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The Nonprofit Industrial Complex’s Role in Imposing Neoliberalism on Public Education

Regeneración, The Association of Raza Educators Journal

Summer 2015, Volume 6, Number

by Robert D. Skeels

 

“In the long run, NGOs are accountable to their funders, not to the people they work among. They’re what botanists would call an indicator species. It’s almost as though the greater the devastation caused by neoliberalism, the greater the outbreak of NGOs” (Roy, 2004)

Those ruling society have long utilized non-profits and similar outfits as a means to further their interests, ameliorate their public image, and disseminate their ideologies. Whether we call them Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), or Non-Profit Industrial Complex (NPIC), the era of neoliberalism has seen the role of these private organizations further entrench itself in spaces that used to be that of the public commons. Perhaps the most egregious example of this is in the realm of education policy, where the activities of huge foundations, coupled with the actions of NPIC funded by those foundations, have insidiously begun to displace, replace, and even set the stage for the possible elimination of public education altogether.

Education historian Diane Ravitch opens the chapter entitled “The Billionaire Boys’ Club” in her seminal book (Ravitch 195) with a discussion of the Ford Foundation’s intervention in the so-called “community control” movement as early as 1967. Considered one of the more socially liberal foundations, Ford’s ostensibly good intentioned social engineering ended up exacerbating the problems that undergirded the struggles at the time. Whatever one makes of Ford’s intentions, the fact that they have a long history of being instrumental to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in terms of surveilling social movements is revealing (Incite! Women of Color Against Violence 88). Compared to Ford, modern foundations are far more overt in their political goals – especially their neoliberal agenda, and far more powerful in terms of their influence.

Taking neoliberalism as the modern term describing the “Washington Consensus” policies of deregulation, austerity, and privatization, we can best describe the current assault on public education as “neoliberal corporate education reform.” While a number of arch-reactionary foundations like The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, The Sarah Scaife Foundation, and the Milken Family Foundation fund neoliberal aims in education, the most influential foundations in terms of advancing school privatization are those that author Joanne Barkan (Barkan, 2011) came to call the Broad/Gates/Walton Triumvirate. An exhaustive survey of what these three mega-foundations have done to undermine public education nationwide (e.g. The Gates Foundation’s machinations behind the malignant Common Core State Standards) exceeds the scope of this essay. Instead, we will focus on a single city. Perhaps because of its size, or its proximity to The Broad Foundation’s headquarters, Los Angeles has been one of the central fronts on which the neoliberal ideologues have waged their war on public education. Evidenced by the staggering amounts the ruling class spends on school board and related elections, the number of well funded NPICs working as a neoliberal axis, and the collusion of the corporate media, those in power see Los Angeles as a high value target. In a word, it is a microcosm of what is happening to education everywhere.

The Neoliberal Emperor of Los Angeles

In the aforementioned Ravitch chapter, she outlines the “venture philanthropists” most responsible for the manifest neoliberal offensive against education. Discussing track-home real estate mogul, toxic credit default swap purveyor, and Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) bailout recipient Eli Broad (rhymes with toad), Ravitch mentions “He created training programs for urban superintendents, high-level managers, principals, and school board members, so as to change the culture and personnel in the nation’s urban districts” (Ravitch 212). The training programs she alludes to are known as The Broad Superintendents Academy and The Broad Residency. Perhaps the most comprehensive resource discussing these programs, their “alumni,” and their corrosive corollary on school systems is “The Broad Report” thebroadreport.blogspot.com. A brief description of these unaccredited and unaccountable programs is that they are facilities to train – for the most part – non-educators in the most callous aspects of neoliberal policy. The foundation then pays districts to let these trainees inflict those policies on communities.

Broad unleashed some of his favorite disciples in his adopted back yard. Matt Hill, John Deasy, and Marshall Tuck, “graduates” of Broad programs, are household names in Los Angeles. Hill is one of many Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) administrators who were appointed to, rather than hired by, the district. Under a Broad program that leverages foundation funds to pay for his operatives to work at districts, Hill and many others are surreptitiously placed in key position of power and policy making (Blume, 2009). Hill oversaw a program that gave brand new public school facilities away to private concerns. That program is currently suspended. John Deasy, like Hill, was placed in LAUSD prior to inheriting the Superintendent’s mantle. Deasy was ignominiously forced to resign in the Fall of 2014 for his role in the LAUSD iPad scandal which is currently being investigated by Federal agencies (KPCC, 2014), but not before waging a scorched earth campaign on LAUSD that saw him attacking (and killing several) community programs from Early Education Centers to Adult Education (Skeels, 2012). Broad’s Marshall Tuck was assigned a different track. First he was placed with the Green Dot chain of corporate charter schools, then he went on to manage the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools. Tuck’s legacy as an agent of neoliberalism is of note. At both organizations Tuck managed to produce entire classes of graduates that saw up to 100% failure on the California State University proficiency exams. Moreover, he was “known for killing Ethnic Studies, Heritage Language programs, and Dual Language programs” (Skeels, May 2014). There are many more corps members at LAUSD and nationwide; Barkan says “Broad casts a long shadow over LA Unified” (Barkan, 2011).

