Assessing Deep Knowledge to Monitor Whether Theory is Guiding What Will be Noticed and Observed

Now you can just imagine the popular outcry if the Common Core and its integral 21st Century Skills were being sold as a shift to Abraham Maslow’s Eupsychian education. That would certainly make the current wholesale transformation of the purpose of education and the function of schools and universities much harder to sell. In fact, that overt psychological pitch might even get the attention of a social-climbing PTA President or a politician intent on ever higher elective office. No one but me at the moment is going to describe what is going on now in such explosively impactful terms. But that widespread omission doesn’t mean it’s not still the actual intention.

Professor Daniel Bell, then a professor of Sociology at Harvard, wrote a 1973 book The Coming of Post-Industrial Society: A Venture in Social Forecasting that laid out precisely why people guided by a theoretical understanding of reality was so crucial to any plan for social transformation. Which is precisely what he and others had in mind. The age of the individual and decision-making through free markets was supposedly over and the future was a planned society and decisions through the political process but not really by elected representatives. Bell believed in 1973 precisely what the federal Department of Education’s Equity and Excellence Commission pushed in 2013–that the future political structure would be grounded in “equality of result–by sharing and redistributive policies–rather than equality of opportunity.”

Such a political demand either has to be imposed by brute force, which is another loser PR campaign, or by “being rooted in some powerful ethical system.” That’s why we have Maslow and Rogers in 1962 and Outcomes Based Education in the 80s and 90s and Global Competency and the Whole Child Initiative now all targeting new values. Global values. Humanistic values grounded in popular metaphors like Martin Luther King’s Beloved Community or potential apocalypses like Catastrophic Manmade Climate Change. It’s a rationale for developing what Maslow called the “self-actualizing B-Values” and Bell saw as the “philosophical foundation–a conception of justice as fairness–for a communal society.”  Bell goes on to describe an intention we need to keep in mind to appreciate why a nationally and globally imposed common core of beliefs and values is so sought in 2013:

“In the nature of human consciousness, a scheme of moral equity is the necessary basis for any social order; for legitimacy to exist, power must be justified. In the end it is moral ideas–the conception of what is desirable–that shapes history through human aspirations.”

Bell said the historic “premise of individual freedoms and the satisfaction of private utilities” was crumbling. All of the sought changes over the decades via education and the hyping of first global cooling in the 70s and then later global warming, and now the refusal to take actual temps amid an undisputed increase in Carbon Dioxide into account, all make more sense when you read Bell’s next axiomatic assertion from the 70s: “the political system is now being geared to the realization not of individual ends but of group and communal needs.”

Sounds just like a shift from a profit economy to a needs-based, For Benefit Economy, doesn’t it? Old ideas at social engineering apparently never die. They just get new names, different advocates, and better sales pitches on why they are necessary and must be imposed, something to keep in mind after Friday’s White House Executive Order imposing Climate Change adaptations like it or not. .

Now the term Post-Industrial Society is used less now. Usually the UN or the OECD prefers the terms Knowledge Society or Information Society but the intentions do not really shift the nature of the transition to be facilitated through governmental planning of desired behaviors, distribution of resources, and public policies generally. All that needs new conceptual schema, a/k/a Big Ideas and Deep Knowledge. Bell says industrial society was the “coordination of machines and men for the production of goods.” Since he says, we have become a society committed to social control in order to shift to equality of results, that “introduces the need for planning and forecasting into society.”

Post-industrial society then, like its alternative names, is “organized around knowledge, for the purpose of social control and the directing of innovation and change: and this in turn gives rise to new social relationships and new structures which have to be managed politically.” Bell doesn’t point it out here but now we have the mayors and City Councils and Governors in the name of Economic Development all ready to do just that. The innovation and change then is not the historic Free Lunch For All/ New Kind of Technology like computer transistors shifting to integrated circuits but the kind of sociological innovation Bruno Latour also had in mind in a previous post. And Bell says it is the “altered awareness of the nature of innovation that makes theoretical knowledge so crucial.”

