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.

 

What Happens When Sovereign Political Powers Get to Dictate the Way People Should Behave in the Future?

Years ago the Frankfurt School researchers stumbled upon a useful fact. Once people have heard the same pitch or story from someone they view as authoritative about five times or so, most people simply come to accept the pitch as true whether it is or not. Now as you can imagine, given the stated Frankfurter aim of altering the nature of Western culture towards a more collectivist orientation, this key point (from the Radio Project work if you want to look it up) became a Masterful Manipulation 101 strategy to be used for transformative political and social change. I think whoever was creating the broad outline of points to be pushed at last week’s (co)lab in Atlanta knew all about the Radio Project research.

As Harvard’s new Innovation Fellow Tony Wagner put it, perhaps not realizing someone was taking notes so determinedly, “we need to prime the adults for the change needed” and we need to “create the consensus necessary to preserve this change once it is introduced.” So what was the vision being pushed at (co)lab in addition to King’s ‘beloved community’ we talked about in the last post? Since the head of the US Council of Competitiveness, Deborah Wince-Smith, said the inaugural (co)lab is “going to be transformative for our country,” we really ought to know what is in store for us. It’s this new social and economic vision that requires a new ‘revolutionary’ vision of education as Ken Robinson called it. A vision of the future that requires us to be able to “think differently in the future” in order to meet that revolution and “do things in a different way.” Minds that are “responsive and flexible” so they can “adapt to a world of change” is how Sir Ken described it. Of course he also really liked the vision of change laid out in that Fulton district conversion charter and said so, which may well mean it will be coming to a community near you soon. Yikes!

So if Ms Wince-Smith is right and (co)lab was about Atlanta getting ready to “pioneer new policies and models for our nation,” what might we all expect? Well, the retired head of  Ernst Young said it was part of what is the “most profound geoeconomic shift in history.” Of course, he also said that this push started at the World Economic Forum in Davos about 3 or 4 years ago and was being pushed by CEOs globally. The dramatic changes sought were not just in “education but also infrastructure, transportation, and logistics.” In other words, a boondoggle for globally-operating, politically-connected, established businesses which is probably why it looks so much like Corporatism and authority capitalism.

In case you are getting worried that State capitalism is not a place where mass prosperity has ever reigned no matter how many times Statist professors utter the word ‘innovation’, one of the urban planning speakers informed us that “it was not the government deciding this is the future,” but rather “government plus nonprofits and business all together.” Feel better? Me neither but apparently a solid knowledge of history that recognized what comparable visions were called back in the 30s was in short supply. Or people who would have gasped in horror at the comment that “every half century we reinvent the paradigm for how communities should exist.” No, when planners and politicians make that call historically it never works out well. Someone is unfamiliar with the tragedies of Urban Renewal in the 60s in an earlier version of this state planning vision or the Chinese Ghost Cities of the present.

Other descriptions were the Post Post-World War 2 Model and the collaborative consumption new economy where human needs could be met by ‘currently underutilized assets’. That vision sponsored by April Rinne with her ties to WEF and its Dalian/Davos confabs we keep not getting invited to seems to be priming for the needs/support economy Shoshana Zuboff laid out in her 2002 book we have talked about. The sharing economy dovetails quite nicely April said (with her Harvard law degree she may have taken classes from Shoshana) with what would be its “largest beneficiary-the city.” April made it clear that her vision of the sharing economy was a “reintroduction of the social contract” and about  “building communities, not the marketplace.” In fact she said it was a new “way of seeing the world” where “I need” gets matched to “you have.”

Of course in this vision pretty soon any concept of private property goes away in function if not name since private property has always ultimately been about having a “Do Not Enter” personal zone that even a king could not infringe upon without consent. In this new vision, as we will see with ed in a minute, there is no more sphere that the political sovereign cannot try to direct or remake. Personal ‘sensibilities’ and ‘dispositions’ become the stated subject of needed change and more than one speaker also said that. You can only have private property in a society that has established the primacy of the rule of law and respect for the rights of individuals. As we have seen repeatedly, both of those are areas under coordinated attack by this new ‘revolutionary’ vision of education. Probably because they are impediments to the beloved community society with its new economy.

And Ground Zero for this shift are our urban areas. Washington, DC was said repeatedly to be gridlocked and broken so Atlanta’s mayor, fresh back from speaking at the TED conference in NYC on Reenvisioning The City: 2.0, said that “many of the powers now in DC should be shifted to the 50 largest metros.” Which will of course be an enormous boondoggle for the urban political machines. Taxpayers send money to DC. DC takes its cut to keep that area booming and then the money gets transferred to urban areas all over the country. How could prosperity not ensue? Well beyond political waste there is this pesky little detail that Tony Wagner actually defined the “innovation economy” as both “radically different” and “about solving the pressing problems we face on this planet as a species.”

With federal dollars targeted directly to so many urban areas apparently all things are now possible. I don’t think so but this is in fact the vision attached to all these ed reforms this blog has painstakingly laid out. Getting new kinds of minds and new ‘sensibilities’ and ‘dispositions’ is precisely why we keep encountering such a psychological emphasis as the real theory of how to close the achievement gap in a way that allows all children to ‘learn’ in a definition tied to behavioral change. Now I happen to think both the social and economic vision as well as the education reforms laid out will be toxic. But I do recognize the vision for ed being laid out by the speakers. Beyond Uncle Karl and John Dewey, it is the vision we have described from 1962 that Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers laid out as the new focus. It’s both where Psychosynthesis and the OECD’s Competency/Robert Kegan focus go when you peel away the misleading references to the PISA ‘test’. Now let me explain why all roads and pathways always lead back to a Curriculum of Affect.

In 1970 the Ford Foundation (which also was and is a huge funder of Urban Renewal and Regional Equity visions) published a book called Toward Humanistic Education: A Curriculum of Affect. It complained bitterly that when the focus of education and teaching was on subject matter–what you and I would call content knowledge–it did not “necessarily affect behavior“. And therefore people’s attitudes and actions “with regard to social injustice” needed to be changed in ways that would provoke desired actions. So school should become about discovering “the feelings, fears, and wishes that move pupils emotionally, that can more effectively engage pupils from any background.” By the way, that page kindly cites to Maslow and Rogers for doing research in this area. What are the odds?

That’s how All students can learn and why the methods used must be accessible to the least capable students or those who do not speak English. Which sounds much better as a  rationale than being honest and saying:

“the broad objectives of American education must include the preparation of students to engage in constructive personal and social behavior. We believe existing practice is not affecting behavior adequately. We also believe that in today’s complex, precarious world a society has little choice but to pursue the path toward humanitarian behavior…The ultimate purpose of this report, therefore, is to search for paths to greater consonance between education and the way in which people might or should behave.”

What a coincidence. More than 40 years later that seems to be the real purpose of  (co)lab, that TED-x City 2.0 conference, AND the actual education reforms being hidden as connected to the Common Core implementation.