As I go back and forth comparing what is being pursued and implemented now with the stated intentions for the policies in the past, a 1974 book from an economics professor at the New School for Social Research kept coming up as the source. So of course I went used book surfing again to get a copy of Robert L. Heilbroner’s An Inquiry into the Human Prospect. Heilbroner gave the rationale for governments to hype potential future crises like man-made catastrophic global warming. It gives a reason to revisit, out in the open or covertly, “present mechanisms of social control.” If the dangers being hyped are social problems then they “originate in human behavior and [are] capable of amelioration by the alteration of that behavior.” Since Daniel Bell who we have encountered numerous times now, Paul Ehrlich, and the current White House Science Czar John Holdren are all people Heilbroner thanks up front for their help in writing the book we need to pay close attention to what he sought.
Now of course altering and controlling other people’s behavior is what political and social radicals interested in fundamental transformation basically lust after every waking hour and in many of their post-midnight dreams so we cannot be surprised 21st Century skills wants to make such a focus of real-world relevant problem-solving. Now, Heilbroner, like the current director of UNESCO or the OECD, makes no pretense of his desire for what he calls “socialism with a humanist face” and he was upfront about the kind of “boldest and most far-reaching exercise of political power [that] will be unavoidable in the future.” That future of course is the 21st century and what we are living through now all over the world at local, state, national, and global levels except no one is really willing to be upfront about all the machinations lest we all rebel before they are fully in place.
Just my research over the last week led me to write this little ditty laid out to the tune of “Jesus Loves the Little Children of the World” you may have learned from Vacation Bible School. “Red and Yellow, Black and White, You are All Just Serfs under Our Oversight” fits with this determination to use education to manipulate emotions and perceptions and limit knowledge and then use political governance arrangements to tell people what they cannot do or must do in the 21st century. These arrangements such as that Metro Atlanta Equity Atlas or all the real Common Core implementation pushes and the Regional Equity pursuits need to be implemented quietly until they can accomplish the needed changes in personality and values and attitudes and dispositions. Why the constant focus over the decades on these affective characteristics?
As Heilbroner pointed out, for “this exercise of power to be successful,” it must “be accepted by those over whom that power will have to be exercised.” That would be me and you and our children and most of our neighbors, especially if we happen to live in the reviled “affluent island suburbs.” Well, I happen to live in the Sandy Springs section of Atlanta, which turns out to be Ground Zero for targeting since in 1966 its voters decisively rejected being annexed by the City of Atlanta and thus supposedly set in motion Atlanta becoming the model of dysfunctional sprawl and turning its back on the needs of the Inner City. Didn’t know we had such a bullseye on us or that people like Heilbroner were writing about the need to foster “political obedience” if radicals wished to increase their political power. In fact, he calls on “the intellectual elements of Western nations” to:
“not only prepare their fellow citizens for the sacrifices that will be required of them but to take the lead in seeking to redefine the legitimate boundaries of power and the permissable sanctuaries of freedom, for a future in which the exercise of power must inevitably increase and many present areas of freedom, especially in economic life, be curtailed.”
Now, obviously if we were aware of such pursuits by our elected politicians and certain public sector employees and numerous Chambers of Commerce, we would likely tell them where they could go with such imperious plans and to “take their little dog Toto too” so such plans from the 60s on in the US always seem to come in through misunderstood education reforms and regional economic planning initiatives. Sometimes as now both at once. Education is always really after what Heilbroner called: “What values and ways of thought would be congenial to such a radical restructuring of things?” He proposed a shift “toward the exploration of inner states of experience rather than the outer world of material accomplishment” which certainly sounds like the focus on contemplative education and mindfulness training we keep encountering. Heilbroner also concluded that “the struggle for individual achievement, especially for material ends, is likely to give way to the acceptance of communally organized and ordained roles.”
Now the little ditty I composed above got its impetus in part from what Heilbroner wanted but it also comes from the Atlanta Regional Competitiveness Strategy http://www.atlantaregional.com/File%20Library/Local%20Gov%20Services/Econ%20Dev%20Strategy/EconoDev_ExecSum_2013.pdf that came my way last week as it spoke of the entire 10 county Atlanta region pursuing a common education policy and pushing transit oriented development and a “unifying theme of cooperative leadership across economic sectors.” I ran into mentioned people tied to the Equity Atlas and the accreditor AdvancED and higher ed transformation and a partner of the law firm that drafted the duplicitous conversion charter that also represents quite a few large metro school districts and reps from planned anchor institutions in the sought Good Society and sponsors of forums for elected officials telling them to defer to school supers. Just a few of the names or entities I recognized.
Hard not to think then of Heilbroner’s comment about submission to political power or Moises Naim’s declaration in his March 2013 book that we are all to adjust to being governed. Especially when the regional ed campaign obligates to “integrate best practices and innovative programs into PreK-12 classrooms throughout the region.” As we have seen innovation these days always actually means sociological innovation and ‘best practices’ is a term of art that means political or social theories thought to allow for fundamental transformation of a radical nature. Kind of like what Heilbroner intended. I have to admit I wasn’t excited either about the goal to “adequately prepare the region’s students and workers for 21st century skills and careers.” How Corporatist and mindless that sounds.
I was tickled though by the idea of the best and brightest college and graduate students from the region’s institutions being encouraged to “network through public service.” Apparently all these planners see the public sector as providing the best job prospects in the 21st century. Now my mention above of the antipathy towards Sandy Springs and its 1966 vote and the hatred for affluent suburbs all came from a 2006 book by Matthew Lassiter that was part of the same series on 20th century American life as White Flight: Atlanta and the Making of Modern Conservatism.
The Silent Majority: Suburban Politics in the Sunbelt South lays out precisely what was actually sought via desegregation and it was not limited to the South. Atlanta though is treated as being the “model of metropolitan divergence and regional fragmentation, emulating the national pattern of increasingly poor and heavily minority urban populations surrounded by overwhelmingly white and politically autonomous suburbs.” I think that regional plan above is what radicals want to use to get regional collaboration without the consent of the taxpayers while still keeping lots of school districts and cities and special tax districts in place to serve as lucrative jobs programs for people willing to push the desired programs. Of the kind Heilbroner and others had in mind.
Lassiter makes it clear it is socioeconomic integration that was and is really wanted. He ends the book talking about the Brookings Institute’s Metropolitanism program which is interesting as Bruce Katz addressed the ARC group that put out that report at its annual meeting in October 2012 and then came to Atlanta again last March as part of the Global Cities Network conference on economic development and Low Carbon Growth. Lassiter recommends “policymakers can use regional structures as leverage to overcome fragmented political governance and ameliorate persistent patterns of employment discrimination, housing segregation, and educational inequality.” Precisely what ARC and probably other similar entities in other cities plan to do as well. Largely out of sight. As a means of quietly ending “individual meritocracy and suburban consumer privileges and spatial separation.”
I read that in Lassiter’s book and remembered how many times at the rollout of the Equity Atlas I heard the term “spatial equity.”
If educational equity seems fair let’s add the ire that “children of privilege” in the suburbs are receiving the “advantage of the consumer affluence accumulated by their parents instead of competing on an egalitarian playing field.”
I am not done yet as I have another event to attend this week related to this but my point is what is being sought and how most of these relevant and binding activities affecting all of us are going on out of sight.
Unless you are like me and deliberately monitoring and watching and appreciating the significance of the language you encounter in official reports.