Broad’s oppressive influence on education finds expression in ways outside of his own foundation and training programs. His strategic “investing” (Ravitch 199) of both his and other foundations’ funds in other NPIC allows him to amplify his sway over schools. Perhaps his closest aly in this regard is the United Way of Greater Los Angeles (UWGLA). Broad is a member of UWGLA’s The Tocqueville Society Million Dollar Roundtable.

Los Angeles Schools Under Siege by the NPIC

Dr. Cynthia Liu, founder of K-12 News Network, once offered the following on the Broad – UWGLA relationship (Skeels, April 2014):

“The United Way of LA is chief enforcer of Eli Broad’s corporate takeover of public Ed agenda. He’s the reason why I created the term “weaponized philanthropy” to describe how lefty-liberal groups in this city are under his sway. There’s NO good reason on earth the ACLU or LGBT Youth groups would support John Deasy except for the fact that they get money from UWGLA and much of that money comes from Broad.”

The article in which that quote is cited discusses an incident that part and parcel summarizes UWGLA’s role as tax deductible lobbying and public relations firm on behalf of the mega-foundations’ policy advocacy. Unpopular with the community, former LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy would face annual calls for his firing. Invariably those calls would be met by an outpouring of support from the corporate media, UWGLA, and the smaller NPICs either funded by, or in close association with UWGLA. In early April 2014 the press was awash with descriptions and depictions of the street in front of LAUSD headquarters blocked by hundreds of desks, supposedly set up by “student demonstrators” in support of Deasy and in protest of the drop out rate. The Los Angeles Times ran photos of the alleged students, who were immediately identified by social justice activists as UWGLA executive staffers Ryan Smith and Jason Mandell (Skeels, April 2014). Student protest exposed as NPIC publicity stunt.

UWGLA doesn’t limit their overt policy advocacy to fraudulent protests. In 2011 they openly lobbied the school board to eliminate one of the very few democratic mechanisms that stood in the way of giving all newly constructed schools to privately managed charter corporations. Professor Ralph E. Shaffer argued vigorously against UWGLA’s acting as an agent for the lucrative charter schools industry in an Op-Ed (Shaffer, 2011). In addition to their own direct political lobbying, UWGLA both funds smaller NPIC to do the same, and forms coalitions with other NPICs who have embraced the fund-to-advocate paradigm in which foundations provide grants in return for specific performance of neoliberal policy advocacy. UWGLA formed the dubious “Don’t Hold Us Back” campaign to attack the teaching profession, and later formed the Communities for Los Angeles Student Success (CLASS) coalition. CLASS counts among its members other NPIC like Educators for Excellence, Families In Schools, Los Angeles Urban League, TeachPlus, Inner City Struggle and Community Coalition – the latter two funded by UWGLA, the remainders funded by others, including The Gates Foundation and The Annenberg Foundation. All of them support the neoliberal agenda of privatization, deprofessionalizing of teaching, use of discredited teacher evaluation systems, and more.

UWGLA’s political involvement seemingly knows no bounds. In 2011 they funded a “research” (read policy) paper by the less-than-credible fellow neoliberal NPIC – National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) (Skeels, 2011). Their most recent tactic has been to host candidate forums for LAUSD elections, in which the mediators, rules, questions, and format are all carefully crafted to favor the candidates that support the same neoliberal agenda as UWGLA and its funders. Other groups, like the Broad/Gates/Walton Triumvirate funded Parent Revolution, have used this controlled forum tactic to their advantage. In 2010 former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Parent Revolution Director Ben Austin (moonlighting from his City Attorney job), held forums to push for a series of anti-democratic corporate education reforms that boosted the bottom line of several corporate charter chains (Skeels, 2010).

Those associated with these same foundations and NPIC have raised obscene sums of money for school board candidates supporting the neoliberal corporate education reform agenda. The Los Angeles City Ethics Commission ethics.lacity.org makes most of those records public, and time spent reading 460 Forms and Independent Expenditure listings will dampen the convictions of anyone who claims we live under a democracy. However, despite the neoliberal advocates spending huge sums on their board candidates, they have lost many of those elections in the last decade, leading to what Professor Noam Chomsky says the ruling class considers a “crisis of democracy” (Chomsky 21). In other words, things are starting to look too much like actual democracy for their comfort. In response they are doubling down on the sums they spend on these local elections, and the neoliberal operatives have cynically placed two City Charter Amendments on the March 3, 2015 ballot that would move Los Angeles nonpartisan elections to the same dates as the partisan ones, which would all but eliminate any possibility of community candidates winning against those backed by outside interests.

