Gerald Coles – Education, Jobs and Capitalism

Link to an excerpt from the book Miseducating for the Global Economy: How Corporate Power Damages Education and Subverts Students’ Futures (2018) by Gerald Coles:

“Education, Jobs and Capitalism”

 

In Lars Lih‘s excellent biographical study of V.I. Lenin, he noted how Lenin’s parents were involved in education and were frustrated that the tsarist autocracy in Russia prevented education (and widespread literacy) in order to constrain the expectations of citizens, in order to maintain extreme inequality that prevailed under tsarism.  When Lenin and the Bolsheviks came to power, reforms were swiftly instituted that resulted in historically unprecedented advances in literacy and education more generally.  It was not a matter of pedagogical impediments to expanding literacy, or a lack of the a notion to improve education and literacy, it was that the education system was subordinated to the maintenance of a particular socioeconomic hierarchy.  What was needed was a shift in who held power, and the ideologies of those people, and Coles’ book excerpt makes that point abundantly clear.  Capitalists simply disavow their real motivations.

 

Bonus links: “The Tech Education Con” and Pedagogy of the Oppressed and “Red Diaper Babies” and Democracy and Education and The Higher Learning in America and …And the Poor Get Prison and The Scapegoat

Matthew Stanley – Ulysses S. Grant: American Giant

Link to a review of Ron Chernow‘s book Grant (2017) by Matthew Stanley:

“Ulysses S. Grant: American Giant”

 

Selected quote: “To the extent that it overturns reactionary narratives and underscores the radical potential of the American past, Chernow’s Grant should be commended as a gain for truth. But his stress on the importance of political rights without discussion of how the market renders those political rights vulnerable (or even futile) is the primary shortcoming of liberal accounts of the Reconstruction era — and of liberal politics today.”

 

Bonus links: Democracy in America? and Golden Rule and Trade, Development and Foreign Debt and Review of Lenin

Liza Featherstone – Bad Romance

Link to a review by Liza Featherstone of Kristen Ghodsee’s book Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism: And Other Arguments for Economic Independence (2018):

“Bad Romance”

 

But Ghodsee is open to criticism of the same sort Jodi Dean leveled at Naomi Klein: why is “unregulated capitalism” the problem rather than just “capitalism”?  Isn’t Ghodsee just making typically vague (left) populist claims?  We can critique that position by saying that “populism is simply a new way to imagine capitalism without its harder edges; a capitalism without its socially disruptive effects. Populism is one of today’s two opiums of the people: one is the people, and the other is opium itself. *** What remains of the passionate public engagement in the West is mostly the populist hatred, and this brings us to the other second opium of the people, the people itself, the fuzzy populist dream destined to obfuscate our own antagonisms.”

Meagan Day – The Gospel According to Mark Fisher

Link to a review by Meagan Day of the book k-punk: The Collected and Unpublished Writings of Mark Fisher (2004-2016):

“The Gospel According to Mark Fisher”

 

Bonus links: “What’s Wrong With Identity Politics (and Intersectionality Theory)? A Response to Mark Fisher’s “Exiting the Vampire Castle” (And Its Critics)” and “How to Begin from the Beginning” (endorsing Samuel Beckett’s line from Worstward Ho: “Try Again.  Fail Again.  Fail Better.”)

Landon Frim & Harrison Fluss – Steven Pinker: False Friend of the Enlightenment

Link to a review by Landon Frim & Harrison Fluss of Steven Pinker‘s book Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress (2018):

“Steven Pinker: False Friend of the Enlightenment”

 

This is a great tear-down of Pinker’s thinking, which is problematic because of how basically insipid it is as mere status quo boosterism.

Bonus links: Review of The Great Leveler and Review of Domenico Losurdo’s Liberalism: A Counter-History and Slavoj Žižek On Political Struggle and Review of Making Money

Bonus quote:

“in the analysis of ideology, it is not simply a matter of seeing which account of reality best matches the ‘facts’, with the one that is closest being the least biased and therefore the best. As soon as the facts are determined, we have already — whether we know it or not — made our choice; we are already within one ideological system or another. The real dispute has already taken place over what is to count as the facts, which facts are relevant, and so on.”

Rex Butler, “What Is a Master-Signifier”