire world will become a giant commons for everyone to use according to their whims, within reason.

If that makes me a hippie, so be it, I'd rather be a hippie communist than a straight-laced collectivist totalitarian anyday.

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Nyarlathotep
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Jun 18 2010 18:32
Quote:
Oh great, so not only do we have whinging about how alientaing it all is and how putting 7 year olds in classrooms is opression, but then we have the same old sociological nonsense.

In fact your position is that of the bourgeois sociologist since you reject all serious analysis of oppression and alienation as superfluous and psychoanalytical. To you, capitalist exploitation is a cut-and-dry thing with no psychological factors, if there isn't a nakedly obvious wage relationship you don't see capitalist alienation present.

By contrast, alienation is a central concept in Marx's critique of capitalism. groucho

cantdocartwheels wrote:
it doesnt matter what people earn

Which is why doctors and lawyers riot as often as service-industry and factory workers, students, the unemployed, etc. wink

Quote:
if a politician takes a ''workers wage'' they're still a politician

Yes, and a small-town politician who earns as little as the average skilled worker is still motivated by the dynamics of our society to preserve the bourgeoisie's iron grip on the rest of humanity. Just like most teachers I've encountered.

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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)

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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.

fort-da game
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Jun 18 2010 19:04
jesuithitsquad wrote:
RedHughs wrote:
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

I pronounce Martin teh winner of teh thread...

seconded.

Yes, of course, I can’t imagine it being anything other than option one or two. But what strange bed fellows here – a bed trick to defend the idea that state instituted roles within state institutions do not reproduce the capitalist social relation. In the rush to argue against us, some people are not only separating themselves from the critique of the specifics of capitalist society but do not seem to realise what they are arguing for.

Mike Harman wrote:
But the 'same as prison guards' remains ridiculous.

Nobody said 'the same' (a slip on your part or naughtyness?). Our argument is based on the historic development of the state which we think does not exist separately from its institutions. If the model of schools, prisons, army, hospitals was developed coextensively and simaltaneously with the same underlying rationale why is it that only prisons in Libcom’s discourse continue to function as instruments of class domination (and we should not forget here Libcom’s argument in favour of prisons – which reinvigorates the is a prison guard like a prison guard debate)?

How could it be that education has somehow separated itself out from capital's struggle against the proletariat and from the purpose assigned to it by the state? By what practical means can a non-capitalistic ‘bit’ of education be extracted from the rest of it... what bureaucracy would pass judgment on such matters? If Libcom's politics is based in pragmatism, how exactly would we test whether communised schools were not really functioning as capitalist schools?

I think most arguments against us are based on political expediency (it is important to some that we are defeated on this – probably because our arguments are better) or on shifting baseline type effects. It is bizarre to us that the basics of anarchist and communist theory, the basics which were established two hundred years ago in relation to the development of the modern state and its role in capitalist reproduction, have recently become so untenable to those associated with Libcom. Our argument is that if prisons, schools etc are institutional siblings then the nature of the work undertaken within these institutions is sufficiently integrated for an integrated/comparison based analysis of it to be undertaken. This integration of institutions was more obvious in the past, but because it is less obvious now, it does not make it less true.

cobbler wrote:
Quote:
But as I said in the earlier post, 'education' is barely two hundred years old, it was designed at the same time as prisons and police, the modern military, the modern asylum and hospital and it was designed militarily.

I think part of our problem lies in the background to this statement. Education is not 200 years old, you can trace it back through ecclesiastical schools which have a long heritage and Henry VII was responsible for the creation of some schools. There were various movements in the UK which set up schools, including working class communities creating their own, prior to governmental intervention.

