Category Archives: Democracy

Critical Pedagogy and the Covid-19 Pandemic: Keeping Communities Together in Times of Crisis

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Fatma Mizikaci and Eda Ata (University of Anakara, Turkey) began a free online webinar series called Global Thursday Talks to examine the social and political impact of the pandemic on education, and explore how the creation of digital communities has become indispensable in maintaining connectivity and building networks.

The book version of these GTT talks and interviews, Critical Pedagogy and the Covid-19 Pandemic: Keeping Communities Together in Times of Crisis has just been published by Bloomsbury.

A wide-range of critical scholar/activist educators from Europe, North America and Turkey participated in the seminars and contribute to the book. I’m really pleased to have had the opportunity to participate in the project along with Antonia Darder, Liv Mjelde, Michael Apple, Peter McLaren, Henry Giroux, Ira Shor, and many others.

My dialogue with Fatma and Eda as part of GTT is wide-ranging. I discuss my journey as an activist educator and experiences that shaped my thinking about education and its role in the transformation of society. I also describe how the pandemic created a crisis for teaching, learning, and democratic action within the pre-existing crisis that is neoliberal capitalism, including how the threats of corporate education intensified during the pandemic. I also spend time talking about various models of critical resistance for teachers and teacher educators – that is – how post-pandemic educators can take advantage of the disruptions of traditional practices to create more flexible, responsive and subversive approaches to teaching and learning.

Encyclopaedia of Marxism and Education

Encyclopaedia of Marxism and Education

Brill has just published the Encyclopaedia of Marxism and Education, edited by Alpesh Maisuria, who is a professor in Education Policy in Critical Education at the University of the West of England, Bristol, UK.

“This encyclopaedia showcases the explanatory power of Marxist educational theory and practice. The entries have been written by 51 leading authors from across the globe. The 39 entries cover an impressive range of contemporary issues and historical problematics. The editor has designed the book to appeal to readers within the Marxism and education intellectual tradition, and also those who are curious newcomers, as well as critics of Marxism.

The Encyclopaedia of Marxism and Education is the first of its kind. It is a landmark text with relevance for years to come for the productive dialogue between Marxism and education for transformational thinking and practice.”

I co-authored, with Sandra Mathison,  a chapter titled “Critical Education” for EME. In this chapter we define critical education broadly as a field or approach that works theoretically and practically toward social change that anticipates a post-capitalist world. We explore multiple foundational sources for critical education including Marxism and critical theory, but also democracy and anarchism. And finally, we provide an overview of several manifestations of critical education. While many conflate critical pedagogy with critical education, we contend critical education has a broader reach.

Please contact me if you would like a copy of our chapter on critical education, as I have a limited number of offprints I can share.


