Tag Archives: class war

Education for Dangerous Citizenship

I’ll be at the University of Texas at San Antonio in November giving a talk as part of the Educational Leadership & Policy Studies Distinguished Lecture Series.

The talk, titled “Education for Dangerous Citizenship”, will draw from some of my recent work with Rich Gibson (e.g., “The Education Agenda is a War Agenda” and “No Child Left Behind and the Imperial Project”) and Kevin D. Vinson (“The Concrete Inversion of Life””: Guy Debord, the Spectacle, and Critical Social Studies Education” [pdf]). The UTSA talk will cover some of the foundational ideas for a book Kevin and I are currently writing titled Dangerous Citizenship: A Theory and Practice of Contemporary Critical Pedagogy.

Thanks to Abraham DeLeon for organizing things at UTSA.

Here’s the blurb:

Education for Dangerous Citizenship: War, Surveillance, Spectacle, and the Education Agenda

We live in an era in which leaders have delivered on the promise of perpetual war and where the primary role of “public” schooling is social control. In the contemporary milieu of advanced capitalism, the fusion of surveillance and spectacle produces, maintains, and propagates controlling images that enforce prevailing societal norms by disciplining the thoughts and behaviors of individuals and groups. How might educators respond to the mechanisms of the state used to ensure direct and ideological social control? How might we resist increasingly color-coded social and economic inequality? And might we subvert an education agenda that is a (class) war agenda?

Rouge Forum Update: Happy Holidays To Us, Every One! And Remember March 4th!

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Dear Friends, Here’s to the 4468 of us on the Rouge Forum list who have, in one way or another, sought to fashion reason and connect that to power. Here’s to a decade that lays the foundation for a just and equitable society—fun too!

On the Education Front is a Class War Front This Week:

The Rouge Forum Newslatest edition is now available

National Call for March 4 Strike and Day of Action To Defend Public Education:

California has recently seen a massive movement erupt in defense of public education — but layoffs, fee hikes, cuts, and the re-segregation of public education are attacks taking place throughout the country. A nationwide resistance movement is needed.

We call on all students, workers, teachers, parents, and their organizations and communities across the country to massively mobilize for a Strike and Day of Action in Defense of Public Education on March 4, 2010. Education cuts are attacks against all of us, particularly in working-class communities and communities of color.

The politicians and administrators say there is no money for education and social services. They say that “there is no alternative” to the cuts. But if there’s money for wars, bank bailouts, and prisons, why is there no money for public education?

We can beat back the cuts if we unite students, workers, and teachers across all sectors of public education — Pre K-12, adult education, community colleges, and state-funded universities. We appeal to the leaders of the trade union movement to support and organize strikes and/or mass actions on March 4. The weight of workers and students united in strikes and mobilizations would shift the balance of forces entirely against the current agenda of cuts and make victory possible.

Building a powerful movement to defend public education will, in turn, advance the struggle in defense of all public-sector workers and services and will be an inspiration to all those fighting against the wars, for immigrants rights, in defense of jobs, for single-payer health care, and other progressive causes.

Why March 4? On October 24, 2009 more than 800 students, workers, and teachers converged at UC Berkeley at the Mobilizing Conference to Save Public Education. This massive meeting brought together representatives from over 100 different schools, unions, and organizations from all across California and from all sectors of public education. After hours of open collective discussion, the participants voted democratically, as their main decision, to call for a Strike and Day of Action on March 4, 2010. All schools, unions and organizations are free to choose their specific demands and tactics — such as strikes, rallies, walkouts, occupations, sit-ins, teach-ins, etc. — as well as the duration of such actions.

Let’s make March 4 an historic turning point in the struggle against the cuts, layoffs, fee hikes, and the re-segregation of public education.

– The California Coordinating Committee

(To endorse this call and to receive more information contact: march4strikeanddayofaction@gmail.com and check out www.defendcapubliceducation.wordpress.com )

Read the full Rouge Forum Update here.

Finance oligarchy captures US government; US government preps for civil unrest

The conventional wisdom, to this point, has been that current economic crisis cannot be as bad as The Great Depression. Conventional wisdom is apparently changing.

Last week, renowned investor George Soros said the world financial system has effectively disintegrated, adding that there is yet no prospect of a near-term resolution to the crisis.

