To any Broader Cultural Transformation. At this point I tend to take an understanding of the work of Antonio Gramsci and the Frankfurt School for granted as a tool for analyzing sought changes through education or the media. But there was a time in my life just a few years ago when I would have wondered if the Frankfurt School had something to do with hot dogs or polishing a German accent or maybe be a fun place to hang out during Octoberfest. To help each of us grasp how an express intention for broad cultural transformation is not some vague conspiracy but a documented intention stretching back almost 100 years to target the West, let’s have a bit of a history lesson.
After all, this widely-circulated 2011 Oxford Leadership Journal article on “Sustainability: The Inner and Outer Work” (tied to Peter Senge) targeting emotion to gain an inner and permanent transformation as a means for “shifting the trajectory of civilization” is easily recognizable to anyone who has studied the political theories of the Frankfurt School. http://www.oxfordleadership.com/journal/vol2_issue1/Schley.pdf And the constant references to Frankfurt School member Erich Fromm by the humanist psychologists like Maslow and Carl Rogers showed they saw their aim at radically restructuring the nature of education precisely like a good Frankfurter would. As author Alberto Piedra wrote:
“Gramsci in most of his writings insists that the first and almost exclusive role of the Marxist intellectual lies in education. The revolution, he believed, must be prepared with time, patience, and a calculating mind. This involves dismantling or destroying the values of the past by slowly infiltrating the ‘old’ institutions and changing the mentality of the masses.”
Well, they have arrived in our local schools and district central offices and consulting firms. And they are frequently more credentialed than genuinely intellectual in the knowledge sense. And there is usually no express use of the M word or a hammer and sickle t-shirt to alert parents or taxpayers with the history of the theories and practices being pushed. So once again it is up to us parents and taxpayers to inform ourselves to protect our children, our wallets, and a civilization that does not need to be jettisoned and redesigned by a greedy or naive public sector.
Although there is plenty of info available on the Internet once you know about the Frankfurt School and Gramsci, I am using in particular Chapter 2 of a 2008 book by Robert Chandler called Shadow World as my reference and the source for that Piedra quote. Quiet, stealth destruction of social institutions and existing social relationships from the inside out were the whole idea of the Frankfurt School. It really did start off in the 1920s as the Institute of Social Research, a part of the University of Frankfurt. Its purpose was to emulate the Marx-Lenin Institute in Moscow and develop the theories that could be used to gain broad social and political transformation of the West. And assaulting culture was the approach these theorists came up with. Since many of the theorists were Jewish, they moved to the US in the 30s to set up an exile base at Columbia University in New York and some of them never left.
The doctrine ceased to be some type of “cataclysmic clash between workers and capitalists as the final act.” Instead, like the drip, drip, drip that over time can erode stone, Gramsci and the Frankfurters envisioned “a nonviolent, persistent, and ‘quiet’ transformation of American traditions, families, education, media, and support institutions.” Antonio Gramsci, a communist, was writing from prison in the 20s and 30s, after Benito locked him up. Gramsci grasped that the way to change the West was to go after “what is … [inner] and immediate to individuals and groups…in their daily lives.” Like school, family, and a Christian faith that guided daily behavior.
So when we keep encountering social and emotional learning and the Whole Child Initiative of the Common Core and Positive School Climate or 21st Century Learning which is clearly going after the whole personality for tracking and change remember it is Gramsci who saw that inner self as the key to wholesale revolutionary change in the broader culture. In a footnote, Chandler quoted a 1995 speech by a John Vennari warning the Catholic bishops in Mexico City. I am going to quote it in full because the nerdy word “immanent” is precisely the realm being targeted in the 1962 book Perceiving Behaving Becoming: A New Focus for Education that we first encountered 2 posts ago. I have read it in full now and could testify in a court of law that it lays out the current actual planned implementation in education globally. It’s just masquerading in the US as the Common Core as an allusion to its real aim of transforming each student’s inner core. Here’s the reason why it just keeps coming.
“The key element of Gramsci’s blueprint for the global victory rested on Hegel’s distinction between what was ‘inner’ or ‘immanent’ to man and what man held to be outside and above him and his world–a superior force transcending the limitations of individuals and of groups both large and small. For Gramsci, the IMMANENT and the TRANSCENDENT were unavoidably paired and yoked. Marxism’s ‘transcendent’ was the utopian ideal. But the Marxist ideal was too foreign to the Christian mind and Christian culture. So, Gramsci argued that since the immanent and the transcendent are paired, then unless you can systematically touch what is immanent and immediate to individuals and groups and societies in their daily lives, you cannot convince them to struggle for the transcendent.”
In other words, if you want students and the adults they will become to act to change society to get the sought justice and equality and a cooperative commonwealth and other utopian ideals we just keep running into attached to these ed reforms, you need something that accesses and monitors personal values, attitudes, beliefs, and feelings. And then collects all that as data. Gaming and adaptive software will do coming in as digital literacy and blended learning. So will contemplative education seeking to get at “hearts and minds” where the coaches alternate between SEL and New Age training depending on the day of the week and who is paying.
As Alberto Piedra astutely noted about the Frankfurters, “a cultural revolution can only be successful if the educational system is firmly committed to the transmission of the new forms of behavior that the revolutionaries endorse.”
Now isn’t it convenient that from 1962 to today we have quietly had K-12 education seeking to use humanist psychology to get these desired behavioral changes? And no one felt the need to ask our permission. No wonder the schools just kept becoming ever more expensive and dysfunctional. We had Maslow and Rogers and the NEA itself deciding that we needed “new ways of seeing and dealing with the world.” It makes sense now that we keep reading about conceptual lenses and generative metaphors if personal perception has been officially targeted for change. Without notice, in 1962 the purpose of K-12 education did a U-turn so that it deals “with subject matter, not as an end in itself, but as a means of helping children to achieve the intelligent imagination and creativity necessary to find adequate answers to the world’s increasingly complex problems.”
That’s irrational imagination and creativity by the way. Grounded in feeling which is an aid and not a barrier to getting at behavior. 1962 was when the definition of learning officially changed. Now to be a means of making the “transition from autocratic to democratic relationships, there is no turning back.” And to get that transition learning becomes “a problem of the total personality” because “unless behavior has changed, one has not really learned.” Got that? To get to the desired political and social transition, behavior must change and government officials and their selected appointees and vendors get to figure out how. And they have called on the psychologists and sociologists and psychiatrists to come up with the techniques and theories to impose in the classroom.
And we are going to spend several posts detailing precisely what has been and will be sought without anyone’s consent. In a country that held itself out as free. I will end this post with yet more insights from Maslow and Rogers that are influencing what is coming.
“It is becoming more and more clear that the key to effective behavioral change is an individual’s personal discovery of meaning. It is values, beliefs and personal meanings which affect behavior most markedly.”
And behavior and those drivers gets targeted stealthily under the euphemisms ‘outcomes’ or ‘performance standards’ or ‘objectives’ or ‘competencies’ or 21st Century Learning. Where most parents and taxpayers totally miss the behavioral focus or why it is being targeted.
And it has been for decades.
But the monitoring equipment has vastly improved in the 21st Century. Yikes!!