When we encounter the exact same point being made over the decades despite dramatic differences in circumstances and intervening events, we have located an important handmaiden to ideology. So before we talk about what is intended, let’s go back to 1983 for some wisdom from a veteran European observer of what were the methods of choice during the Cold War. That great ideological struggle that my research says morphed in its strategies and tools but never vanished as we were led to believe. In his book Why Democracies Perish, Jean-Francois Revel has a chapter on “Ideological Warfare and Disinformation.” Since I believe education and especially this forced, largely invisible, psychological emphasis of changing personal values, attitudes, feelings, and dispositions was, and is, a means of ideological warfare, I looked for some advice from the past.
“its job is to fight propaganda not with counterpropaganda but with truth. Unfortunately, this is not something democracies are good at.
They are disadvantaged from the start by the long odds against halting the spread of utopian notions with plain facts. [http://futurewewant.org/ is a link to an example of how ed reform globally is now intertwined with these utopian visions of the future]. And they are unskilled in defending themselves against communism’s falsification of these very facts. [Today it is the idea that the crisis of 2008 and the global downturn proves free markets do not work and the public sector must intervene even more]. As weapons in the ideological war, propaganda and disinformation have a double objective: to concoct false images of Communist reality and of its leaders’ intentions and to circulate through the non-Communist world the plausible lies and deformed versions of events best calculated to disorganize the world.”
Disorganize the world. Still useful if you want economic and political power. When I first read a description of Transformational Outcomes Based education and watched it being pushed in the 90s all over the world everywhere with a tradition of liberty and cherishing individualism it struck me as a coordinated attempt to gain unilateral intellectual disarmament. When I read Psychosynthesis complaining about how those “who identify themselves with their mind and are proud of their intelligence” have “lopsided development” that is difficult to change but those with a “loose self-identity” are more adaptable and amenable to change it gave me pause.
Let’s use education to force a laying down of that mighty weapon–the human mind–lest it develop changes in unapproved directions. We may not be dealing with Capital C Communism anymore but we certainly are dealing with a ruling elite wanting to use the financial and coercive powers of the public sector globally to dictate what any of us can be, or become, or perhaps even do, in the future.
And the media, educators, and NGOs like the UN and the OECD or the World Wildlife Fund are all definitely spreading plausible lies and deformed versions of events that are easy to challenge with truth if enough people are aware and still have Axemaker Minds. Did you know though that there was ” a great and important law of the psychological life?” Roberto Assagioli laid it out in just that language in Psychosynthesis as a tool to be used to “achieve the right inner attitude toward other people and to successfully perform intended actions involving others.” What Assagioli called the “loving will.”
Doesn’t that aim sound almost the same as what Maslow and Rogers and the NEA started pushing in 1962 as the new focus of education where “the important thing is not the specific method used but rather the way people relate and feel toward one another in the classroom?” And this change was important because “pessimistic views regarding the nature of man and methods of discouragement have to be discarded. One has to enter wholeheartedly into a cooperative adventure with those involved.” As Revel and others have noted, we are changing only one side in the Cold War or in the dangerous world of 2013 as we glance at Syria and evil on both sides with chemical weapons use staining multiple hands. Only one side is being asked to disarm and just “feel” that all can be fixed if we just “refashion our interpretation of the lived environment so that we can intelligibly act within in it.”
Can we? That last quote has jumped across a time gap of almost 50 years but has the same pursuit. From the UK this time and a report called “Transforming Behaviour Change: Beyond Nudge and Neuromania.” http://www.thersa.org/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/553542/RSA-Transforming-Behaviour-Change.pdf Before we get to that November 2011 report, let’s go back for that great psychological law: “images and mental pictures tend to produce the physical conditions and the external acts corresponding to them.” Another way of saying this is to point out the “immense power of images.” Assagioli says:
“It seems high time that this law should be utilized for higher and more constructive purposes [than advertising is what he means], and the fullest use of it should be made for the purpose of psychosynthesis.”
As I first explored in this post http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/when-gaming-intends-to-shape-and-distort-our-perceptions-of-everything-around-us-viva-la-revolution/ , educators and the ruling elite and those who would like to join have a modern day tool in the computer and adaptive software and especially the coming classroom emphasis around gaming that would have made Assagioli and Maslow drool. No wonder UNESCO sees media education as the means to achieve Marxist Humanism. No wonder CCSSI wants media and digital literacy to be as important as print literacy. The power of images. Especially when schools define ‘engaged learning’ as the goal and immersion in a virtual reality as the means. Then the student can regularly try out utopias or envision potential future catastrophes that MUST be avoided. And precisely what will tell a student that something is in fact unworkable in reality or unlikely to really happen? An actual catastrophe with real lives?
The “Transforming Behaviour Change” report talks about preparing the “brain for social bonding and empathy” but what if we are bonding with bullies who have no desire for Peace in the real world? What if we are being primed to use the “motor-power of imagination” to redesign an economy and society in ways that ultimately cannot maintain the prosperity we will need to consistently keep most people well-fed? Feeling and intuition may create adaptability to transformative change but it is only knowledge that can deal with the inevitable consequences. And personal knowledge is precisely what is being extinguished in order to gain a widespread personality that seeks, or is amenable to, such wholesale change.
“The baby will have disappeared with the bath water” before most of us will even know any water has been drawn. But meanwhile the ruling elite will be “reworking the foundations of economic models” as that 2011 document put it. In a disinterested way of course. No wonder the report keeps mentioning George Soros. We simply use student-centered education to “change your sense of who you are and what you value” and voila! Reimagined human societies and economies can be ours. Education merely needs to create “the development of an inner authority which can ‘write upon’ existing social and psychological productions rather than be ‘written by’ them.”
Maybe we could call that inner authority the common core or triune consciousness (see previous post under that tag) obtained via the techniques of psychosynthesis brought in to achieve a Positive School Climate. All as we chase after this OECD-endorsed utopian vision of “21st Century enlightenment” to get “successful lives in well-functioning societies.”
“Behaviour change becoming an explicit goal of government policy” sounds like something from a science fiction novel, doesn’t it? Not a well-funded initiative of the present called the Social Brain Project. Never forget please that the US and UK are already working together as lead partners in seeking behavioral, economic, and social change as part of the Belmont Challenge and Future Earth Alliance [see tags] work. Hiding conveniently from prying eyes over in Sweden. So once again this is NOT a matter of pulling together sensational quotes. However, I do intend to end with one more from the Social Brain Project so we can ponder what freedom will mean in such a future vision.
“The ‘Think’ approach is more democratic, and contends that if we deliberate collectively as rational agents responsive to argument, we will find a suitable course of action and collectively follow it through.” Now the Social Brain Project clearly likes all that collective decision-making on behalf of all of us but it thinks the “Think’ approach is too reliant on reason and not enough on the unconscious mind and habits. It wants a ‘steering’ approach to behaviour change that “literally changes the subject.”
The subject is not Algebra or English. It is us and our children.
Being launched via transformative education into a world where our perception of reality and new values and attitudes are to be shaped just as surely by deliberate propaganda as anything a Khrushchev or Brezhnev ever sought to do during the Cold War.