Soros believes the current economic crisis has created more severe turbulence than the Great Depression and former Fed chairman Paul Volker, speaking at the same conference at Columbia University, agrees: “I don’t remember any time, maybe even in the Great Depression, when things went down quite so fast, quite so uniformly around the world,” Volcker said.

Referring to events in Septmeber 2008, when Lehman Brothers went under, Soros said, “We witnessed the collapse of the financial system. It was placed on life support, and it’s still on life support. There’s no sign that we are anywhere near a bottom.”

The bailout money is being abused in a number of ways, all of which recycle bailout cash back to corporate elites and the political class:

  • Former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer has criticize AIG, not for using bailout cash to give huge bonuses to its executives, but for repaying, in full, its investment banking partners—steering additional federal dollars to Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, JPMorgan Chase and others when they already were already being propped up by Washington.

“Bank of America (which got $15 billion in bailout money) sent out $24,500 in the first two months of 2009, including $1,500 to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and another $15,000 to members of the House and Senate banking panels. Citigroup ($25 billion) dished out $29,620, including $2,500 to House GOP Whip Eric Cantor, who also got $10,000 from UBS which, while not a TARP recipient, got $5 billion in bailout funds as an AIG “counterparty.”

But Spitzer and Newsweek are talking small potatoes compared to the Simon Johnson’s assessment of the current economic crisis. In “The Quite Coup” (The Atlantic, March 2009),  Johnson, a professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management and former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund, says that that the finance industry has “effectively captured our government” not through violence or bribes (Abramoff and K Street notwithstanding), but

Instead, the American financial industry gained political power by amassing a kind of cultural capital—a belief system. Once, perhaps, what was good for General Motors was good for the country. Over the past decade, the attitude took hold that what was good for Wall Street was good for the country. The banking-and-securities industry has become one of the top contributors to political campaigns, but at the peak of its influence, it did not have to buy favors the way, for example, the tobacco companies or military contractors might have to. Instead, it benefited from the fact that Washington insiders already believed that large financial institutions and free-flowing capital markets were crucial to America’s position in the world.

What we have is an ideological coup. The government quite clearly acting as the executive committee of the rich. Johnson explains why we have been been denied the pleasure of of seeing fat cats jumping out of Wall Street skyscrapers—the financial oligarchy remains in control, blocking essential reforms and continuing to push us toward the Greatest Depression.

Johnson’s article is the most clearly reasoned, knowledgeable, and accessible piece I’ve read on root causes of the current crisis and he presents a “tried and true” strategy for solving it too—IMF shock therapy. He likens the U.S. economic and financial crisis to what has been seen in emerging markets (and only in emerging markets) like South Korea (1997), Malaysia (1998), Russia and Argentina (time and again).

In each of those cases, global investors, afraid that the country or its financial sector wouldn’t be able to pay off mountainous debt, suddenly stopped lending. And in each case, that fear became self-fulfilling, as banks that couldn’t roll over their debt did, in fact, become unable to pay. This is precisely what drove Lehman Brothers into bankruptcy on September 15, causing all sources of funding to the U.S. financial sector to dry up overnight. Just as in emerging-market crises, the weakness in the banking system has quickly rippled out into the rest of the economy, causing a severe economic contraction and hardship for millions of people.

The financiers who created the crisis with the able assistance of Wall Street alumni in government (particularly ex-Goldman Sachs executives who have been ensconced at the Treasury Department for multiple administrations) are now, according to Johnson, “using their influence to prevent precisely the sorts of reforms that are needed, and fast, to pull the economy out of its nosedive. The government seems helpless, or unwilling, to act against them.” Well, the financiers are the government.

For Johnson the two major, interrelated problems are the banking sector “that threatens to choke off any incipient recovery that the fiscal stimulus might generate” and  “a political balance of power that gives the financial sector a veto over public policy, even as that sector loses popular support.” On the former, he suggests the IMF’s nationalization approach. On the latter, Johnson suggests replacing our current elites, with a new batch. Hmm.

While Johnson’s analysis is compelling, his solutions, unsurprisingly, aren’t—two scenarios: IMF approach solves the problem or catastrophic global depression smartens up the elites).

Meanwhile the US government moves forward to on plans to use the military to control civil unrest as a result of the collapsing economy, as legislation to establish internment camps on US military bases has been introduced into the House of Representatives.