In which case, you will be speaking specifically about the history of education in a particular country, and aspects of that may or may not ring true elsewhere. Many assumptions about society and people's places within it differ significantly between cultures, and just because we are conversing in English we should not assume we are talking from the same paradigm. I wonder if the discussion would not make more sense if it were explicitly stated as a discussion of the situation in one country? (Even if there will be strong parallels in some aspects to others)

No, I really am making the statement that education, i.e. the strategic generation of a discourse of correction of the populace through schooling as directed by the interests of the capitalist class through the newly formed state which was developed co-extensively with other disciplinary institutions (phew) began two hundred years ago... and that although our base-line perceptions have shifted about what education is, objectively its function has not changed. The inclination of social critics to work with the fabric of the institutions developed in those two hundred years rather than consider the possibility of abolition and beginning on altogether different terms indicates how far the pragmatics of reformism has advanced into social critique. Even for revolutionaries it seems, there is no option but to work within the established paradigms.

Quote:
If you have a moment, I'm still curious for you and/or Garco to tie down the meaning of the work 'like' in the statement "Teachers are like prison guards."

Well, a writing desk is like a raven... and all comparisons are odious etc etc. But the likeness here is based on integrated functions of its institutions in an overall strategy of the state... it is not so much a matter of teachers and prison guards being ‘alike’ in the sense that the day to day tasks are identical but rather that the institutions as a totality exist within a strategic continuum (where, private businesses operate on their own inititative). The attempt to link up the components of the military-industrial complex, or the capitalist-state nexus or however you want to frame it, is the only means by which we can begin to understand how this society works. The state is really something very important to capitalist reproduction and it is inseparable from its institutions... it cannot simply be seized or re-directed to communist use. Even if the state is not capitalistic, it belongs to capitalism, therefore its institutions, its parts, are equally belonging to capitalism... by logical extension the roles within the state institutions are qualittively different to those within the private sector, they have a different function (particularly at the managerial level) and are therefore comparable between institutions.

The real, real issue for me here is that capitalist institutions exist to revive the social relation independently of an operative productive relation; such institutions intervene when the productive relation breaks down. Such institutions are then able, through their continued functioning, to reimpose that relation where it has collapsed – it is the institution as defibrillator. The state institution is the repository, the reservoir, the archive of the state capitalist nexus and exists to revive the relation where market forces or class struggle has driven the relation into crisis. The state institution is capital’s memory bank, it operates outside the struggle of market forces, it is of capitalism without being capitalistic.

The question is whether state institutions could reimpose the capitalist relation when capitalism itself has been abolished... in other words, would those who have attempted to seize the institutions and run them to social ends, still nonetheless eventually reconstitute a version of capitalist production. In short, could a teacher in a ‘liberated’ school still be reproducing class relations? All historic revolutionary attempts suggest that this is the case, that the attempt to seize the state and self-manage, or re-manage it in a different direction, fails; which is why a critique of the role of institutions is so important not only on a total scale but on an institution by institution basis, and a role by role basis.

Mike Harman
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Jun 18 2010 19:16
Samotnaf wrote:
Mike Harman:
Quote:
the 'same as prison guards' remains ridiculous

Obviously it's an exaggeration, but if the title of this thread had been "Being a teacher is being a transmitter of capitalist ideology and hierarchical social relations and an essential part in the reproduction of human capital" I doubt if it would have atracted so much attention (I, for one, might have fallen asleep just reading the title).

Well yes, but if you post a thread with an inflammatory and exaggerated title then you should expect it to get an exaggerated reaction, not to mention the various posters on this thread (less the Duponts, but certainly their overenthusiastic cheerleaders) who took the title literally from the other direction and ran with it, including quoting the reactionary Larkin to back it up.

Quote:
There is an element of being a teacher (particularly one who doesn't simply teach numeracy and literacy, particulary those in secondary schools) which is like being a prison guard,

I'm not sure about that particular demarcation, the process of teaching literacy and numeracy involves a lot of ideology, a lot of test preparation and cramming, at various times and places lots of unpleasant and ineffective rote learning. Apparently there are kids my daughter's age in Japan /already/ going to cram school, to get into a primary school with an entrance exam.

If you take some specialist secondary teachers (Art, Music, foreign languages, dance, drama, music - especially once you get to elective GCSEs) I'd argue there's often going to be less pressure/coercion/ideological transference than getting kids ready for 7-year-old SATs. Of course it goes completely the other way too, but I wouldn't exempt primary teachers based on subject matter and age (apart from the pure authority/necessity argument which I don't think you personally are making anyway).

