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Dave Hill: "Educational Perversion and Global Neo-Liberalism: A Marxist Critique"

Educational Perversion and Global Neo-Liberalism: A Marxist Critique
Dave Hill
The Workers' Library and Museum, Newtown, Johannesburg, South Africa


In this paper I place the increasing inequality in and between education and economic/social systems within the policy context of neo-liberal Capitalism. Neo-liberal Capitalism is a global phenomenon--restructuring of schooling and education has taken place internationally under pressure from international capitalist organisations and compliant governments. I examine the effects of neo-liberal policies in increasing inequalities globally and nationally, in diminishing democratic accountability and in stifling critical thought.

I proceed to make a critique of the theory of neo-liberalism in education policy, of how the marketisation of education has perverted the goals, motivations, methods, standards of excellence and standards of freedom in education. Threats by Capital and neo-liberal ideology and policy attempt to destroy potential pockets of resistance to global corporate expansion, and will ultimately serve to perpetuate the interests of capital at the expense of workers. The intrusion of capital into education threatens to undermine one of the best sites for its contestation.

I conclude by looking at sites and arenas of resistance to the global neo-liberal perversion of education and by calling for cultural workers to work towards economic and social equality.

Key words: Marxism, Socialism, Capitalism, Neo-Liberalism, Globalisation, Resistance, Education, Business, Inequality, Social Class



The Contexts of Educational Change

1. The current anti-egalitarian education system needs to be contextualised in two ways. Firstly, the ideological and policy context, and second, the global/spatial context.

2. The restructuring of the schooling and education systems across the world is part of the ideological and policy offensive by neo-liberal Capital. The privatisation of public services, the capitalisation and commodification of humanity and the global diktats of the agencies of international capital--backed by destabilisation of non-conforming governments and, ultimately, the armed cavalries of the USA and its surrogates--have resulted in the near-global (if not universal) establishment of competitive markets in public services such as education. These education markets are marked by selection, exclusion and are accompanied by and situated within the rampant--indeed, exponential--growth of national and international inequalities.

3. It is important to look at the big picture. Markets in education, so-called 'parental choice' of a diverse range of schools (or, in parts of the globe, the 'choice' as to whether to send children to school or not) privatisation of schools and other education providers, cutting state subsidies to education and other public services are only a part of the educational and anti-public welfare strategy of the capitalist class.

4. National and global capitalisms wish to, and have generally succeeded in cutting public expenditure. It does this because public services are expensive. Cuts in public expenditure serve to reduce taxes on profits, which in turn increases profits from capital accumulation. In addition, the capitalist class in Britain and the USA have:

1: a Business Plan for Education: this centres on socially producing labour-power (people's capacity to labour) for capitalist enterprises,
2: a Business Plan in Education: this centre on setting business 'free' in education for profit-making,
3: a Business Plan for Educational Businesses: this is a plan for British and US-based Edubusinesses to profit from international privatising activities.


The Current Neo-Liberal Project of Global Capitalism

     5. The fundamental principle of Capitalism is the sanctification of private (or, corporate) profit based on the extraction of surplus labour (unpaid labor-time) as surplus value from the labor-power of workers. It is a creed and practice of (racialized and gendered) class exploitation, exploitation by the Capitalist class of those who provide the profits through their labor, the national and international working class.1
As Raduntz (forthcoming) argues,

globalisation is not a qualitatively new phenomenon but a tendency which has always been integral to capitalism's growth Within the Marxist paradigm there is growing recognition of the relevance of Marx's account expressed in the Communist Manifesto that globalisation is the predictable outcome of capitalism's expansionary tendencies evident since its emergence as a viable form of society (Raduntz, 2002).2

For neo-liberals, 'profit is God', not the public good. Capitalism is not kind. Plutocrats are not, essentially, philanthropic. In Capitalism it is the insatiable demand for profit that is the motor for policy, not public or social or common weal, or good. With great power comes great irresponsibility. Thus privatised utilities, such as the railway system, health and education services, free and clean water supply are run to maximise the shareholders' profits, rather than to provide a public service,3 sustainable development of Third World national economic integrity and growth. These are not on the agenda of globalizing neo-liberal Capital.

     6. McMurtry (1999) describes 'the Pathologization of the Market Model'. He suggests that the so-called 'free-market model' is not a free market at all, that to argue for a 'free market' in anything these days is a delusion: the 'market model' that we have today is really the system that benefits the 'global corporate market'. This is a system where the rules are rigged to favour huge multinational and transnational corporations that take-over, destroy or incorporate (hence the 'cancer' stage of capitalism) small businesses, innovators, etc. that are potential competitors.

     7. Indeed, it is a system where the rules are flouted by the USA and the European Union, which continue to subsidise, for example, their own agricultural industries, while demanding that states receiving IMF or World Bank funding throw their markets open (to be devastated by subsidised EU and US imports).4 Thus, opening education to the market, in the long run, will open it to the corporate giants, in particular Anglo-American based Transnational Companies--who will run it in their own interests.

     8. Rikowski (e.g. 2001, 2002a, b) and others (e.g. Coates, 2001; Robertson, Bonal and Dale, 2001, Mojab, 2001, Pilger, 2002) argue that the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and other 'global clubs for the mega-capitalists' are setting this agenda up in education across the globe, primarily through the developing operationalizing and widening sectoral remit of the GATS, the General Agreement on Trade in Services.


Education, Class and Capital

     9. Glenn Rikowski's work, such as The Battle in Seattle (2001) develops a Marxist analysis based on an analysis of 'labour power'. With respect to education, he suggests that teachers are the most dangerous of workers because they have a special role in shaping, developing and forcing the single commodity on which the whole capitalist system rests: labour-power. In the capitalist labour process, labour-power is transformed into value-creating labour, and, at a certain point, surplus value--value over-and-above that represented in the worker's wage--is created. Surplus-value is the first form of the existence of capital. It is the lifeblood of capital. Without it, capital could not be transformed into money, on sale of the commodities that incorporate value, and hence the capitalist could not purchase the necessary raw materials, means of production and labour-power to set the whole cycle in motion once more. But, most importantly for the capitalist, is that part of the surplus-value forms his or her profit--and it is this that drives the capitalist on a personal basis. It is this that defines the personal agency of the capitalist!

     10. Teachers are dangerous because they are intimately connected with the social production of labour-power, equipping students with skills, competences, abilities, knowledge and the attitudes and personal qualities that can be expressed and expended in the capitalist labour process. Teachers are guardians of the quality of labour-power! This potential, latent power of teachers why representatives of the State might have sleepless nights worrying about their role in ensuring that the labourers of the future are delivered to workplaces throughout the national capital of the highest possible quality.

     11. Rikowski suggests that the State needs to control the process for two reasons. First to try to ensure that this occurs. Secondly, to try to ensure that modes of pedagogy that are antithetical to labour-power production do not and cannot exist. In particular, it becomes clear, on this analysis, that the capitalist State will seek to destroy any forms of pedagogy that attempt to educate students regarding their real predicament--to create an awareness of themselves as future labour-powers and to underpin this awareness with critical insight that seeks to undermine the smooth running of the social production of labour-power. This fear entails strict control of teacher education and training, of the curriculum, of educational research.


Neo-Liberalism and Its Effects

     12. Neo-liberal policies both in the UK and globally have resulted in

1: a loss of Equity, Economic and Social Justice
2: a loss of Democracy and democratic accountability
3: a loss of Critical Thought.


The Growth of National and Global Inequalities

     13. Inequalities both between states and within states have increased dramatically during the era of global neo-liberalism. Global Capital, in its current Neo-Liberal form in particular, leads to human degradation and inhumanity and increased social class inequalities within states and globally. These effects are increasing (racialized and gendered) social class inequality within states, increasing (racialized and gendered) social class inequality between states. The degradation and Capitalisation of humanity, including the environmental degradation impact primarily in a social class related manner. Those who can afford to buy clean water don't die of thirst or diarrhoea.