Doesn’t look to me like the finance oligarchy is planning to step down any time soon.

As the economic crisis sparks upheaval globally, analysts fear possibility of class war in the USA

As global capitalism implodes there is has been a marked uptick in social upheaval worldwide and now establishment analysts are expressing their concerns about “class conflict” and “civil war” in the USA.

The Economic Meltdown Sparks Global Unrest

The financial crisis has sparked unrest globally and particularly across Europe, with demonstrations, strikes, and protests in 16 European countries. Here are a just a few examples:

  • Tens of thousands of workers marched in Lisbon, Portugal on March 13 against the policies of the Socialist government, which unions say are increasing unemployment and favoring the rich at a time of crisis;
  • Hundreds of workers at Bulgaria’s Kremikovtzi steel mill protested on March 9 over planned lay-offs and unpaid salaries, demanding the Socialist-led government find a buyer for the insolvent plant; thousands of police officers marched in Sofia on Sunday to demand a 50 percent wage rise and better working conditions;
  • In Greece, the fatal police shooting of a 15-year old in December sparked the country’s worst riots in decades, fueled by anger at economic hardships and youth unemployment. Anarchists and left wing guerrilla groups have followed up with a wave of attacks against banks and police; Greek unions, representing about 2.5 million workers, have also staged repeated protests against the government saying its measures to tackle the global crisis only burden the poor;
  • Last month over 100,000 people marched against cutbacks in Ireland.

High unemployment rates have led to protests in Latvia, Chile, Greece, Bulgaria and Iceland and contributed to strikes in Britain and France.

Last month, a half-million Mexican truckers shut down the countries highways to protest high fuel prices.

In December, Russian riot police busted up protests in Vladivostok against new taxes intended to “help prop up Russia’s domestic car industry and prevent people buying cheaper, imported products.” BBC reports that the protests were fuelled by the severe impact of the global economic crisis on Russia. According to Newsweek, “the Russian Interior Ministry set up a special command center in Moscow, packed with surveillance equipment designed to deal with street unrest. The Duma, on Kremlin instructions, added seven new articles to the criminal code including a law that makes “participating in mass disorders” such as the one in Vladivostok a ‘crime against the state.'” 800,000 Russians lost their jobs in December and January, making the total number of unemployed more than 6 million or 8.1 percent. Gennady Gudkov, former KGB colonel and current chair of the Duma’s security committee, said, “We are expecting mass unemployment and mass riots. There will be not enough police to stop people’s protests by force.”

There a have been massive general strikes in the French territories of Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Réunion. The general strike in Guadeloupe prompted the French government to fly in riot police (Guadeloupe is a French “overseas department” in the Caribbean). And while the general strike lasted 6 weeks—it ended on March 4 with an agreement among the strike collective, the employers federation and local and French governments, which granted 20 of the strikers primary demands and set out negotiations on a long list of remaining issues—strikes and protests continue, involving tens of thousands of workers.

The agreement to end the Gaudeloupe strike , called the “Jacques Bino Accord”, identifies the underlying cause of discord as “the present economic and social situation existing in Guadeloupe [that] results from the perpetuation of the model of the plantation economy”. An economy “based on monopoly privileges and abuses of dominant positions that generate injustices.” The accord calls for an end to these obstacles “by establishing a new economic order enhancing the status of everyone and promoting new social relationships”.

Just as the general strike ended in Guadeloupe, social unrest over economic conditions spread to Réunion (a French “overseas department” in the Indian Ocean).

There is a definite pattern developing world wide. And now, US elites are starting to worry about what might happen if the American workers take action as a result of their frustrations with massive economic inequalities.

USA Prepares for Class War

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In his latest monthly commentary (Mar. 15, 2009, Commentary No. 253), sociologist and world-systems analyst Immanuel Wallerstein discusses the breakdown of taboos as the world’s economy continues to disintegrate.

He notes, for example, that “nationalization” of banks and industry is now being seriously discussed by establishment intellectuals and analysts such as Alan Greenspan, Senator Lindsay Graham, and economist Alan Blinder.

