Covert Coercion via Controlling Categories of Consciousness

There is far more than alliteration involved in today’s catchy title and its purpose, like all my writing, is to inform, not to scare. I am not Alfred Hitchcock and this blog is not The Twilight Zone. None of the aspirations laid out here at ISC or in my timelier than ever book, Credentialed to Destroy, are fictional. All of our lives would be easier if they were. Education reform is all about invisibly changing human behavior to bring about a new, collectivist, radical vision of what the future of the 21st century might be. I believe knowing the intended mechanisms for tyranny is the first step in escaping their grasp and then removing them altogether.

When Jean-Francois Revel wrote his 1983 French classic that translated as How Democracies Perish, he wanted to give a heads-up to prevent the demise. That’s why I write about education as well. In a chapter called “Attack. Always Attack” he gave information on Communist tactics that is also applicable to education reforms and the ensuing outcries over decades.

“A standard Communist tactic is to mount a propaganda operation to accompany a practical operation. If the latter hits a snag, the former will leave traces in people’s minds that will help condition them to give future actions a kinder reception.”

Think of my work as first defusing the practical operation of covertly controlling students’ minds and thus their likely future behavior. Meanwhile I call attention to the organized deceit so we can begin to remove those traces from both our adult minds as well as our poor, manipulated children. Since my last post EdSurge on February 10 admitted that the purpose of that Early STEM Learning paper I cited was to provide categories to guide thinking in an article that also redefined the acronym STEM–“Setting, Tension, Explanation, Metaphor: A Storytelling Approach for Early STEM Learning.” Too bad no one gives bonus points for prescience in education writing. The oligarchs met in Dubai last week and launched Positive Psychology as the global classroom education template, expressly showcasing Mihaly Csiksentmihalyi (whose work gets pulled in via civil rights interpretations on Excellence and Equity) and Martin Seligman of PBIS and the World Happiness Report.

Yesterday the US NIH admitted that “Current and future BRAIN Initiative research studies aim to elucidate, and potentially influence, the mechanisms that give rise to consciousness, our innermost thoughts, and our behaviors, thereby prompting novel social and ethical questions.” There’s a reason Congress prefunded years of that intrusive research back In December while Obama remained in office. After all, politicians at all levels want to rule under a new definition of Governance that’s not being discussed enough openly. The just out World Development Report 2017–Governance and the Law-explains that Governance is about delivering on normative goals of Security, Prosperity, and Equity for All achieved through the political process. It has nothing to do with elections and everything to do with the ability to shape internalized personal preferences, values, and beliefs.

Sounds like Chapter 7 from Credentialed to Destroy doesn’t it? Here’s the pithy why for that aim: “the ability to shape other people’s beliefs is a means of eliciting an action from another person–an action the person would not otherwise take. The ability to make others act in one actor’s interest or to bring about a specific outcome–the definition of power in this Report–is thus closely related to the notion of ideas as beliefs.

The dichotomy between ideas (ideology and culture) and power as a primary determinant of social dynamics is thus a false one. The idea of power cannot be understood without taking seriously the power of ideas.”

Using education reforms labelled as competencies or the Common Core to provide conceptual frameworks, lenses, Enduring Understandings, Cross-Cutting Concepts and Themes, and Disciplinary Core Ideas is a crucial aspect of Controlling Consciousness. There’s a reason for so much coordinated deceit surrounding it and why I seem to be the only person writing about it. Control the prevailing ideas used to direct attention and perception and the interpretation of daily experiences and you have covert control over likely future behavior. UNESCO knows that. So do the World Bank, OECD, the behavioral scientist community, and the public policy think tanks across the purported spectrum. It’s us, the parents and taxpayers, who are unaware of just how crucial standardizing the prevailing ideas is to plans for a fundamental transformation.

As Bela Banathy put it from our last post on seeing the student and education (see bolding from me) as a system: “Our main tool in working with human systems is subjectivity: reflection on the sources of knowledge, social practice, community and interest in and commitment to ideas, especially the moral idea, affectivity, and faith.” So how do I know this aim is across the political spectrum? I learn a great deal from reading old books and Professor Amitai Etzioni, Mr Communitarianism with his own tag, is an admitted Man of the Left. Professor Robert George, founder of American Principles Project, Bradley Foundation Board member (thus tied to PEPG), recent AEI award winner, and too many other connections to name, is a designated representative of what purports to be Conservatism. I call it the Right Pincer for a reason.

