Rising Like a Phoenix from the Ashes Despite Repeated Autopsies and Pretend Burials

The last line about Pretend Burials is my addition to a quote I took from a translated book from 1970 called Three Faces of Marxism .The active disinformation campaign we started looking at in the last post contradicts the informed contents of that Leonhard book, which quoted one Eastern European after another from the 1950s and 60s on the “true renaissance of Marxism … that is the beginning of an event, the beginning of something historic that concerns the future of us all.” I think that same something is going on now and it’s behind the documentable deceit surrounding (1) what learning standards like the Common Core are and why they are needed; (2) the determined effort starting in the late 80s to pretend the MH aspiration never existed and pretend that Soviet Communism=Marxism; and (3) the misrepresentation of what Martin Luther King aspired to engineer through civil rights laws and in the name of the Beloved Community that essentially coincides with the MH aspiration and the purpose of learning standards.

That interconnection woke me up over the weekend and covering this up made me think of the need for pretend burials to protect these theories from the infamy of their history. If you think I am being disrespectful to Dr King, last week I noticed that part of the brigade pushing the organized disinfo campaign about the Common Core was involved with “The Life and Legacy of The Reverend Dr Martin Luther King” https://www.baylor.edu/washington/index.php?id=951374 .The event was somehow sold out before it was even publicly announced. That suggested to me that KIng’s legacy and the civil rights laws and their use to push Equity and Excellence in education had turned into a vehicle for something else that King may or may not have imagined. Since one of the speakers, Cornel West, wrote a book on the ethical dimensions of Marx’s thought I had an idea what that theory might be.

Since Excellence in education means to combine what is felt, thought, and desired into a single active performance, learning standards are an awfully practical vehicle for gaining access to a means of invisibly implementing those ethical dimensions. That insight turned out to be true as I tracked down another book West had written in that momentous year of 1989 where the MH vision seems to have been renamed as ‘prophetic pragmatism’ with John Dewey and his Democratic Education as its exemplar. Ding. Ding. No need to follow just bread crumbs anymore as everyone who has read Credentialed to Destroy will appreciate, but West went on to quote the architect of the MH view of culture and the role of action (praxis), Antonio Gramsci, and his desire for “a new cultural process, different in character from its predecessors,  a process in which practical movement [performance standards like the Common Core?] and theoretical thought [like Enduring Understandings or Thinking Like a Historian?] are united [Higher Order Thinking Skills?] (or are trying to unite through a struggle that is both theoretical and practical).”

See the role of learning standards in these goals of real world transformation and a reimagined future? See why we keep coming across a push to pretend Marxism has no interest in ideas even though categories of thought are actually front and center to the whole scheme? West himself wanted to shift the conception of knowledge to something that would promote “power-laden people’s opinion” as a means of engineering his desired “culture of creative democracy by means of critical intelligence and social action.” Sounds like the MH vision again and after all I have these old books telling me that back in the 1960s there had been “a renaissance of Marxist thinking” that had begun to “crack the ice of Stalinism and to become a stream once more.” A similar observation proclaimed that “After several decades of grave crisis, we may today speak with assurance of a renaissance of Marxism. It rises like a phoenix from the ashes even though it has repeatedly been subjected to an autopsy.”

It’s much harder to autopsy something that is supposedly buried and past history. If renaming it allows a theory to be operative without scrutiny or infamy that’s an excellent reason for deceit. Sure enough when I looked into whether that renaissance in a certain perspective influenced Dr King I found https://acton.org/publications/transatlantic/2018/01/15/3-reasons-martin-luther-king-jr-rejected-communism a recent attempt to misrepresent what MLK believed from a think tank active in pushing School Choice and once again falsely treating Communism and Marxism as synonymous. That whitewashing makes perfect sense if School Choice is actually a Trojan Horse to spread that unity of “practical movement and theoretical thought” in every type of school or education initiative. Let’s compare to this http://ownershipeconomy.net/2015/08/30/martin-luther-king-called-for-a-higher-synthesis/ as well as http://rajpatel.org/2010/01/18/martin-luther-king-we-are-not-interested-in-being-integrated-into-this-value-structure/ and we get a more accurate feel for where Dr King fits with our MH template.

