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.


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

  1. Having no idea what was meant by “discursively justifiable”, I did a quick search of the term and found a rather enlightening, if long, academic paper called “Public Deliberations, Discursive Participation and Citizen Engagement: A Review of the Empirical Literature” ( Here are a very few gems culled from the first few pages:

    “A central tenet of all deliberative theory is that deliberation can change minds and transform opinions…[and] under the right conditions will have a tendency to broaden perspectives, promote toleration and understanding between groups, and generally encourage a public-spirited attitude…” Well that sounds dandy, doesn’t it? Who doesn’t want to promote broadened perspectives? But like we’ve seen so many times with Common Core, things aren’t necessarily as they seem at first glance.

    The authors state that democratic deliberative theory “begins with a turning away from liberal individualist or economic understandings of democracy and toward a view anchored in conceptions of accountability and discussion. Talk-centric democratic theory replaces voting-centric democratic theory. Voting-centric views see democracy as the arena in which fixed preferences and interests compete via fair mechanisms of aggregation. In contrast, deliberative democracy focuses on the communicative processes of opinion and will formation that precede voting. Accountability replaces consent as the conceptual core of legitimacy.”

    The claim that “If it is appropriately empathetic, egalitarian, open-minded, and reason-centered, deliberation is expected to produce a variety of positive democratic outcomes…”

    This paper was published back in ’08, and cites multiple references, including Dewey and Cass Sunstein among the eight double-columned pages of references.

    I confess, I didn’t read the whole thing, but I read enough to see that it is wholly unapologetic about working towards the demise of individual liberty. Robin, how do you keep from wanting to slash your wrists, at least while reading the stacks and stacks of this stuff I know you must be reading? And how can you figure out what to focus upon? I did searches for “Promise Zones” which led me to “Building Ladders of Opportunity” (neither of which I’d heard of before), and then “Quality Learning” which provided evidence for the global aspect of this all…but how do you keep track of all these programs and policies and partnerships? It’s enough to make one’s head reel…

    • I have one book case that is books used for book research and another for blog. For a while the blog books were on the floor of living room in alphabetical order. I have the files similarly segregated by purpose and function.

      And for the last few weeks I was finishing footnotes and proofing book while writing blog and because they are different but related I could see patterns.

      Those Promise Neighborhoods have been troubling me and when I brought them up at a (co)lab dinner several people seemed upset I knew about them. When I listened to Secretary of HUD’s TED talk it struck me as a way to get Nussbaum’s and Gar Alperowitz’s work in place without saying so. A little bit of searching showed that was precisely the position UNESCO and the OECD were taking.

    • It also cites Benjamin Barber who I have also read and talked about and who was shown as one of the main speakers at that CityLab conference in the video I saw. His book led me to Harry Boyte and his cooperative commonwealth. Harry is at U-Minnesota which is where one of the paper author’s is also. Boyte led me to Bayard Rustin’s 1965 essay on marching through the institutions and gaining a new psychology going forward.

      At this point the footnotes of one useful book points to others. That’s how I found the MIT Press book as well as Latour’s.

  2. Sleepwalking Off The Education Cliff

    When the phrase “to educate” becomes “to learn” in education narrative we can see the profound change that has already happened. Happened — and not by happenstance — but by deliberate intent and engineering. Certainly avoids the NBT label — Not Been Taught!

    “Failure to learn” is now being used more frequently — it’s the student’s fault for not assimilating what was presented. Or the family’s fault for being of low socio-economic-status. Or the parent has not followed through with the multitude of “support needed” suggestions creeping into report cards (read at home, etc.). As well there is the system’s rationing of scarce diagnostic resources, which, if not done on a timely basis (two year waiting periods), doom the child to the Matthew Effect. (See Internet)

    So, while the shift is to “learning” that learning still is to take place in quasi-monopoly public schools — delivering learners for training in new core competencies. Has anyone noticed how “schooling” is also a frequently used word? (How long till “psychological conditioning” becomes acceptable language?)

    TWO main purposes justify retaining centralized government schooling:

    1 The industry generates a vast amount of public service jobs, and

    2 The mind-set of the citizenry is neatly ensnared for social-engineering purposes.

    There have been oodles of books and reports that have warned of the dumbing-down of our nations (USA, UK, AU, Can.).

    Not ONE book can be said to have made a sizeable difference in improving education, as for example, “Unsafe At Any Speed” has made to the auto industry. Does one need to be a Nader, with degrees from Princeton and Harvard Law School, to say —?

    *** “ . . . the gigantic costs of the highway carnage in this country support a service industry. A vast array of services — medical, police, administrative, legal, insurance, automotive repair and funeral — stand equipped to handle the direct and indirect consequences of accident-injuries . . . But the true mark of a humane society must be what it does about prevention . . . “

    In an earlier post I wrote: “I’ve been tracking how critical thinking (most of us would support this) has morphed into critical education, critical theory and critical pedagogy (mostly a Marxist project).”

