Enshrining a Neural Expansive Universe of Obligation via Collective Cognition and Calling It Good Citizenship

Consider this post to be the mother of all syntheses from this past year of confessional online webinars coupled to insights that go back to the research from my more prescient than ever book Credentialed to Destroy. At one point I even considered using the post title “Most Apt Analogy Ever!” to describe just how well the metaphor of this blog that there is a quietly imposed, via education, ‘serfs collar’ of owed obedience planned for each of us all over this globe in the 21st century. Education and communications generally, including the media and public policy think tanks, are a big part of this coordinated effort. I have known that for years, but recently the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the US (that is so involved with the absurd response to COVID in the US) put much of what I have found into perspective. https://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/118/27/e2025764118.full.pdf explains the pandemic, learning standards in education, climate change hype, and allegations of ‘structural racism’ and inequality generally are all tools for “Stewardship of Global Collective Behavior”.

Inferring is one thing, but that’s quite the admission, isn’t it? Now the term–Expansive Universe of Obligation–is not in that paper. It comes from a civics curricula Facing History and Ourselves has created for K-12 teachers and students on the Holocaust and Human Behavior, but I recognized it functioning the same as what already has a tag on this blog–Kohlberg’s Moral Development Theory. We also covered it years ago as being part of the Hong Kong Citizenship K-12 Curriculum imposed by the Chinese Communist Party. I guess the new phrase gets the function without any notoriety, but in two separate webinars this summer on the new ‘history/civics’ Roadmap to Educating for American Democracy (EAD) I heard the presenters hype creating a belief in the students that they have a responsibility to enact what was laid out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. That this is what Democracy entitles all people to in the 21st century.

I even clarified through the CHAT function that students were to be taught that Democracy now means an “Expansive Universe of Obligation coupled to an Economic Justice Vision”. The speaker, who works for the Illinois Holocaust Museum, thought that was a lovely, succinct new definition of what is intended. So when the White Paper linked to above mentions that ” A consolidated transdisciplinary approach to understanding and managing human collective behavior will be a monumental challenge, yet it is a necessary one” and that “decisions that impact the structure of society should not be guided by voices of individual shareholders but instead by values [functions like Principles or Ideals from previous post] such as non-maleficence, benevolence, autonomy, and justice,” they mean that they will create “ethical standards” to be imposed via a new vision of education globally that will impose “a globally held normative framework for deciding what constitutes healthy societies or desirable socio-technical interactions.”

As that paper detailed, this stewardship process has to intervene at a personalized level that gets at beliefs as to ‘perceived reality,’ in order to inculcate desired ‘feedback loops’ to address ‘injustice and inequality.’ It must also get at ‘individual motivations’ and provide new ‘ethics’ for future behavior. All of that fits both with how personalized learning in a Competency-Based Framework really work, especially when coupled to a digital environment delivering some of the desired experiences. None of this is an accident, since I recognized one of the institutions–the Santa Fe Institute–from both the proclaimed (ny name, not function) Marxist aspirations for the US of some of its fellows using education, as well as Santa Fe’s Artificial Societies research. The first matters because Samuel Bowles has now moved on to selling his vision in terms of “Good Citizenship’ in his 2016 The Moral Economy: Why Good Incentives Are No Substitute for Good Citizens. Add the word ‘Citizen’ to our list of hijacked Abstract terms to be wary of.

The second matters because David A. Lane’s “Artificial Worlds and Economics” paper from Santa Fe, funded by the MacArthur Foundation and the National Science Foundation [both heavily involved with learning standards and pushing Constructivism in education], laid out a new theory of learning that it contrasted as follows:

In the rationalistic view [the old transmission of knowledge/textbook/lecture approach], the world is composed of definite objects, properties and relations, and ‘learning’ is the process whereby an agent forms a mental model of the world that correctly describes these features. Learning in classifier systems is acquiring circumstance-specific behavioral propensities that function together to produce reward. That is, the agent is learning how to act in the world, rather than how to describe it.

