Enlightenment


Robert B. Brandom, Perspectives on Pragmatism: Classical, Recent, and Contemporary (Harvard, 2011):


"But classical American pragmatism can also be seen differently, as a movement of world historical significance--as the announcement, commencement, and first formulation of the fighting faith of a second Enlightenment." (p. 36)


from Joseph Margolis, The Unraveling of Scientism: American Philosophy at the End of the Twentieth Century (Cornell University Press, 2003)

The main feature of Hegel's strategy, which, in American philosophy, is preserved (almost without attribution) among the classic pragmatists (particularly Dewey) retires altogether the very idea of reference to a 'noumenal' world or a world the properties of which are seperable from from whatever they are said to appear to be to human inquirers, and reinterprets 'appearances' (Erscheinungen) as  open to the recovery of no more than a 'constructed' realism, that is, a realism shorn of the recuperative use of the 'Cartesian' habit of opposing or disjoining 'appearance' and 'reality' completely.  (If, that is, 'realism' is a proper term for rendering the sense of the Phenomenology's argument.)"  49-50
Nietzsche's Enlightenment

American Nietzsche: A History of an Icon and an Idea

Elizabeth B. Crist, Music for the common man : Aaron Copland during the Depression and war (Oxford University Press, 2005)

intellectual history/ideological
developmental dimension/Bildung
temporal -- Brandom
agonic --McMahon, Vincent)
class (Wellman; Postel; Zelnick; Ranciere;
History without philosophy is only a screen on
which to project the shibboleths of our time

owl
"Philosophy always arrives too late . . . .  The Owl
of Minerva takes flight only as the dusk begins to fall."
2.  from Hegel to Cultual Historical Actvity Theory to Figure 1        




from Hartmut Geist, "The Formation Experiment in the Age of Hypermedia and Distance Learning," in The Transformation of Learning: Advances in Cultural-Historical Activity Theory, edited by Bert van Oers, Wim Wardekker, Ed Elbers, and René van der Veer (Cambridge University Press, 2008)

 . . . the basic idea [of activity theory] is not "evolution," that is, the idea of adaptation to the environment, but "revolution," that is, change of the environment.  The dialectical analysis of human history, as it was done, for example, by Hegel and particularly by Marx, showed not only that humans adapt to the environment but also that they change it in accordance with their demands . . .  Activity is not an active adaptation to the environment but the transformation of the environment and--in interrelation with it--of humans themselves.  Although this idea is not new, it has only begun to prove its explanatory potental.  Among the first to apply this idea to psychology were Vygotsky and one of his closest students, Leontiev.  (pp. 103-105; emphasis added)

Finland is one place where CHAT has become the core of educational theory and practice: Ulla Härkönen (University of Joensuu, Finland),  "Current Theories Related to Early Childhood Education and Preschool as Frames of Reference for Sustainable Education," in Institutte of Sustainable Education, conference, 2004

 In Finland, for thirty years, theoretical frames for early childhood education and preschool have been outlined through Bronfenbrenner's ecological approach, Vygotsky's developmental theory, didactic theories and the psychological theories of learning, among which the latest is the constructivist theory of learning.

Finland's leading place among European nations, acording to Pasi Sahlberg (Finnish Lessons: What can the World Learn from Eductional Change in Finland: Teachers College Press, 2011) is rooted not just in the educational reforms of the 1970s, but in the immediate post World War II political environment in which the three major parties--Social Democratic, Communist, and Agrarian Centre--made education their major goal (pp. 16-17).   Especially important was the work of three key political education committees.
Figure 1 is about more than education.  Formal schooling is only one input in the historical  process of cognitive development, and data such as appear in Figure 1 therefore reflect the various forces that promote or retard development.  This complex systems approach is emphasized by Pasi Sahlberg, "A Model Lesson: Finland Shows Us What Equal Opportunity Looks Like," American Educator, Vol. 36, No. 1, Spring 2012.  These scores can be considered as indexical of the cognitive developmental levels achieved by 21 nations.

Figure 1.  PISA Math Scores, 2003 - 2009: 21 Nations +
U.S. New England + U.S. South + OECD average
pisa36
PISA 2009 Results: What Students Know and Can Do – Student
Performance in Reading, Mathematics and Science (Volume I)

Time Magazine assesses the relative intelligence of its readers:
from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, February 14, 2012:
:
TIME Magazine's U.S. Edition
"Marxism" was only a moment in a socio-cultural and cognitive-developmental trajectory that began with the Enlightenment.  It is this developmental trajectory that is of fundamental importance.  Ideology is a useless category, a form of bad idealism.  Ideas as such are not merely of little importance.  The very idea of the self-sufficient idea; the very idea of ideas as an autonomous realm, is absurd, for that would be to say that ideas exist in a realm of their own.