But Wallerstein’s most dramatic example of the breakdown of taboos is the open discussion of the possibility of class war breaking out in the USA. Wallerstein says that “after hearing nationalization proposals by arch-conservative notables, we are now hearing serious discussions about the possibilities of civil war in the United States. Zbigniew Brzezinski, apostle of anti-Communist ideology and President Carter’s National Security Advisor, appeared on a morning television talk show on February 17, and was asked to discuss his previous mention of the possibility of class conflict in the United States in the wake of the worldwide economic collapse.”

In Brzezinski’s interview with Joe Scarborough on MSNBC about his recently published book—America and the World: Conversations on the Future of American Foreign Policy, co-authored with another former National Security Advisor (to Gerald Ford and George H. W. Bush) Brent Scowcroft—Brezenzki was straightforward about the belief that class war in America is real possibility:

JOE SCARBOROUGH: You also talked about the possibility of class conflict.

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: I was worrying about it because we’re going to have millions and millions of unemployed, people really facing dire straits.  And we’re going to be having that for some period of time before things hopefully improve. And at the same time there is public awareness of this extraordinary wealth that was transferred to a few individuals at levels without historical precedent in America…And you sort of say to yourself: what’s going to happen in this society when these people are without jobs, when their families hurt, when they lose their homes, and so forth?

We have the government trying to repair: repair the banking system, to bail the housing out.  But what about the rich guys? Where is it?  [What are they] doing?

Brzezinski went on to compare the current economic meltdown to the “Panic of 1907″:

It sort of struck me, that in 1907, when we had a massive banking crisis, when banks were beginning to collapse, there were going to be riots in the streets. Some financiers, led by J.P. Morgan, got together.  He locked them in his library at one point. He wouldn’t let them out until 4:45 AM, until they all kicked in and gave some money to stabilize the banks: there was no Federal Reserve at the time.

Where is the monied class today? Why aren’t they doing something: the people who made billions, millions.  I’m sort of thinking of Paulson, of Rubin [former treasury secretaries]. Why don’t they get together, and why don’t they organize a National Solidarity Fund in which they call on all of those who made these extraordinary amounts of money to kick some back in to [a] National Solidarity Fund?

Brzezinski continued saying,

“And if we don’t get some sort of voluntary National Solidarity Fund, at some point there’ll be such political pressure that Congress will start getting in the act, there’s going to be growing conflict between the classes and if people are unemployed and really hurting, hell, there could be even riots!

Wallerstein points out that “almost simultaneously” LEAP/Europe a European agency that issues monthly confidential bulletins for its clients—politicians, public servants, businessmen, and investors—devoted its February issue to global geopolitical dislocation, discussing the possibility of civil war in Europe, in the United States, and Japan; and foreseeing a “generalized stampede” that will lead to clashes, semi-civil wars.

Wallerstein quotes the Global Europe Anticipation Bulletin as saying:

“If your country or region is a zone in which there is a massive availability of guns, the best thing you can do…is to leave the region, if that’s possible.”

And Wallerstein also points out that, “the only one of these countries which meets the description of massively available guns is the United States. The head of LEAP/Europe, Franck Biancheri, noted that ‘there are 200 million guns in circulation in the United States, and social violence is already manifest via gangs.’ The experts who wrote the report asserted that there is already an ongoing emigration of Americans to Europe, because that is ‘where physical danger will remain marginal.'”

Wallerstein emphases that “these analyses are not coming from left intellectuals or radical social movements.…Verbal taboos are broken only when such people are truly fearful. The point of breaking the taboos is to try to bring about major rapid action – the equivalent of J.P. Morgan locking the financiers in his home in 1907.”

And US elites are obviously fearful enough to start planning for military responses to potential social upheaval as a result of the collapsing economy.

Last November, the US War College’s Strategic Studies Institute posited a number of  “strategic surprises” that the country should be prepared for, including potential for disruption and violence caused by the economy’s failure. The report Known Unknowns: Unconventional ‘Strategic Shocks’ in Defense Strategy Development, says “widespread civil violence inside the US would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities in extremis to defend basic domestic order and human security.”

And now, for the first time ever, US military units are staged and are training inside the country to address civil unrest rising from inequality. The Army Times has reported on the US Northern Command’s (NORTHCOM) deployment of the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Combat Brigade Team (BCT) on U.S. soil for “civil unrest” and “crowd control” duties. The 5,000-member force was one of first units deployed in Baghdad.