Teachers of the World Unite!

I’m still in Uni, but I’ve been contemplating becoming a high school (A levels and GCSE for you brits) teacher. I was curious what folk’s thoughts were on anti-authoritarians, anarchists, radicals etc. in the education field? The knee jerk reaction of most “anarychists” is to attack anyone that’s a teacher, because well, they’re”brainwashing” the kids and “telling them what to do.” Though I disagree. In many ways I think organizing in the teaching sector is as paramount as organizing in the military, in that it can serve to subvert fundamental functions of social control in a number of ways. Here’s a semi detailed list that I’ve come up with so far.

1. Secondary Education is the prime tool in the indoctrination of future workers and young workers into a system of hierarchy and exploitation. This is where we take young idealistic children and turn them into little automatons. Thus it’s important to have educators that utilize a radical pedagogy. By this I mean a classroom that encourages critical thinking and dispels various social myths. They can stop most of the “official story” from ever getting into these kids.

2. Anarchist educators can provide organizing resources to their students. They can hand down hard learnt lessons of organizing and struggle to help kids set up mass organizations and campaigns centered around student and youth concerns. Draconian security? Exhaustive standardized testing? Well, then its time to get those kids a “Troublemaker’s Handbook” and help them fight the power!

Any kind of collective action at that age can build up a sense of confidence in both the student and in young folk’s ability to make collective change. I know that when I was in high school, not long ago, our main problem was that we had no conception of direct action struggle. We funneled our frustrations into advocacy, or small subversive propaganda groups. I tried both, neither worked.

3. Education is a huge industry, growing by the minute. Capital is demanding higher and higher levels of qualifications for ever more menial jobs. Education is an industry we are sure will exist for the indefinite future. It’s not getting outsourced and it’s not getting any smaller. A strong network of anarchist and radical teachers can affiliate with other militant workers in the education sector, building real industrial strength. This not only builds class consciousness and militancy, but creates a mutually beneficial relationship between students and workers. Workers strike to help students walk out, and student riot to help workers picket. Most importantly, it sends a clear message to young folk that class struggle is universal and will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

4. Teachers get a long summer vacations every year. While a radical teacher could use this time for leisure, tutoring for extra money, travel etc. He or she could also use it as a resource for the class structure. Teachers are specially positioned to provide the volunteer hours necessary to build up new projects, and to support ongoing struggles.

I’ve often thought of creating a network of alternate summer programs for working class children. Something like a radical day camp/youth center. It would be structured on the Modern school movement of Francisco Ferrer. Children would self manage the curriculum, devoting learning and play according to their own wants and needs. With our summers free, militant teachers could provide the critical mass to get this project off the ground. Of course just providing extra bodies on picket lines, meetings, and other day to day needs of any people’s struggle, is a great advantage in and of itself.

On the Poverty of Suburban Unemployment: Why it sucks

Getting stuck at home for long periods of time is pretty enlightening. I guess having no money does that. Makes everything real clear. For awhile now I’ve fancied myself something of an absurdist. I savor in the idea that if the universe is absurd, that there is no real meaning, then we are radically free to choose and create the meaning for our self. The world becomes ours in a way that you don’t get with typical Christianity or any organized religion. I’ve always dovetailed this absurdism with a bit of Marx. Marx always pointed out that humans have an almost innate need to create and to do. It was our “species being” to sit there amongst the world and take action to change shit in some way

When you combine the two, I believe that you find something approaching a “human nature” or at least a general tendency. Humans find their meaning in whatever they wish. But in order to find that meaning they have to take action. They have to create that meaning, not just plot it out. Getting stuck here at home has brought this bit into relief. After a couple weeks of fruitless job searching I had already lost a lot of drive. I was stuck at home with very little to do, especially since most of my old friends were out of town. I live in an area that’s designed to keep out fun. People come here to raise kids and to grow old, but nothing in between. Young adults have very little in the way entertainment around here. The political message behind this is all very clear. Don’t think, don’t do, just stay isolated in your consumption. I’m gonna post more that a bit later.

