Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Binary structure of the slave mentality – Analysis of a vlog comment string

Look at this video of the arrest of a student on a campus.

Now go to YouTube and look at the viewer comments to this video.

Look at any similar situation where someone or a group of people are being targeted by cops, by the enforcers of imposed rules of conduct.

And you often see the same binary distribution of reactions.

In one camp you have those who are outraged or sensitive to individual rights being curtailed or disregarded. They see an abuse of power and conclude that the authority being exercised is not being legitimately exercised. They have an impulse to rebel against the master, or at least to train the master to be fair.

In the other camp you have those who see the victim as the menace, a menace to peace and order. Often, they don’t even see the victim (the one being subjected to power’s treatment) as a victim, only as someone who is getting what he/she deserves by virtue of some personal defect and/or not being sufficiently subservient.

There you have it; in the microcosm of a string of vlog comments. All admit that there is a master, a ruling authority, but some react to the incident of punishment with an eye to just and equal treatment (they insist on being oppressed fairly or they may rebel) while the others instinctively side with authority and find fault in the transgressor.

Both sides are quite transparent about their interpretations:

“That was a stupid thing to do to insult the cop” = “Rebel against authority and expect to received deserved punishment”

“I can’t believe cops can so disregard the law” = “If it’s not going to be fair then I can’t go along”

Both camps and their predominance reflect our true condition - our condition of slavery. The entire dynamic is a slave dynamic. The only question is “Will we rebel or will we mob and neutralize the belligerent individual?” The entire exchange is a battle to decide between these two alternatives. Is it time to fight the master or can we continue to obey?

If we fight there is a significant risk, so the conditions need to be sufficiently bad – an investigation is in order. If we continue to obey then we must rationalize away the punishment of the victim.

This shows that we are social beings; that our judgements are largely tied to communal decision making rather than individual evaluations based on outside circumstances. The mobbing instinct is always with us, as is the instinct to repair and maintain an established hierarchy. Among individuals reared in a hierarchy these reactions appear to dominate. It gives rise to a binary tension: Either the system is as good as possible and delinquent elements need to be expelled or the system needs fixing towards more control and counter checks to prevent abuses. The right-left divide at its root? “Hippy activists” versus “careerist reactionaries”?

This all leaves out the minority; the anarchist/libertarians: Those who don’t want hierarchy or government or police but only direct and horizontal (town hall) democracy and who see anything else (such as rigged representation) as a form of control and slavery. Where do these independent thinkers come from? What makes a Kropotkin, a Bakunin, or a Malatesta? These characters rebel against all authority all the time.

I don’t see any in the vlog posts? When they appear you know you are living in a vibrant time. When they are absent you know you are flirting with fascism.

Watch this video about Ottawa cops breaking the law and see how you react:

Canadian education as an impetus towards fascism
Independent thinking in education - quotations
Video evidence of emergent fascism at a Canadian university
The Activist Wars
On the need to embrace hatred
The student as nigger

Activism and risk

Sunday, February 7, 2010

A conversation with Franz, Albert, Lillian and others about education

Imagine an informal conversation with some old smart people (friends) that you kinda respect a lot and the topic turns to the merits of education... And you know these folks enough to know that they are going to say exactly what they truly believe, what they have learned... The exchanges that you catch as they vie for your ear and each other's attention might sound like this:

[some quotes straight from the web, not verified]

First, I will tell you all you need to know to succeed. Let’s get that out of the way: "Kiss ass."
-David F. Noble

The average Ph.D. thesis is nothing, but the transference of bones from one graveyard to another [...] Putting on the spectacles of science in expectation of finding an answer to everything looked at signifies inner blindness.
-J. Frank Dobie

Spoon feeding in the long run teaches us nothing but the shape of the spoon.
-Edward M. Forster

Knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind.

Rewards and punishment is the lowest form of education.
-Chuang Tzu

It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of education have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom; without this it goes to wrack and ruin without fail. It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty. To the contrary, I believe that it would be possible to rob even a healthy beast of prey of its voraciousness, if it were possible, with the aid of a whip, to force the beast to devour continuously, even when not hungry, especially if the food, handed out under such coercion, were to be selected accordingly.
-Albert Einstein

I can prove at any time that my education tried to make another person out of me than the one I became. It is for the harm, therefore, that my educators could have done me in accordance with their intentions that I reproach them; I demand from their hands the person I now am, and since they cannot give him to me, I make of my reproach and laughter a drumbeat sounding in the world beyond.
-Franz Kafka

Since every effort in our educational life seems to be directed toward making of the child a being foreign to itself, it must of necessity produce individuals foreign to one another, and in everlasting antagonism with each other.
-Emma Goldman