Charter Schools Are NPIC

Frequently forgotten in discussions of NPIC is the fact that, in California at least, privately managed charter schools are NPIC too. They are run by unelected boards of directors, are typically exempt from large portions of the education code, discriminate against Students with Disabilities (SWD) (Office of the Independent Monitor, 2009), and have myriad other issues. One of the worst issues is the re-segregation of schools, a preexisting problem, but one exacerbated by privatization through charter schools and “choice” ideologies. Professor Antonia Darder addresses this better than anyone (Darder, 2014):

“The rhetoric of choice effectively capitalized upon discourses of “high-risk” students, “achievement gap” anxieties and victim-blaming notions of deficit – all of which have served well to legitimate racialized inequalities and exclusions. Hence, the charter school movement, driven by the logic of the “free market,” became an extension of former mainstream efforts to ensure class imperatives and the continuing segregation of US schools. The slippery use of language here effectively captured the imagination of conservative voters and detracted focus away from the increasing wealth gap. Yet, the rub here is that charter schools encourage the merging of public and private enterprise, distorting or blurring any separation or distinction between the public and private spheres and the moral responsibility of the state to provide for the educational formation of all its children. In the process, the glorification of the free market simultaneously legitimizes the covertly racialized ethos of the capitalist economy and its persistent reproduction and perpetuation of educational inequalities, in the first place. Devoid of institutional critiques of racism, current educational discourses posit a false portrayal for the persistence of school segregation and school failure.”

It is important to use the phrase “privately managed charters” because the deep pocketed charter advocacy NPICs continually bombard the public with the mendacious phrase “public charter schools.” By definition if a charter is run by a non-profit, then it is not public. The United States Census Bureau frames this issue best: “A few “public charter schools” are run by public universities and municipalities. However, most charter schools are run by private nonprofit organizations and are therefore classified as private.” (US Census Bureau vi). The more of our schools that are handed over to these private sector organizations, the less agency our communities have, and the more control those espousing neoliberalism have over our lives. Our rulers don’t just want exclusive control over the governance and finances of our schools, they want to control both what is taught and by whom.

Beyond the NPIC

Professor Lois Weiner wrote the following about No Child Left Behind (NCLB), which is applicable to all forms of neoliberal corporate education reform:

“What we need most immediately is for those who see the harm done by NCLB to recognize its political origins in the neoliberal project – and combat the project in its entirety. That requires the determination to reject the will of both political parties who advocate a system of education that leaves children and democracy behind capitalism’s race for greater profits at any cost.” (Weiner 173)

Faced with the unmatched funding and resources the mega-foundations and their attendent NPIC bring to bear, it is somewhat easy to feel overwhelmed. However, oppression breeds resistance. Nationally we have seen groups like United Opt Out and FairTest set the tone against high-stakes standardized testing. Various groups have begun opposing The Gates Foundation’s Common Core State Standards (CCSS), although some of the right-wing opposition is unprincipled and suspect. We discussed above how Los Angeles voters have frequently rejected neoliberal corporate reform candidates, as did the entire California electorate when Broad alumnus Tuck ran for the State Superintendent of Public Instruction seat (hearteningly, Tuck’s Ethnic Studies program shuttering counterparts in Arizona, Tom Horne and John Huppenthal, lost in 2014 as well).

However, there is an affirmative form of resistance led by Association of Raza Educators (ARE) members and their allies that points to a better form of struggle against neoliberalism. The Honorable Jose Lara, Vice President of El Rancho Unified School District Board of Education, worked with his community to pass the very first Ethnic Studies graduation requirement in the State of California. That victory was quickly followed by passage of Ethnic Studies graduation requirements in LAUSD, The San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD), and The Montebello Unified School District. The LAUSD efforts gave birth to the Ethnic Studies Now Coalition www.ethnicstudiesnow.com, which has become a nexus for community organizing, student-led conferences, and a rallying point for the efforts to enshrine the Ethnic Studies graduation requirement as California State law.

The Ethnic Studies struggles are significant for several reasons. The first of which is that little or no assistance came from NPIC, proving that effective, community based organizing does not require foundation money, or “professionalized, businesslike” (Incite! 95) organizers. Moreover, Ethnic Studies are the antithesis of the neoliberal ideals, particularly the subtle white supremacism underlying CCSS, which was crafted from E. D. Hirsch, Jr.’s “core knowledge” concepts. Lastly Ethnic Studies opens the door for exposure to Critical Pedagogy, Critical Race Studies, and other scholarship that will provide students with the tools to directly confront neoliberalism, the socio-economic structures that coined it, and the rulers of our class society that have imposed it. Paulo Freire called on us to reject neoliberalism:

“We need to say no to the neoliberal fatalism that we are witnessing at the end of this century, informed by the ethics of the market, an ethics in which a minority makes most profits against the lives of the majority. In other words, those who cannot compete, die. This is a perverse ethics that, in fact, lacks ethics. I insist on saying that I continue to be human…I would then remain the last educator in the world to say no: I do not accept…history as determinism. I embrace history as possibility [where] we can demystify the evil in the perverse fatalism that characterizes the neoliberal discourse in the end of this century.” (Freire 25)

Educating ourselves in critical theory, and joining organizations that allow us to collectively resist both neoliberalism and the Non-Profit Industrial Complex, are powerful ways that we can refuse to accept history as determinism.