Bingo!! Best explanation I have read for Constructivism in subject-disciplines, competency-based education, and all the hyping now about Conceptual Frameworks to trigger ‘Higher Order Thinking Skills’ in all students. Those HOTS skills have to be assessed now at least annually in the US to keep track of each student’s needed ‘internal states’ and the mental ‘classifier system’ the student is using.

A learning-based theory directly models the transformation from information-stream to actions.That is, all the mechanisms that process the information stream on the basis of which the agent is assumed to act are handled internally to the theory. In principle, agents in such a theory could learn to ‘choose’–but the theory would be responsible for describing how the agents identify situations in which they regard choice as appropriate, how they organize what they perceive about the environment into the ingredients of a problem of choice, and how they develop the methodology that they apply when they go about the act of choosing.

I guess we could define Misinformation then as factual information that incompatible with the Theories needed for this invisible stewardship? Remember when I explained that UNESCO wanted to make education globally about getting at decision-making processes and how the Rockefeller Foundation in 2014 began to focus on getting at ‘anticipatory assumptions’ students were using? The above quote is saying the same thing. These are all a means to get at:

the internal states…agents [use] to progressively ‘model’ their world: that is, to generate broad categories that describe the world, to develop plausible hypotheses about the relationships between these categories…and to refine these categories and hypotheses on the basis of increasing experience.

See now why Knowledge has become about Concepts, Principles, and other abstractions with a supplied illustration to fit a Narrative instead of a body of facts as in the past? In late July the Institute for New Economic Thinking put out “The One-Earth Balance Sheet” explicitly stating that “a new collective mental map is needed” because “siloed thinking created many of our problems with inequality, injustice and planetary damage.”  Now all the Misinformation hype makes more sense. We must not have Information circulating that disagrees with this desired new Collective Mental Map. It’s also why UNESCO is pushing the idea now of an Infodemic that is as dangerous to its plans as the Pandemic. https://gemreportunesco.wordpress.com/2021/08/16/reflections-on-the-covid-19-second-wave-in-india/ Education now is needed to create desired ‘internal states’ in students to “help create shared efforts for a common understanding of shared threats.”

Anyone in a back-to-school sudden hyping of Humanities and STEM should recall that the needed collective mental model calls “to evolve trans-disciplinary thinking that integrates the natural, social, biological sciences and arts by transcending disciplinary boundaries.” Now imagine those concepts for the Collective Mental Map coming from those who admit wanting “active management and guidance” of collective behavior using internalized mental maps and new values. I am fascinated to see so much fascination with “vaccine refusal” in a paper from people who want to ‘steward’ our behavior with no right to say no. Who want to create the Theories through which people “model the world’.

I want to close with a recent anecdote from my alma mater that it is calling the Deliberative Citizenship Initiative. It let me know about “our common humanity” and how the term Citizenship bolded just like that was NOT being used “as a narrow marker of legal status but as a source of identity we all share as human beings, a collective identity that complements our individual commitments and associations”. In other words, there is a vision being put out by educational institutions at all levels that each of us has an obligation to “transcend our existing positions as we work together to solve the deep challenges that face our society” and that this obligation is “the work of citizenship“. Italicized just like that.

If alumni of highly-ranked colleges and universities are getting these kinds of lectures unsolicited, just imagine what is occurring on campus with the young people. I mentioned FHAO above and the materials being used as part of the professional development webinars for the EAD Roadmap. This unit https://www.facinghistory.org/resource-library/teaching-holocaust-and-human-behavior was referenced in the webinar along with the question “What does learning about the choices people made during the Weimar Republic, the rise of the Nazi Party, and the Holocaust teach us about the power and impact of our choices today?” Anyone not convinced this is not ultimately about getting at that internalized Classifier System within each student and the teachers as well should read this concluding Learning Goal that came up in connection with what is supposed to be ‘integrated history and civics’. This really is NOT about a body of knowledge being transmitted at all.

Make connections between universal themes related to democracy, citizenship, racism, and antisemitism that this history raises and the world they live in today. Understand their responsibilities as citizens of the world to make choices that help bring about a more human, just, and compassionate world.