It turns out that everywhere we look into this vision of how to bring about a more just society sooner or later we find a forthright declaration of the need for “comprehensive information” and a new value structure that will be the “powerful force for altering the internal psychological structure of a human being”. We learn that a NEW kind of education is needed that will “develop the skills and deep habits of partnership and working across differences…the work of rebuilding our world requires a revitalization of abilities to see beyond what is to what can be. [This] combines a sacred and public spirit with the work of culture change to rebuild the moral and civic fabric of our society.” Now if that spirit gets wrapped up in the Good, True, and Beautiful or as a return to “the principles of America’s founding” will anyone notice the shift in the definitions or principles from what is historically accurate?

The three areas of deceit not only come together when MH is properly understood, but framing as a civil rights issue brings in the rule of law as the enforcer. If we compare the quotes from my last post or in the comments there to Leonhard laying out the disdain of the USSR as representing a ‘historically transient form of socialism”; and “the humanist Marxists of different countries all agreed that neither the economic model of the Soviet Union (state ownership of the means of production; economic management by central, hierarchically structured planning), nor the political structure of the Soviet Union (dictatorial rule of the Party apparatus over all spheres of social life” and compare that with what so many so-called ‘conservative’ or libertarian think tanks are telling us Marxism is about, it is clear there is even more of an organized disinfo campaign trying to hide the MH vision than there is over what the Common Core is and what competency-based ed is really about.

Student-centered learning as the convergent aspiration pushed by the Aspen Institute, Jeb Bush, and iNACOL makes sense once we know that “the humanist Marxists consider it necessary to move the human problem once more into the foreground of Marxist theory.” Sounds just like King’s ‘higher synthesis’ and what the state of Massachusetts recently said was the inspiration for all standards-based ed reforms. Personalized learning and Betsy DeVos’ repeated hype that students be educated to their’ full potential’ fits right in with the MH “emphasis on man as the starting and finishing point, as the ultimate objective of the entire practical and theoretical work of Marxism.”

If ‘human socialism’ or ‘the socialism of self management’ need ‘ ideas and concepts’ to become operational and “create the social and political prerequisites for any further development,” suddenly all the deceit about outcomes-based ed in the 90s, and the Common Core and the reasons for data collection now, makes sense. It is no longer a shock that when we looked at the National Constitution Center’s curricula we found communitarian redefinitions of Liberty and Freedom. The deceit makes sense if we understand MH theory from Kolakowski’s actual books instead of lectures about him. Perhaps we should remind Mr Kimball from the last post that Kolakowski quoted MH theorist Erich Fromm who “regards the Manuscripts of 1844 as the fundamental exposition of Marx’s doctrine…Totalitarian doctrines and Communist regimes have in his view nothing in common with Marx’s humanistic vision, the chief values of which are voluntary solidarity, the expansion of man’s creative powers, freedom from constraint and from irrational authority.”

Just the way learning standards and competency frameworks really work and consistent with West acknowledging that he needed Gramsci’s thinking to get to his desired social transformations. We also have Kolakowski marvelling at how Gramsci and Marx got to the same place even though Marx’s manuscripts were still not known when Gramsci went to prison in the 20s. Both men were interested in “the question of the relation of human thoughts, feelings, and will to ‘objective’ social processes.” I just boldfaced those words to remind everyone that those words combined are what the definition of Excellence in K-12 actually means and what the civil rights laws are imposing in the name of Equity. I am going to close with a quote that in my mind connects all these aims to why these psychologically transformative techniques for a political purpose may be partly behind the rise of mass school shootings in places using them.

Kolakowski was greatly worried decades ago about Herbert Marcuse and his advocacy for an “ultimate all-embracing synthesis in which thoughts, feelings, and desires are merged in a higher ‘unity’. Such an aspiration is only possible when a totalitarian myth claims supremacy over thought–a myth based on ‘deeper’ intuition, so that it does not have to justify itself, but assumes command over the whole of spiritual and intellectual life.” Kolakowski was right to be worried, but wrong that this desired unity would have to be accomplished by “replacing the tyranny of logic with a police tyranny.” Learning standards represent another way to get around what he said has been “corroborated by all historical experience: there is only one way of making a whole society accept a particular world-view.”

If no one can recognize the psychological manipulation and there is organized deceit around learning standards, Marxism, and Dr King’s vision, who can even see the coercion creating the desired worldview? Once we can see what is being imposed through the mind and learning standards, we can share Kolakowski’s concern of what will happen when power decides that “normative essences must prevail in every domain.” Like him, we may come to see that the words Freedom and Liberty are being used in ways that have “taken on the contrary of its normal sense.”

But that requires accurate factual information and that’s the last thing this vision of education for the future has in store for us or our children.

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