What does education often do? It makes a straight-cut ditch of a free, meandering brook.
-Henry David Thoreau

What usually happens in the educational process is that the faculties are dulled, overloaded, stuffed and paralyzed so that by the time most people are mature they have lost their innate capabilities.
-R. Buckminster Fuller

What we call education and culture is for the most part nothing but the substitution of reading for experience, of literature for life, of the obsolete fictitious for the contemporary real.
-George Bernard Shaw

It is no small mischief to a boy, that many of the best years of his life should be devoted to the learning of what can never be of any real use to any human being. His mind is necessarily rendered frivolous and superficial by the long habit of attaching importance to words instead of things; to sound instead of sense.
-William Cobbett

Education at school continues what has been done at home: it crystallizes the optical illusion, consolidates it with book learning, theoretically legitimizes the traditional trash and trains the children to know without understanding and to accept denominations for definitions. Astray in his conceptions, entangled in words, man loses the flair for truth, the taste for nature. What a powerful intellect must you possess, to be suspicious of this moral carbon dioxide and with your head swimming already, to hurl yourself out of it into the fresh air, with which, into the bargain, everyone round is trying to scare you!
-Alexander Herzen

Anyone who has passed through the regular gradations of a classical education, and is not made a fool by it, may consider himself as having had a very narrow escape.
-William Hazlitt

Probably all education is but two things: first, the parrying of the ignorant children's impetuous assault on the truth, and second, the gentle, imperceptible, step-by-step initiation of the humiliated children into the Lie.
-Franz Kafka

To me the worst thing seems to be a school principally to work with methods of fear, force and artificial authority. Such treatment destroys the sound sentiments, the sincerity and the self-confidence of pupils and produces a subservient subject.
-Albert Einstein

If you can't inspire your students to do that, if you can't somehow move them to grasp that education is really self-education and not the unquestioning acceptance of what in the end authority says, then I feel that you have committed them to intellectual and ultimately moral servitude.
-Edward Said

It is very nearly impossible... to become an educated person in a country so distrustful of the independent mind.
-James Baldwin

An education obtained with money is worse than no education at all.

I pay the schoolmaster, but it is the school boys who educate my son.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

I am beginning to suspect all elaborate and special systems of education. They seem to me to be built up on the supposition that every child is a kind of idiot who must be taught to think.
-Anne Sullivan

How could youths better learn to live than by at once trying the experiment of living?
-Henry David Thoreau

I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.
-Mark Twain

It don't make much difference what you study, so long as you don't like it.
-Finley Peter Dunne

The creative person is usually rebellious. He or she is the survivor of a trauma called education.
-Anonymous (has an eye on Emma)

Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.
-Paulo Freire

From a certain point onward there is no longer any turning back. That is the point that must be reached [...] A first sign of the beginning of understanding is the wish to die.
-Franz Kafka

True education makes for inequality; the inequality of individuality, the inequality of success, the glorious inequality of talent, of genius; for inequality, not mediocrity, individual superiority, not standardization, is the measure of the progress of the world.
-Felix E. Schelling

The best education consists in immunizing people against systematic attempts at education.
-Paul Karl Feyerabend

Every act of conscious learning requires the willingness to suffer an injury to one's self-esteem. That is why young children, before they are aware of their own self-importance, learn so easily; and why older persons, especially if vain or important, cannot learn at all.
-Thomas Szasz

Education is a private matter between the person and the world of knowledge and experience, and has little to do with school or college.
-Lillian Smith

An education isn't how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It's being able to differentiate between what you do know and what you don't.
-Anatole France

Canadian Education as an Impetus towards Fascism
Creativity for liberation or seclusion
On the sacred space of the university classroom
here it is – the essay that explains the student’s place in society
Education for More Anarchy

ACADEMIC SQUATTING - A democratic method of curriculum development
The Ignorant Schoolmaster

Friday, February 5, 2010

TA stands for Tasia Alexopoulos

A TA (teacher assistant) at York University (Toronto) who will not kiss ass. Infinitely refreshing!

Damn this TA has guts. You just don't expect to find anything but cowards among profs and grad students... and then this happens - someone stands up and doesn't back down: Fuck you radical prof; you ain't gonna kill this woman.

Firm resistance against the insanity of grades...

READ THE LATEST REPORT HERE - degrading for real

[Photo credit: Grade This! by Jackson Pollock.]

Steel Bananas story about TA at York U
Canadian education as impetus towards fascism
Grades as pretext for firing dissident professor
Giving up the grade - by David F. Noble
Student as Nigger - by Jerry Farber