     14. Kagarlitsky has pointed out that 'globalisation does not mean the impotence of the state, but the rejection by the state of its social functions, in favour of repressive ones, and the ending of democratic freedoms (2001, quoted in Pilger, 2002, p. 5). Many commentators5 have discussed the change since the mid-1970s in many advanced Capitalist economies from a social democratic/ welfare statist/ Keynesian state to a neo-liberal state, to what Gamble (1988) has termed The Free Economy and the Strong State. The strong state, the repressive apparatuses of the state, have, of course, been dramatically upgraded (in terms of surveillance, control, e-privacy, policing in its various forms) in the wake of September 11th 2001.6

     15. In Britain the increasing inequalities, the impoverishment and creation of a substantial underclass has also been well documented (e.g. Hill and Cole, 2001).7 In Britain the ratio of chief executives' pay to average worker's pay stands at 35 to one. In the USA it has climbed to 450 to one (from around 35 to one in the mid-1980s) (Hutton, 2001). Brenner has noted how in the USA CEOs (Chief Executive Officers) owned 2% of market capitalisation in 1992, yet by 2002 they owned 12%, 'the greatest of the appropriations by the expropriators' (Brenner, 2002a. See also Brenner, 2002b, c).

     16. Myoshi, speaking in approximate terms, has argued that the gap between the richest and the poorest in the USA, expressed in terms of the income of CEOs in relation to the poorest groups in society was 30:1 in 1970, 60:1 in 1990, and by 1997-98 had grown to 500:1--without perks (Myoshi, 2002). Susan George (2001) has pointed out that

If workers had been rewarded like their chief executive officers they would be making an average $110,000 a year, not $23,000, and the minimum hourly wage in the US would be $22 not $5.15 (p.19)

In the USA, for example, the economic apartheid nature of capitalism has been widely exposed in the work of Peter McLaren (e.g. 2000). To give an USA example, the top 1 percent of the richest people have wealth--financial wealth--equal to the bottom 95 percent.8

     17. To take one more country, in Brazil the richest 10% of the population are 78 times better off than the poorest 10%, the 20 biggest landowners own more land than the 3.3 million small farmers (Socialist Worker, 2002).

     18. The current form of globalisation is tightening rather than loosening the international poverty trap. Living standards in the least developed countries are now lower than thirty years ago. 300 million people live on less than a dollar a day.

     19. Miyoshi has pointed out the exponential nature of the growth in inequalities, showing that in 1900 the gap in per capita wealth between the richest countries and the Third World was around 5:1, in 1970m it was still only 7:1, by 1990 it was 260-360:1, by 2002 it has become 470-500:1 (Myoshi, 2002).

     20. Global inequalities have been well described with the IMF/World Bank inspired cuts in health and welfare budgets throughout the third world. The World Development Movement (WDM), Globalise Resistance, Attac, and myriad other movements and organisations, together with the Marxist and left-liberal press expose the cause and the effects of global neo-liberal Capital (e.g. WDM, 2002). Most TV programmes and newspapers don't.


The Growth of Education Quasi-Markets and Markets and the Growth of Educational Inequality

     21. There is considerable data on how poor schools have, by and large, got poorer (in terms of relative education results and in terms of total income) and how rich schools (in the same terms) have got richer. Whitty, Power and Halpin (1998) examined the effects of the introduction of quasi-markets into education systems in USA, Sweden, England and Wales, Australia and New Zealand. Their book is a review of the research evidence. Their conclusion is that one of the results of marketizing education is that increasing 'parental choice' of schools, and/ or setting up new types of schools, in effect increases school choice of parents and their children and thereby sets up or exacerbates racialized school hierarchies.9

     22. Markets thus exacerbate existing inequalities. Governments in, for example, Britain, the USA, Australia, New Zealand have marketized their school systems. Racialized social class patterns of inequality have increased. And at the level of University entry, the (racialized) class based hierarchicalization of universities is exacerbated by 'top-up fees' fees' for entry to elite universities--pricing the poor out of the system--or at least into the lower divisions of higher education. On an international level, World Bank and IMF diktats have resulted in the actual disappearance of formerly free nationally funded health and education services.


The Growth of Undemocratic (Un)Accountability

     23. Within education and other public services business values and interests are increasingly substituted for democratic accountability and the collective voice. This applies at the local level, where, in Britain for example, private companies--national or transnational--variously build, own, run and govern state schools and other sections of local government educational services (Hatcher and Hirtt, 1999; Hatcher, 2001, 2002) As Wilson (2002) asks,

There is an important democratic question here. Is it right to allow private provides of educational services based outside Britain (and, I would add, inside Britain, too, indeed, wherever they are based). In the event of abuse or corruption, where and how would those guilty be held to account? Who is the guarantor of 'the last resort'?.

This anti-democratisation applies too at national levels. As Barry Coates has pointed out, 'GATS locks countries into a system of rules that means it is effectively impossible for governments to change policy, or for voters to elect a new government that has different policies' 2001, p. 28).


The Loss of Critical Thought.

     24. The increasing subordination of education, including university education, and its commodification, have been well-documented.10 One aspect is that, other than at elite institutions, where the student intake is the wealthiest and most upper class, there is little scope for critical thought. In my own work I have examined how the British government has, in effect, expelled most potentially critical aspects of education, such as sociological and political examination of schooling and education, and questions of social class, 'race' and gender. From the national curriculum for what is now termed 'teacher training'. It was formerly called 'teacher education'. The change in nomeclature is important both symbolically and in terms of actual accurate descriptiveness of the new, 'safe', sanitised and detheorised education and training of new teachers. 11

     25. McMurtry (below) discusses the philosophical incompatibility between the demands of capital and the demands of education, inter alia, with respect to critical thought. Governments throughout the world are settling this incompatibility more sand more on terms favourable to Capital.


What Neo-Liberalism Demands

     26. The difference between classic (laisser-faire) liberalism of the mid-nineteenth century Britain, and the neo-liberalism of today, based on the views of the neo-liberal theorist Hayek, is that the former wanted to roll back the state, to let private enterprise make profits relatively unhindered by legislation (e.g. safety at work, trade union rights, minimum wage), and unhindered by the tax costs of a welfare state.

     27. On the other hand, neo-liberalism demands a strong state to promote its interests, hence Andrew Gamble's (1988) depiction of the Thatcherite polity as The Free Economy and the Strong State: The Politics of Thatcherism. The strong Interventionist State is needed by capital particularly in the field of education and training--in the field of producing an ideologically compliant but technically skilled workforce. The social production of labour-power is crucial for capitalism. It needs to extract as much surplus value as it can from the labour power of workers.

     28. The current globally dominant form of Capitalism, neo-liberalism, requires the following within national states:

1. Inflation should be controlled by interest rates, preferably by an independent central bank.
2. Budgets should be balanced and not used to influence demand--or at any rate not to stimulate it.
3. Privatisation/Private ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange.
4. The provision of a Market in goods and services--including private sector involvement in welfare, social, educational and other state services (such as air traffic control, prisons, policing, railways).
5. Within education the creation of 'opportunity' to acquire the means of education (though not necessarily education itself, as McMurtry notes, below) and additional cultural Capital, through selection.
6. Relatively untrammelled selling and buying of labour power, for a 'flexible', poorly regulated labour market (Costello and Levidow, 2001), deregulation of the labour market--for labour flexibility (with consequences for education).
7. The restructuring of the management of the welfare state on the basis of a corporate managerialist model imported from the world of business. As well as the needs of the economy dictating the principal aims of school education, the world of business is also to supply a model of how it is to be provided and managed.
8. Suppression of oppositional critical thought and much autonomous thought and education.
9. Within a regime of denigration and humbling of publicly provided services.
10. Within a regime of cuts in the post-war Welfare State, the withdrawal of state subsidies and support, and low public expenditure.

