Why the World Makes Far More Sense if You Add Dirigiste to the Things You Understand

I must admit I made it to my 6th Decade in this world before encountering the term -“Dirigisme” or the more common use–a dirigiste economy.  It means essentially a state directed economy. It is when the government sees it as its job to try to look out for the business interests of established companies. Or to try and create new industries.  Historically that protection stifles innovation. In the name of the desirable goal of Economic Growth, stagnancy occurs. Plus there is the cost of supporting all those planners and regulators. Less prosperity, More expense=Bad Deal for the Unconnected Picking Up the Bill.

We are much more likely though to have encountered and recognize the opposite philosophy, even if our definition is probably a bit skewed from its historical use. “Laissez Faire, Laissez Passer” is the philosophic opposite of the Mercantilist, Dirigiste approach to how an economy works and prospers. It sees the economy not as something almost tangible like a pie-“Here’s your slice.” But as a series of spontaneous transactions among lots of different people pursuing what they Know and what they Need and Who can best provide it. The idea of “Let Us Do It. Let Us Make It” goes back to the contrasting philosophies between Britain and France in the 1600s and 1700s. It’s not a matter of not wanting any government. It recognizes that the central planner or regulator cannot know what we Know. And what we Know and Can See Matters Most to developing the kinds of new technology or unique business practices (like a corporation that can now survive any individual human life or letters of credit that allow investment abroad without guards for your gold) that generate local or regional or even mass prosperity. It’s what moves the masses beyond the poverty of subsistence hand to mouth, barely getting by living that was the historic norm for centuries. That remains the norm in too many 3rd world countries even today where Those in Charge want to manage and control everything. No prosperity there as you will learn when I tell you about the real history of the IB Middle Years Programme in a different post later.

Laissez Faire, properly understood, is all about how important diverse pieces of information and knowledge scattered among lots of different individuals are to what creates prosperity and wealth. It recognizes just how many earth reshaping inventions have been created by people who knew their trade well and saw a need. The Industrial Revolution did not ignite in the countries like France that funded scientific research and wanted that research to lead to economic growth. The Industrial Revolution took off in England where artisans with knowledge were looking for solutions to very particular problems that no one in London likely knew existed. Steam engines and cotton gins which shifted the way the world worked occurred because local engineers in the hands-on tinkering sense were trying to solve immediate problems. England had little wood for heating but lots of coal. The coal mines though flooded in the deeper veins and the shallow veins were tapped out. How’s that for a real life, authentic problem in need of a relevant solution?

Yesterday, in a review of Pasi Sahlberg’s Finnish Lessons:What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland?, the former executive director of the NEA wrote of the need for the US to emulate “the power of linking education and the economy in an intentional manner”. Since that  review popped into my inbox several hours after I blogged about the connection between the current education vision being pushed in the US and mercantilism, it was tempting to try to teach one of my cats to High Five. Sweet vindication. The Finns have a dirigiste economy. Copying their education policies means adopting their economic and social policies. And those have a poor track record we are just starting to explore.

For today though I want to call your attention to the area of education where I think this dirigiste approach is the strongest. We are very expensively expanding a sector (new buildings! programs! campuses!) under the assumption that government, federal, state, and local, can use its legislative and regulatory powers to insist that the public must subsidize an industry. We are also quietly putting in place the elements of what is known in other countries as Qualifications Frameworks. The idea that employment in the future will require the right credentials and that only the institutions of higher ed can provide the requisite degrees and credentials. And that job changes require yet another stop pushing more of your money at higher ed to get that next required training or skill set.

College for all defies common sense. There’s a reason the research pushing this vacuous idea always seems to rely in the footnotes on previous papers by the same professors and groups baldly asserting this self-interested point without any evidence. We are caught in a classic Mercantilist “you must buy our product” dirigiste scheme. The student loan debt that now exceeds credit card debt in the US is only the tip of the iceberg on what these dirigiste higher ed policies are really costing us.

Tomorrow I will talk about what dirigisme and a mercantilist approach by a country or state has historically done to innovation. The great driver of future prosperity.


7 thoughts on “Why the World Makes Far More Sense if You Add Dirigiste to the Things You Understand

  1. There’s a guy named Bill Ayers who’s big in education. Education folks like to say he had a colorful life. I’m here to tell you that I wish you were more like him.

    “More like Bill Ayers?” I hear you say. “He’s a destructive egomaniac who supports Hugo Chavez, Barack Obama and all kinds of evil people and policies worldwide!”

    Yes, that’s right. That guy.

    But there is one thing I can say about him: He knows how to write. He knows how to make education sound big, bold, vivid and full of life and vision.

    What you seem to know how to do is confuse your reader, baffle him utterly and send him screaming for the aspirin. What is a Noetic System? Agenda 21? Even when you try and explain these things, your explanations are as baffling as the original terms.

    What we need to understand is what all this means. What’s it like for the kids, struggling to learn, and the teachers, struggling to teach. Are the teachers on the ground malevolent pawns of Ayers, ready to implement his schemes, or are they as baffled as the rest of us? As far as I can see, there is not a single kid in any of your essays.