Table of Contents

Acknowledgements
List of Figures and Tables
Notes on Contributors

1 Introduction
Alpesh Maisuria
2 The 4th Industrial Revolution, Post-Capitalism, Waged Labour and Vocational Education
James Avis
3 Alienation and Education
Richard Hall
4 Alternatives to Capitalism
Peter Hudis
5 Capital Accumulation and Education
John Fraser Rice
6 Colonialisms and Class
Spyros Themelis
7 Communism: The Party – Pedagogy and Revolution from Marx to China
Collin L. Chambers and Derek R. Ford
8 Corporate State: “Downhill All the Way” – Education in England from Welfare to Corporate State
Patrick Ainley
9 Critical Education
Sandra Mathison and E. Wayne Ross
10 Critical Realism
Grant Banfield
11 Cuban-Marxist Education
Rosi Smith, Leticia de las Mercedes García Rosabal and Maikel J. Ortiz Bosch
12 Dialectical Materialism (Materialist Dialectics)
Constantine (Kostas) Skordoulis
13 Disaster Education
John Preston
14 Early Childhood, Feminism, and Marx
Rachel Rosen and Jan Newberry
15 Employment: Education without Jobs – Young People, Qualifications, and Employment in 21st Century Britain
Martin Allen
16 Ethnography of Education and Marxism: Education Research for Social Transformation
Dennis Beach
17 Freire, Paulo (1921–1997) as a Marxist Revolutionary for Education
Juha Suoranta
18 Gramsci, Antonio (1891–1937): Culture and Education
Peter Mayo
19 Green Marxism
Simon Boxley
20 Guevara, Ernesto “Che” (1928–1967)
Peter McLaren and Lilia D. Monzó
21 Intersectionality: Scaling Intersectional Praxes
Gregory Martin and Benjamin “Benji” Chang
22 Lenin, Vladimir (1870–1924) and Education
Juha Suoranta and Robert FitzSimmons
23 Liberation Theology
Peter McLaren
24 Luxemburg, Rosa (1871–1919) and Education
Julia Damphouse and Sebastian Engelmann
25 Managerialism and Higher Education
Goran Puaca
26 Marxism and Education: [Closed] and … Open …
Glenn Rikowski
27 Marxism and Human Rights against Capitalism
Daniel Hedlund and Magnus Nilsson
28 Marxist Feminism and Education: Gender, Race, and Class
Sara Carpenter and Shahrzad Mojab
29 Middle Classes of the World
Göran Therborn
30 Neo-Liberalism and Revolution: Marxism for Emerging Critical Educators
Alpesh Maisuria
31 New Left, Anarchism and Education
Nick Stevenson
32 Palestine: Education in Mandate Palestine
Bernard Regan
33 Plebs League: Towards a Modern Plebs League
Colin Waugh
34 Postdigital Marxism
Petar Jandrić
35 Poverty: Class, Poverty and Neo-Liberalism
Terry Wrigley
36 Public Pedagogy
Mike Cole
37 Public University: The Political Economy of the Public University
David Harvie, Mariya Ivancheva and Robert Ovetz
38 Social Class: Education, Social Class and Marxist Theory
Dave Hill and Alpesh Maisuria
39 State and Private Capital: Education, State and Capital
Ravi Kumar and Rama Paul
40 World-Systems Critical Education
Tom G. Griffiths

Index

“We can learn lessons from the streets” – Interview with Documento (Athens, Greece) on Uprisings in the USA

Here is a brief interview I did with Anna Papadimitriou for Documento newspaper (Athens, Greece), published in the June 6-7, 2020 edition. English text below.

Documento: The death of George Floyd has sparked massive protests in the United States. It seems that this is one of the “dominoes” that brought people out to the streets. What are the reasons fuelling people’s rage?

EWR: The brutal and horrifying killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis by police officer Derek Chauvin is the tipping point for large scale protests that ripped through over 120 cities in the United States. Floyd’s death is reminiscent of Eric Garner’s 2014 death at the hands of New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo who placed him in a prohibited chokehold while Garner uttered “I can’t breathe.” But in recent weeks we have also witnessed the police killing of Breonna Taylor in her home in Louisville, Kentucky and Ahmaud Arbery’s shooting death in Georgia by a white ex-police officer. The United States, and African Americans in particular, have suffered from an epidemic of police brutality and killing for years. Since 2014, after Michael Brown, an unarmed black man was gunned down by police in Ferguson, Missouri, there have been over 5,000 Americans shot and killed by police. Indeed, the rate of fatal shootings by police is remarkably consistent, averaging about 1,000 deaths per year. The rate at which African Americans are killed by police is more than twice as high as the rate for white Americans. Fatal police shootings have taken place in every state.

The ongoing protests of the police killing of George Floyd has predictably fostered a further eruption of police violence as police across the country have tear-gassed peaceful protesters, driven police vehicles through crowds, opened fire with rubber bullets on journalists and people on their own property. So the civilians’ rage against police violence has prompted law enforcement officers to escalate the unrest.

Police violence and murder in the United States cannot be separated from the context of racism and white supremacy that has been part of the country’s history and make up since its founding. The police in the North America and elsewhere were created to protect property and enforce repressive laws in the interest of maintaining interests advantaged by status quo inequalities, it has long been the norm for police to break up demonstrations of people advocating for civil rights or to attack trade unionists.

While the focus of protests in the US as well as in Canada have been in response to police violence and violence against black people there is the matter of the growing inequalities and inequities in everyday life. The coronavirus pandemic illustrates this as African Americans are dying from COVID19 at three times the rate of white people, as does continued lack of access to adequate health care for all Americans, the attack on women’s rights to make decisions about their own health, etc.