Internationally, neo-liberalism requires that:

1. Barriers to international trade and capitalist enterprise should be removed.
2. There should be a 'level playing field' for companies of any nationality within all sectors of national economies.
3. Trade rules and regulations are necessary to underpin 'free' trade, with a system for penalising 'unfair' trade policies.


Capitalism's Business Plan for Education

     29. How, in more detail, do education markets fit into the grand plan for schooling and education? What is capitalism's 'Business Plan for Education'?

     30. In pursuit of these agendas, New Public Managerialism--the importation into the old public services of the language and management style of private Capital, have replaced the ethic and language and style of public service and duty. Education as a social institution has been subordinated to international market goals including the language and self-conceptualisation of educators themselves (see Mulderrig, 2002; Levidow, 2002). Mulderrig shows how,

Education is theoretically positioned in terms of its relationship with the economy and broader state policy (where) an instrumental rationality underlies education policy discourse, manifested in the pervasive rhetoric and values of the market in the representation of educational participants and practices.

She theorises this

as an indicator of a general shift towards the commodification of education and the concomitant consumerisation of social actors (within which) discourse plays a significant role in constructing and legitimising post-welfare learning policy as a key aspect of the ongoing project of globalization.12

Within Universities and vocational further education the language of education has been very widely replaced by the language of the market, where lecturers 'deliver the product', 'operationalize delivery' and 'facilitate clients' learning', within a regime of 'quality management and enhancement', where students have become 'customers' selecting 'modules' on a pick'n'mix basis, where 'skill development' at Universities has surged in importance to the derogation of the development of critical thought.

     31. Richard Hatcher (2001, 2002) shows how Capital/Business has two major aims for schools. The first aim is to ensure that schooling and education engage in ideological and economic reproduction. National state education and training policies in the business agenda FOR education are of increasing importance for national capital. In an era of global capital, this is one of the few remaining areas for national state intervention--it is the site, suggests Hatcher, where a state can make a difference.

     32. The second aim--the Business Agenda IN schools--is for private enterprise, private capitalists, to make money out of it, to make private profit out of it, to control it: this is the business agenda IN schools.


The Business Agenda FOR Schools

     33. Thus, business firstly education fit for business--to make schooling and further and higher education subordinate to the personality, ideological and economic requirements of capital, to make sure schools produce compliant, ideologically indoctrinated, pro capitalist, effective workers.

     34. This first agenda constitutes a broad transnational consensus about the set of reforms needed for schools to meet employers' needs in terms of the efficiency with which they produce the future workforce. The business agenda for schools is increasingly transnational, generated and disseminated through key organizations of the international economic and political elite such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). In that global context there is a project for education at the European level, which represents the specific agenda of the dominant European economic and political interests. It is expressed in, for example, the various reports of the European Round Table (ERT) of industrialists, a pressure group of 45 leaders of major European companies from 16 countries, and it has become the motive force of the education policies of the European Commission and its subsidiary bodies. Monbiot quotes the ERT as saying 'the provision of education is a market opportunity and should be treated as such (ERT, 1998, cited in Monbiot, 2001, p. 331. See also Hatcher and Hirtt, 1999).

The Business Agenda IN Schools

     35. Secondly, it wants to make profits from education and other privatised public services such as water supply and healthcare.

     36. In the USA the work of Alex Molnar (e.g. 2001), and work by Richard (e.g. 1999, 2001), George Monbiot (e.g. 2000, 2001, 2002). Susan Robertson (e.g. Robertson, Bonal and Dale, 2001) and by Glenn Rikowski in Britain (2001, 2002a, b, c, d) highlights another aspect of what national and multinational Capital wants from schooling and education--it wants profits through owning and controlling them. Thus privatisation of schools and educational services is becoming 'big business'. (so, too, are libraries--see Ruth Rikowski, 2002). Of course, ultimate responsibility within private company owned schools and colleges and libraries is not to children, students or the community--it is to the owners and the shareholders.

     37. Such privatisation and loss of tax/publicly funded clean water, clinics and schools results directly in death, disease and dumbing down.


The Business Agenda Internationally--The GATS and British and United States Companies in the Vanguard of Privatisation Internationally

     38. Rikowski (2002a) examines the gathering pace of GATS and the British government's role in seeking to give British companies the lead in educational privatisation internationally.

     39. He points out that since February 2000, a whole series of GATS negotiations have taken place. These discussions were consolidated in March 2001 through an intensive series of meetings, and there will be a final deadline of December 2002 for an agreement on a strengthened GATS process. This explains the urgency regarding privatisation of public services in the UK today. As Matheson (2000) notes

Backed by the US and UK Governments, the WTO aims to liberalise the service sector further. The immediate impact would be the privatisation of some services that have so far been provided by governments. Governments would be obliged to sell off such services as housing, education and water. (p. 9, cited in Rikowski 2002b p. 14).

The drive to privatise public services is powered by a number of forces, but in terms of the GATS the urgency derives from two main considerations. First, home-grown operators need to be nurtured--and quickly--so that when a more powerful GATS process exists then UK operators in education, health, social services and libraries can fend off foreign enterprises. This is not just because the Government believes that more of the profits from these privatised public services are likely to remain in the UK; it is primarily because of the need to 'sell' the idea of private companies running schools, hospitals, libraries and social services to the British public. Whilst French companies might be tolerated in providing electricity or water, the UK Government perceives there may be more of a problem with American or other nation's companies running schools as profit-making ventures.

     40. Secondly, as Monbiot (2002) indicates, drawing on the work of Hatcher (2001), the Government is also mightily concerned that the fledgling UK businesses currently taking over our public services can develop rapidly into export earners. This is already happening. For example, the education business Nord Anglia is already exporting its services to Russia and the Ukraine as well as running schools and local education authority services in the UK. Many UK universities have franchised operations and a whole raft of deals with other colleges and universities in other countries. UK University Schools of Education generate income through consultancies that advise countries like Chile, Poland and Romania how to restructure school systems. The Government is keen to maximise this export potential across all the public services.

     41. The WTO has identified 160 service sectors, and British and US businesses would benefit particularly if the GATS could liberalise trade in services still further by incorporating currently 'public' services into their export drives.

     42. In 2000, Britain exported £67 billion worth of services. New education, health, library, and social services business would provide 'new opportunities for this export trade to expand massively' (Tibbett, 2001, p. 11). Thus, 'International businesses have now seized on service provision as a money-making opportunity' (Matheson, 2000, p. 9). As the WTO Services Division Director David Hartridge said in a speech in 2000, '[GATS] can and will speed up the process of liberalisation and reform, and make it irreversible' (ibid.).

     43. The pressure from corporations on the US, British and other EU governments to deliver on the GATS is colossal. As Allyson Pollock argues, '[business] sponsors and the Treasury are clear that the future of British business rests on trading in public services on an international scale regardless of the social costs' (Pollock, 2001).

     44. Finally, the leading capitalist powers (the "Quad"--the US, EU, Japan and Canada), driven on by major corporations and business interests, are

. . . trying to revise GATS so it could be used to overturn almost any legislation governing services from national to local level. . . . Particularly under threat from GATS are public services--health care, education, energy, water and sanitation. . . . A revised GATS could give the commercial sector further access and could make existing privatizations effectively irreversible. (Sexton, 2001, p. 1)

This is what the end game is for the GATS timetable in late 2004. This helps to explain the British Government's determination to push through privatizations, to provide de-regulatory frameworks for state services (e.g. the recent Education Bill) and to nurture the growth of indigenous businesses that can virus public sector operations.