    If you want to convince us that horrible things are happening in the classroom – and I’m sure they are – you need to take us behind the closed doors of the educational lobbies, the schools and the staff. Why do we have schools that are unable to teach? What is the precise nature of the indoctrination pupils receive? What can we do to change things? You need to write vividly, like Ayers, on a subject you are obviously passionate about.

    At the very least, I hope you can write something that explains these subjects and terms clearly and concisely, giving us a “30000 mile view” of what’s going on. What you’ve written so far leads me baffled, confused, and with just a hint that you have something important to say if you could only figure out how to say it …


    • I have David. I have simultaneously been writing on the blog about what was happening since I finished the book and trying to get back to the technical stuff like footnotes. I have said blog is written at a higher conceptual level than the book. The book tells the story and is comprehensive.

      If you were to start at the beginning of the blog you will see a pattern. At best I only knew what I would write about in blog 2 posts in advance because I was reacting to what was being circulated concerning the Common Core implementation. The Future Earth Alliance and the Belmont Challenge. That I had never heard of but tracking Cambridge Education’s agenda led me to UNESCO and Mott MacDonald so I learned how Green Growth related to the ed reforms in a dirigiste model going forward.

      I found writing the book easier as I was telling a story. The blog is more a head’s up. It is also an info gathering devivce as people who hear a term they do not understand search for it and find me with an explanation.

      The blog has been going on for 6 months now so frustrated parents and teachers and politicians knowing something did not fit could maybe get some accurate info in time to avoid the worst forms of what is planned.

      I cannot retell every story everytime so I give links to what is most important.

      I am pretty impassioned on this. As you can see if you ask me a question or want a response I am here.

      You can even insult me if you like. I could not be describing this if I was fragile or if my understanding was shallow.

      Hope you read some more. I will be happy to direct you or anyone else to my authority or a relevant post on whatever you want to talk about.


    • David, I have a kid in 6th and a kid in 9th. The one in 9th isn’t an academic star, and more importantly he’s good at getting along and keeping his mouth shut, so a lot of this stuff rolls over him, apparently harmlessly.

      The 6th grader is academically advanced, and he’s running up against some teachers and admins who hate him (I think it is because they were never such students themselves) and a few who love him, and he has trouble with the accumulation of mind-numbing bs interspersed with tests of teamwork behavior (his social studies teacher is really out to get him.) I had a couple teachers who hated me in school too but it was nowhere near as aggressive.

      Some of the teachers are really sticking up for him. They are not all drones of the system. Hope that continues as they fall under regular publicly available evaluation. (this is NY state.)

      I am enjoying the blog for the “abstract” material. I see enough of real life from my kids. Getting them through this PC nonsense is very exhausting already.

      • Hi David. I will give you a longer reply when I have more time. You are right though it is your 6th grader who is and will be targeted. Look for my posts tagged Axemaker Mind to explain that.

        The teacher evals you have heard so much about are a means of coercing the teachers into complying with this change the child model. Joanna Weiss of the federal Dept of Ed last week acknowledged apparently in writing that part of Race to the Top and waivers is the requirement that the states evaluate teachers on the basis of Student Growth based on multiple measures. Not the federal governments responsibility but they and I know that Growth is a term that comes from John Dewey’s work on changing the child affectively-values, feelings, beliefs, and dispositions-to prepare them to act for transformative change. Multiple measures ensures it cannot be knowledge. I have a few posts tagged Student Growth and explain the Common Core assessments and what performance assessments really are. Again not knowledge. Your 6th graders art work is a performance.

        http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/coercing-teachers-to-be-social-and-political-saboteurs-what-can-be-done/ is a long post on those teacher evals with cites to relevant docs. Sometimes I will give a description of doc in a post but not cite. That is based on my experience that allows doc to stay up longer if it is being grabbed via search engines. If something looks enticing screen grab it and download it. Controversial stuff does not remain accessible once attention gets called to it unless it is expressly in public domain.

        Thank you for your kind words. I hope to hear more from you. Time to write (still catching up from taking some 9th graders on a quick trip to beach after the last post). My youngest is in 9th so I am living this too. In an IB school which is even closer to the fire.

    • You are welcome.

      I am now deep enough into reading the blueprints that I am getting a solid consistency in visions and means across decades and countries. Only the names and particular advocates are changing. But that is quite meaningful as I have this now from the basement to the top floor. Largely built out when you add in all the files I have that I have not yet written about. It always consistently fits now.

  2. Robin….I surely wish there was a way for me to get your emails directly because it is virtually impossible for me to remember to check your website everyday. I get over 500 emails per day and this is where I spend most of my day reading and researching. I have registered for your emails numerous times and for some reason they never come. I know I have told you this before. But just wanted to let you know the problem persists.
    I must agree with the first David…..your articles are highly intellectual but for the informed person they are inspiring. David if you don’t know what Agenda 21 is I suggest you take some of your time to learn. I suggest starting with You Tube. Agenda 21 for Dummies and Agenda 21 for Public Officials. What we are seeing in education reform IS AGENDA 21……Chapter 36 of A21 is about education. Agenda 21 was adopted in America by George Bush Sr. and pushed into every federal agency by President Clinton and his Presidents Council on Sustainable Development. Basically Agenda 21 is the total control of EVERY human activity and the destruction of private property rights. The indoctrination and dumbing down of our children is how they will accomplish their agenda. I also suggest you get Robin’s book.

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