Political Primer 101: What is the Marxist Theory of the Mind and Why Does It Matter in 2012?

The Berlin Wall is down. Mao is dead. The Soviet Union is no more although I believe their national anthem is back. Why mention Marx at all? Isn’t it offputting in our 21st century to be bringing back previous hobgoblins that are now irrelevant?

But is isn’t irrelevant. That’s the dangerous myth that makes a stealth assault through taxpayer funded and supported institutions possible. The misunderstanding of our adversaries, or even that we have any, acting through something like education that is supposed to be a Public Good. You may have noticed I will usually make references to Uncle Karl to make the point on what is involved without running the risk that readers will step back. The Bridge Too Far.

I think honestly the misappreciation of what Marxism is and the vital importance of education as a primary cultural weapon has been deliberate. If we had rightly understood that consciousness and mindsets were under attack we would have caught on to what was actually going on in the Reading and Math Wars much sooner. We would be paying attention to the actual implementation documents on federalizing education that impact what must, and what Now Cannot, go on in classrooms.

So let me step back now and frame what is under attack and why. At this point because this theory is so ubiquitous and poorly understood it is all the more dangerous. I think we will need the shorthand-”Oh, that’s just another scheme to impose the Marxist Theory of the Mind without us recognizing it” if we are to be able to successfully combat this Evil. I just went back and capitalized Evil because it cost too many human lives in the 20th century not to deserve a Capital “E” for emphasis.

Plus let’s face it the related Bronfenbrenner Ecological Systems Theory and Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory of Learning are just a mouthful. And really created to obscure the political derivations while obtaining the desired political effects. Squelch individualism. Stomp the rational mind. Hobble the incredible human capacity to create private mental scenarios to weigh possible consequences of various possibilities and then choose to act or not accordingly. In other words, to crash that Axemakers Mind anywhere it might arise before it can happen.

So Marxist Theory of the Mind is accurate and pithy compared to our alternatives. Which would also include John Dewey’s work. But what is it? Well, actually I just told you and have been all summer. I just avoided calling a spade a spade for as long as possible. The Marxist Theory of the Mind is a political subjugation theory. And I am not using the word Subjugation to show off Robin’s Large Vocabulary and Stock of $5 Words. I mean Subjugation in its sense of deliberate permanent altering of the Human Mind and Personality in order to have lasting Control and Unconscious Influence. See? A great vocabulary word actually does take numerous words to really capture its singular meaning.

And that’s why the Marxist Theory of the Mind remains relevant in the 21st Century. We still have politicians and bureaucrats and Crony Businesses seeking economic and political power over the Individual. And Marx may have been a moocher from his parents and friend Engels who never had a real job in his life. And he may have thoroughly misunderstood capitalism and industrialization and who was benefitting and what was unstable. But his Idea that Your thoughts were not your own and merely reflected the Class you were born into painted a Bullseye on Mental Consciousness as a Target for State Manipulation.

He blew that too by the way. Our thoughts are not merely a reflection of our social interactions and our environment. But think of the power if the nature of school and education could be changed to try and make this part of Karl’s dream a reality. That’s the dream that drove John Dewey and Ralph Tyler of the 8 Year Study (I have an interview he gave just before his death) and so many others. It has become the poorly understood essence of the modern education degrees. It is what drives the accreditation agencies worldwide. We are in Deep Peril if we do not understand this.

So how does it manifest itself almost everyday now in what I am reading? It is embedded deeply in the Digital Literacy Initiative from the last post. There was also Tuesday’s Bridging Differences column claiming that the global economic crisis was due to the “insatiable consumption of our natural resources and control of the world’s wealth by the 1 percent.” Here’s a hint. Most of that One Percent live at the intersection of Politically Directed Capital and Politically Connected Individuals. It’s Al Gore and the Green Business Grants directed by the 2009 Stimulus Act to his investments. It’s the leaders of China and other countries. The imposition of the Marxist Theory of the Mind will simply make this state appropriation and direction worse as there will be no one to fight it. The One Percent should not be the Focus. State Crony Capitalism should be.

