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A. The political history of education Print E-mail

1.PlatoOur aim in this article is to identify, with immediacy, the roots on which the alienating state of education has been founded.

The history of education starts out from the primitive family, in which the child copies his parent - though unconsciously. This imitation magnetises him to the experiences of his parents. It is difficult for us to derive any more information from the obscure beginnings of pedagogy, which are buried in the rust of the subconscious of mankind. If we take man as an imitator, we must, first of all, regard him as an observer and then as an imitator and creator.


To start with, the issue of education is how the benefit and the development from the fact of the existence of the observer is to be maximised through the shaping of a more perfect mechanism of apprehension, with more penetrative senses, better organisation of the intermediary of knowledge (which is also the main issue of the experimental method of scientific research), and, finally, by the acquisition of knowledge as an act of synthesis between the observer and the field of observation, and the act of knowledge; an evolving synthesis, that is to say, between those things to which, quite irresponsibly, we attach meaning as subjective and objective, as observer and object of knowledge, and which come into a dialectic, revelatory involvement.

However, the purpose of education is to teach us freedom, ways of achieving the liberation of the inner energy and potentiality of man, and, at the same time, methods of psychological, social, and ecological organisation, and, in the end, making the best use of organised material existence itself.

Through the sense organs, the objective is transferred to the subjective, as Ulyanov rightly notes in the Philosophical Notebooks, rebutting, unexpectedly, what many of today's dogmatic Leninists would expect to hear. He says, then, that "freedom = subjectivity ('or') purpose, consciousness, inclination", or, at another point, "subjectivity is the tendency towards the elimination of the separation of the idea from the object (of the observer from the observed)".

Here we have the basic statement of the aim of education: freedom as non-divisiveness, or as unity and living synthesis through subjectivity, in all the dimensions of the existent.

In practical terms, this aim means what Hegel describes in the Science of Logic as "dedication to a dialectical abstract thinking in which the vested interests and the passions and competition of every kind which up to that point motivated peoples and individuals fall silent and cease to exist", and thus evolution is transposed to a new, a human and ontological, dimension.

On a mass scale, this means that, instead of coarse religion and ideology, we must take hold of all the kinds of abstract truths; on this Hegel and Ulyanov agree .

We have spoken of these aims in a direct and immediate manner in order to show how far education has departed from these and, now, has become Circe's magic wand for our thick-skinned alienating incorporation, from China to Iran, Chile and the United States, wherever there are human beings, wherever there are imitators who beg for their Self in the environment, narcissists of a radical or other stupefaction, conformists or 'realistic' politicians.

Thus it will become clear that true education must militate against all those who distance us from Ithaca, the boundlessness of our evolution, all those who, like Hitler, want to turn us into bellicose termites with our will blinded and enslaved to the power of the establishment and the violence of the leaders, or, like Mussolini, Hideki Tojo, and all those who seek to make us slavish mouthpieces for them. Everything that makes us blind to truth and the lie as regards freedom and slavery, knowledge and prejudice, dialectic and dogma, evolution and involution, does not answer to our need. All those who want us to be the blind pawns of themselves and of our alienation, everything which seeks to make us blind to the subjective dimension of freedom and evolution, to the revelatory presence of the human observer who does not beg for his Self in the ordering of the environment but in the nature of the freedom and unity of the Being which is reflected in the power of the living evolutionary process - all these we must deprecate.

What is needed, in other words, is a new education which should not based on the imitator, but on the free observer, and, in this way, for a new evolutionary participation in all the dimensions of the beneficial organisation of the human, social, and ecological potential to develop. Historically, opposed to these aims, the only aim pursued, as we shall have the opportunity to see, has been "the strict adaptation of the individual to society", as Roger Gal notes.

If we take into account that an educated individual is in a state of blind incorporation, whether we are speaking of primitive society or about today's society, it could be said that Gal was right when he wrote that "during his childhood the individual is freer".

Here we have to do with the savagery of civilisation and of education which Carlyle and Rousseau castigated as being capable or tearing us and our freedom apart. It is precisely "as difficult to say, even at the beginning, what is really due to human nature and what is dictated by the social order" as it is for us to conquer educational totalitarianism and absolutism, or, as Paul Goodman puts it, compulsory miseducation.

In primitive society, education is solely ritual in its aim and delivered through ritual, as was the case with initiation rituals, which, in any event, affect very little man’s lethargic capability to be touched.

Today, the custom of 'initiation' has military organisation as its principal relic and occurs in military training in militaristic societies, such as those of the Nazis, the Fascists, and the crusaders - whether it has to do with religious power or with mercenaries for vested interests or forms of power.

The ritual dimension of initiation is fundamentally based on the show of physical strength, delivered with - collectively - organised authority. This aspect is the complement of the class structure of society, whether we are talking about social classes, as in capitalist society, or about some 'nomenklatura' of the past, of a Soviet type, and of whatever future is promoted with march-pasts, protocols, prizes, and mausoleums. Authority is ritual with an ideological veneer.

"The individual conforms strictly with the type of life and social behaviour and organisation into which he was born: escape is unthinkable. Education is, then, a kind of perfect alignment, with - undoubtedly - varying, but always appropriate, forms to hold the child - individual in bondage to the environment in which he lives."

At this stage, to date, the thick cloud of sociomorphism has reigned over education. Education, in the present age, is a primitive sociological - and not anthropological - initiation.

Ioannis Zisis, Writer

Photo from wikipedia

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