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and all those conflations of grocery store clerk (store manager might've been a bit more comparable), bus driver (ticket inspector might've been a bit more comparable)

But to paraphrase you on teachers, there is an element of those jobs which is coercive, sometimes, despite them being two very straightforward jobs otherwise. Do I think that the relationship between a teacher and student vs. the relationship between a store clerk and a customer, or a bus driver and a passenger is exactly the same? No of course it isn't. But neither is the relationship of a teacher to a student the same as a prison guard to an inmate.

There is a spectrum of those kinds of relationships, plenty of contradictions, and these apply to nearly all jobs under capitalism, I don't think teaching should be put into the same category as screws and police. It definitely has its own unique set of contradictions, but they're not the same. Actual managers (as opposed to 'middle class social managers', prison guards and policemen - none of these I'd have any interest in working with in a revolutionary group - because their roles are completely opposed to working class interests, they're just paid to do anti-working class stuff pretty much full time, that puts them 'off-limits'. Many, many jobs have supervisory responsibilities without being management, some people are called 'managers' without ever managing a staff member, there are grey areas there, but there's also some very clear lines too.

Quote:
Undoubtedly teachers are NOT "labour aristocracy", but they ARE middle class professionals in the way that bus drivers, grocery store cashiers and miners clearly aren't.

I would characterise some of the teachers at my secondary schools (I was a student at three different schools, then worked at one other one plus a sixth form college) as middle class professionals - in attitude and cultural background rather than their job specifically though, and most who were like that were in management or moving into it. But definitely not all - where I was working, at least some of the classroom teachers, while they might have had a degree (not exactly a middle-class hallmark any more), didn't have any teaching qualifications whatsoever and were just chucked into a class full of kids to make the best of it, along with shitty temporary contracts etc. At the sixth form college even less clear cut - some staff would operate like a school teacher with those attitudes, others definitely not, and that was pretty much adult ed (95% vocational, not many A levels). So it's not just a proletarianisation in terms of conditions, the actual process of teaching is becoming more regimented as well, de-skilling etc. (one example would be the practice of turning speciaiist post-16 subjects into a very flimsy cover for literacy and numeracy, which was a constant issue at the sixth form college since the students were more than capable of realising they were being duped out of the subjects they actually wanted to learn and the teaching staff hated having fakery imposed on them).

Quote:
Part of the function of the middle class are as the conveyor's of the ruler's ideology and enforcers of their authority; the more ideological aspects there are to work the more the worker (proletarianised or not) identifies with his role; to the point where many libcom professionals will defend science, for instance, or will think of themselves as 'more conscious' than workers who rebel or revolt in ways that are not "theoretical" (the most obvious ones that come to mind are those who are so "class conscious" - ho ho - that they'll even condemn looting).

Science I won't get started on, that's been discussed at length elsewhere. Looting, has anyone other than the ICC condemned looting on here?

The main problem with this thread, and not just this one, is that the early days of libcom (and pre-libcom enrager) you had similar arguments "all teachers are middle class" etc. being constantly made by members of groups like Class War.

And while the original targets of that defence system have been gone for a long time, it's still there, like Trident, so you get cantdo's completely overblown conservatism, and defensiveness from others, where it's not always due, because thread titles like "Teachers are the same as prison guards" bring back horrible memories of people arguing similar things from a very dodgy standpoint. That's not to excuse cantdo's post-revolution-which-looks-just-like-things-are-now-and-that's-common-sense-innit, or defensiveness from people working as teachers and journos, but this 'libcom conservatism/culture' or whatever which has been complained about here and elsewhere, has a context to it, which is not one of professionals defending their position, but one of (usually teenagers) trying to identify and defend basic class positions against all kinds of reactionary shit spouted under the name of anarchism - whether that was primitivists talking about 're-wilding' and mass die-offs or Class War's caricatures. The worst of that was a long time ago now, but I'm not surprised that people still get defensive when superficially similar (or just similar) arguments get brought up.

cobbler
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Jun 18 2010 21:46
fort-da game wrote:
The inclination of social critics to work with the fabric of the institutions developed in those two hundred years rather than consider the possibility of abolition and beginning on altogether different terms indicates how far the pragmatics of reformism has advanced into social critique. Even for revolutionaries it seems, there is no option but to work within the established paradigms.