Although the Common Core is still not producing the level of popular uproar that would come if the actual implementation were better recognized, there has still been enough hype about the feds usurping the role of states and localities that the sponsoring trade group, the CCSSO, sent out a letter dated October 1, 2013. . The CCSSO tells the states the kind of assessments they need to have. Try to control your shock that when you cut through the rhetoric and the Appendix and the mentioned June 2013 CSCOPE report, you end up with a determination that these new kinds of assessments be looking for theoretical knowledge. “These new assessments will not be limited to surface level knowledge–they will better assess the deep knowledge students need to succeed post-graduation.”

That “deep knowledge” or what the C3 Social Studies Framework calls “lenses” or what the Hewlett Foundation calls “deep learning” or what Donald Schon (who worked with Bell in the 60s) called “Generative Metaphors” are all examples of what Bell called either “conceptual prisms” or “conceptual schemata.” Having education provide them for ALL Students aids this attempt to bring about a “change in the social framework of society.” I would add and doing so invisibly without bothering to amend annoying barriers like the language of the US Constitution. Friday afternoon Executive Orders on Climate Change Adaptation or Positive School Climate mandates gets the effect without the turmoil that could force policy retrenchment.

If you, like me, have often wondered why it always seems to be the Frameworks that guide the actual classroom curricula being developed or professional development instead of the standards that politicians supposedly adopted, the following passage will finally silence our curiousity about what is really going on. “Nomen est numen, to name is to know, is the ancient maxim” guiding so much of the actual classroom curricula to change values, beliefs, feelings, dispositions, and ultimately future behavior itself.

“Social frameworks are not ‘reflections’ of a social reality but conceptual schemata. History is a flux of events and society a web of many different kind of relations which are known not simply by observation. If we accept the distinction between matters of fact and matters of relation, then knowledge, as a combination of the two, depends on the correct sequence between factual order and logical order. For experience, the factual order is primary; for meaning, the logical order.

Mind knows nature by finding some language in which to express an underlying pattern. Knowledge, thus, is a function of the categories we use to establish relationships just as perception [bolded to remind you of Maslow and Rogers and the 1962 book for the NEA] is a function of the conventions we have accepted in order to see things ‘correctly.’ As Einstein once put it: ‘it is the theory that decides what we can observe.'”

So the social planners and transformational change seekers and psychologists and education profs have recognized all this for decades as an essential component of How to Achieve Equity in a Planned Society 102. Without having having to confess beforehand what is being altered and why.

Isn’t it about time we all knew it as well?

Empathic Solidarity to Undergird Economic Citizenship: Creating Common Core Beliefs in New Social Obligations

At some point in the last several years someone put up on old interview of President Obama when he was an Illinois state senator where he complained about the US Constitution having a premise of “negative liberties” instead of obligations of when governments must act. Now I have been a bit too busy to spend my time fretting over shifting views on the nature of the law but that video came roaring back to my mind as I explored Martha Nussbaum’s “capability as a human right,” Harvard’s decision to push CRT–Critical Race Theory–in K-12 to eliminate structural differences in society thought to affect Blacks and Latin@s (not a typo this is how book shows gender correctness with Latin nouns now I suppose), and the American Political Sciences Association’s April 2012 report pushing Economic Citizenship.

In all of the political theory reading I have been forced to do I kept coming across references to “Marx said this” and “social justice demands” along with the phrase “materialist conception of the world.” And honestly I never knew quite what that meant beyond disdain for people with Judeo-Christian beliefs in a transcendental God. Until I read the law review articles trying to justify these changes, those reports and the Contesting the Myth of a ‘Post Racial’ Era book from the previous post, and a September 18, 2013 EU report exploring the adoption of the “shareable/collaborative consumption” economic model. The latter reflected the now to be common global vision of creating a “roadmap featuring a world in which every human being can enjoy their human rights, live equitably and free from the injustice of poverty, on a planet that has the natural resources to sustain them.”

