We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Gates Foundation Education Reform Hype Machine and Bizarre Inequality Theory

Click here to access a series of cartoons posted as graphic journalism by Adam Bessie and Dan Carino from Truthout.

Cartoons can be useful to focus on certain truths even though they present a very simplified version of reality. In this post we are led to focus on the absurdity of Gates' influence on education policies which are attempting to lead us down the path of corporate takeover of education. So far, so good. But, this focus leaves out a more important and radical insight which liberal websites like Truthout tend to avoid.

Although he has used the wonderful gift of truth-seeking procedures of science (systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses) given to mankind by the early seekers of truth during the Enlightenment period of human history to advance computer technology, Bill Gates is first, and foremost, a capitalist. This means that he was much more thoroughly indoctrinated in beliefs about "ownership" of other people's labor. He learned that (under capitalism) labor is a commodity and can be purchased like any other commodity. He also learned a lot about how capitalist laws can be used to acquire ownership over knowledge (another commodity) which are really a legacy of human activity over many centuries. He astutely purchased the knowledge of corporate lawyers to construct his computer empire. And then, of course, he benefited from a lot of pure luck. Anyway, as you can see, all of the above brought him piles and piles of money, and under capitalism money is power. He is merely playing the capitalist game for all its literal worth.

Meanwhile, liberal sites like Truthout will avoid these deeper insights, because they too are a part of the capitalist universe. They, too, subscribe to capitalist assumptions about an economy which inhibit their analyses of issues like education. Thus their focus on Bill Gates, and his bizarre and unscientific theories that justify corporate takeover of education, refuses to acknowledge the 800 pound gorilla room: capitalist principles that reduce every human activity to a marketable commodity to support a tiny class of capitalists and their mad pursuit of wealth and power regardless of the effects on the rest of humanity. 

Gates is only doing what he was taught to do: make more money/power for himself and Microsoft. He gets away with his bizarre theories on education because he can--he has overwhelming power to do so. That should offer a clue about how a sustainable society should be designed (hint: think egalitarian).