I can only speak for myself, but although I have disagreement with some of your arguments relating to teachers (and consider that some of your observations based in one country give a distorted view of education elsewhere) it's not my view that the current system shouldn't be deconstructed and reconsidered. I do, however, think that in a anarchist society there would still be a need for some kind of education, and a role for some dedicated teachers. Truly, the relations within education would alter, just as they would in the world of production and society as a whole.

Quote:

The state is really something very important to capitalist reproduction and it is inseparable from its institutions... it cannot simply be seized or re-directed to communist use. Even if the state is not capitalistic, it belongs to capitalism, therefore its institutions, its parts, are equally belonging to capitalism... by logical extension the roles within the state institutions are qualittively different to those within the private sector, they have a different function (particularly at the managerial level) and are therefore comparable between institutions.

Would you mind re-reading this section and check that it says what you mean it to say, as it appears to me to be contradictory. State institutions belong to capitalism and by logical extension are different to those in the private sector?

What of managers in state run industries, such as British Rail (when it existed), or the managers of water companies, once nationalised, now privatised? What of teachers in public schools (private fee paying schools, not part of the State) compared to teachers in State run schools, or people employed privately to teach people at home (private tutors)?

Quote:
The question is whether state institutions could reimpose the capitalist relation when capitalism itself has been abolished... in other words, would those who have attempted to seize the institutions and run them to social ends, still nonetheless eventually reconstitute a version of capitalist production. In short, could a teacher in a ‘liberated’ school still be reproducing class relations? All historic revolutionary attempts suggest that this is the case, that the attempt to seize the state and self-manage, or re-manage it in a different direction, fails; which is why a critique of the role of institutions is so important not only on a total scale but on an institution by institution basis, and a role by role basis.

But no-one is arguing for seizing the state or its institutions as they exist and continuing to operate them simply in a 'liberated' way, not even schools.

Could workers in a liberated factory reproduce class relations? Yes.
Will we still require factories to make things? Yes.

In terms of making evaluations of society we need to critique all institutions which form it: agreed. The evaluation of individual institutions will be different. Deciding that something is bad now does not mean that something similar will not exist. Factories emerged under capitalism and are clearly part of the capitalist exploitation. And yet, we would want factories. The police force exists as an agent of the state, and yet I would still want similar aspects to exist within society: the idea that we protect people from harm and have people skilled at working out exactly who it is whose been raping the women in a certain area, for example.

Your argument appears to be that being a teacher is intrinsically bad because of the relations it imposes. I think that those relations are inherent in the system in which teachers are currently obliged to work, not inherent in being a teacher (or educator, or instructor)

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Farce
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Jun 18 2010 22:12

I've skipped the vast vast majority of this thread because it made my eyes glaze over, but:

Garco wrote:
(Has anyone read the article I wrote for ‘Spoofversion’, entitled, ‘Are children agents of the Bourgeoisie’?!).

If Garco's still reading this thread, would you be able to upload Spoofversion to the library? I've always thought it sounded interesting. Was it just you who produced it, or were many other people from the group involved?

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Jun 18 2010 22:31

fort-da-game you seem to be under the impression that some entity known as "libcom" is on this thread arguing that schools aren't reactionary or based in the need for the state to control its population, which is simply not true. In fact, pretty much every individual poster on this thread has agreed that schools are reactionary institutions which attempt to use teachers as a means to produce a flexible, quiescent workforce. That is NOT at issue here.

What has been argued repeatedly is that it's an inelegant model which identifies the motivations, capabilities and interests of all teachers too closely with the system they work for, particularly if the comparative is with prison guards who are clearly hired for a very specific job of repression with very few gray areas.