References:

Barkan, Joanne. “Got Dough? How Billionaires Rule Our Schools.” Dissent Magazine., Winter 2011. Web. 20 Feb. 2015.

Blume, Howard. “Key L.A. Unied sta positions are funded privately” Los Angeles Times. 16 Dec. 2009. Web. 20 Feb. 2015

Chomsky, Noam. Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda. New York: Seven Stories Press, 2002. Print.

Darder, Antonia. “Racism and the Charter School Movement: Unveiling the Myths.” Truthout., 30 Nov. 2014. Web. 20 Feb. 2015.

Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum, 2000. Print.

Incite! Women of Color Against Violence (ed.). The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Prot Industrial Complex. Cambridge, Mass: South End Press, 2007. Print.

KPCC Sta. LAUSD iPads: Federal grand jury probes after FBI seizes documents. Pasadana, CA: 89.3

KPCC Southern California Public Radio, 2 Dec. 2014. Web. 20 Feb. 2015

Office of the Independent Monitor. Pilot Study of Charter Schools’ Compliance with the Modied

Consent Decree and the LAUSD Special Education Policies and Procedures., Los Angeles: Modied Consent Decree., 2009. Print.

Ravitch, Diane. The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education. New York: Basic Books, 2010. Print.

Roy, Arundhati. “Public power in the age of empire.” Socialist Worker., 3 Sep. 2004. 6-7. Web. 20 Feb. 2015.

Shaer, Ralph E. “United Way’s school stance is mistake” Los Angeles Daily News. 5 Jun. 2011. Print.

Skeels, Robert D. “Marshall Tuck’s Legacy of Bigotry and Failure” LA Progressive., 26 May. 2014. Web. 20 Feb. 2015.

Skeels, Robert D. “NCTQ’s LAUSD report’s highly questionable veracity shows Bill Gates’ pervasiveness and perniciousness” Schools Matter., 12 Jun. 2011. Web. 20 Feb. 2015.

Skeels, Robert D. “On Adult Education’s Critical Role in Social Justice” The National Coalition for Literacy., 13 Mar. 2012. Web. 20 Feb. 2015.

Skeels, Robert D. “United Way’s Corporate NPIC Astroturf was thick in front of LAUSD last Tuesday” K-12 News Network., 11 Apr. 2014. Web. 20 Feb. 2015.

Skeels, Robert D. “Why School Choice Plan Is a Bad Idea for the District” Los Angeles Daily News. 26 Mar. 2010. Print.

US Census Bureau. (2011). Public Education Finances: 2009 (GO9-ASPEF). Washington, DC: US Government Printing Oce. Print.

Weiner, Lois. The Future of Our Schools: Teachers Unions and Social Justice. Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2012. Print.

Privatizing Political Power

Public Good Project

March 16, 2015

by Jay Taber

billionairesmeeting

As anyone who follows news from the U.S. Department of Justice knows, Bill Gates is an adherent of monopoly capitalism. His empire, built on privatizing public information and technology, reflects his belief in plutocracy.

Like earlier captains of industry — who used public investment to privatize political power — Gates has harnessed his fortune to evangelize on behalf of privatizing schools, prisons, and plantations. His investments in social engineering have made it possible for Gates to largely avoid public censure.

Gates and Buffett

Along with his close friend Warren Buffett, Gates is now making money shipping Tar Sands bitumen and Bakken Shale crude via tank cars on Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad (owned by Buffett) and Canadian National Railway, of which Gates is the largest shareholder.

 

[As an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal, Jay Taber has assisted indigenous peoples seeking justice at the European Court of Human Rights and the United Nations. Since 1994, he has served as creative director at Public Good Project.]

FLASHBACK: The Real Weapons of Mass Destruction: Methane, Propaganda & the Architects of Genocide | Part III

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Spin Doctors | Spinning the Potential for Abrupt and Catastrophic Climate Change

Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” – Aldous Huxley

It is now beyond obvious that those who control the world’s economy are hell-bent on burning all of our planet’s remaining fossil fuels – including those that not long ago, were considered impractical to exploit. Corporate-colluded states, corporate-controlled media and corporate-funded scientists will be red-lining the well-oiled engine of the propaganda machine as it works overtime.

WATCH: Gaddafi – Distinguished Guest of Columbia University, USA, 2006

A Czech friend, a novelist, told me; “You in the West are disadvantaged. You have your myths about freedom of information, but you have yet to acquire the skill of deciphering: of reading between the lines. One day, you will need it.

That day has come.

