I sometimes get anxious emails from parents, wondering what they need to do to make sure their children are going to be OK academically. And because of networking effects and the nature of who reads this small-audience education blog, I can mostly tell them accurately that they don’t really have to do much of anything; they’ve already set up their children to succeed simply by virtue of having them. Here’s the real Academic Success Sequence:
- Be born to college-educated parents.1
- Be born to middle-class-or-above parents.
- Be born without a severe cognitive or developmental disability.
- Don’t be exposed to lead in infancy or early childhood.
- Don’t be born severely premature or at very low birth weight.
- Don’t be physically abused or neglected.
Now unlike deBoer I don't think there will ever be socialism and I don't believe it's worth attempting. I side with Ellul in believing the evidence of the entirety of human history so far indicates that there is ultimately no solution for the plight of the working class and that the very idea of collective ownership of the means of production is pure fiction. Now I'll grant that in some sense a highly decentralized distribution of participation in the means of production might be feasible but in this respect the socialist and the libertarian might be on the same page ... potentially. The workers will never own the means of production, there will always be grotesque inequality that cannot be ameliorated at more than a remedial level at best. Imperialism is the baseline of all human civilizations in the end.
We can't even legitimately say that all hunter gather societies were egalitarian because there's a wealth of information about the Native American tribes of the Pacific Northwest region that indicates that despite the fact that they were hunter gatherer societies they had complex codes regarding property ownership and they even had a caste system of chiefs, free people and slaves. Our best shot at a better civilization is not pretending that humans have not been commodifying themselves since the dawn of humanity but by recognizing how prevalent this tendency is across human history and taking steps to curtail excesses.
Thematically that might lead to an idea that deBoer mentions, that there are student activists who are demonstrating that what they want is to shut down views that, while conservative and perhaps objectionable to many on the left can be considered mainstream.
His concern, which seems like a fair one, is that if people on the left want the Republicans to stop having ideas that it would be just as well to dismantle the education system as we know it to stop giving them ammunition by agitating against mainstream views in ways that inspire retaliation at a legislative and budgetary level.
John Halle, over at his blog, was noting how some folks seem ready and able to exploit cycles of outrage
Over the past few years, the following sequence has occurred often enough to have become a familiar pattern.
1) Professor X, a relatively obscure academic (as most academics are), shares an incendiary statement on social or broadcast media. While recognizable as a left position on racial justice, Palestinian rights or the Trump administration, it is conspicuous for implicitly or explicitly condoning violence. Furthermore, its tone is emotional, overheated and hectoring. Few regard it as highly effective as it is more likely to antagonize rather than convince those not already inclined to agree.
2) The right seizes on the most extreme interpretation of the statement, calling for X’s firing, sometimes being able to recruit elected officials in their support (particularly if X is at a public university). Whatever the subsequent outcome, it is mostly irrelevant as the main purpose is to fan the flames of right wing vitriol. The story is invariably entered into wide circulation at Breitbart, Fox and talk radio, likely (though this can’t proven) advancing both the right agenda and the range and intensity of its influence .
3) The left responds (reasonably) by strongly defending X’s first amendment rights. Letters are circulated with hundreds of signatures, including from those who have serious reservations about the original statement. For so-called free speech absolutists, the content of the statement is irrelevant as the right to free expression should always be defended. These and other statements of support are widely reported on left wing media such as Democracy Now, the Real News, Jacobin, etc. X is a frequent guest on these and other outlets.
4) As a result of 3), X is no longer obscure, rather the opposite: having made the rounds of left wing media X is now a bona fide left celebrity, a status which is maintained after the commotion resulting from 1) has subsided. They go on to become go to sources for a left perspective on their own areas of expertise, race relations, Middle East politics or Central American liberation movements and sometimes even outside of these.
As should be obvious, 4) should be a matter of some concern. That’s because those who should be speaking for us are those who can be counted on not only to represent a left consensus viewpoint but to do so effectively. The paradox here is that they are being promoted to this status is for exactly the opposite reason: Having put the left on the defensive and provided the right with an issue to exploit for their own advantage is an indiction not of successfully communicating our message but of failing to do so.
I have to admit that given the way some leftists and libertarians go on about eschewing violence that it's as though they don't want to believe something biblical authors took for granted, that social order has always been enforced by the sword. If that hasn't changed in twenty-thousand years what makes people think it's going to change in our lifetimes? To believe that would be tantamount to believe that the Rapture's going to happen in a few weeks because Jack van Impe said something.