All this social justice theorizing that is committed to education that levels the best and brightest and deplores any Constitutional or other legal interpretations that would focus on “negative rights [that] disempower the state from intervening into the private sphere for the democratically progressive purpose of redistributing power or resources within it” are all grounded in the erroneous belief that economies and wealth are about a fixed, finite, tangible, sum of goods and property. In other words, that’s the “materialist conception” the political theorists are referring too.

Once I realized that key fallacy lying under all these planned changes in social policy and political structures for the 21st century, I went back to a book economist George Gilder wrote in 1981 called Wealth and Poverty. He wrote it to describe what he saw as the basis of the economic stagnation prevalent all over the West in the 1970s. He pointed out that “Economies do not grow of their own accord or by dint of government influence. They grow in response to the enterprise of men willing to take risks, to transform ideas into monopolies, and monopolies into industries, and to give before they know what they will get in return.”

All of this theorizing being launched at us now through the spending and regulatory powers of federal, state, and local governments and the education policies I have laid out on this blog and in my new book forget that the prosperity creating capitalism (not the Crony Corporatist variety that is usually parasitic) that we take for granted is mostly psychological. It is about “qualities of thought and spirit” in relatively few people who have the requisite “imagination and purpose, which make wealth” that in turn make all of us better off. Because those unique ideas and effort created goods and services we voluntarily wished to buy. With our own money.

In pushing mind arson in K-12 and our colleges and universities to supposedly gain equity in a finite world and the psychologically manipulative “engaged” learning for the Whole Child to create “empathic solidarity” that will support political power massively redistributing this supposedly finite bowl of goods, we forget that mass prosperity has always grown from the “metaphysical capital of human freedom and creativity” as well as law that applies equally and predictably. Not law that applies unequally to various groups to try to shift opportunity and outcomes in politically chosen directions.

The rule of law matters so much because morale and inspiration, coupled to deep knowledge that takes precious time to build up, are critical to the genuine “conscience of capitalism : the awareness that one must give in order to get, supply in order to demand.” We are instead looking at a 21st century political, social, and economic vision grounded unabashedly in communitarianism that says ” I exist, gimme” and “governments, you step in and make it so and we will reward you with our votes.” But prosperity-creating wealth isn’t physical, it’s psychological. This redistributive zeal based on mistaken assumptions ultimately destroys the very essence that drives all economies that have ever worked for the benefit of broad masses of people.

In other words, in this zeal to get to a Good Society/cooperative commonwealth /economic citizenship/capability vision for the future we are extinguishing the very basis for the wealth planners and politicians and naive educators believe everyone can live on as a matter of “right” in the 21st century. Let’s take a look at what is being demanded as a matter of “right.” The APSA report called “Democratic Imperatives: Innovations in Rights, Participation, and Economic Citizenship” certainly supports our speculation in the recent Bruno Latour post that all these current mentions of innovation mean sociological inventions that consume existing wealth. Not the wealth-creating, Free Lunch for Others, kind that created the unprecedented economic prosperity and living standards of the modern world in the West.

No, APSA simply declared its determination to push “human-rights based approaches to democratization, welfare, and development” that will be based on “participatory governance.” Notice that “-ance.” An ability to bind all of us with no recourse for an individual because I am seeing that term in OECD documents tied to their education and subjective well-being/welfare state agendas all over the globe. APSA kindly lets us know the reason as “participatory governance is a process through which [created now via law reviews or federal agency overspending] rights are exercised and citizenship and political agency enacted. [in a majority will takes what it wishes sense of we take the benefits of ownership and you pay the taxes]. It can help bring traditionally marginalized groups into politics and can enhance accountability [to the will of those groups], responsiveness [ditto], and social justice. Participation is a vital element of rights-based approaches, [I have little doubt of that or why a community organizer would disdain ‘negative liberties’] and rights facilitate political participation. [As the place where give me demands are made].