The very fact that there are so many teachers on this very site for example should point to the inadequacies of this world-view, as quite obviously it is not the case that the structure of the education system dictates the desires or political direction of its working staff.

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cantdocartwheels
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Jun 19 2010 07:38
Nyarlathotep wrote:

I'd actually rather the rural and urban proletariat unite to overthrow the global bourgeoisie so that we don't have to waste our lives away in concrete prisons and schools, but that's just me...

Nothing wrong with a bit of concrete.

Quote:

Most practical examples of "homeschooling" are forms of capitalist exploitation because the family is a microcosm of capitalism, read Engels' Origins of the Family for more information

Generally I think diatribes about the evils of parenting and the family are full of numerous uninformed assumptons and bourgeois notions about a nuclear family that has rarely existed, but we can leave that aside for the moment. In truth it doesn;t change the fact that you will still be sending kids to a building, where they will be taught by trained and one would assume criminally checked people in classrooms with x members of staff to a pupil, this is what we call a school. The people who do this task are called teachers. Your bumbling anarchist year zero attempts to reinvent the wheel on stuff like this just sound ill thought out and absurd.

Quote:
Quote:
On the hypothetical off chance we have an anarcho-communist society, i would assume i'd be ''working'' 25 hours or so a week, or more if some weeks less others. My kids would be going to a place where trained and knowledgable staff could facilitate their learning (otherwise known as a school) this would involve one member of staff being assigned to X numbers of children (we'll call this unit a class), who would be taught in classrooms.

This sounds like collectivist-capitalism to me, not communism....

Under communism, the concept of productive work will be totally abolished. What you think of as work will be subsumed by recreational free time, the creation of goods motivated only by whatever want or need any person chooses to fulfill. Children will not exist under the servile domain of their biological parents and nuclear family units, but will, rather, like the rest of humanity, live their lives freely, exploring the world around them and persuing their dreams, under the guardianship of the extended community. There will not be designation zones of "learning" and "production" but rather the entire world will become a giant commons for everyone to use according to their whims, within reason.

Oh good god, more of this crap about everyone enjoying their labour. Seriously, while i dislike the protestant work ethic this attempt to create a polar opposite is just annoying pseudo situ nonsense. If i work as a traffic warden or a dustbinman or i work on a production line or in a warehouse, i am simply not going to ''enjoy'' that labour. Sure its not going to be quite the same hell it is currently, but its still 25 hours spent doing monotonous stuff and one would assume collective organising metings that could be better spent doing what i want to do, but it is still labour and organisation that needs doing for industrial society as a whole to function.
Pretending we're all going to spend the rest of our lives in some sort of love-in where collecting garbage is something we 'll write joyous songs about makes maoisms aproach to productivity look sophisticated and nuanced,
Fact remains, when you go and do your 25 hours of fantastically enjoyable long distance haulage where are your kids going to be?

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Rob Ray
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Jun 19 2010 07:45

They'll be pursuing their dreams under the guardianship of the extended community cantdo, such as this chap:

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Choccy
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Jun 19 2010 10:26
Rob Ray wrote:
fort-da-game you seem to be under the impression that some entity known as "libcom" is on this thread arguing that schools aren't reactionary or based in the need for the state to control its population, which is simply not true. In fact, pretty much every individual poster on this thread has agreed that schools are reactionary institutions which attempt to use teachers as a means to produce a flexible, quiescent workforce. That is NOT at issue here.

Yeah it's particularly bizarre given the article that was linked to in the OP was arguing that precise point, that the instituion of education under capitalism can only ever be reactionary and therefore the fight for education workers should be to abolish capitalism and take control of education in the interests of workers and communities, not to hope for some of reform or 'fairer' education.

fort-da game
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Jun 19 2010 17:27

to Vlad336

Thanks for your interesting comments, you seem to have put your finger unerringly on the crisis points of our thesis... although, unfortunately, this has not increased your capacity to perceive your own blindspots.

