Building Education for the Commons
Power has this uncanny mystical effect that blinds us to its inherent contradictions and weaknesses. Think of the slave economy that was necessary for the United States to birth itself as a country. Or even modern liberal and economic theory (i.e., capitalism and representative democracy) crafted by upper-class theorist that required the workers to submit to selling their labor power under false-consciousness. And just like that the institutions in capitalism were turned into a form of prostitution–selling your body for the benefit of the few. The seminal mechanisms required to pull this deception off include representative democracy (in which policies can be controlled by the wealthy class), the creation of a fictitious person called the “corporation” (that has no social responsibility), perpetual war (i.e. the creation of an external enemy), perpetual economic crisis, debt enslavement, precarious employment opportunities all designed to keep us in the grips of fear. Of course there is also the need to create an internal threat to society made manifest through such programs as “the war on drugs” that targets minorities and to also control social movements (i.e. democratic uprisings) and social mobility.
Social movements are controlled by making it increasingly difficult to organize protests, which was effective sealed in the wake of the “Patriot Act” as well as to control the content of education, which has become little more than job training. Social mobility is controlled by simply making education unaffordable after High School by students from poor and working-class backgrounds. The term “public education” that is the idea that education is good for the health of society hardly exists in any meaningful way in the 21st Century in the States. In these above ways, we accept the conditions of existences without questioning how contingent and even purposefully manipulative they are constructed in order to preserve power in the hands of the few who have access to it. And the facts that support what I’m saying are easy to access. How information is controlled by only a handful of wealthy persons (via media), the dual political parties (Republican & Democrat) whose platforms are driven by the economy (that serves one class over others), the growth of privatizing public services (health care, education, transportation, even water), and so forth.
Yet the proverbial elephant with all its overwhelming girth all the while seems to be getting bigger and bigger. People the world over are beginning to see what’s been going on over the past four decades namely, the economic polities of the wealthy class (neoliberalism) run contrary to democracy–that is to the idea that society includes all classes, that we are all equal not only in terms of the law but in terms of being alive, being human, and that we are able to create a better more just society in which all people can live well and in peace.
The recent events with the rise of Syriza in Greece has exposed the dirty tricks neoliberalism has played on us. And the story we have been told is that Greece is in an economic crisis because the Greek worker is lazy. This story is patently false; indeed the Greek worker works far more hours for less wages than the average European worker. The people of Greece have had enough of the Neoliberal rhetoric that blames the worker for the problems under which they have suffered. And like the Greeks, who are naming the elephant for what it is, the world is growing in courage. Can we, like the Greeks, take a stance against injustice? Will we have the courage to not believe in the propaganda of the rich: that if we rise up democratically the economy will collapse and we’ll all slip into the apocalypse? Can we confront our fears and overcome them to find strength in the spirit of a free humanity? It will take courage to reclaim democratic principles and breakout of the prison in which we currently find ourselves.
This will take sustained and committed organization, but if we believe in a free humanity, in democracy, in equality for all, it is what must be done. It will take a generation and much struggle, but the future of humanity depends on our courage to fight for what is right and now is the time to act. The Global Center for Advanced Studies is a school committed to not just educating but also organizing around the principles of democracy and its future. It is possible, it is happening…. Join us!
Creston Davis, Founder and Director GCAS