Let me include the definition of economic citizenship after I first point out that APSA is insisting that this program with its “inclusive, pro-poor” emphasis is premised on the factually untrue “key finding” that the “more egalitarian and democratic the state, the better its overall economic performance.” So once again, as happens so often in education, we are enacting policies and theories based on factually untrue premises. And we wonder why we spend so much with such poor consequences for all those dollars.

“Economic citizenship refers to the substantive aim of making economic security and social justice entitlements of democratic citizenship. It is, in a sense, the objective of human-rights based approaches, and it, in turn, enables meaningful political agency.” Well, of course, it does in a collective and groups matter but the individual does not vision.  As Georgetown Law Prof, Robin West, put it in her 2001 aspirational Law Review article “Rights, Capabilities, and the Good Society” where we also took that negative rights ‘disempower’ quote above, the state is obligated to provide that “threshold level of material well-being” that is necessary for ALL citizens to “be able to be free and equal participants in the collective project of self-rule.” Those individuals not wishing to be bound will discover why those 5 little letters in ‘governance’ are to prove so binding. And “equity” and poverty and race become the excuses for a public sector-centric vision globally for the 21st century.

Professor Wright’s sense of the law strikes me as indicative of someone who has lived their life safely ensconced in an Ivory Tower but deluded does not mean not influential. Unfortunately. She finds it reasonable that citizens should be able to “demand, that the law both can and should structure a decent social world” as if ‘the law’ were a magic wand that does not first take whatever resources it plans to spend as politicians see fit. In fact, she believes “states and state actors” should “focus on the utopian aspirations we might universally hold, and then to bring that vision to earth.” How magnanimous of her!

Respect for Individualism might be the crucial ingredient in the economic prosperity professors like Robin Wright or Martha Nussbaum or those Harvard CRTers plan to try to redistribute using legal theories and political power and new education visions. Only later will we all understand these huge fallacies in what is now being pursued in earnest. From so many different directions and levels of government.

But what can we expect from tenured profs who can look at the world that exists and desire “a relational and communitarian world substantially different from the overly atomized [current] individualistic hell.”

With these plans and theories we all may be about to learn a huge lesson in what really creates living hells. Generally they come from the misuse of political power.

I guess they don’t teach that these days in law schools or education graduate schools. Certainly not in the psych or sociology or political science departments. Too bad.


Adjusting Our Conception of Who We Are to Fit the New Global Context of Being Systems to Be Managed

Do you ever read one of my posts and think “surely she’s exaggerating. That cannot be the actual intention. This is America and we are a free society.” Well, maybe less after this past week of barricades blocking open-air monuments keeping veterans from honoring those they served with. Or the elderly tourists being herded and guarded at the Old Faithful Inn lest they actually see and take a picture of an active geyser. Or those orange cones trying to block anyone gaining a view of Mt Rushmore. Plus the mentality that would add to the pain of already grieving families while they are still in shock by essentially telling them politicians and executive appointees did not value the ultimate sacrifice in the least. We have indeed crossed the Rubicon because of the importance of using the federal spending, taxing, and regulatory powers to enforce a different sort of country and society. Without we consent or not.

We think this past week is all a bridge too far when the reality is the transformation is just heating up. Let’s take a hard look then on where we are being led and why and what makes education such a vital weapon for intentional, nonconsensual cultural change. If you are a new reader, I usually refer to Karl Marx as Uncle Karl when I have to go back and pull up his theories and philosophies. Because people are writing that their current plans trace back to him. Still. In 2013. And simply saying that “Karl Marx said” makes me sound a bit hyper instead of ably tracking real declarations and then telling the story with a bit of humor. So if the MIT Press in 2012 decided to publish Ethical Adaptation to Climate Change: Human Virtues of the Future with regular mentions of that notorious Uncle as if he were a respectable theorist with good, untried ideas for us all, we get to take a hard look at what is in store for us.