John Pilger, Power, propaganda and conscience in the ‘War on Terror’

In this rare 2006 video footage (following article below), distinguished guest, Muammar Gaddafi, speaks via live-stream to students and faculty at Columbia University, USA. He was invited to speak about Libya – which showcased the most democratic system of governance in the world. Today, after the NATO-led invasion, Libya is a western occupied slaughterhouse with Venezuela now in first place for the path towards true democracy.

Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya Was Africa’s Most Prosperous Democracy

Jan 14, 2013

Muammar_Gaddafi

Muammar al-Gaddfi | June 1942 – 20 October 2011

Brave New World

by Garikai Chengu

[Garikai Chengu is a fellow of the Du Bois Institute for African Research at Harvard University. Click here to mail him.]

Contrary to popular belief, Libya , which western media described as “Gaddafi’s military dictatorship” was in actual fact one of the world’s most democratic States.

In 1977 the people of Libya proclaimed the Jamahiriya or “government of the popular masses by themselves and for themselves.” The Jamahiriya was a higher form of direct democracy with ‘the People as President.’ Traditional institutions of government were disbanded and abolished, and power belonged to the people directly through various committees and congresses.

The nation State of Libya was divided into several small communities that were essentially “mini-autonomous States” within a State. These autonomous States had control over their districts and could make a range of decisions including how to allocate oil revenue and budgetary funds. Within these mini autonomous States, the three main bodies of Libya ‘s democracy were Local Committees, People’s Congresses and Executive Revolutionary Councils.

Source:
Source: “Journey to the Libyan Jamahiriya” (20-26 May 2000)

In 2009, Mr. Gaddafi invited the New York Times to Libya to spend two weeks observing the nation’s direct democracy. Even the New York Times, that was always highly critical of Colonel Gaddafi, conceded that in Libya, the intention was that “everyone is involved in every decision…Tens of thousands of people take part in local committee meetings to discuss issues and vote on everything from foreign treaties to building schools.” The purpose of these committee meetings was to build a broad based national consensus.

One step up from the Local Committees were the People’s Congresses. Representatives from all 800 local committees around the country would meet several times a year at People’s Congresses, in Mr. Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirte, to pass laws based on what the people said in their local meetings. These congresses had legislative power to write new laws, formulate economic and public policy as well as ratify treaties and agreements.

All Libyans were allowed to take part in local committees meetings and at times Colonel Gaddafi was criticised. In fact, there were numerous occasions when his proposals were rejected by popular vote and the opposite was approved and put forward for legislation.

For instance, on many occasions Mr. Gaddafi proposed the abolition of capital punishment and he pushed for home schooling over traditional schools. However, the People’s Congresses wanted to maintain the death penalty and classic schools, and ultimately the will of the People’s Congresses prevailed. Similarly, in 2009, Colonel Gaddafi put forward a proposal to essentially abolish the central government altogether and give all the oil proceeds directly to each family. The People’s Congresses rejected this idea too.

One step up from the People’s Congresses were the Executive Revolutionary Councils. These Revolutionary Councils were elected by the People’s Congresses and were in charge of implementing policies put forward by the people. Revolutionary Councils were accountable only to ordinary citizens and may have been changed or recalled by them at any time. Consequently, decisions taken by the People’s Congresses and implemented by the Executive Revolutionary Councils reflected the sovereign will of the whole people, and not merely that of any particular class, faction, tribe or individual.

The Libyan direct democracy system utilized the word ‘elevation’ rather than‘election’, and avoided the political campaigning that is a feature of traditional political parties and benefits only the bourgeoisie’s well-heeled and well-to-do.

Unlike in the West, Libyans did not vote once every four years for a President and local parliamentarian who would then make all decisions for them. Ordinary Libyans made decisions regarding foreign, domestic and economic policy themselves.

Several western commentators have rightfully pointed out that the unique Jamahiriya system had certain drawbacks, inter alia, regarding attendance, initiative to speak up, and sufficient supervision. Nevertheless, it is clear that Libya conceptualized sovereignty and democracy in a different and progressive way.

Democracy is not just about elections or political parties. True democracy is also about human rights. During the NATO bombardment of Libya , western media conveniently forgot to mention that the United Nations had just prepared a lengthy dossier praising Mr. Gaddafi’s human rights achievements. The UN report commended Libya for bettering its “legal protections” for citizens, making human rights a “priority,” improving women’s rights, educational opportunities and access to housing. During Mr. Gaddafi’s era housing was considered a human right. Consequently, there was virtually no homelessness or Libyans living under bridges. How many Libyan homes and bridges did NATO destroy?

One area where the United Nations Human Rights Council praised Mr. Gaddafi profusely is women’s rights. Unlike many other nations in the Arab world, women in Libya had the right to education, hold jobs, divorce, hold property and have an income. When Colonel Gaddafi seized power in 1969, few women went to university. Today more than half of Libya ‘s university students are women. One of the first laws Mr. Gaddafi passed in 1970 was an equal pay for equal work law, only a few years after a similar law was passed in the U.S. In fact, Libyan working mothers enjoyed a range of benefits including cash bonuses for children, free day care, free health care centres and retirement at 55.