Then there is the largest bailout in the history of the US, USD 2trillion, which primarily protects the investor class and corporate interests, while 40 million workers are without jobs. The official US unemployment rate is now nearly 15%, the highest since records began. And most economists believe that the real figure is above 20%.

Documento:  President Trump is evidently a polarizing figure who is adding fuel to the fire, but it is evident that the American society as a whole is deeply fragmented and polarised.

EWR: The United States has long been a fragmented and deeply divided society. It is a country that has been built on slavery, racism, and white supremacy. The US Civil War, fought over slavery, begat continuing conflict over the racism and access to civil rights that has never been resolved. At the end of the First World War in 1919, Black Americans experienced the deadliest episode of races riots and lynching in US history. The apartheid society of the US continued to function well into the 1960s with de facto racial segregation continuing for years in housing and schools. The Black Lives Matter movement is a response to the cumulative impact of white supremacy and the longstanding fatal inequalities it produces.

Trump is certainly a polarizing figure and he added fuel to the fires with his ever increasing authoritarian and now clearly fascist rhetoric. At his political rallies and in his public statements Trump has offered encouragement and apologies for white supremacists and neo-Nazi groups. His remarks about  Unite the Right rally in Charlotteville, Virginia in 2017 were particularly flagrant. Trump’s approach has been to produce chaos and division rather than seek peace, reconciliation, solution to problems. By all accounts, his personal as well as domestic and foreign policy are at heart based upon bullying and authoritarianism and laced with ignorance and incompetence. This can be seen in his rhetoric regarding China and North Korea for example as well his characterization of US protesters as “terrorists,” his belligerent attitude toward state governors’ handling of the protests, his lack of empathy for 100,000+ coronavirus victims and his failure to manage pandemic.

Documento: What should we expect for the next day? Can these protests bring real change to the American society? Can a new political movement be born out of these protests? Or more is needed to bring change in an already established system?

It is absolutely possible for the current uprising to spawn a new political movement that leads to real change. It is possible, but not likely to produce systemic change. My pessimism for revolutionary change in the United States is because the vast majority of Americans see political conflicts through the lens of the two party system that dominates the political narrative. White there are some differences between the Trump’s Republican Party and the Democratic Party, particularly on social and cultural issues, both parties are supremely committed to the status quo, which is a view of the world that is defined by neoliberal capitalism and the extension and strengthening of empire. Both parties are driven by the interests of the corporate capitalism and of the super-rich. Despite the common rhetoric of the United States as a fountain of democracy and freedom, its politics is defined by economic-elite domination – the one percent and organized groups representing corporate interests have substantial independent impact on government policy. This is clearly illustrated in by the Trump administrations dismantling of environmental protections. Average citizens and mass-based groups have little influence on government policies. The protests illustrate the power of the people, but that power needs to coalesce in forms that are not coopted by either of the reigning political parties. The first step toward revolutionary change takes place in the mind. If there is change in the way people start to understand the world — such as rejecting the packaged ideological narratives of major corporate media  — then there will be a change in the way people behave. I am optimistic about what can be learned in the streets.

THE REGIMES OF TRUTH OF (GLOBAL) CITIZENSHIP EDUCATION

Event cancelled based on UBC recommendations regarding COVID-19.

Public Seminar
Institute for Critical Educational Studies

THE REGIMES OF TRUTH OF (GLOBAL) CITIZENSHIP EDUCATION

Marta Estellés, PhD
University of Cantabria (Spain)

Thursday, April 2, 2020
12:30 – 1:30 pm
University of British Columbia, Vancouver — Scarfe 1209

 Abstract

The aim of this presentation is to briefly problematize current ways of thinking and talking about (global) citizenship education. Citizenship is a process more than it is an attribute, since the concept has incorporated the main characteristics both of the political transformations experienced by the State and of the State’s relations with society. The successive battles for the definition of citizenship have an impact on that institution of socialization that is school. Examining the evolution of curricular prescriptions and orientations is enough to glimpse changes in the languages and frames through which certain relations between the individual, the community, and the State are naturalized.