Neo-liberal Theory and Policy Perverting Education

     45. I now want to look at one theoretical and academic aspect of some neo-liberal arguments and suggest where they fall down. Neo-liberals such as James Tooley (2000; see also 2001) make a number of unwarranted implications or conclusions about the role of the state in education and about the role of the market in education. These relate to their assumption that the market/privatisation is compatible with education.

     46. But education is not a commodity, to be bought and sold. One can buy the means to an education, but not the hard graft of autonomous learning itself. John McMurtry (1991, pp. 211-214), among others, has noted that education and the capitalist market in terms of their opposing goals, opposing motivations, opposing methods, and opposing standards of excellence.

The Goals of education and the Goals of markets

     47. Firstly, the goals of education. McMurtry (1991) notes that private profit is acquired by a structure of appropriation, which excludes others from its possession. The greater its accumulation by any private corporation, the more wealth others are excluded from in this kind of possession. This is what makes such ownership 'private'.

     48. Education, in contrast, is acquired by a structure of appropriation that does not exclude others from its possession. On the contrary, education is furthered the more it is shared, and the more there is free and open access to its circulation. That is why learning which is not conveyed to others is deemed 'lost', 'wasted' or 'dead'. In direct opposition to market exchanges, educational changes flourish most with the unpaid gifts of others and develop the more they are not mediated by private possession or profit.

The Motivations of Education and Motivations of Markets

     49. Secondly, opposing motivations. McMurtry notes that 'the determining motivation of the market is to satisfy the wants of whoever has the money to purchase the goods that are provided. The determining motivation of education is to develop sound understanding whether it is wanted or not' (my italics). 'The market by definition can only satisfy the motivations of those who have the money to buy the product it sells.

     50. The place of education, on the other hand, remains a place of education insofar as it educates those whose motivation is to learn, independent of the money-demand they exercise in their learning'. In addition, 'development of understanding is necessarily growth of cognitive capacity; wherein satisfaction of consumer wants involves neither, and typically impedes both'.

The Methods of Education and The Methods of Markets

     51. Thirdly, opposing methods. 'The method of the market is to buy or sell the goods it has to offer to anyone for whatever price one can getThe method of education is never to buy or sell the item it has to offer, but to require of all who would have it that they fulfil its requirements autonomously'... Everything that is to be had on the market is acquired by the money paid for it. Nothing that is learned in education is acquired by the money paid for it'.

Standards of Excellence in Education and Standards of Excellence in Markets

     52. Fourthly, opposing Standards of Excellence. 'The measures of excellence in the market are (i) how well the product is made to sell; and (ii) how problem-free the product is and remains for its buyers. The measures of excellence in education are (i) how disinterested and impartial its representations are; and (ii) how deep and broad the problems it poses are to one who has it'. the first works through 'one sided sales pitches...which work precisely because they are not understood', the second 'must rule out one-sided presentation appetitive compulsion and manipulative conditioning'.

     53. In analysing the relationship between neo-liberalism and education, the last critical theoretical point I wish to make here is that the Market suppresses Critical Thought and Education itself.

Standards of Freedom in Education and Standards of Freedom in Markets

     54. McMurtry concludes, powerfully, 'this fundamental contradiction in standards of excellence leads, in turn, to opposite standards of freedom. Freedom in the market is the enjoyment of whatever one is able to buy from others with no questions asked, and profit from whatever one is able to sell to others with no requirement to answer to anyone else. Freedom in the place of education, on the other hand, is precisely the freedom to question, and to seek answers, whether it offends people's self-gratification or not'.

     55. McMurtry succinctly relates his arguments above to the 'systematic reduction of the historically hard won social institution of education to a commodity for private purchase and sale' (1991, p. 216). 'The commodification of education rules out the very critical freedom and academic rigour which education requires to be more than indoctrination (p. 215).

     56. Much of my own work calls for critical education and for the development of teachers as critical transformative intellectuals. Big business and their government agents now call most of the shots in University research--hence the potential importance of independent radical think tanks and research units such as the Institute for Education Policy Studies (<>) and radical groups such as, in Britain, the Hillcole Group of Radical Left Educators, and in the USA, the Rethinking Education collective and publishers/ activists (

     57. Important, too are the collective efforts of radical egalitarian and socialist political organisations and their publications and demonstrations--their fight-back against exploitation and oppression.


Restraining and Resisting Neo-Liberalism

     58. There are three major restraining forces on the activities of neo-liberalism--infrastructural, consumer-related regulation, and legitimation. The first is the need for an educational, social, transport, welfare, housing etc. infrastructure to enable workers to get to work, to be trained for different levels of the work-force, to be relatively fit and healthy. This restraint, though, is minimal--it can cope with extreme poverty and the existence of billions of humans at the margins of existence. It is a basic needs provision that says nothing. It has no implications at all for equality in society or in education. Indeed, as Pilger (2002) points out, it has no implications even for the maintenance of human lives. In effect, the depradations of neo-liberal globalizing capital condemns millions--in particular those in the Third World displaced by the collapse of national agricultural industries who are of no use as either producers or consumers, to death.

     59. The second restraint on capitalism is consumer dissatisfaction and consumer protection in the form of regulations. These, and inspectors of various sorts are criticised as 'red tape' and as bureaucrats. Yet without regulation, and enforcement in Britain, BSE and foot and mouth disease have flourished and been exported to continental Europe, and, following the privatisation of Railtrack in Britain, with its subsequent reduction of maintenance workforce and monitoring of safety, the number of dead in rail accidents has shot up.

     60. State regulation operates against the freedom of capitalism to do as it pleases. Hence, in Britain, Conservative Party policy on schools and universities is to de-regulate them, to 'set them free', to allow them to charge what they want and run their own affairs. Similarly with the 'anti-bureaucracy' policies of the Republican Party in the USA and its demands for privatised 'public sector' education and for education vouchers.

     61. The 'regulatory' model, of the state regulating standards can be weak or strong. It can demand only basic standards (perhaps failing to inspect regularly, and frequently open to corruption) or it can demand strong controls, including controls over profits. It is interesting that in a number of states such as Britain, some of the most vigorously enforced standards are those in education--testimony perhaps to the crucial nature of the state apparatus of schooling.



     62. The third, and most powerful, restraint is that capital (and the political parties they fund and influence) needs to persuade the people that neo-liberalism- competition, privatisation, poorer standards of public services, greater inequalities between rich and poor--are legitimate. If not, there is a delegitimation crisis, government and the existing system are seen through as grossly unfair and inhumane. The government and existing system, nationally and globally, may also be seen as in the pocket of the international and/or national ruling classes, impoverishing millions while 'fat cat' bosses and their politicians consume the surplus value produced by sweat shop deregulated workers--indeed the working classes per se, throughout the world.

     63. To stop this delegitimation happening, to ensure that the majority of the population consider the government and the economic system of private monopoly ownership is legitimate, the state uses the ideological state apparatuses such as schools and universities to 'naturalise' capitalism--to make the existing status quo seem 'only natural', to hegemonize its 'common sense'.

     64. Articles such as this one are written to contest the legitimacy of the legitimacy of government policy and its subordination to/ participation in the neo-liberal project of global capital. Clearly for the European and North American eco-warriors of what Rikowski describes as The Battle of Seattle (2001) and for various groups of socialists, trade unionists, social movements, greens, and groups such as the World Development Movement, Attac, and Globalise Resistance, the current system is not legitimate.

     65. Nor is it so for groups of workers and others throughout the world, who see their governments bowing before the might of international capital, who see their national government elites and accompanying military cavalries and riot police seeking to ensure that all spheres of social life are incorporated within the orbit of global capital. Educators are implicated in the process, like everyone else. The school or university, and other areas of cultural and ideological reproduction (such as newsrooms and film studios) are no hiding place.