    Trying to catch-up (belatedly and regretfully) on all that critical pedagogy has consigned us to I came across this title: Educating the Posthuman, John A. Weaver, 2010 and have just ordered it. What will I find?

    When will we have a tool that will save us activist parents from self-recrimination for letting education of our children and grandchildren slide into this abyss happening now?

    (Robin: John A Weaver is a professor, College of Education, Georgia Southern University. What is his contribution to this education transformation?)

  3. Robin, I have trouble visiting your site without, frankly, being scared witless. I’m also concerned this may be further along than you’re thinking. So many players are sitting at the table. Similar things in education are concerning conservative voices around the world. Nobody else I found has put as many pieces together as you have, but it seems like a rabbit hole. My daughter graduated as an electrical engineer just a few years ago, and talking to her sometimes reminds me of your blogs. The good and bad concepts have been blurred somewhere in college.

  4. Robin, thank you for your diligence in posting this information. I understand the gentleman above in regards to how deep in this process we are. We are much deeper in this than what is comfortable to think about. My state, Oregon, seems more entrenched than others, it is worth exploring and learning about for the sake of my children. It is not easy. I’ve been forced to dig out my old psych books from early college and a dictionary. The scary part for me is that this seems to occur in real time. As I research documents in my own state government I see the evidence of all that you write about. These changes are happening and progressing very quickly. I look forward to reading your book.

    • LL-it’s not your imagination that Oregon is deeper. You have the Far West ed lab there which both invented and then took state-wide the Transformational Outcomes Based Education models and the Bela Banathy systems thinking for total transformation models. William Spady mentions in Paradigm Lost that Oregon was the only state to adopt instead of school districts like Aurora, CO and Mooresville, NC back in the early 90s. You are also where David Conley is now and he created the College Ready euphemism for Gates and tried to take “non-cognitive factors” and rename them unilaterally as “metacognitive” for Ed Week. is a Post from January where I dealt with some of this and Bela and Spady have their own tags from those posts from fall of 2012.

      Agenda 21/ICLEI and Quality Learning are related in the Marxist Humanist vision of post-capitalist society that was laid out in the 60s. I explain that in Chapter 6 of the book with the actual quotes of intentions. So the 1992 Rio docs were just enshrining what had been the intention for the West in the middle of the Cold War. Because Portland is considered the Premier Regional Equity/Green Growth city, with Minnesota’s Twin Cities next and then Atlanta, you are really getting the economic and social vision through many institutions at a cutting edge level. Also Portland is one of the cities that signed up to pilot the shareable/collaborative consumption economy.

      I am also astonished at the speed at which this is happening. And that between book and blog I have managed to get both the history and long sought intentions of all this and how it is now being put into effect. Somehow this incredible story was supposed to come out right when people were ready to see that it was in fact true. And the only explanation that fits the known facts. And that’s apart from me using powerful people confessing their intentions.

  5. I was looking through my Facebook page today and saw a YouTube video from Oregon Deputy Super Rob Saxton where he is threatening Oregon teachers with trouble, stating “I’m kind of an S.O.B. when it comes to this stuff.” He told them that everyone needs to get on board and that independent contractors (teachers who disagree) only confuse children. Things like this make my job as a teacher so much harder – I don’t want to get in a political fight over Common Core but apparently the fight is coming to me and my fellow teachers, whether we want it or not.

    • Anonymous– My husband teaches at a local community college. He has long recognized where this train was headed and has attempted to fight it for years. He finally had to give up his position as department chair due to the stress of fighting what felt like a one-man battle with the administration, where the few hard-won successes made little (if any) impact in the long run. I counseled him to focus his energy where he COULD make a difference: in the classroom. He has embraced this mission, and he manages to preach his message of liberty and freedom daily. Surprisingly, his students are not only open to it, but they actually hunger for it. We have embraced the opportunity to make this small but vital difference, but we know there will be consequences. We are as prepared as we can be for them, and we will not go down without a fight.

      We are at a point where, like the Germans in Nazi Germany or early Christians in the Roman Empire, a decision has to be made: join the zeitgeist or prepare for battle. Either choice comes at great potential expense: the former, moral; the latter, personal. But you’re in a rare position: you have free access to a captive audience, and you have a priceless message. Think of the opportunity! Forget politics or trying to fight from the top down; this battle calls for subversive measures.

  6. Susan L, bless your heart, and your hubby the prof’s. I mean that. You saw before I did. And I have been anti Communist all of my life. But I was weak in history and lazy to do my homework. For 25 years I taught math and read mysteries and raised my family. No history. Then I retired in 2011 and began to study history. I happened on John Taylor Gatto. And Charlotte Iserbyt. And Diana West. And many others. Then I found Robin’s website and the light went on. Yes, Duh! Slap forehead hard.

    Courage and wisdom are a dynamite combination in a couple so I know God blesses you. May he bless you even more.

    And to you Robin. I’m off to buy your book. God bless and keep you safe, together with your loved ones.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.