Daniel Stedman Jones, in Masters of the Universe: Hayel, Friedman, and the Birth of Neoliberal Politics (Princeton, 2012) quoting John Maynard Keynes: "The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood."  Jones goes on to refer to "The Keynes-inspired policies that governments had relied upon to deliver a golden age of prosperity and rising incomes for the generation after 1945 . . . "

the strategic discourse as well as the internal structure and compostion of the Keynesian elite in the Second New Deal was determined by the circuit of realization of mass capitalism.  Morreover, this triple web of discourse, institutions and personnel is already clear in the Eastern Rate Case of 1910 and its imediate outcome: the formation of the Taylor Society. That is, the Keynesian elite emerges full-blown in 1910.  Even before that--in 1871--the famous multiplier attributed to Keynes hd already appeared --Prophets of Regulation: Charles Francis Adams, Louis D. Brandeis, James M. Landis, Alfred E. Kahn, By Thomas K. McCraw, pp. 35-36--

 In this context the fetishization of Marx (and Lenin) is an effect of the historical defeat of this dynamic of development.  This site is an attempt to recover and further develop the inner logic of this trajectory under 21st century conditions.  

That inner logic is revealed in the Wellman interview, the texts assembled by Reginald Zelnick in
Workers and Intelligentsia in Late Imperial Russia, and the work of Jacques Rancierè (The Nights of Labor) and Roger Magraw (The Age of the Artisan Revolution, 1815-1871).  Ideologically, we refer to this as the scientific world view.  Ontologically, I am fusing Hegel's concept of Bildung with the developmental psychologists' concept of formal operational thought, and am subsuming this fusion into an expanded concept of Bildung.  Both Alcorn** and Moretti*** are subsumed under this concept (See Bidung: Was Mozart a Communist?).  Following Moretti, this expanded concept of Bildung could also be seen as a concept of the cognitive and psychological dimensions of the bourgeois dasein (mode of being-in-the-world or praxiological modality).  Bourgeois, in this context (and after Moretti) is more than, even other than, property and possessive individualism in a market economy.  I arrived at this idea by a lifetime of pondering the significance of the Wellman interview.  Bildung is also one of the four fundamental ontologies.  As can be seen by the Wellman, Zelnick, Rancierè, and Magraw texts, and by the texts of Alcorn and Moretti, the concept of Bildung helps us to understand the inner logic of the movements that have been called "Marxist" in a way that "Marxism" never could.  The concept of Bildung is also more broadly applicable/essential to an understanding of the historical trajectory, Progressivism to New Deal.)

In the above context Lenin, in 1902 (What Is To Be Done?), and again in 1923 (Better Fewer, But Better) was ahead of his time, anticipating both Vygotsky and Bronfenbrenner in his concept of the party.  Especially in light of the work of Zelnick and others, and bearing in mind the Wellman interview, the cognitive-developmental dimension of the Bolshevik dasein is evident.

This question of Bildung qua socio-cultural and cognitive development is now, in the 21st century, the problem of divergent developmental trajectories--that is what Figure 1 (PISA Math Scores, 2003 - 2009: 21 Nations + U.S. New England + U.S. South + OECD average) is about.  Figure 1 is of fundamental significance, and will throughout this site be referred to simply as Figure 1.  Figure 1 with associated text can be found in Figure 1 and texts. Figure 1 is about much more than schooling and test scores.  It is about cognitive development as an historical process, about the Enlightenment as an inflection point in that developmental process, and about one of Hegel's most important concepts: Bildung.  Figure 1 actually understates the current situation, as can be seen in the additional data provided in the above link.  [comment]

*Important moments within this trajectory are indicated by the proper nouns Spinoza, Holbach, Diderot, Kant, Hegel, Marx, Darwin, Nietzsche, Freud, Brandeis, Lenin, Vygotsky, Piaget, Dewey****, Pierce, Cooke, Heidegger, Cassirer, Foucault, Sellars, Deleuze, as well as those of us still living and others (hopefully) yet to be born.

**Marshall W. Alcorn, Jr., Narcissism and the Literary Libido: Rhetoric, Text, and Subjectivity (New York University Press, 1994)

***Franco Moretti, The Way of the World: The Bildungsroman in European Culture
(Verso, 2000) 

****from Robert B. Brandom, Perspectives on Pragmatism: Classical, Recent, and Contemporary (Harvard, 2011):

"But classical American pragmatism can also be seen differently, as a movement of world historical significance--as the announcement, commencement, and first formulation of the fighting faith of a second Enlightenment." (p. 36)

***the enlightenment emerges out of the agon with its other: the ancien regime.  the latter mobiizes a counter-enlightenment (McMahon, Vincept) and that dialectic of culture war has become the central feature of the modern world.  The counterenlightnment, built upon resentiment as is cultural historical base--resentiment is also and painfully obviously the base of the GOP--acuires a force unnticipated by the enlightement revouutonary Karl Marx.  Indeed, it is through interrogating the prfound failures of Marx's thought that one comes to grips with the fundametal features of our contemporary scene.