     66. Increasingly, across the globe, educational debate is turning, in the economically rich world from debates about 'standards' and 'school effectiveness' to wider questions such as 'what is education for? And in the economically poorer world to questions of free access to schooling and higher education--and why they do not have it any more where once it existed.


The Resistant Role of Critical Cultural Workers

     67. The Brazilian educator/ political activist, Paulo Freire argued that while there are exceptional academics and a handful of organizations dedicated to conducting research which serves egalitarian ends, not enough academics are working as critical 'cultural workers' who orient themselves toward concrete struggles in the public and political domains in order to extend the equality, liberty, and justice they defend.13 He maintained that "[t]he movements outside are where more people who dream of social change are gathering," but points out that there exists a degree of reserve on the part of academics in particular, to penetrate the media, participate in policy debates, or to permeate policy-making bodies.14

     68. Freire went on to argue that if scholars, researchers, or educators want to transform education to serve democratic ends, they cannot simply limit their struggles to institutional spaces. They must also develop a desire to increase their political activity outside of the schools. To engage as critical cultural workers would require academics to politicize their research by becoming social actors who mobilize, develop political clarity, establish strategic alliances, and work closer to the nexus of power, or the 'real levers of transformation'.15

     69. Critical transformative intellectuals seek to enable student teachers and teachers (and school students) to critically evaluate a range of salient perspectives and ideologies--including critical reflection itself--while showing a commitment to egalitarianism. For McLaren, 'critical pedagogy must ... remain critical of its own presumed role as the metatruth of educational criticism' (2000:184). This does not imply forced acceptance or silencing of contrary perspectives. But it does involve a privileging of egalitarian and emancipatory perspectives. It is necessary to be quite clear here. This does mean adhering to what Burbules and Berk (1999) have defined as 'critical pedagogy', as opposed to 'critical theory', since 'critical thinking's claim is, at heart, to teach how to think critically, not how to think politically; for critical pedagogy, this is a false distinction' (idem: 54).16

     70. Giroux and McLaren (1986) give their definition of a 'Transformative Intellectual' as:

one who exercises forms of intellectual and pedagogical practice which attempt to insert teaching and learning directly into the political sphere by arguing that schooling represents both a struggle for meaning and a struggle over power relations. We are also referring to one whose intellectual preferences are necessarily grounded in forms of moral and ethical discourse exhibiting a preferential concern for the suffering and the struggles of the disadvantaged and oppressed. Here we extend the traditional use of the intellectual as someone who is able to analyse various interests and contradictions within society to someone capable of articulating emancipatory possibilities and working towards their realization. Teachers who assume the role of transformative intellectuals treat students as critical agents, question how knowledge is produced and distributed, utilise dialogue, and make knowledge meaningful, critical, and ultimately emancipatory (Giroux and McLaren, 1986: 215).

Giroux (1988) emphasizes the interrelationship between the political and the pedagogical:

Central to the category of transformative intellectual is the necessity of making the pedagogical more political and the political more pedagogical Within this perspective, critical reflection and action become part of a fundamental social project to help students develop a deep and abiding faith in the struggle to overcome economic, political and social injustices, and to further humanise themselves as part of this struggle (Giroux, 1988: 127-128)

McLaren (2000) extends the 'critical education' project into 'revolutionary pedagogy', which is clearly based on a Marxist metanarrative. Revolutionary pedagogy,

would place the liberation from race, class and gender oppression as the key goal for education for the new millennium. Education ... so conceived would be dedicated to creating a citizenry dedicated to social justice and to the reinvention of social life based on democratic socialist ideals. (ibid: 196).


Arenas/ Sites for Resistance

     71. What is to be done? In brief, there are at least three arenas of activity for critical intellectuals and oppositional educators.

     72. The first arena is, as Peter McLaren analyses powerfully (McLaren, 2000, 2002; Aguirre, 2001) within education, and, indeed, within other sites of cultural reproduction. Critical educators and cultural workers can indeed attempt, as Paula Allman (2001) puts it

education has the potential to fuel the flames of resistance to global capitalism as well as the passion for socialist transformation--indeed, the potential to provide a spark that can ignite the desire for revolutionary democratic social transformation throughout the world.

     73. However, the question of how far this transformative potential can be realised is the subject of considerable debate, for contemporary theory as well as practice. The autonomy and agency available to individual teachers, teacher educators, schools and other educational institutions is particularly challenged when faced with the structures of capital and its current neo-liberal project for education (as I argue in Hill, 2001a). It is necessary to highlight the phrase 'potential to fuel the flames of resistance' in Allman's quote above. Considerable caution is necessary when considering the degree of autonomy of educators (and, indeed, other cultural workers such as journalists and filmmakers) who fuel the flames of resistance.

     74. I do not underestimate the limitations on the agency and autonomy of teachers, teacher educators, cultural workers and their sites, and indeed, to use concepts derived from Louis Althusser (1971), the very limited autonomy of the education policy/political region of the state from the economic. There are, in many states, greater and greater restrictions on the ability of teachers to use their pedagogical spaces for emancipatory purposes. The repressive cards within the ideological state apparatuses are stacked against the possibilities of transformative change through Initial Teacher Education and through schooling.

     75. But historically and internationally, this often has been the case. Spaces do exist for counter-hegemonic struggle--sometimes (as now) narrower, sometimes (as in Western Europe and North America, the 1960s and 1970s) broader. Having recognised the limitations, though, and having recognised that there is some potential for egalitarian transformative change, whatever space does exist should be exploited. Whatever we can do, we must do, however fertile or unfertile the soil at any given moment in any particular place. But schools, colleges and newsrooms are not the only places.

     76. Divorced from other arenas of progressive struggle, its success will be limited. This necessitates the development of pro-active debate both by, and within, the Radical Left. But it necessitates more than that. It calls for direct engagement with liberal pluralist (modernist or postmodernist) and with Radical Right ideologies and programmes, in all the areas of the state and of civil society, in and through all the Ideological and Repressive State Apparatuses.

     77. As intellectual workers educating teachers, the ideological intervention of teachers and other educators and cultural workers is likely to have a different impact than that of sections of the workforce less saliently engaged in ideological production and reproduction. But, by itself activity of transformative intellectual cultural/ ideological workers, however skilful and committed, can have only a limited impact on an egalitarian transformation of capitalist society.


Local Action

     78. Unless critical educators' actions within schools and education is linked to a grammar of resistance, such resistant and counter-hegemonic activity is likely to fall on relatively stony ground. Hence, using schools and educational sites as arenas of cultural struggle and education in general as a vehicle for social transformation needs to conservative/capitalist times is premised upon a clear commitment to work with communities, parents and students, and with the trade unions and workers within those institutions. This is the second arena of resistance, working outside of the classroom on issues relating to education and its role in reproducing inequality and oppression.

     79. When I say working 'with', I do not mean simply 'leading' or 'talking at'. Working with means 'learning from' as well, from the daily, material existence of the exploited classes. Ideally it means fulfilling the role of the organic intellectual, organically linked to and part of those groups. This means also means working with communities--and their own hope, despair and anger--in developing the perception that schools and education and the media themselves are sites of social and economic and ideological contestation. They are not 'neutral' or 'fair' or 'inevitable', but sites of economic, cultural and ideological domination, of class domination. It is thereby important to develop awareness of the role of education in capital reproduction and in the reproduction of class relations--and of whatever counter-hegemonic and resistant potential it has.

     80. While I do not share Rikowski's view (above) that educators are 'the most dangerous of workers', they/we can certainly be dangerous to capital and have effect in the struggle for economic and social justice.