Democracy is not merely about holding elections simply to choose which particular representatives of the elite class should rule over the masses. True democracy is about democratising the economy and giving economic power to the majority.

Fact is, the west has shown that unfettered free markets and genuinely free elections simply cannot co-exist. Organized greed always defeats disorganized democracy. How can capitalism and democracy co-exist if one concentrates wealth and power in the hands of few, and the other seeks to spread power and wealth among many? Mr. Gaddafi’s Jamahiriya however, sought to spread economic power amongst the downtrodden many rather than just the privileged few.

Prior to Colonel Gaddafi, King Idris let Standard Oil essentially write Libya ‘s petroleum laws. Mr. Gaddafi put an end to all of that. Money from oil proceeds was deposited directly into every Libyan citizen’s bank account. One wonders if Exxon Mobil and British Petroleum will continue this practice under the new democratic Libya ?

Democracy is not merely about elections or political parties. True democracy is also about equal opportunity through education and the right to life through access to health care. Therefore, isn’t it ironic that America supposedly bombarded Libya to spread democracy, but increasingly education in America is becoming a privilege not a right and ultimately a debt sentence. If a bright and talented child in the richest nation on earth cannot afford to go to the best schools, society has failed that child. In fact, for young people the world over, education is a passport to freedom. Any nation that makes one pay for such a passport is only free for the rich but not the poor.

Under Mr. Gaddafi, education was a human right and it was free for all Libyans. If a Libyan was unable to find employment after graduation the State would pay that person the average salary of their profession.

For millions of Americans health care is also increasingly becoming a privilege not a right. A recent study by Harvard Medical School estimates that lack of health insurance causes 44,789 excess deaths annually in America . Under Mr. Gaddafi, health care was a human right and it was free for all Libyans. Thus, with regards to health care, education and economic justice, is America in any position to export democracy to Libya or should America have taken a leaf out of Libya ‘s book?

Muammar Gaddafi inherited one of the poorest nations in Africa . However, by the time he was assassinated, Libya was unquestionably Africa ‘s most prosperous nation. Libya had the highest GDP per capita and life expectancy in Africa and less people lived below the poverty line than in the Netherlands . Libyans did not only enjoy free health care and free education, they also enjoyed free electricity and interest free loans. The price of petrol was around $0.14 per liter and 40 loaves of bread cost just $0.15. Consequently, the UN designated Libya the 53rd highest in the world in human development.

The fundamental difference between western democratic systems and the Jamahiriya’s direct democracy is that in Libya citizens were given the chance to contribute directly to the decision-making process, not merely through elected representatives. Hence, all Libyans were allowed to voice their views directly – not in one parliament of only a few hundred elite politicians – but in hundreds of committees attended by tens of thousands of ordinary citizens. Far from being a military dictatorship, Libya under Mr. Gaddafi was Africa ‘s most prosperous democracy.

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Video: Uploaded on Oct 27, 2011 | “Muammar Gadhafi in respectful live-streaming dialog with academics at Columbia University March 23, 2006. Here he is praised as a champion of democracy, before the demonization and destruction instigated by a corrupt US, its allies and compliant media.”

Further Resources:

Learning to Govern Ourselves‘: Venezuela’s National Network of Commoners: January 2, 2013: http://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/7583

The Rights of Mother Earth in Bolivia – Early digital release [Kindle Edition]: January 29, 2013: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00B8C4WTO/ (includes law and framework law) | PAPERBACK: https://www.createspace.com/4151997 | See more: http://www.bolivianlaws.com/2013/01/the-law-of-rights-of-mother-earth-of.html

Great Green Charter Of Human Rights Of The Jamahiriyan Era: http://rcmlibya.wordpress.com/2012/08/12/the-great-green-charter-of-human-rights-of-the-jamahiriyan-era/

Direct Democracy: Understanding Libya’s Political System: http://libyadiary.wordpress.com/2011/03/01/direct-democracy-understanding-libyas-political-system/

WATCH: Decolonising Universities – Molefi Kete Asante, Professor of Africology

Uploaded on Jul 29, 2011

Excerpt from the presentation of Molefi Kete Asante, Professor of Africology at Temple University in the USA, during Session Nine at the Multiversity International Conference on Decolonising Our Universities held in Penang, Malaysia, 27-29 June 2011. He outlined ‘The Philosophical Bases of an African University,’ pointing out that in the imposition of the Eurocentric worldview in higher education ‘there was a Greek at every corner’ but that the Greeks themselves ‘were but children to Africa, and to India and to China.’

The complete presentation is available at the TV Multiversity channel on Vimeo: http://vimeo.com/channels/tvmultiversity

Conference proceedings, as well as other Multiversity related programs, are part of the broadcast lineup for the TV Multiversity channel on TVU Networks: http://pages.tvunetworks.com/watchTV/index.html#c=86332

Further information about the Penang conference and participants, including a selection of papers, is available at the conference webpage:
http://multiworldindia.org/events/

For related readings, visit the TV Multiversity blog, updated weekly: http://tvmultiversity.blogspot.com/

If you like this video, please copy and share it! Knowledge needs people and it needs to be free.