It is manifested in the insistence that the transmission of knowledge in urban schools¬† amounts to the imposition of “white middle-class values on their children” to “mold them so that they are compliant and obedient to authority figures.” That’s pretty brazen given the desire to change everyone’s values to a more Communitarian ethos and Mold Everyone through the collection of data about values, attitudes, and beliefs. That was also yesterday. A thoroughly troubling document called “Teaching Adolescents to Become Learners” which turned out to describe manipulation via the classroom of what are being called “Non-cognitive Skills” or Soft Skills. It claims that:

“racial/ethnic and gender differences in school performance can be reduced by focusing on students’ attitudes and behaviors.”

Delightful details on when these remain malleable and subject to interventions. Lots of mentions of creating desired Mindsets and references to Carol Dweck’s psychology work without bothering to mention she is a noted Lev Vygotsky scholar. Little details. It’s not like that report did not have lots of research to back up what it was mandating. Oh wait, actually it admitted there was little proof for the theories but, hey, what’s the use of a government monopoly over children’s minds if you cannot do widespread research on the Theories after they have been forced into classrooms.

What else just this week? There was Tuesday’s release of a report seeking an official rejection of capitalism in the Advanced Computing businesses and the adoption of an Industrial Policy to have the Government pick the winners and losers and blur the line between public and private when it comes to computer hardware and the semiconductor business. Called “The New Global Ecosystem in Advanced Computing: Implications for US Competitiveness and National Security,” it is a detailed plea for collusion among certain of the tech companies, higher ed, and government regulatory power and tax money.

It is also sought by many of the same businesses pushing the Digital Literacy Initiative and the 21st Century Skills global push. The same businesses that push P-Tech Career Pathways for All in high schools. The same businesses insisting that students only need the 4 C’s and Soft Skills in the 21st Century. Creativity (with little subject knowledge), Critical Thinking (to recognize need for Transformation), Communication (Dewey’s theory that minimizes the cognitive element), and finally Collaboration. Because we know Individualism is so 19th Century.

That’s awfully coincidental and self-serving don’t you think? Industrial Policy, Rejection of non-State Directed Capitalism, and Heavy Involvement in the Radical Restructuring of Education Globally? All essentially at the same time? Think there’s a connection? Let’s not even get started on how much of the actual Common Core curriculum and “Measuring” Assessments the Gates Foundation is also simultaneously funding. Which I have seen by the way. Now I appreciate the omnipresence of Environmental Projects. It really is all connected.

As I wrote about here http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/oh-good-grief-now-i-need-to-know-what-a-noetic-system-is-because-it-is-under-attack/, change the noetic system and the economic and political systems must change too. Marx knew that and so do many educators. And apparently tech companies now. It’s the American people and ordinary citizens all over the World in the dark about what is happening right now.

I am going to close with what UNESCO wants, and through its allies in politics, business, education, and accreditation, is well on its way to achieving. Just in case you need reminding of how totalitarian these aspirations are. And global. And happening in Reality. This is from a January 11, 2011 Address in London by Irina Bokova that explicitly addressed Two of the “We Should All Emulate Finland” Crowd, Professors Michael Barber (UK) and Michael Fullan (CA). I reread it this week as I was mulling over the UN’s Digital Technology pushes in light of Joel Klein’s remarks about Amplify. I had previously missed these 3 objectives that typify the subjugation going on all over the world and all the sought manipulation in the classroom.

“Responding to climate change also starts in the classroom. Education is the way to shape new ways of thinking and forge new, sustainable behaviour.¬† These objectives guide UNESCO in leading the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014).

Fundamentally, education is about values.”

It sure is now. But Whose?

6 thoughts on “Political Primer 101: What is the Marxist Theory of the Mind and Why Does It Matter in 2012?

  1. So, your stuff is interesting, I get it, and agree with what I understand. But these are critiques. Important, but critiques.

    Can you lay out a positive plan that describes your view of (say) how to organize a school, what elements should be in a curriculum, how students’ non-curricular time/activities should be supported, how their personal and cognitive development should be encouraged, how their individuality should be encouraged, etc.?

    If I wanted to create your dream school or college, what would it look like?

    (Maybe you’ve already laid that out here and I haven’t found it. If so, I’d welcome a pointer.)

    Many thanks.