Mass Action as Part of a Broader Movement for Economic and Social Justice

     81. Globally and nationally societies are developing and have always developed, to a greater or lesser degree, critical educators, community activists, organic intellectuals, students and teachers whose feelings of outrage at economic and social class and racial and gender oppression lead them/us into activism. Thus, the third arena for resistance is action across a broader agenda, linking issues and experience within different economic and social sectors, linking different struggles. Mike Cole, Peter McLaren, Glenn Rikowski and I discuss this in our Red Chalk: On Schooling, Capitalism and Politics (2001) (<>), as of course, do myriad articles and actions contesting capitalist hegemony.

     82. This arena is linked to the other arenas. It is being part of action, part of networks, part of mini- and of mass action. Ideological intervention in classrooms and in other cultural sites can have dramatic effect, not least on some individuals and groups who are 'hailed' by resistant ideology. However, actualising that ideology, that opposition to oppressive law or state or capitalist action, the effect of taking part in, feeling the solidarity, feeling the blood stir, feeling the pride in action, the joint learning that comes from that experience, can develop confidence, understanding, commitment.

     83. The two million strong protest over economic issues--the deregulation of labour laws--by workers in Italy in March 2002 and follow up strikes in October 2002, similar actions in 2002 in Spain and in the UK over proposed labour deregulation and over low pay, and recent mass workers' protests in South Korea were a massive learning experience for the participants.

     84. So too, of course, were the mass protests against the WTO at Seattle, Genoa, London and Barcelona, together with the various mass events associated with the ESF (European Social Movement, such as the 400,000 strong march against War on Iraq on 8 November, 2002) and WSF (World Social Forum) in Porto Alegre (see Mertes, 2002; Sader, 2002). In election after election in Latin America peoples are voting out neo-liberal Parties--in Brazil, Ecuador, Venezuela and the Argentinian economic melt-down of a former beacon of neo-liberalism is helping create an anti-neo-liberal bloc of governments (see Saunois, 2002). And in the UK, the growing militancy of Trade Unions--not only over low pay but also against privatisation17 --has seen the re-emergence of the Socialist Campaign Group, the election of 'a new left-wing breed' of Trade union leaders in Britain, and levels of strike action in Britain unprecedented since 1979.

     85. These events are/ have been a learning experience for that who thought such mass actions--whether internationally or nationally, was a product of a bygone age.18


Critical Action

     86. While critical political dispositions and analyses such as those espoused by Marx and by Freire can provide political direction in the struggle for social change, they have been challenged on a number of points. Of course, such ideas are permanently challenged by conservatives, but they are also challenged from positions that also claim a radical mantle. For example among feminist critiques, critical theory and some of the endeavors it supports, has been accused (famously, for example by Liz Ellsworth) of 'repressive myths'.19 In this critique, a notion such as 'empowerment' for instance, can be imbued with paternalism and perpetuate relations of domination whether it be in the classroom, in academic discourse, or in everyday life.20

     87. In other words, the efforts to empower people in certain contexts can simultaneously strengthen the privileged position of those dispensing it. In the same sense, a Freirean approach to permeating policy-making contexts may involve a form imposition by cultural workers, whereby representation, organization, and collective struggle may not necessarily build understanding or political efficacy among groups of people, but merely essentialize or exoticize the other.

     88. Finally, the work of the intellectual Left and those who advance more radical forms of democracy, is often criticized for being driven by a 'politics of hope' that has lost its appeal. The desire for researchers and academics to become cultural workers and the struggle toward political mobilization of the Freirean nature is often nothing more than an unrealized ideal for those whose progressive ideas are continuously stifled in a political milieu overwhelmingly ruled by an egocentricity of elite culture and by an ideology of efficiency and control.

     89. However, the concepts of critical cultural worker, of critical transformative intellectual and of revolutionary pedagogy, extend the possibilities for dealing with policy conflicts--primarily but not irreducibly, class conflict--and are essential to building a generation of citizens who struggle to mitigate--but not just to mitigate--to transform--a society rife with economic and social injustice and oppression. Together with Mike Cole, Glenn Rikowski and Peter McLaren we, along with Marxist feminist writers,21 have challenged the claims of postmodernist and postmodernist feminist writers such as Patti Lather in the USA and Elizabeth Atkinson22 in the UK that postmodernism and post-structuralism can be forces for macro-social change and social justice. We argue that Marxism--not postmodernism, fundamentalist religion, liberalism or neo-liberalism, conservatism--or indeed, social democracy--remains the most viable option in the pursuit of economic justice and social change.

     90. By engaging in critical transformative practice, we can, working solidaristically as well as individually, mitigate and replace unjust policies and educational inequalities, and in doing so, build a fuller and richer democracy. Faced with the suppression of critical thought, the dumbing down and exclusionary nature of political society,23 and the commodification and marketisation of education, as McLaren and Baltodano (2000) suggest,

Reclaiming schools and teacher education as arenas of cultural struggle and education in general as a vehicle for social transformation in conservative/capitalist times is premised upon a clear commitment to organize parents, students and communities. It stipulates that society needs to develop critical educators, community activists, organic intellectuals, and teachers whose advocacy of social justice will illuminate their pedagogical practices. (p. 41).

In keeping aloft ideals of plurality of thought, of economic and social justice and of dissent, teachers, teacher educators and the community must resist the ideological hijacking of our past, present and future. Teachers and teacher educators are too strategically valuable in children's/students' education to have slick media panaceas and slanted ministerial programmes attempting to dragoon them into being uncritical functionaries of a conservative state and of the fundamentally and essentially inegalitarian and immoral society and education system reproduced by the capitalist state and its apparatuses.

     91. The particular perspectives defined in this paper, from a Radical Left position, are based on a belief that cultural workers must not only be skilled, competent, technicians. They must also be critical and reflective and transformative and intellectual, that is to say, they should operate at the critical level of reflection (Hill, 1997b). They should enable and encourage people not only to gain basic and advanced knowledge and skills: they should enable and encourage people to question, critique, judge and evaluate 'what is', 'what effects it has', and 'why?' And to be concerned and informed about equality and economic and social justice.

     92. Such radical cultural workers advocate education as an aspect of anti-capitalist social transformation where social justice, respect for difference, is not enough--we can respect the beggar in the street as a human being. That does rather less for her/his future and the future of humanity in general than an economic system not based on the exploitation of labour power by ever-burgeoning capitalist expropriation of surplus value and ever increasing global immiseration and the imperialism of global capital and its governmental and supra-governmental agencies.

     93. Through well organised and focused non-sectarian campaigns organised around class and anti-capitalist issues,24 those committed to economic and social equality and justice and environmental sustainability can work towards local, national and international campaigns, towards an understanding that we are part of a massive force--the force of the international working class--with a shared understanding that, at the current time, it is the global neo-liberal form of capitalism that shatters the lives, bodies and dreams of billions. And that it can be replaced.





This is to thank Marina Gair and Glenn Rikowski for their advice and comments on this paper. Any inadequacies remain mine.




1 For a debate on, and rebuttal of the thesis that 'class is dead', and/or that the working class has diminished to the point of political insignificance see Callinicos and Harman, 1995; Callinicos, 1996; German, 1996; Hill, 199b; Cole et al, 2001; Hill and Cole, 2001; Harman, 2002; Hill, Sanders and Hankin, 2002.

Outside the Marxist tradition, it is clear that many critics of class analysis (such as Jan Pakulski, 1995) confound class-consciousness with the fact of class--and tend to deduce the salience (some would argue, non-existence) of the latter from the 'absence' of the former. As noted earlier, the collapse of many traditional signifiers of 'working-classness' has led many to pronounce the demise of class yet, as Beverley Skeggs observes,

To abandon class as a theoretical tool does not mean that it does not exist anymore; only that some theorists do not value it. It does not mean . . . [working-class people] experience inequality any differently; rather, it would make it more difficult for them to identify and challenge the basis of the inequality which they experience. Class inequality exists beyond its theoretical representation. (Skeggs, 1997:6; emphasis added).