Given all the deceit I can track and shenanigans involving pilfering material from my book without attribution or compensation, I wanted to read a 2001 book called The Monochrome Society because it contained a Chapter called “Virtue and the State: A Dialogue between a Communitarian and a Social Conservative.” That would be Etzioni and George, respectively. When the book came several months ago, it turned out to be part of a series edited by Professor George with “a special focus on the juncture of culture, law, and politics. New Forum Books is guided by the conviction that law and politics not only reflect culture but help to shape it.”

That aim doesn’t sound particularly conservative to me and is a long time aim of all progressives–cultural evolution. If that is also the aim of so-called conservative and libertarian think tanks it would explain all the deceit, concern over what my book laid out with extensive documentation, and my current observations of where School Choice actually leads. For some reason though, I was too busy initially to read anything other than that particular chapter. After I read that World Development Report though and its laid out aspirations to use the law and the mere global existence of less advantaged people and poverty to force what Marx called his Human Development Society, I went back to reread the rest of the book. Turns out Etzioni laid out the template that the World Bank and others intend to use to alter what a student internalizes so that it alters their preferences.

Clearly when he wrote the Chapter on “Social Norms: The Rubicon of Social Science” and Professor George edited it, no one thought someone would ever track it down after already mastering what Tranzi OBE, the Common Core, and Competency-Based Education really aim at. Turns out the Right and Left Pincers ARE acutely aware of a bullseye where education practices and the curriculum used and the ideas pushed “play a key role in ensuring that certain preferences will never be formed in the first place, while others will be strongly held…a major goal of education (as distinct from teaching) is to foster internalization of social norms by children and thus to affect their preferences.”

Since the local Classical School associated with Hillsdale’s Barney Charter Initiative touts instilling ‘virtuous living’ in its students, let’s tie that to what Etzioni wrote. Turns out that students acting at an advanced stage in Lawrence Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development (that public and private school teachers are now regularly taught is to be part of their new classroom practices) involves “individuals reason in terms of abstract notions” (or ideas or supplied concepts, categories, or ideas) on how, when, and why they should act. Etzioni then quoted Kohlberg that “it is possible to ‘reason in terms of such [high level] principles and not live up to them.'” Etzioni then laid out the essence of what everyone now wants from the classroom and education reforms and too few admit openly so let me quote directly:

“Unfortunately, to know the good cannot be equated with doing the good…To put it in the terminology followed here, [and at the always prescient ISC I must add immodestly], knowledge affects behavior by affecting considerations of costs and benefits but, as a rule, does not shape preferences. Internalization clearly does.”

So the SDG agenda pushed globally by institutions like the UN, OECD, and the World Bank can only change those preferences, as they have declared they aim to do, by education that is about getting at what a student internalizes as their values, attitudes, and guiding beliefs. Precisely what I warned about in my book that the False Narrative pretends is about some database of intrusive personal information. The need for Deceit is caused by others wishing to also use this tool of subjectivity and internalization, while being covert about it as well.

Once accurately perceived, this aim does not just seem tyrannical. It is unabashedly so. Etzioni sees it as a matter of the community having the right to establish the values that all citizens are to internalize. The World Bank does too since that is part of what Governance is to mean. I have pointed out already that this is the essence of what ED Choice laid out as the new definition of Accountability that is pertinent then to School Choice advocacy.

If our individual internalized preferences can now be changed by education reforms that no one is being honest with us about, are we free? Etzioni said no that “if the preferences themselves are changeable by social and historical factors and processes [or just federal laws like ESSA or state Student Privacy Statutes like Georgia’s] the actor is neither aware of nor controls, the actor’s behavior may be nonrational and is not free.”

Etzioni, with his long-time plans for fundamental social and economic transformations is OK with ‘the community’ controlling what must be internalized. Are we?

Is this really the kind of education reforms that anyone should blindly accept on the basis of catchy phrases or an appeal citing some famous person from history?


10 thoughts on “Covert Coercion via Controlling Categories of Consciousness

  1. Robin,
    May I repost this at Serf Under – ground Journal?

    Re my 44th Edition, ‘Gullability and Obedience,’ quoting
    and citing your analysis of pervasive K-12 attack on students’
    internalized values, I’ve had more than 80 views,US, Oz, UK,
    even Greece, ) so spreading the news. bts.

    • Not in its entirety. Pick an illustrative paragraph or two and then link please.

      Had to hire a lawyer last year and I need to be consistent with that. Also I can answer most questions off the top of my head anytime anyone challenges me.

      I am very glad you are getting the traffic. This truly is a global template. Sorry CtD is only available as an e-book in Australia.

      Have tendinitis in right wrist so getting a post up was close to my limit for the day of typing. The musculoskeletal trauma of blogging.

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