The results of our research show that the two major cycles of socio-institutional restructuring in Western countries – from the crisis of the nineteenth-century liberal regimes to the present – have imposed different trends in relation to citizenship education in schools. The first cycle reached its culmination with the implementation of Welfare States after the Second World War. It was not a coincidence that the first major defense for democratic citizenship education appeared in this moment, with the reformist impulse that gave rise in 1916 to Social Studies in the US. The recognition of socio-economic rights and the formation of citizenship appeared inextricably linked in the texts of the reform, in an attempt to establish a new “regime of truth” that radically redefined the meaning of education for all, and not only for a privileged minority. This redefinition also implied a criticism of the patriotic and nationalistic purposes of education. This language, however, started to become blurred as neoliberal policies instituted their own frames in the 1980s with Reagan in the US and Thatcher in the UK. Citizenship education began to adopt the rhetoric of accountability with its emphasis on testing, performance levels, skills, etc. and the focus was on promoting responsible and active citizenship that clearly emphasized duties over rights. Thus, it began to be assumed that citizens should be responsible for their own well-being and not the State. Recent discourses on global citizenship education should be seen as heirs of this last redefinition. After all, global citizenship education “aims to empower learners to engage and assume active roles, both locally and globally, to face and resolve global challenges” (UNESCO, 2014, p. 15), assuming that the responsibility of solving those challenges lies with the individuals, not on governments or international organizations.

Marta Estellés, PhD, is Assistant Professor of the Department of Education at the University of Cantabria (Spain). Her research interests include citizenship education, social studies education, curriculum policies and teacher education. She has published several works on the intersectional field of democratic citizenship education and initial teacher education. She is currently working on a research project related to teachers’ political views and behaviors and their attitudes towards including controversial issues in the classroom. She is also part of the Fedicaria collective (http://www.fedicaria.org), which advocates for critical social studies education.

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Society, Democracy, and Economics: Challenges for Social Studies and Citizenship Education in a Neoliberal World

On February 20, 2020 I will be delivering the keynote address at the annual meeting of Gesellschaft für sozioökonomische Bildung und Wissenschaft (GSÖBW) / Society for Socio-Economic Education and Science in Vienna, Austria.

Abstract

In 1989, Francis Fukuyama declared the “end of history,” arguing the collapse of the Soviet Union, end of the Cold War, and universalization of liberal-democracy was the end point of the humankind’s ideological evolution. Since then we have witnessed a continued retreat of civil rights, a massive rise in inequality, and liberal-democracy has now delivered a string of illiberal authoritarian, nationalist leaders worldwide. Many analyses of right-wing populism are dualistic – creating a narrative of democracy against right-wing nationalism. Individualism is at the heart of classical liberalism and as such is the root of the democratic crisis that is represented by the contemporary rise of so-called populism. In this paper I explore national democracies and the relationship between bourgeois democracy and fascism. Given what we know about the state of democracy in the world today, is it even possible to teach for a democracy that is not dominated by capital? Do we want to teach for capitalist democracy? Is there an alternative? Is the concept of democracy bankrupt? Is democracy as a concept and practice even salvageable? If democracy is salvageable then teaching about and for democracy in contemporary times cannot be done without engaging the complexities and contradictions that have come to define what real existing (or non-existing) democracy is and its relationship with fascism and populism.

Keywords: populism, democracy, social studies education, citizenship education, neoliberalism, socio-economic education

The full text of the talk is available here: DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.23273.85600

Sandra Mathison: Privatizing private schools should top list of funding changes

Published in The Province (Vancouver, BC)
October 9, 2019
Since 2013, the province has subsidized private schools to the tune of $2.6 billion. The subsidies for 2018-19 alone were $426 million, and projections for this school year are $436 million. Julia McKay / The Whig-Standard

Privatizing private schools should top list of funding changes

By Sandra Mathison

Opinion: With a public system still reeling from more than 15 years of cuts by the previous government, there is no excuse for funnelling billions of dollars to private schools.

As the B.C. education ministry rethinks how to fully and adequately fund the province’s schools, at the top of their list should be privatizing private schools by discontinuing public subsidies to independent schools.

Since 2013, the province has subsidized private schools to the tune of $2.6 billion. The subsidies for 2018-19 alone were $426 million, and projections for this school year are $436 million.

These subsidies to private schools have increased at an astronomical rate: funding increases (adjusted for inflation) to private schools have increased by 122.8 per cent since 2000-01, compared to a 15.9-per-cent increase in funding to public schools during this same period.