I was pleased to note that your bitterness seemed to moderate as your post went on, which I am pleased about. There are a few matters which you raise which I see as a ‘way in’ to further discussion.

First, I am heartened that you take the comparison with prison guards seriously and address it as such. Here are your comments on the matter with a few interjections by me and a further comment:

Vlad336 wrote:
Quote:
The question still stands, is a prison guard like a prison guard?

Is this a rhetorical trap? Because if not, it is a silly question to ask. A prison guard is doing a prison guard's job. "Like a prison guard" is a metaphor that does not literally refer to the duties of a prison guard. So yes, a prison guard is a prison guard. A teacher isn't.

It is okay to ask silly questions as in a Brechtian manner it allows you to provide the wise answer. However, if the modern state was developed to administer the unprecedented circumstances of the capitalist productive relation. And if this unprecedented formation strategically formulated a number of specialised institutions (which had never existed before – there had been no prisons, no education system, no health service, no police force, no professional army) then there seems to me to be good grounds for a comparative analysis of these institutions and the roles and relations which were generated within them.

Vlad336 wrote:
... policemen and the army have always had a singular and exceptional role in capitalist society ... schools have always served the interests of the ruling class, but they haven't always been "correction" institutions in the foucauldian sense. That is strictly a modern, capitalist invention, and not inherent to education (as it is to prisons).

You seem to be agreeing that the education system is a corrective institution here. But the ‘humanitarian’ work of army and police, and educative work of the prison system is as present in these institutions as discipline is in education which makes the various roles in other institutions to be comparable to the role of teachers... at a lower level such institutions are all parts of an overall strategy which both corrects/compensates/ameliorates excesses in the economic system and also enforces the ‘rules’ of the system. But at a higher level, all of these modern institutions combined as a totality (the state is not divisible from its institutions) defend the existing ownership of means of production (this is another objective reason for investigating the compatibilities between institutions and between the various roles within the institutions.)

Vlad336 wrote:
So yes, a prison guard is a prison guard. A teacher isn't.

The reason I insist on the question of the self-identity of prison guards is that Libcom has already made clear its support for prisons. (Now that you know this, you may want to revise your opinion about prison guards, to fall into line with this.) If Libcom is not against prison then it follows that it is not against prison guards (there must be someone to work in these institutions). Your argument against us so far has proceeded on the assumption that the role of prison guard is contrary to your interpretation of how social relations should be conducted within a libertarian society. But as I have pointed out, it is not against Libcom’s interpretation of acceptable roles. Therefore, if teachers and prison guards are both acceptable professions for libertarian communists, it should follow that a comparison between them is not odious at all but on the contrary would be part of an integrated corrective/disciplinary strategy of workers’ self-management.

Vlad336 wrote:
Quote:
My answer is that on an individual level, obviously not but on a structural-functional level, obviously yes (and more so now than before, where the prison population was once romantically portrayed, they are now viewed as scum, a series like Porridge would never get made now – this is an indicator of the recent rapid advance of the disciplinary discourse

So because there is no Johnny Cash to sing the Folsom Prison Blues anymore and because series like Porridge (I'm not familiar with it, but I assume it's about prisons from a liberal pov) don't get made anymore, this is proof of a "recent advance of the disciplinary discourse." Please guide me through the logic of that argument, because it's not so obvious to me. The "disciplinary discourse" has been in power ever since the great "reformer" John Howard invented the modern prison. Its advances have been technological, but to speak of an ideological advance is, imo, a sort of alarmism based on the false premise that things were better back in the day (because pop culture cared about inmates).

I meant that in popular and anarchist political sensibilities there was at least a continued trace of a discourse which considered that those in prison were people who lived according to different rules and that they were in prison because of the imperfections of society. In the past, anarchists used to say that their publications were free to prisoners. In the same vein, the anarchist black cross rejected the argument in favour of ‘political prisoners’ because ‘all prisoners are political’. This type of approach has long faded and is incomprehensible within the Libcom milieu. But why has this transformation occurred? I think it is to do with a shifting baseline effect which has influenced anarchists as much as everyone else in their perception of the objective need for state institutions.