Anyway, I wasn’t able to take action. I couldn’t really do anything. Sure I could write and read but I could not put my ideas into practice. I was brainstorming my meaning, but not living it. I was denying my species being. I was party to a general malaise, I just felt like blah. I didn’t feel strongly about anything. Of course it wasn’t some silly emo “zomg I’m depressed” moment it was just generalized anxiety. I couldn’t emotionally care, I was the same intellectually, but the wind had been taken out of my sails. Only after starting this blog, and working on some other projects have I suddenly felt a return to form. This is pretty obvious proof that absurdist/marxist POV. While I can chart whatever course of meaning I like, that course has no substance, no action behind it. It becomes another sterile intellectual pursuit, which explains a lot about most intellectuals. No wonder they’re so much like cold fish.

Meaning is intrinsically tied to emotion and action in life. We forget that cold logic gets us nowhere without emotion. It tells us what we want, and that’s the basis for most of our decisions. Anything we strive for in life, all the momentum comes from feeling. That’s why organizer is so important to any radical. Yes struggle is logical and clearly a necessity. But there’s an emotional component that’s also required. There are plenty of armchair Marxists and even a few armchair anarchists and by large, they don’t have the passion or the fervor for real revolutionary change. That requires hard, messy organizing because that hard messy organizing makes our ideas relevant. It creates the meaning behind them. Without experience in the trenches all our ideals will fall apart. We have to keep ourselves sharp and that means building what we want to see. For if we just sit around talking about it and writing missives, we’re doomed to disillusionment.

In Memoriam, George Carlin

George Carlin died last night. The man was a true genius, and in my view, one of the greatest comedians of all time. Carlin wasn’t just a comedian though, he was one of our greatest commentators. I know that when I was a kid, listening to Carlin was my first real introduction to radical politics of Old timey Strikeany kind. He brought into relief my stewing opposition to religion. He pointed out how it was just an arbitrary bunch of nonsense. At the time I was pretty moderate on most issues. But religion was just beyond the pale. A little white man magically saving us? Huh? It made no sense!

My rebellion against god pretty much put me on the path to radicalism. It was the domino that started the chain, smacking down one system of hierarchy after another. Carlin had a sardonic air that kept you honest and kept you questioning. Its not that he was much of an anarchist. More of a nihilist sometimes. But despite his dark attitude Carlin had a deep love for his fellow human. He always thought himself not a cynic but a skeptic. He didn’t hate people, just the fucking idiots who tried to bully and control others. Carlin’s bits weren’t about revolution, but he always attacked arbitrary authority and the silly ways it manifested. Voting, religion, corporations, marketing etc. Calling bullshit kept him going.

He had a rare way of seeing the world. He could observe something and notice all the little bits that it funny. Finding the sexual innuendos of wartime rhetoric, discussing the minutiae of suicide and its proper procedure, it was his forte.

Eventually I had listened to every one of his specials at least 5-30 times. Carlin made me the person I am today. He gave countless kids caustic wit and sarcastic delivery. He had a cadence that just worked. It was like an internal iambic pentameter, which you just sorta picked up listening to the guy. While I’m no stand up, I’d like to think that most of humor is a direct influence of Carlin. He gave me the linguistic threads to weave some of the more deranged and perverse ideas that pop into my head at night when I can’t fall asleep.

He showed us that you don’t need to be mainstream or even well versed to rip down the most complex political systems in weird and original ways. The “bigger dick foreign policy theory” doesn’t need any Marx or Rousseau, just a bit everyday observation. I was no philosopher as a 13 year old kid, no deep thinker. I liked engineering and I was “smart” but not so much on the “heavy topics.” Carlin was a philosopher for the everyman. He reeled you into an abyss of scatological humor that somehow shook off the mental detritus. At a time of anti-intellectualism, falling reading comprehension, and general ignorance Carlin showed us a there was a time to be serious a time be silly and a fart joke fit both.

So raise a glass, and whip up a fart for a great man, comedian, philosopher and human being. George, wherever you are, I hope Joe Pesci keeps good watch over you.