Helen Raduntz has added,

Further, after Skeggs, I would hold that class inequality under capitalism is not merely a theoretical construct or something that is experienced but has an objective structural basis in the capitalist mode of production which finds expression in and permeates all forms of inequities, e.g. the uneven economic relations between producers and consumers, between developed and underdeveloped countries as well discriminatory practices of all kinds. Inequality in capitalist schooling is but one and an inevitable manifestation since capitalism depends on inequities, divisions and differences (Raduntz, 2002).

The recognition by Marx that class consciousness is not necessarily or directly produced from the material and objective fact of class position, enables neo-Marxists to acknowledge the wide range of contemporary influences that may (or may not) inform the subjective consciousness of identity--but in doing so, to retain the crucial reference to the basic economic determinant of social experience.

2 See also Cole (1998). It is not my purpose her to discuss contrasting theories of globalization. See Callinicos, (2001) and Raduntz (forthcoming) for a discussion. Raduntz's forthcoming paper argues that

The marketisation of education has all the hallmarks of an entrepreneurial takeover executed with blitzkrieg precision backed by the trappings of legality and plausibly justified on the grounds of national economic survival in the face of global competition. Dispossession-based marketisation is a strategy that has served capitalism well in its phenomenal growth and expansion.

For many educators and concerned citizens the dispossession of education and limiting its goals to profit maximization for the enrichment of the few is a travesty which requires resolute rectification.

Raduntz's argument is that

the motive for education's marketisation lies in attempts to revive the capitalist economy in the current period of flagging profits; that the likely consequence is a debased education limited in quality and scope despite the dependence of the globalising economy on quality education.
She suggests that the contradiction opens the way for transformative action and change.

3 See the film Life and Debt, about the effect of the World Trade Organisation in effectively destroying the Dairy Agriculture industry in Jamaica. (<>). See also Bircham and Charlton's (2001) Anti-Capitalism: a Guide to the Movement. In that book, Coates (2001) gives the example of water privatisation in Bolivia.

In 1998 the water supply of Cochabamba, the third largest city in Bolivia, was privatised at the insistence of the World Bank. A British company, owned by the US Multinational, Bechtel, was given effective monopoly over their water supply. In order to make quick profits they raised prices to the point where some users were paying double the previous price and spending more on water than food. The company's monopoly even meant that it prohibited the collection of rainwater in roof tanks.

Coates continues

Not surprisingly there were protests--repeated mass demonstrations on the streets people were killed, including a 17-year-old boy shot in the face. The Bolivian government was forced to reverse the privatisation Under GATS that kind of reversal would not be allowed to happen (p. 31)

4 In the wake of a series of fatal rail disasters it has become readily apparent that public safety has played been subordinated to private profit. For example, between 1992 and 1997, the number of people employed in Britain's railways fell from 159,000 to 92,000 while the number of trains increased. 'The numbers of workers permanently employed to maintain and renew the infrastructure fell from 31,000 to between 15,000 and 19, 000 (Jack, 2001). So Capital downsizes its labour forces to upsize its profits. One result has been an unprecedented series of major fatal train crashes in Britain since the railways were privatised by the Thatcher government in Britain.

5 For example. Dale, 1989; Jessop, 1990; Apple, 1993; Ainley, 1999, 2000; Fairclough, 2000; Hill, 2001a; Mulderrig, 2002.

6 See Hill, 2001d for a discussion of various types of government/ state policy--neo-conservative, neo-liberal, 'Third Way', social democratic, socialist/ Marxist.

7 See Gillborn and Mirza, 2000; Hill, Sanders and Hankin, 2002 for recent data on (racialized and gendered) social class inequalities in income, wealth and educational attainment in England and Wales--and how much inequality has increased since 1979. And see Cole et al. 2001 for a discussion.

8 In the USA, for example, the economic apartheid nature of Capitalism has been depicted in the speech to the NAACP by Ralph Nader in July 2000.

I just bring to you a little fact from California. For those of you who are skeptical of people who tell you that things are getting better but we got to make them even better, try child poverty in California. In 1980, it was 15.2 percent; today it is 25.1 percent. And if you take near poverty--the children who are near poverty, who I would consider in poverty because I think the official levels of poverty are absurd, how can anyone support a four-member family on $17,200 a year--before deductions, before the cost of getting to work, et cetera?

If you add the near poverty, 46 percent of all the children in California are in the category. This is not just a badge of shame for our country, the richest country in the world, it's a reflection of our inability to focus on the signal phenomena that is blocking justice, and that is the concentration of power and wealth in too few hands.

And to give you a further illustration, the top 1 percent of the richest people in our country have wealth--financial wealth equal to the bottom 95 percent. (cited in Hill, 2001b)

The Rouge Forum (Gibson, 2002) in the USA highlights similar inequalities citing data used by Martha Jimenez (2002).

9 See, for example, Ball, Bowe and Gewirtz,1994; Gewirtz, Ball and Bowe, 1995; Hill, 1997a, 2001d; Whitty, Power and Halpin, 1998; Lauder et al, 1999; Thrupp, 1999, 2000; Ahonen, 2000; Gillborn and Youdell, 2000; Fecho, 2001.

10 See, e.g. Levidow, 2002.

11 See, for example, Hill, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1994a, b, 1996, 2001a.

12 But see Hill, 2001a and 2002b for a structuralist neo-Marxist critique of the over-emphasis on Discourse engaged in by postmodernist theorists and by quasi-postmodernists such as Stephen Ball.

13 Freire, 1998. This idea also draws on the work of Henry Giroux, for example, 1992. According to Giroux, the concept of cultural worker traditionally referred to artists and writers but extends to those in law, medicine, social work, theology, and education. Furthermore, Giroux extends the concept of cultural worker to include the need for multiple solidarities and political vocabularies in extending democratic principles and effecting social change.

14 Shor and Freire, 1987: 131.

15 Idem.

16 They develop this at length, in Popkewitz and Fendler (1999) in particular pp. 45-56. One of the most recent and powerful adumbrations and explanations of/ arguments for Critical Pedagogy is Peter McLaren's 'Foreword to the Fourth Edition' of his Life in Schools: an Introduction to Critical Pedagogy in the Foundations of Education. This is written from the Marxist perspective to which he has returned since the mid-1990s. Suggested programmes for Critical Pedagogy, from a Marxist perspective, are set out in Hill, 2002c, 2003.

17 See for example Morgan 2002 describing how the large GMB general workers union was balloting its members over strike action against private companies running public services, resulting in wages and conditions differentials for public and private sector workers in similar jobs. The Labour Party Conference of September 2002 also voted against PFI, the Private Finance Initiative.

Moody (2002) concurs--'By itself, and despite its ability to breach police lines, this 'movement of movements' lacks the social weight toto carry out the very task it has set itself--the dismantling of the mechanisms of capitalist globalisation (p. 293).

18 Many commentators on the Radical Left are hugely optimistic both nationally (in the UK) and internationally. John Pilger (2002) for example, suggests that 'today, under countless banners, from the anti-globalisation movement to the Stop the War campaign, the new movement, drawing millions all over the world, may well be the greatest'. See also German, 2002; Bambery and Morgan, 2002.