 

WATCH: Decolonising Universities – Claude Alvares

Uploaded on Jul 30, 2011

Excerpt from the presentation of Claude Alvares, Coordinator of Multiversity and Director of the Goa Foundation in India, during Session Ten at the Multiversity International Conference on Decolonising Our Universities held in Penang, Malaysia, 27-29 June 2011. He provided an overview of ‘Alternatives to Current (Ancient) University Pedagogy,’ questioning the usefulness and effectiveness of conventional university teaching methods based on lecturing, textbooks and compulsory attendance, asking ‘does anybody anywhere learn anything under compulsion?’

The complete presentation is available at the TV Multiversity channel on Vimeo: http://vimeo.com/channels/tvmultiversity

Conference proceedings, as well as other Multiversity related programs, are part of the broadcast lineup for the TV Multiversity channel on TVU Networks: http://pages.tvunetworks.com/watchTV/index.html#c=86332

Further information about the Penang conference and participants, including a selection of papers, is available at the conference webpage:
http://multiworldindia.org/events/

For related readings, visit the TV Multiversity blog, updated weekly: http://tvmultiversity.blogspot.com/

If you like this video, please copy and share it! Knowledge needs people and it needs to be free.

 

Miseducation and the New Slavery

Ceasefire Magazine

By Michael Barker

October 25, 2011

Ruling class philanthropists have maintained a long history of subsuming educational needs to capitalist growth prerogatives. In his column, Michael Barker looks at how industrial education served as “a major force in the subjugation of black labour in the New South” in the United States.

 

Virginia Hall, The Hampton Institute (photo: www.bluffton.edu)

Ruling class philanthropists have maintained a long history of subsuming educational needs to capitalist growth prerogatives. Learning from this toxic history is imperative, which is why Donald Spivey’s contribution, Schooling for the New Slavery: Black Industrial Education, 1868-1915 (Greenwood Press, 1978), is so important.

In this book Spivey examined how industrial education served as “a major force in the subjugation of black labor in the New South” in the United States, paying particular attention to the influence of Northern industrialists-cum-philanthropists who guided such “progress.” [1]

A good place to begin is with the creation of the Freedmen’s Bureau at the end of the Civil War. Ostensibly set-up to aid and protect freedmen, the Bureau actually served “as a conservative bulwark against black self-assertion.” This however did not mean that all of the white men staffing the Bureau acted to circumscribe black freedom, and Charles B. Wilder – who was appointed the first superintendent of the Freedmen’s Bureau in Hampton, Virginia – was just one exception who “sided with the blacks in their complaints and paid for it.”

Indeed, Wilder’s commitment to black freedom, not servitude, meant he was soon ousted from his position and replaced by a “strong supporter of  Bureau philosophy and policy,” General Samuel Chapman Armstrong. Here was the ideal man for the job: “Freedmen as a class,” General Armstrong declared, “are destitute of ambition; their complacency in poverty and filth is a curse; discontent would lead to determined effort and a better life.” [2]

By the end of 1867 Armstrong had moved into the educational arena. The General had arrived at the opinion that the freedmen presented a problem that could only be solved through proper schooling. The “only thing is to educate them [blacks] ,” he declared; “there is no other escape from a fearful band of evils that their ignorance will otherwise entail upon the country.” (p.11)

To impart the requisite education upon blacks, in 1868, General Armstrong with the aid of the Freedman Bureau and the American Missionary Association founded the Hampton Normal Institute in Hampton, Virginia.

Through industrial education, the General hoped to control the blacks, not raise them to a level of parity with whites. Armstrong proceeded with the greatest amount of care. “The darky,” he confided, “is an ugly thing to manage.” He was careful to give his students a limited education, just enough to fit them to their prescribed station in society and no more. “Over education” the Founder defined as one of the salient “dangers with the weak races. … For the average [black] pupil,” he contended, “too much is as bad as too little.” (p.26)

White Philanthropy For Black (Mis)education

February 22, 2012

By Michael Barker

Ceasefire Magazine

Michael Barker looks at the central, highly ideological, role played over the past 150 years by US white philanthropists in shaping education policies for blacks, promoting the freedom of the few to exploit others, and the freedom of the many to endure it.

Black students during a class on the assembly and repair of telephones at Hampton Institute (1899)

Controlling the spread and evolution of institutionalized education has always been a foremost concern of the ruling class. Barely disguised by the humanitarian rhetoric of philanthropy, white power brokers have played a central role in ensuring that the steady extension of educational facilities across the globe serves to miseducate the bulk of its recipients: promoting the freedom to exploit others (for a few) and the freedom to endure exploitation (for the rest).