According to recent surveys by the Institute for Public Education, CUPE B.C. and the B.C. Humanist Association, most British Columbians believe public funding of private schools needs to end. In a poll that Insights West conducted for us in May, four in five British Columbians (78 per cent) oppose providing taxpayer funds for elite private schools. Sixty-nine per cent of British Columbians oppose funding to faith-based schools.

Let private schools be private, and let them deserve the label “independent schools.”

Private schools cost taxpayers by direct taxpayer-supported subsidies, but also by exemptions from paying property taxes, numerous personal tax benefits for individuals, and collecting large sums of tax-deductible donations.

Private schools also cost B.C. in non-economic ways. Faith-based schools are allowed to ignore human-rights laws and discriminate against employees based on marital status or sexual orientation. Our poll shows that few British Columbians are aware that faith-based schools are exempted from the B.C. Human Rights Code, but once they were aware of this, 81 per cent of respondents did not believe they should be allowed this exemption.

Let private schools be private, and let them deserve the label “independent schools.”

Private school admission processes segregate students by class and/or beliefs, rejecting students who don’t “fit” their values. These schools are therefore isolating students from peers who are not like them. Many B.C. taxpayers’ children would not be admitted to these private schools — because they can’t afford them, do not have academic credentials, or they are not suitable given the school’s philosophy.

Private schools reject the idea that schools ought to be about equity, about providing an education for all students regardless of their individual attributes.

If the education ministry needs a plan, they could immediately end subsidies to elite “Group 2” schools, those spending more per student than public schools and charging significant tuition fees. These are schools such as St. George’s in Vancouver and Shawnigan Lake on Vancouver Island.

Then they could phase out subsidies to faith-based schools over a short period of time, say two to three years.

The ministry should review private schools that serve needs not currently well met by the public schools (possibly, Indigenous schools and programs for students with special needs) and work toward integrating those schools/programs into the public education system. They should ensure there is sufficient funding provided to public schools to meet those needs.

And at the same time, tax exemptions that diminish revenue that could support public education need to change.

With a public school system still reeling from more than 15 years of cuts by the previous government, and students with special needs bearing the brunt of the underfunding, there is no excuse for funnelling billions of dollars to private schools. That money should be allocated to the public school system where it can help every child achieve their fullest potential.

Sandra Mathison is the executive director of the Institute for Public Education B.C., a professor of education at the University of B.C., and co-director of the Institute for Critical Education.

Dangerous Citizens Save Democracy: My interview with Documento

Documento, a newspaper in Athens, Greece, published Anna Papadimitriou’s interview with me on October 22, 2017.  Over the course of the interview we covered a variety of topics including the state of democracy in the world today, the ways in which democracy submits to capitalism and the role of schools in the creation of democratic citizens.

We discussed, in particular, the concept of dangerous citizenship, a notion I developed along with Kevin D. Vinson.

The interview was published in Greek. Below I have posted the unedited version of the interview in English.

Interview with Anna Papadimitriou for Documento (Athens, Greece)

October 2017

  1. Your research interests focus on the role of teaching in building a democratic society in the face of antidemocratic impulses of greed, individualism, and intolerance. Nowadays, many countries define themselves as democracies, but one can find one or more of the antidemocratic impulses you mention. How would you define a modern democratic society? Is there any country on the planet that corresponds to your description?

Our default for understanding the world is typically to use fixed terms and ideas that we believe correspond to some unchanging reality. The problem is that our language of democracy is static, but the real world is constantly changing. Our thoughts, ideas and terminology about democracy are merely representations of what we think it is and in many ways these ideas no longer correspond to reality, indeed the reality is nearly the opposite.

Here are some examples of what I mean. This past summer Poland’s parliament passed a law undermining the independence of courts, even though separation of powers is a key idea defining liberal democracy. Earlier this month the Spanish government sent police to attack voters and confiscate ballot boxes in the Catalan independence referendum. Poland and Spain are considered democratic governments, but they are not acting in accordance with the typical ideas we hold about how a democracy works. I could add many examples from the United States, Turkey and other so-called democracies.

We generally accept the idea that the more people participate in a democratic society the more democratic it becomes, but some political scientists now question whether citizen participation is actually good for democracy, arguing that political participation and deliberation makes things worse. There are now political scientists advocating epistocracy, the rule of the knowledgeable, as better than democracy.