The shifting baseline effect has been present in the ‘revolutionary’ left for many years... at some point, perhaps in the early ‘80’s the idea of total transformation of society and the critique of state institutions was dropped by the left and replaced with an ideology of reactionary defence. It was suddenly ‘naive’ to call for the abolition of state institutions when capital seemed (and this seemed is important because nothing of the sort was going on) to be attacking them – instead of social transformation we had to ‘defend’ the health service, education public services because they were ‘ours’. At this point the alleged phenomena of ‘neo-liberalism’ induced within the left’s discourse the idea that society was indentical with state institutions and was permanently under threat (in fact state institutions have continued to expand). The entirety of the left’s politics has become reactive and defensive rather than transformative. State institutions must be defended and anyone who doubts that is mad... (there is no other game in town).

Tiqqun’s phrase, ‘the state of exception becomes the rule’ is apt... society is managed on the basis of permanent threat of collapse and the left (and some libertarian communists) have adapted their baseline perceptions to take this into account and have accordingly adopted a ‘defensive’ attitude to state institutions which previously they simply denounced.

Vlad336 wrote:
Quote:
Because I focus on individual experience and oppose the role of institutions I am an individualist?

I believe that is the literal definition of individualism actually.

I believe you are mistaken. Individualists consider society to be constructed from the interactions of individuals who pursue their personal interest as if it is constituted by them alone. My definition (such as it was) concerned a phenomenological basis for communist consciousness which places the multiple mediations between individual and society at the centre of its concerns (the communist understands that the realisation of the individual is the goal of society and the realisation of society is the true interest of the individual).

Vlad336 wrote:
But you did misrepresent the way "Libcom" (I use the scare quotes because there is obviously no monolithic libcom to speak of, unless you mean the tiny political group of the same name, but even then, I think they differ on some things) reacted to your argument...

I want to address the issue of ‘Libcom’ and its ‘opinions’, and why I talk in these terms. Libcom is a designed environment which is developed according to certain ideas, methods and values. There are two types of argument on Libcom, the external and the internal... the internal arguments generate some heat but are not in contradiction to the project as a whole (both sides, although in disagreement, remain within the conventions of the structures).

On the other hand, the external arguments concern issues which somehow infringe on the conventions of Libcom. These arguments cannot be lost to those who do not remain within the conventions of the site. Libcom has never lost an argument which would counter the values which it represents (of course, the issue is not always the main area of contention, it could be that the main concern is about who is making the argument and how they are conducting themselves).

I say Libcom is in favour of prisons because the argument was won by those in favour of prisons and it was won not on the strength of argument as such but on volume of posts, on strength of hostility, on re-presenting the argument of others (the usual litany of ‘hippy’, ‘anarchyist’, ‘utopian’ etc). ‘Libcom’ as a group did not step in and direct the argument away from those in favour of prisons as it would have done if it had considered the arguments to be against its basic definition of libertarian communism.

On the basis of how the conventions of this environment are established I think it is acceptable, on the part of those who do not agree with those conventions, that they deduce the particular arguments which define that environment to belong to it. Generally speaking, Libcom has facilitated the argument that teachers are ordinary workers and education is a good thing. By contrast, it has felt that the argument against these conclusions is an uphill argument precisely because it is agianst the values of the site (measured by the rate of posts going each way). Therefore, it seems reasonable and honest to behave (at a second level of recursion) as if Libcom does have a set of conventions and may be addressed as if it does (because it really does).

Maybe the thread in favour of prisons should be linked here.

fort-da game
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Jun 19 2010 17:29

I wrote this before Mike Harman's very reasonable points about things being a 'long time ago'. But that was written before Cantdocartwheels' last post and Rob Ray's insinuation (very all a long time ago).

We can all walk from this quite happily (with our only slight differences) if 'Libcom' undertake not to continue to normalise the arguments of those who oppose the specifics of state institutions as either hippies or child abusers.