William Watkins’ book The White Architects of Black Education: Ideology and Power in America, 1865-1954 (Teachers College Press, 2001) thus provides a clear-sighted analysis of the history of black education. A historical undertaking which Manning Marable has described as “an invaluable contribution to our understanding of the complex relationships between white philanthropy and black education.”[1]

Watkins “destroys the myth that the debate between [W.E.B.] DuBois and Booker T. Washington over the character of schooling actually determined the future of educational policy toward African Americans.” Demonstrating that while the debates between such influential men may have been important, ultimately they “were minor players in the formation of black schooling and the philosophy that lay behind it.”

In this way Watkins “cuts to the very heart of the matter,” reviewing the key contributions made by the real power brokers such as General Samuel Chapman Armstrong, J.L.M. Curry, William Baldwin, Robert Ogden, Thomas Jesse Jones, Franklin Giddings, and the Rockefeller and Phelps Stokes’ family, friends and funds.[2]

Of Watkins’ architects of Black education, “none is more important than Samuel Chapman Armstrong (1839-1893)” — an individual who “was an effective and farsighted social, political, and economic theorist working for the cause of a segregated and orderly South.” Having served as a missionary and solider; in 1865, following the end of the Civil War, Armstrong joined the Freedman’s Bureau, and a few years later (as their operations were wound down, owing to white opposition), he went on to found the Hampton Institute.

In this work, Armstrong sought to avoid class conflict, and aimed to reconcile the differences between racial supremacists and those seeking equality while “working for the powerful”; promoting a “version of human uplift [that] was absolutely compatible with the most despotic and oppressive political apparatus.” Appropriately he went on to serve as the mentor for Booker T. Washington, who emerged as the Hampton Institute’s “prize student.”[3]

With such influential protégés, Armstrong and his Hampton Institute’s message of racial accommodation, gradualism and moderation was spread far and wide, and “played no small role in creating a Black compradore class for the twentieth century.” The importance of this endeavour should not be underestimated.

Of Ideology and Philanthropy

In this column (on corporate power), Michael Barker examines the anti-democratic nature of liberal philanthropy. As he notes, many of the organisations that regularly challenge the legitimacy of corporate power are in fact often themselves funded by corporate donors.
December 13, 2011
Ceasefire Magazine

 

Massive not-for-profit corporations, like the Carnegie, Ford, and Rockefeller foundations, created by the world’s leading capitalists, have “gone to great lengths to rationalise the contradiction between democratic principles and elite dominance.” Seen through the eyes of their executives, democracy only functions when it is run by the few for the many.[1]

Education thus takes a key place in the successful promotion of elite governance both on domestic and international planes of action; and although not well known, Edward Berman, professor emeritus at the University of Louisville, has written an important book that examines just this subject.

By briefly reviewing Berman’s study The Influence of the Carnegie, Ford, and Rockefeller Foundations on American Foreign Policy: The Ideology of Philanthropy (State University of New York Press, 1983), this article aims to publicise his vitally important, though oft neglected, ideas on the anti-democratic nature of liberal philanthropy.

While the history of elite governance is long and troublesome, in Berman’s book we are invited to study the honing of such management strategies from the early twentieth century onwards. Today of course the Gates Foundation is the most financially powerful philanthropic body in the world, but until its relatively late arrival on the scene, the Carnegie, Ford, and Rockefeller foundations (the “big three”) had dominated the philanthropic arena.

Indeed, exporting the ideology of the capitalist state has been a key function of these foundations, a duty of care that fell securely on their shoulders as they “represented one of the few sources of unencumbered ‘risk’ capital available during the period from 1945 to 1975.”[2]

As Berman acknowledges, the interest shown by these foundations in creating and financing “various educational configurations both at home and abroad cannot be separated from their attempts to evolve a stable domestic polity and a world order amenable to their interests and the strengthening of international capitalism.” Their simultaneous promotion of elite governance and massive levels of worker exploitation consequently required the forging of a “liberal consensus” among the ruling class and their allied functionaries, which would actively pre-empt radical structural alternatives, and legitimise capitalism – by fostering public acquiesence to elite priorities.

To successfully facilitate the building of this consensus, the creation of right-thinking educational institutions was essential in generating a “worldwide network of elites whose approach to governance and change would be efficient, professional, moderate, incremental, and non-threatening to the class interests of those who, like Messrs, Carnegie, Ford, and Rockefeller, had established the foundations.”

Far-sighted elites evidently recognised the popularity of alternatives to capitalism, so in turn advocated progressive reforms which attempted to find the  “middle ground between the extremes of oligopoly on the one hand and socialism on the other, while encouraging an atmosphere congenial to increased levels of productivity.”[3]

This is not to say that the individuals who launched foundation “education” programs during the Progressive Era were not seriously concerned with improving the lot of the poor and downtrodden: just that many of these people with “a deep and abiding concern for the plight of the poor” failed to tackle the root cause of injustice, that is, industrial capitalism.