From the left: Is our education an indoctrination system?
Published: Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 12:09
Noam Chomsky, the linguistics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who was famously declared by the New York Times as the “most important intellectual alive,” put it wonderfully when he said: “Students who acquire large debts putting themselves through school are unlikely to think about changing society. When you trap people in a system of debt, they can’t afford the time to think. Tuition fee increases are a disciplinary technique, and by the time students graduate, they are not only loaded with debt, but they have also internalized the disciplinarian culture. This makes them efficient components of the consumer economy.”
Professor Chomsky is absolutely right. After all, what is the education system? As one local professor said, the modern classroom is nothing more than an authoritarian, thought-controlling institution complete with a truth-inscription board, all designed to induce a psychological obedience to the State. Overwhelmingly, people do not go to universities for a sheer interest in learning. Rather, people spend tens of thousands of dollars for a piece of paper that creates a sense of productive legitimacy, a piece of paper whose sole purpose is to prove to corporations that they have spent a number of years in a brainwashing “school” that has molded them into efficient cogs in the capitalist system. In the end, is that not what an “education” is nowadays? Is it not merely an investment in economic conformity?
Is this what education has come to? Has it degenerated into an indoctrinatory tool of the bourgeois State into forcing the working class into a never-ending cycle of debt enslavement and brainwashed social conservatism? Has it lost the sacred position of being a means of pedagogic, intellectual maturity and collapsed into a propagandistic profit-making machine?
Education is no longer about self-improvement. It is a tool of the ruling class to induce a particular social mindset. It no longer produces revolutionary scholars; it produces endless cogs in the machine - cogs who, as if suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, worship their oppressor with nationalist fervor.
What can we do to fix this? What can we do to turn the State brainwashing camps back into institutions of academic self-betterment? Primarily, we would need a new, democratic economy based on collective production-for-use rather than individualistic production-for-profit. But short of that, the first thing that anyone should do is step back and look objectively at the situation - look at the social and economic roles that schools occupy in a regional economy, and understand the deeply political character that they have. Schools have the power to employ thousands and move markets, but they also have the power to be tools of mass sociological propaganda.
Understand the political space that the education system occupies, and question it. Question the role, existence, and authority of every aspect of our academic bureaucracy. Question why some things (such as the Predator drone strike program, which PolicyMic reports accidentally kills 50 innocent civilians for every one terrorist - and then question whether the State-designated “terrorist” is justified for his actions based upon objective conditions) are funded by tax-payer money, while others such as the school system are the victims of deep, brutal budget cuts.
To the new students, here is my message to you: do not be afraid to engage in revolutionary acts of sedition. Do not be afraid to challenge social and economic power structures that you have taken for granted your entire life. Be brave enough to question every professor, every moral, every social norm, everything that you have ever learned. Be and express yourself in a way that you choose, no matter what the system does to try and condition you to be otherwise. Question everything. Accept nothing.
Do not be afraid to fight for liberty, in the most radical and literal sense of the word, or to demand the unconditional emancipation of all of humanity from the terminal disease that we call capitalism. Do not be afraid to demand that education, healthcare, housing, and green energy production be of a higher economic priority than weapons development or war spending. But do question why the latter is of greater economic importance - is it for the righteous cause of spreading democracy and freedom to an oppressed, war-torn country? Or is it to secure imperial military hegemony in one of the most oil-rich regions on the planet, all in order to facilitate world domination from a police-state Empire?
Don’t be just a “liberal” or a “conservative,” but a warrior for social and economic justice - do not be afraid to fight the class war on the side of the working class. Do not be afraid to get engaged civically, discuss revolutionary politics, and debate anti-establishment philosophy. Do not be afraid to stand together in united solidarity and openly challenge power structures, and do not be afraid to question every aspect of the education you obtain here. In the end, at graduation, you may learn what there is to know in your given degree field, but it may be more important to know about what you know and place it in a larger anthropologic context.
Good luck, new students. We were all in your position once, and we stand in solidarity with you. I wish you the best in the coming weeks and look forward to seeing you all around the campus.