This is not a new idea. In 1975, the Trilateral Commission published a report, The Crisis of Democracy, which described the problems faced by governments in Europe, U.S. and Japan as stemming from “an excess of democracy” and advocated restoring the power of centralized institutions.

U.S. political scientists Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page produced a major empirical study in 2014 that illustrates that the United States is a functioning oligarchy (which they described as “economic elite domination”). The study concluded that the public has almost no influence over policies the US government adopts, but the central features of democratic governance persist, outwardly.

In Brave New World Revisited, Huxley described our current circumstances:

“by means of ever more effective methods of mind-manipulation, the democracies will change their nature; the quaint old forms—elections, parliaments, Supreme Courts and all the rest—will remain. The underlying substance will be a new kind of non-violent totalitarianism. All the traditional names, all the hallowed slogans will remain exactly what they were in the good old days. Democracy and freedom will be the theme of every broadcast and editorial … Meanwhile the ruling oligarchy and its highly trained elite of soldiers, policemen, thought-manufacturers and mind-manipulators will quietly run the show as they see fit.”

What counts as democracy today, that is state-capitalist electoral politics, is a spectacle, which Chris Hedges calls “meaningless theatre” and Paul Street describes as “fake-democratic ‘marionette theater’ for a corporate and military deep state” that grinds down democracy, if such a thing ever really existed.

  1. In your various works, you address the idea of dangerous citizenship. How would you define it?

If we, here I’m speaking of educators, are truly committed to building a more equitable world we have to re-imagine our roles and find ways to create opportunities for students to construct personally meaningful understandings of the world. What we understand about the world is determined by what the world is, who we are, and how we conduct our inquiries. Education is not about showing life to people, but bringing them to life. The aim is not getting students to listen to convincing lectures by experts, but getting them to speak for themselves in order to achieve, or at least strive for an equal degree of participation and a more democratic, equitable, and just future. This requires a new mindset, something I call dangerous citizenship.

Schools are the primary source of citizenship education and a key site where the state attempts to shape young peoples’ understanding of the world. It is the place where myths of democracy are propagated. Dangerous citizenship is, firstly, a radical critique of schooling as social control. It is also a collection of strategies that might be used to disrupt and resist the conforming, anti-democratic, anti-collective and oppressive potentialities of schools and society.

Dangerous citizenship requires people take on actions and behaviours that bring with them certain necessary dangers; it transcends traditional manoeuvres such as voting and signing petitions, etc. Citizenship from this perspective, is a praxis-inspired mindset of opposition and resistance, an acceptance of a certain strategic and tactical stance. Of course, the implication here is that dangerous citizenship is dangerous to an oppressive and socially unjust status quo, to existing hierarchical structures of power.

We need new pedagogical imaginaries for teaching because traditional conceptions of “democratic” citizenship are bankrupt, perverted by capitalism’s triumph over the interests of the people.

Dangerous citizenship embodies three fundamental, conjoined, and crucial generalities: political participation, critical awareness, and intentional action. Its underlying aims rest upon imperatives of resistance, disruption, and disorder.

Dangerous citizenship embraces political participation, but not necessarily traditional means. For example, if state-capitalist electoral politics is meaningless theatre, then voting is perhaps not a meaningful or useful way to be politically engaged. Voting can even be seen as non-democratic, particularly when is suppresses minority viewpoints and enhances the beneficiaries in what is essentially an oligarchy or plutocracy.

Secondly, dangerous citizenship is informed by Paulo Freire’s idea of conscientization, that is a consciousness-raising that facilitates the perception and exposure of social and political contradictions. Dangerous citizenship asks how can we achieve that kind of critical awareness and understanding?

Thirdly, dangerous citizenship promotes intentional, critical action, behaviours designed to instigate human connection, true engagement with everyday life, meaningful experience, communication and change.

Democracy, in this context, is not about electoral politics, but a force that breaks down the barriers that separate people – class, race, national territory – and creates community. The more porous the boundaries of social groups, the more they welcome participation from all individuals, and as the varied groupings enjoy multiple and flexible relations, society moves closer to fulfilling the democratic ideal.

  1. Do dangerous citizens have a place in a democratic society or are they needed when democracies are fading?

Democracy, as I see it, is something that is yet to be achieved.