I see that the Aspen Institute and Bloomberg Philanthropies sponsored CityLab this week in NYC building on this idea that the Inner Cities are to be new totally managed systems that all federal policies revolve around benefiting. This confab, like the (co)lab summit 2 weeks ago in Atlanta, TED City 2.0, the Brookings Metropolitanism push, and the new Promise Zones initiative announced in August with 11 federal agencies coordinating “prenatal to career nurturing of pathways” are all the second term pushing of what I first described here .

Since that book was kind enough to lay out the ties of all this to Uncle Karl, let’s see precisely what is intended for all of us. Like it or not. Pretending this is the fulfillment of MLK’s “beloved community” vision and therefore a dream that is entitled to be seen as a human right. Wouldn’t all these machinations make so much more sense if you believed or wanted to use a philosophy that argued that people will remain ‘alienated’ as long as they act as private individuals? Moreover, and highly useful to the current political class and the beneficiaries of their largesse with our taxpayer money, you insisted (my bolding):

“Overcoming this alienation would take the form of a recognition and reappropriation of these processes as social, which to Marx means putting them under the control of democratically organized planning processes.”

We might not be familiar with that intention since it is contrary to how the US Constitution works but I am pretty sure it is common knowledge in Community Organizing 101 seminars. Also common Marxian knowledge would be that the current world need not be accepted as it is but treated as something that humans produced so it can be redesigned through action and will. In fact, we just need to teach children from an early age that “to be human is to transform the world” and that “our economic and social institutions, our sprawling suburbs, our rapidly warming atmosphere” are all supposedly “something that results from human practices, and is not a ‘fact of nature.”

What is going on now in education, and what our 3 theorists from the last post wanted, and all these redesign the world through concentrating on the cities advocates desire, all make much more sense if you realize lots of people believe that the “problem with capitalism and the market economy” is the “private character of decisions.” Immediately telling me the writer has no clue as to what is involved in becoming successful in the non-cronyistic economy where you can only do well if you give people something they volunteer to buy. The point is the public-sector centric theorists have a desire for a future where the public sector can force people “to decide together what they are going to do” so that they will “act in concert to produce the result they all desire.” And you are thinking why would everyone desire the same thing?

Well, that’s to be the beauty of the Common Core in the US and Quality Learning all over the globe. To get people to have the same beliefs and mental models of reality and cultivate feelings to prompt collective action and new values. What we are dealing with is too many politicians and bureaucrats and university professors who believe that in the 21st Century the “social consequences of our actions [are] themselves [to] be the object of a social, and public, decision and not just the result of a series of private decisions…This cannot happen in the market itself, but rather is a matter of politics. In politics, and more precisely in democratic politics, the community makes a decision to act as a community and no longer as an aggregate of private individuals.”

Like it or not, that is the official mantra of the 21st Century vision all over the globe. Man-made climate change is being constantly touted whatever the reality because its solution requires a shift from individuals and markets making decisions to collective, majority binds all, decision-making. And education becomes about reenforcing a human responsibility to change and to engage in a ‘common politics’. Each person must now always consider “what actions would be discursively justifiable to others before acting.” Now that is clearly just a motto to gain power or we would never have seen the events of the past week, but it is the official view of citizenship in the future that our K-12 schools and higher ed are to actively cultivate. Mental transformations in individuals, new cultural models, and new institutions are absolutely precisely what this 2012 book lays out as the intention.

By cultural models, we are to have comparable perceptual conceptions (‘lenses’ and ‘metaphors’ are the two most common euphemisms) for how each of us is to perceive the world in the future and “our relationship to it.” And if you wonder why the name John Dewey just keeps being brought up as the visionary still for both the kind of education and society desired, this passage should relieve all questions:

“To serve as the basis of learning and action in political contexts, new cultural models must be closely associated with the development of new institutions, in particular institutions that function to manage the boundaries of the system to be managed. In their most basic sense, institutions are ‘the external (to the mind) mechanisms individuals create to structure and order the environment’. Through institutions, our ideas about how the world works and what is necessary to act within it, are articulated in language, instantiated into rules and structures, and to a greater or lesser extent empowered (or resisted) by the instruments of the state, business, or civil society. Institutions are essential to create a ‘public’, in John Dewey’s sense (1927): an organic society capable of experimenting, observing and learning in the face of threats and problems.”

