The problem with having an experienced Due Diligence lawyer figuring out what is really going on in an industry is we do tend to blow through ordinary barriers. It is just reflex to figure out who really owns what and where the funding is coming from and who else is connected. Which may make me a pain sometimes in casual conversation but it was darn useful to clients. Now since I have chosen to use writing to explain the connections and why they matter in education and how it relates to planned social, political, and economic transformations globally, let’s get going again. Because with this story, the real question becomes who isn’t affected, not who is.
A book that is probably not on your radar screen that should be came out in 2009 in the UK and 2010 in the US. Called The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger it lays out a vision to “inspire us to create a better society.” It argues that the developed rich countries have “material success and social failure” and that “the broken society and broken economy resulted from the growth of inequality.” Now I would argue that what has broken the rich countries is too much government intervention, like in the mortgage markets, that creates perverse incentives and loads of unintended consequences.
We have discussed before that many economists like Joseph Schumpeter realized that if you keep blaming the ill effects of interventionism on capitalism instead of the reality of cronyism coupled to government coercion, you will steadily get socialism quietly and invisibly. That is precisely what appears to be happening and The Spirit Level is intended to be a key component in creating the desired mindsets and political will for change. Blind, ignorant, but effective change.
Because of its thesis on what is broken and why, the book wants to “shift attention from material standards and economic growth to ways of improving the psychological and social wellbeing of whole societies.” Now that dovetails perfectly with both the UN and OECD’s current global emphasis even though the authors do not say so. As we will see though the dovetailing does have a lot to do with who gets published and why these days and who gets a fat nonfiction advance. And with the merger of Penguin and Random House as of July 1, 2013 that will become even more true. That one entity controls fully a quarter of the world book publishing business and the two previous competitors were frequently the sole bidders on major nonfiction.
Now Penguin is wholly-owned by the largest ed company in the world, Pearson PLC, which is a lot of influence in virtually every area of the information that gets out. If you remember, Pearson’s Chief Ed Advisor is Sir Michael “Irreversible Change” Barber who thought Global Citizenship would make a nice substitute ideology to guide daily behavior since, he said basically, the Christian religion was no longer compelling and Marx had a bad rep in the 90s. He has his own tag detailing some of these pushes and his links via public meetings to Irina Bokova, head of UNESCO, who currently wants to use Media Education, including digital learning, to drive the planet to Marxist Humanism in the 21st century. Yes, she has said so. See those tags as well. Does she have any connections then to media? Yes, I would say so especially as German media conglomerate Bertelsmann controls 53% of the new publishing company to Penguin’s 47%.
If we quit thinking of socialism and the rest of Uncle Karl’s visions as being about the Kremlin or Mao and begin thinking of it as government led control by connected insiders of the economy and everyone else, what is really going on makes a whole lot more sense. Accurate perception also means we can strategize over both effective defense and offense in the coming years. At the end of the Spirit Level book, the authors remark that “creating the political will to make society more equal is more important than pinning our colours to a particular set of policies to reduce inequality. Political will is dependent on the development of a vision of a better society which is both achievable and inspiring.”
Now creating such political will and vision is Oh So Much easier if the largest ed company in the world owns Penguin which can simply publish such a book and many more. Then that ed company can have its employees write reports and Forewords like this one just released http://www.nesta.org.uk/library/documents/Alive_in_the_Swamp.pdf that push to have digital learning “irresistably engage” students. Software and gaming and assessments “personalized with the goal of unlocking the passion of the learner.” We have discussed before that digital learning can provide expert systems that teach but that is NOT the vision of digital learning actually being pushed. This is to be about behavioral change and the role of the teacher is to be a change agent “trained to focus on the personal experience of the individual student and to help uncover values and motivations.” Which again is darn useful since everyone involved about two levels up from the classroom, if not less, is intent on using education to obtain that political will and impose that social vision and create new values.
So the development of modern technology according to the book “will help us rein in consumerism and ease the introduction of policies to tackle global warming.” It believes “profit-making institutions” will “appear increasingly anti-social” which is highly likely given such media control over education and what gets published as nonfiction in the future. Who needs censorship when so few control so much of what will make it to most human minds as available information? We will likely get more of http://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/resources/park-avenue-how-much-inequality-too-much types of documentaries. Notice that just came out too and is classified as an educational material. Also notice Equality Trust is preparing curriculum materials for 16-19 year olds and has a June 17, 2013 blog post explaining that we all have a flawed understanding of liberty.
The graduate student writer seems to have the life comprehension skills of someone who has always been supported by someone else as as he wants to define “liberty as the absence of relations of domination and dependence between persons” so “equality and liberty are not in conflict, but are in fact compatible and self-reinforcing concepts.” Honestly, if the government and connected insiders are in charge of making equality for all a fact as they are under all these visions, there will be a whole lot of domination and dependence and it will be hard to escape from. All in the Gutter Together with no ladder up or out. We will be back in the kind of status society referred to previously as feudalism. And we are not being assigned to the Castle with Moat class either. Someone has spent too much time in poli sci and cultural studies classes or reading the Howard Zinn view of history.
The authors are now turning The Spirit Level into a documentary for a planned release in Summer 2014 which will give emotionally compelling visuals for students going into US midterm elections. http://thespiritleveldocumentary.com/blog . The Foreword of the US version of the book was written by former Clinton Secretary of Labor Robert Reich and the co-sponsor of that Nesta Digital Learning Innovations report is the hugely influential and connected California-based New Schools Venture Fund in case anyone thinks this is only a UK invisible coup. I explained the Marxist Humanist theory of changing attitudes and values here http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/naming-educators-as-the-levers-shifting-the-human-personality-to-marxs-moral-revolution/ and that post fits with what is being explained in this post as well.
The Spirit Level ends with this rephrasing of Uncle Karl’s vision, still being sought so many years later:
“To sustain the necessary political will, we must remember that it falls to our generation to make one of the biggest transformations in human history. We have seen the rich countries have got to the end of the really important contributions which economic growth can make to the quality of life [they have gone through the requisite technology stage to supposedly make redistribution possible believed Uncle Karl] and also that our future lies in improving the quality of the social environment in our societies.[me again, that’s why there is so much emphasis in ed reform on the common good and community] The role of this book is to point out that greater equality is the material foundation on which better social relations are built.”
That certainly is the role of that book and isn’t it helpful Pearson is in a position to publish that book and use digital learning and its role as provider of so much of the curriculum and so many of the assessments to be used with the Common Core and for Texas’ STAAR? In a unique global position to prepare tasks and projects and questions that push that vision and create that political will? That it has a foundation pushing Global Learning in the US with the Asia Society mostly out of sight?
And is there any question whose vision we are about to use education to experiment as to whether better social relations can be built if nobody knows much and education becomes about engaging the passions through activity and visual stimulation?
Should we start a pool on how these transformations are really likely to turn out?