The first premise of dangerous citizenship is that democracy does not dominate capital. Capital always trumps democracy – pun intended.

As an unfinished, or never finished project democracy cannot exist in a space where critical social analysis is discouraged. This is a key point for educators to understand. We cannot achieve democracy when curriculum is standardized and regulated. Teachers and curriculum have been subject to ever intensifying policy regimes that attack academic freedom and discourage critical thought. This is happening world-wide and has been taken to extremes, for example, by the Erdoğan government in Turkey.

The primary role of capitalist schooling is social control, most evident in the aims to win children of poor and working classes to be obedient, dutiful and useful to the ruling class under a variety of myths, such as “we are all in this together.” Governments would have us believe that civil disobedience is our problem. But has historian Howard Zinn observed our problem is civil obedience in the face of extreme inequalities that produce poverty and starvation, war and cruelty.

The majority of countries in the world describe themselves as some kind of democracy, a republic or constitutional monarchy. But these are shallow and hollow examples of democracy at best and perversions of the idea of democracy at worst.

Democracy as an associated way of living – where citizens are concerned with the development of shared interests that lead to sensitivity about repercussions of their actions on others and a critical examination of existing social, economic, and political inequalities are at the centre of the endeavour should be our goal. Achieving democracy in this sense is a struggle.

Being a dangerous citizen means living in ways that challenge – are dangerous to the existence of  – the status quo and the many inequities that define our world today and that brings with it inherent dangers because enemies of equity and justice can be ruthless.

  1. You were born, raised and educated in the US, but you also have a Canadian citizenship after having spent years in Canada. Can you provide some examples of dangerous citizens in these two countries? How are they confronted by the political authorities?

My goal has been to challenge teachers to examine examples of creative disruption of everyday as potential sources for new critical pedagogies of resistance to be employed in schools. This is an effort to subvert the traditional aims and methods employed in state-capitalist sponsored schools.

The idea of dangerous citizenship is inspired by my interest in post-left, insurrectionist anarchism (such as Guy Debord and the Situationist International) and politically inspired performance artists who aim to creatively disrupt everyday life. These are models for creative pedagogies of resistance.

For example, the “brandalism” – Situationist inspired détournement of corporate advertising – at the 2015 Paris Climate Talks is a good example of dangerous citizenship. As are the “ethical spectacles” practiced by Greenpeace, Yes Men, and the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Posse.

Occupy Wall Street, the indigenous Canadian Idle No More movement are, I think, excellent examples of dangerous citizenship, challenging the status quo, refusing to work within a system that perpetuates social and economic inequalities and generally using direct action tactics to achieve change. But I believe the larger civil society movement, where people are organized to express the will of the “third sector” (non-governmental, non-capitalist), also fits in mould, particularly the anti-austerity movement in Greece and Spain (e.g., the Indignant Citizens Movement), which illustrates the double-edged dangers of dangerous citizenship in practice.

In the mid-twentieth century philosopher Paul Taylor argued “we must decide what ought to be the case. We cannot discover what ought to be the case by investigating what is the case.” We—educators and citizens—must decide what kind of world we want to live in. That means asking, in particular, in what sense of democracy do we want this to be a democratic society? We must engage these questions not as merely abstract or rhetorical, but in relation to our lived experiences.

 

 

Cultural Logic CFP: Learning Vietnam, Again

Cultural Logic

Call for Manuscripts
Learning Vietnam, Again

Edited by:
Rich Gibson, San Diego State University
E. Wayne Ross, University of British Columbia

January 2018, marks the 50th anniversary of the Tet uprising in Vietnam.

While American elites belittled Tet as a military failure (if they noted it at all—General Westmoreland insisted the Battle of Hue was really nothing), their myopic view of the many Tet battles reflected their past and current inability to connect all the factors of modern warfare: the political, economic, military, international, and cultural matters that the National Liberation Front always tied as one.

To recognize the courage, perseverance, and later victory of the Vietnamese over the many invading empires, we plan a special issue of Cultural Logic, “Learning Vietnam, Again.”

We also hope to contend with the false narratives built up since the US fled Vietnam in April, 1975. These would include the fairly well known myths such as the “spat upon veteran,” and the “stabbed in the back” stories, as well as the Obama administration’s more recent whitewash, neatly exposed by Nick Turse, and the Ken Burns/Lynn Novick PBS documentary “The Vietnam War.”