19 Ellsworth, 1992: 91.

20 Ibid. This type of criticism is frequently made. Thus In their Reflective Teaching: an Introduction (1996) Zeichner and Liston determinedly avoid taking a position on critical reflection (see Zeichner and Liston, 1987; Hill, 1997b) offering it as one of a range of types of reflection only. In their book there is absolutely no indication that critical reflection should be privileged or pursued. They claim that teacher education 'needs to be fair and honest' and that 'we have not written these texts to convince you to see schools and society as we do but rather to engage you in a consideration of crucial issues' (1996:x).

They continue,

When students and faculty engage in discussions of the social and politicaql conditions of schoolingand the effects of these conditions on students and schools, it is likely that the talk will be lively and that controversies will emerge. In this area there are no absolutely 'right' or 'wrong' answers (1996:xi).

Certainly, none are given in their book. It is for that reason that in many respects, perhaps most, that this tradition could be termed liberal-pluralist, albeit potentially of a progressive, egalitarian variety. It certainly debars them (and others) from advancing programmes for transformation!

Giroux and Aronowitz associate some radical educators with critical pedagogy that,

at its worst . . . comes perilously close to emulating the liberal democratic tradition in which teaching is reduced to getting students merely to express or access their own experiences. Teaching collapses in this case into a banal, unproblematic notion of facilitation, self-affirmation and self-consciousness (Aronowitz and Giroux, 1991:117).

It is not enough for teachers merely to affirm uncritically their student's histories, experiences and stories . . . (this) is to run the risk of idealising and romanticising them (Aronowitz and Giroux, 1991:130).

Aronowitz and Giroux write,

Education workers must take seriously the articulation of a morality that posits a language of public life, of emancipatory community, and individual and social commitment ... A discourse on morality is important it points to the need to educate students to fight and struggle in order to advance the discourse and principles of a critical democracy. (Aronowitz and Giroux, 1991:108).

In this enterprise,

educators need to take up the task of redefining educational leadership through forms of social criticism, civic courage, and public engagement that allow them to expand oppositional space--both within and outside of school--which increasingly challenges the ideological representation and relations of power that undermine democratic public life. (Aronowitz and Giroux, 1991:89)

21 See, for example, Hill, 1993; Cole and Hill, 1995; Cole, Hill and Rikowski, 1997; Hill, McLaren, Cole and Rikowski, 1999, 2002; Kelly, Cole and Hill, 1999; Cole, Hill, McLaren and Rikowski, 2001; Cole, 2003.

22 Atkinson (e.g. 2000, 2002) addresses herself to some recent work within the Marxist tradition; specifically Marxist critiques of postmodernism (and, in particular, some of the work of Dave Hill, Jane Kelly, Peter McLaren, Glenn Rikowski and Mike Cole (Cole and Hill, 1995; Cole et al., 1997; Hill et al., 1999; Kelly et al., 1999; Hill et al, 2002). She concentrates on Marxist claims that the greatest faults of postmodernism are that it lacks an agenda for social change and that it is incompatible with social justice. Cole answers this in Cole (2003).

Patti Lather's attack on Peter McLaren (1998, see also 1991, 2001). Has been answered in McLaren (2003 forthcoming) and in McLaren and Farahmandpur (2003, forthcoming). Here they suggest that

The work of Patti Lather (2001), in particular, represents a move toward a centrist politics that etherealizes class struggle into questions of epistemology and evacuates historicity under the guise of a fashionable anti-Marxism. Her position, popular in the academy, represents what E. San Juan (1999) calls 'the new conformism'.

Sandy Grande also criticises Lather (and Lathers' attack on McLaren) as 'whitestream feminism'. She writes,

In the final analysis, feminist pedagogies that merely assert the equality of female power and desire act as accomplices to the projects of colonialism and global capitalism. As an Indigenous woman I understand such discourse as a "theory of property holders," of privileged subjects unwilling to examine their own complicity in the project of domination and until there is broad recognition of feminism's ongoing participation in the forces of domination, Indigenous and other colonized women will continue to resist its premises. Ultimately, we all need to understand that we can not continue divide the world into "local" and "global" struggles that elicit either "masculinit" or "feminist" pedagogies. On the contrary, our mutual survival and emancipation is contingent upon our ability to see the connections and to make the abiding commitment to enact change.

23 Giroux, in particular, in a series of books through the 1990s and into the new millennium, exposes the cultural manipulations of global corporate capitalism, and the ways in which politics is reduced to the cultural market place. See, for example, Giroux, 1997, 1999, 2000a, b.

24 Harman (2002) suggests that

what matters now is for this (new) generation (of activists) to connect with the great mass of ordinary workers who as well as suffering under the systemhave the collective strength to fight it (p. 40).





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Ahonen, S. (2000) What happens to the common school in the market? Journal of Curriculum Studies, 32 (4) pp. 483-494.

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This paper develops from the following: 'Global capital, neo-liberalism, and privatisation: the growth of educational inequality' in Dave Hill and Mike Cole (eds.) Schooling and Equality: Fact, Concept and Policy, London: Kogan Page (2001); Red Chalk: On Schooling, Capitalism and Politics, written by Mike Cole, Dave Hill, Peter McLaren and Glenn Rikowski. Brighton, UK: Institute for Education Policy Studies (2001); Marxism Against Postmodernism in Educational Theory, edited by Dave Hill, Peter McLaren, Mike Cole and Glenn Rikowski. Lanham, Maryland, USA: Lexington Books (2002); 'Global capital, neo-liberalism, and the growth of educational inequality', The School Field: International Journal of Theory and Research in Education, 13 (1/2), (pp. 81-107) (2002), and Globalisation, Education and Critical Action, Educate: a Quarterly on Education and Development (The Sindh Education Foundation, Pakistan), 2, (1) pp. 42-45 (2002).





Prof. Dave Hill
University College Northampton
Park Campus
Boughton Green Rd.



Dave Hill is Professor of Education Policy at University College Northampton, UK. Previously, he taught in schools and colleges in Brixton and in Tower Hamlets in inner city London and in Sussex.

For twenty years he was a political and labor union leader. He stood for Parliament for the Labour Party in 1979 and 1987, led the group of Labour councilors on East Sussex County Council, was Regional Higher Education Chair of NATFHE (the lecturers' labor union), and led and organized many local and regional political campaigns and mobilizations. He advised the Parliamentary Labour Party on teacher education from a radical Left perspective.

He writes from a democratic Marxist perspective, on issues of radical Right policy and ideology; New Labour/ Third Way ideology and policy; radical Left ideology and policy; social class, state theory and critiques of neo-liberalism and of postmodernism. His doctorate was a Marxist analysis of schooling and teacher education policy.

Dave is Founder Director of the Institute for Education Policy Studies (<>), the independent radical Left policy research and publishing unit founded in 1989. (Contact: or He is also Founding Editor/ Chief Editor of The Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies (

He co-founded the Hillcole Group of Radical Left Educators with Mike Cole, in 1989 and co-wrote the two Hillcole books on education: Changing the Future: Redprint for Education (Tufnell Press, 1991), and Rethinking Education and Democracy: A Socialist Perspective (Tufnell Press, 1997). With Mike Cole, Dave co-edited Promoting Equality in Primary Schools (Cassell, 1997), Promoting Equality in Secondary Schools (Cassell, 1999) and Schooling and Equality: Fact, Concept and Policy (Kogan Page, 2001) due to be reprinted in a second edition in 2004..

His most recent co-written book (co-written with Peter McLaren, Mike Cole and Glenn Rikowski) is Red Chalk: On Schooling, Capitalism and Politics (Institute for Education Policy Studies, 2001). His two most recent edited collections (with the same co-writers) are Postmodernism in Educational Theory: Education and the Politics of Human Resistance (Tufnell Press) and Marxism Against Postmodernism in Educational Theory (Lexington Books).

His Doctorate, in education policy, is from the London University Institute of Education. He is Professor of Education Policy at University College, Northampton, UK.