    • Reader-the first thing is to be honest about what is actually going on. This is an organized effort to gut academics anywhere they are working because, as John Dewey noted, it creates sharp minds that know they are sharp. I believe we need to nourish our brightest minds. More importantly though, we need to stop using ineffective reading techniques because there is political power in keeping historically disadvantaged groups ignorant and aggrieved. And unaware of who is really keeping them that way.

      I think we need lots of different kinds of schools but that will lead to differences in outcomes. Mediocre equity purchased at great expense is the Worst Possible Outcome. I think there is a deliberate effort to craft a sufficient electoral majority that can be bribed and manipulated and emotionally pulled to desired political ends. Ends they will have been trained not to appreciate in time. I think a lot of that has been occurring since the 90s.

      My dream college was a classic liberal arts education that I thoroughly enjoyed. But I am a booklover and those classic educations are becoming increasingly hard to find. One point I would encourage parents to do with all the colleges they are serious about is to go through the course catalog. You may well discover that all the English courses are what I refer to as Grievance Lit. Totally unsuitable for a student who actually wants to read and think about why Shakespeare has been so enduring over the centuries.

      My hope with this blog and the book I will hopefully have out early next year is to cut through the rhetoric, tell what is really going on and has been for decades, how it has already affected us, and what is the likely economic and social consequences with an eye to the lessons of history.

      We are also going to have to deal with the monopoly given to colleges of ed and the accreditors. It has been knowingly used to advance a collectivist political agenda with a tragic past. When education has become about getting the masses to respond from emotion and denied the legitimacy of the individual, there is literally no one in the way of a Bad Idea that captures the popular imagination.

      I also hate the idea that the democratic purpose of schooling actually makes home life and how attentive parents are all the more important. For me I hate what is going on and simply hire tutors with marching orders to ensure that my youngest still knows grammar, vocab, recognizes logical fallacies. You get the picture. That should still be available from school.

      I am probably not the only parent having their child read “Harrison Bergeron” to put school into broader perspective.

  2. re: “One point I would encourage parents to do with all the colleges they are serious about is to go through the course catalog. You may well discover that all the English courses are what I refer to as Grievance Lit.”

    Robin, I imagine the problem is worse than what can be inferred from the course catalog. My son took freshman “comp” in a CUNY school in 2007. I glanced at his “textbook”, wondering what “literature” would be included. It was a collection of writings by Marx, Engels, Che, Mao, Lenin, and other radicals.

    • I heard a very similar story about what a French major had become at various schools. It was Lyotard and Derrida and Foucault. So a 20th century version of Uncle Karl and Uncle Freddy but in French.

      But the course catalog is a good place to start even if it’s not definitive.

  3. Robin, I imagine the problem is worse than can be inferred from reading the course catalogue from a college. My son took freshman comp at a CUNY school in 2007. Out of curiosity I wondered what literature was included in his textbook.

    Answer: None. The textbook had writings by Marx, Engel, Lenin, Mao, and a host of more recent radicals on topics of gender, race, etc. It turned out it was a joke of a class because the students were “collectivized” into groups and told to “rotate” the duty to write compositions to represent group discussions. A group of girls dominated the “collective” and chatted about “parties and boyfriends” the whole time, so a few students who didn’t want an F met after class to throw together a few papers. Naturally, the grades were collectivized and the chatty girls wrote nothing but got the grades of the students who worked. Just a 21st century adaptation of “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs”.

    Where’s George Orwell’s scathing satire when you need it?

    • http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/hiding-educations-theft-of-individual-freedom-behind-the-positive-school-c/ limate mandate is the story I did that quotes what is being called Performance Competency and Moral Competency. Both are all about learning to see yourself first and foremost as part of a team.

      Wait until you read the flock of geese classroom activity I quote.

      The ASCD, formerly a sub of the NEA but now “independent”, is all over pushing Performance and Moral Competency as part of the Whole Child Common Core emphasis.

      I am not surprised about CUNY. Several of the educators I followed from looking into the Regional Equity Movement as well as Maxine Greene’s “Imagination” acolytes had migrated to teach there.

      I think Orwell would recognize the Newspeak inherent with all the normal terms with unappreciated specialty meanings in a heartbeat. He knew how pernicious that was.

      And I think the other satirist, Aldous Huxley, would not be in the least surprised by the influence being wielded over global education now by his brother Julian’s UNESCO.

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