We seek essays that address any aspect of the Vietnam war, but are especially interested in pieces that link the war and education—in any way you can imagine.

After all, the core project of the Vietnamese revolutionaries was education, while on the US side, the effort was either military propaganda, or promoting ignorance. Essays might also relate the United States’ contemporary problems with insurgencies to the history of the wars on Vietnam—and the national education programs of today.

Submissions may include essays, interviews, reviews (books, films, and other media) or poetry. Please use any one of the commonly accepted scholarly formats (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago, Humanities, etc.).

Deadline: February 1, 2018.

For more information or to submit manuscripts email the editors:

rg [at] richgibson.com
wayne.ross [at] ubc.ca

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Cultural Logic, which has been on-line since 1997, is a non-profit, peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary journal that publishes essays, interviews, poetry, reviews (books, films, other media), etc. by writers working within the Marxist tradition. The editors will also print responses to work published in earlier issues. Texts may be of varying length and may conform to any of the commonly accepted scholarly formats (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago, Humanities, etc.). Because this is an interdisciplinary journal, we do not demand that contributors adhere to one particular format, with which they might be unfamiliar. Copyright on texts appearing in Cultural Logic remains with the author. These texts may be republished by the author provided that Cultural Logic is acknowledged as the original place of publication.

Texts appearing in Cultural Logic are indexed in MLA Bibliography, EBSCO Databases, MLA International Directory of Periodicals, International Progressive Publications Network (ippn). Cultural Logic is archived by universities participating in the LOCKSS project initiated by Stanford University. Direct correspondence to E. Wayne Ross, Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy, University of British Columbia, 2125 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z4, Canada. Email: wayne.ross@ubc.ca

Join the Campus Antifascist Network

Reblogged from: David Palumbo-Liu

Join the Campus Antifascist Network

Invitation to Endorse and Join the Campus Antifascist Network

The election of Donald Trump has emboldened fascist and white nationalist groups nationwide, on campus and off, and their recent upsurge requires antifascists to take up the call to action once again. Since Trump’s election, fascists, neo-fascists, and their allies have used blatantly Islamophobic, anti-semitic, racist, misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic, and ableist messaging and iconography to recruit to their ranks and intimidate students, faculty and staff. As we wrote this letter, hundreds of torch-bearing white supremacists were marching on the campus of University of Virginia chanting “Jews will not replace us” and other vile slurs.  An antifascist activist was murdered by these same forces in Charlottesville, raising the stakes of resistance to new heights.

Fascists have used “free speech” as a façade for attacking faculty who have stood in solidarity with students against the threat that these organizations and individuals pose, and as an excuse to march and organize around slogans drawn directly from “blood and soil” rhetoric of Nazi Germany. White supremacists like Richard Spencer have invoked classic tropes of white supremacy to scapegoat and target immigrants, non-whites and the foreign-born. Such organizations and individuals have also engaged in outright physical violence up to and including murder, like those tragic incidents that occurred in Oregon, Virginia, and Maryland.

The so-called ‘alt.right’ and their fellow travelers have also aggressively sought to smear, bully and intimidate faculty, especially faculty of color.  Progressive scholars such as Keeanga Yamahtta-Taylor, Johnny Williams, Dana Cloud and George Ciccariello-Maher, among others, have each been threatened with violence, or firing, for strong anti-racist social justice commitments.

The time to take action is now. We call on all interested individuals and organizations to support or join the Campus Antifascist Network (CAN).  CAN will help you organize a local antifascist chapter on your campus that can help support, educate and defend faculty, students and staff,  and share information on fascist organizing in the U.S., planned fascist activities, and organized antifascist responses.  CAN has already expressed its solidarity with the Charlottesville protests: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1E-JyaGwG4HLgJixeYxflInlw_Z6eLuNH6TfobzM4ZnA/edit?ts=5990393a

CAN has also devised a public, open access Syllabus on Fascism that may be used for any educational purpose:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6FX_x2dbvXqblpZQ3JuUTYxTnM/view?usp=sharing

To become a member of the Campus Antifascist Network,  or to endorse, please write to cannetwork.fighttheh8@gmail.com