Rob Ray's picture
Rob Ray
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Jun 19 2010 17:46

This would be all well and good except you have misidentified what people's views on education actually amount to - for example I and most people on this board would not disagree with the idea that educational institutions as they stand today need to be torn down - in fact the citing of Ferrer, Summerhill, the Freeschools movement etc was all done approvingly by people who you would doubtless (and I think mean-spiritedly) lump into the homogenous bloc of 'Libcom internalists.'

Equally, in most arguments about prisons, there is a generalised view that some people are too dangerous to walk around unsupervised, which I would accept, however the degree to which people believe incarceration should be involved and what form that should take varies dramatically.

Edit; I was being facetious with that pic, the point though was that "general guardianship" is not a solve-all method of looking after kids,we're not just talking about paedophilia here it can just be that maybe someone's a bit of a flake or completely inexperienced, or a kid needs a particular kind of supervision (to make sure they take their medicine, because they have a disability etc), just relying on whatever random adult happens to be in the vicinity to keep an eye out isn't really very adequate a lot of the time.

carterburke
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Jun 19 2010 18:34
Quote:
fort-da game: Generally speaking, Libcom has facilitated the argument that teachers are ordinary workers and education is a good thing.

Can you actually provide some evidence for this claim? Or is this yet another "exaggeration" that will go undefended? I have seen many members of this website saying that the modern system of education is flawed for the very reasons you establish, and very few supporting it as a system.

RedHughs
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Jun 19 2010 21:56
Garco wrote:
Being a teacher is like being a prison guard, some teachers may have entered teaching in order to provide a more humane form of prison guarding - and for this noble act they should be commended.
Forte wrote:
Nobody said 'the same' (a slip on your part or naughtyness?).

[sarcasm]Riiiight "Teachers are like prison guards -- they're both on their feet all day long and need comfortable shoes," I'm suuuure that's what he meant. There was no moral implications in Garco's original point, no sireee....[/sarcasm] Of course 'like' and 'the same as' are both statements of similarity and mean more or less the same thing in the context...

Quote:
...But what strange bed fellows here – a bed trick to defend the idea that state instituted roles within state institutions do not reproduce the capitalist social relation. In the rush to argue against us, some people are not only separating themselves from the critique of the specifics of capitalist society but do not seem to realise what they are arguing for.

Weaseling. Well written, cleverly referenced weaseling. It's kind of like the article describing how smart people to hold onto wrong ideas.
[sarcasm]"Yes, of course" we're all implicated in capitalist schools (and prisons for that matter) because we all agree that Garco ridiculously conflated the two. "Yes, of course" I'm "like" a mass murderer because both of us agree that the sun sets in the west. "Yes, of course" saying "like" doesn't imply "similar enough to be classified as the same" in the context Garco used it. "Yes, of course" everyone who posts on libcom is implicated in the opinions of everyone else - except Forte (or maybe Forte too but it's a cross he's willing to bear...). Only a fool would disagree, Socrates...[/sarcasm]
Garco's initial post was confused and moralistic. Martin H's post provides perhaps the most succinct exposure of the confusion but many folks of different stripes did a good job of sorting out both the confusion and the moralism according to their differing positions. Of course, the debate has included some people, like Cantdocartwheels, who imagine that a number of present day institutions will carrying over into a post-capitalist society. The debate also includes many who don't believe this. For example This is what I wrote on the thread on prisons. You can also see the divide in the thread on laws.

Quote:
fort-da-game you seem to be under the impression that some entity known as "libcom" is on this thread arguing that schools aren't reactionary or based in the need for the state to control its population, which is simply not true.

Ah, not quite. Forte "seems" committed to a kind of game where he conflates the posts on the bbs libcom into an entity libcom despite knowing very well that such an entity does not exist. It's some method or corollary coming out of nihilist communism. Seriously. You can in issue #3 of Letters magazine where he describes intentionally conflating Michael Heinrich, author of Invaders From Marx with sometime libcom poster Angelus Novus.

Does that it seem a bit problematic? Well...

I intend to respond in a bit to the more substantive comments on "totalizing discourses"

Edit: Typos, as usual...