Like it or not, this is the genesis of the vision of the future being pushed now all over the globe. It is the vision behind the ambiguous term ‘Sustainable Development’.

I may not be able to make this all go away by myself, being a mere individual and all. But what makes individual minds such a target in all these 21st century calculations is precisely the concern that someone will piece together the story in time. Before the mental and cultural changes are ‘irreversible’. And the new institutions become entrenched.

Now you know. Hope there is still time for the sleeping giant to awake to this danger we are in from our political class and their eager cronies.


New Assessments Drive New Minds Primed for the Progressive Composition of the Good Common World

To the extent education reforms going on globally in K-12 and higher ed are even on people’s radar, most observers still believe the dispute is over how to best transmit knowledge. And who gets to decide the type of knowledge that is needed. It is hugely convenient for the advocates of wholesale social, economic, and political transformation in the 21st century that we all continue to misapprehend the nature of the actual debate and the tools being used to drive the desired individual and cultural changes. To help us all bridge the gap between what we expect from schools and higher ed and what these reforms intend to actually do to our children and us, I am going to use quotes from 3 people whose work is at the center of the current transformation globally.

Quoting what they say the political purpose of their work is because it still attaches even if neither we nor the Principal or the legislators or the Governor are aware of those actual purposes. Or what PISA is really measuring. Farthest back in time is from a book by the chief architect of the communitarianism component, Amitai Etzioni. Back in 1983 he wrote:

“schools must first and foremost graduate individuals who can function on their own while relating constructively to one another (mutuality) and to their community (civility). Such individuals, properly ‘put together’ from a psychosocial viewpoint, will have the most important characteristics workplaces require. Moreover, I recognize that schools need to educate for other values than work, such as culture and citizenship.”

That would be the purpose that now gets hidden under the euphemism “College and Career Ready.” And the ‘culture’ and ‘citizenship’ students are being groomed for is grounded in the transformative vision of the future to prime the students to take action to help bring the new world into being. The great advantage of deemphasizing textbooks and lectures and mandating virtual reality gaming as assessment or using group collaboration around the ambiguous real-world grounded “wicked decision problems” from the last post is we are creating young people who will have the right to vote with virtually no capacity to anticipate even the likely consequences of the transformative actions being taken. The insider phrase for this new emphasis of “skilled in the fundamental pragmatics of life” gets omitted from the public sales pitch as too accurate to be acceptable.

Let there be no impediment to future action and let the actions be grounded in the cultivated feelings and values and attitudes that live in the unconscious regions of the self could easily be the new motto of global ed reforms. Let’s move on to Chicago Professor Martha Nussbaum who we first met here. Her work on capability as a human right has increasingly caught the OECD’s and the UN’s attention as the appropriate theoretical vehicle to push for a public sector dominant society and a new kind of welfare state for the 21st century. Apparently we are not supposed to notice the marked resemblance of capability theory to Uncle Karl’s human development theory of the future.

Proponents of stealth transformation via education better hope then that no one reads this passage in Nussbaum’s 2011 book:

“ponder what is implicit in human dignity and a life in accordance with it…Marx’s vivid descriptions of forms of labor that allow continued life, but not a fully human life, resonate the world over. The notion of life in accordance with human dignity is one of the most fertile ideas used in worldwide constitutional jurisprudence.” Ahh, tenured academia–where the term Marx is actually not a pejorative insult but a still revered architect of future ways of organizing life and a society. Later, Nussbaum kindly tells us why it is so important now to have a Whole Child, social focus that grounds all thought in emotion and then uses new assessments to both drive and measure how schools are doing in driving such “growth.” It is “how we might cultivate the helpful sentiments in a socially propitious way.” Those would be the sentiments that will hopefully ground the actions for transformative change with again little ability to recognize likely disasters that would be apparent to anyone with a solid knowledge of history.

Nussbaum goes on in a passage that also primes the vision of Bruno Latour, who we meet next. In the future, political power is deemed to drive all. This is a little long but too revealing not to use:

“politicians can build a public culture that puts altruism and the relief of misery at it core. …An account of the emotions of citizens in a decent society is urgently needed.

This task involves thinking about the family, about social norms, about schools, and about the ways in which political institutions create incentives. It also requires conceptual thought about the emotions, how they arise and unfold, what their structure is, and how they interact with one another.”

In other words, the survey Nussbaum says is needed is precisely what the White House-pushed League of Innovative Schools and the EdLeader21 suburban US school districts have now agreed to research and gather data on. Not to mention all the data being thrown off by the Executive Order mandating Positive School Climates or requiring Positive Behavioral programs for all students under an indefensible reading of federal disabilities law or via adaptive software programs used in the digital learning juggernaut. You’d almost think Professor Nussbaum knew people in DC who could help drive her theories along.

Now Bruno Latour is a name familiar to me because of his role in the ‘science wars’ of the 90s. Plus he is a hugely popular choice as a campus speaker now. A French sociologist. So when I saw a 2004 book of his cited–Politics of Nature: How to Bring the Sciences into Democracy–that Harvard published, I thought we could gain more insights. Confirmation that what is being billed now as ‘innovation’ is really a push for sociological experimentation. A truly shocking book for Harvard to have embraced and for the French government to have originally funded. Reading that the “social sciences would finally become scientific if they agreed ‘to treat humans as things” made me feel like I had slipped into a Hollywood script for a science fiction mini-series. No such luck though. These are real and current aspirations we are dealing with.

The constant references I have located now to new kinds of minds and Growth Mindsets to be psychologically healthy and verbatim references to encouraging ‘dialectical thinking” (shouldn’t computer programs come with a search function that pipes up “do you REALLY want to use that word?”) should be seen through Latour’s blueprint of how we are to now be moving towards the “progressive composition of the good common world.” Not to freak you out, although I did spend the better part of yesterday with my mind racing and hands trembling, but Latour really does talk in terms of “once the collective has been assembled.” He writes of no more distinction between “interests’ and ‘politics’ or ‘nature’ and ‘politics.’ Instead, there is just political power that engages in a ‘groping process’ to ‘deal with matters of human concern.’ These new associations will unabashedly experiment with new ways of living and organizing society using 3 powers: “the power to take into account,” the “power to put in order,” and the “power to follow up.”

Roughly translated that seems to be public officials deciding what to do, then how to do it, and then examining how they did and considering what to do next. All as if public dollars will always be there for the asking to pay for such social transformations even though everything that has ever produced economic wealth is being squelched to get the mindsets that will go along. Justifying statism in the name of equality and justice is another way of looking at this genuine aspiration. That gets linked to the Common Core and other global ed reforms because they are all seeking precisely the same kinds of minds and values that Latour believes are needed and the OECD now counts as Competencies and government officials are calling “higher order thinking skills’ created by “rigor” in the classroom.

Latour actually believes like John Dewey that such a concentration of political power and binding all citizens to the results of majority will (that is in turn cultivated by what is to go on in schools and universities) need not lead to totalitarinism. He really says that Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union simply had the wrong kind of politics and vision injected into their collective decision-making. I am thinking that tenure and being able to live at public expense or courtesy of untaxed endowments held by universities and charitable foundations has seriously left way too many influential people who already have utterly no conception of likely consequences.

Too much theory and not enough reality apparently is possible now on many a campus, think-tank, foundation, or government agency and it shows thoroughly in what is being pushed on all of us.

Who pay the bills and who are to have nowhere to turn if these visions continue to advance via education and cultural transformation.

Reality and Consequences do not care. If the likely consequences appear to be a nightmare, remember the unforeseeable ones we will also encounter.

Instead of cultivating new conceptual lenses and minds for students, we need to impose reality checks on a whole lot of adult professors and bureaucrats and politicians.

In time.