•In my interview with Saul Wellman, acting head of the Michigan Communist Party in the 1940s, the question of Bildung appeared quite unexpectedly.  It was not until I only recently came across the work of  Zelnick, Rancierè, and Magraw that I realized its full significance.  An excerpt from this interview appears to the right.  This interview has the same status as Figure 1: it is a fundamental element in the construction of this site, and throughout will be referred to as the Wellman interview.  But this interview is also about Figure 1, so that the Wellman Interview and Figure 1 are two sides of the same coin.  As will be show throughout this site, Anti-Communism was a major force in the genesis of the situation represented by Figure 1. 

The question of Bildung is developed in Bildung: Was Mozart a Communist?  This page assembles materials from labor history, psychology, literary criticism, and philosophy, and  is consistent with and incorporates the perspective developed by Jacques Ranciere.  The Wellman's interview, the excerpts from Zelnick, and the texts of Ranciere are paradigmatic.  Virtually identical formulations of this developmental dialectic are found in them.  From Lyon and Paris of the 1830s to the St. Petersburg of the 1890s to Flint and Detroit in the 1940s, we see the unfolding of a developmental process whose historical trajectory spans the period from the Enlightenment to the New Deal.  This is the inner logic, the deeper meaning, the driving force of "the Left".  In this context the Communist Party (or any other similar entity) is an ontologal fallacy,* in that its fundamental characteristic is as the locus and expression of this developmental process.  The outward expressions of this--the rhetorical elements of class, power and politics, and the issues of the moment--are secondary phenomena.  Explanations in terms of the motives of individuals in becoming activists are merely projections of the moral shibboleths and ontological presuppositions of popular culture (the isolated individual as the be all and end all of existence; individual motives as the motor of agency; a crude materialism).  More generally, questions of popular support and approval of regimes and/or policies, presuppose the ontological shibboleths of our time.  The subject is conceived of as outside of and at the foundation of history.  On the contrary, one of the central issues of this site is the production of the subject--the subject is now brought inside of history.  Forms of subjectivity not only vary historically.  They vary locally as well.  Thus, the "teaparty" is a form of subjectivity different from the subjectivity of occupy wall street, and these differences are not just cultural but cognitively developmental and characterologically divergent.

•••This developmenal process, while intuited by enlightenment** thinkers from Kant and Hegel to Dewey and Lenin, was not explicitly conceptualized until the work of Vygotsky and Bronfenbrenner provided us with the frameworks associated with their names.  Their work, while begun in the 1920s and 1930s (Vygotsky--Vygotsky in English: What Still Needs to Be Done, by René van der Veer & Anton Yasnitsky, Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science (2011) 45:475–493) did not become widely disseminated until the 1970s, when further developments (the work of Uri Bronfenbrenner, for example) brought us to the current state knowledge (see list).  A recent book by (Flynn?) establishes a conceptual framework for reading Figure 1 and for interpreting the developmental trajectory within which Marx and Lenin are moments (as in moments in the unfolding of the inner logic of the trajectory Enlightenment to New Deal).   Thus, the Enlightenment not merely as ideology, but, more fundamentally, as cognitive development.  The Enlightenment understood as an inflection point in cognitive development as historical process.  (See Israel, A Revolution of the Mind, pp. 91, 217) [Vyg in English; Institutionalists; Pretty Good Club]

*Ontological fallacy: Miguel de Beistegui, Truth and genesis: philosophy as differential ontology (Indiana University Press, 2004)

** Jonathan Israel, A Revolution of the Mind: Radical Enlightenment and the Intellectual Origins of Modern Democracy (Princeton, 2010); Enlightenment Contested: Philosophy, Modernity, and the Emancipation of Man 1670-1752 (Oxford, 2006), and Democratic Enlightenment: Philosophy, Revolution, and Human Rights 1750-1790 (Oxford, 2011), and Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the Making of Modernity, 1650-1750 (Oxford, 2001)

In 
A Revolution of the Mind one finds the "organic" antecedents of Marx and Lenin--if one is capable of a defetishized reading of Marx and Lenin as moments in the developmental trajectory of the Enlightenment.  Looking back through the radical movement (from Detroit-Flint in the late 1940s to the early artisan struggles of the early 19th century) one finds alongside the myth of the proletariat the praxis of Bildung, the former loudly proclaimed and the subject all sorts of writing, the latter unfolding quietly, never written about, and even hiding itself beneath its self-abnegating myth of the proletariat.  This is the import of the Wellman interview and related texts.






This panel is out of place: it is a recasting of the entire site, and is the last entry (9-24-12)

The links to the right are the building blocks for this site.

species being, in an expanded form, is what this entire site is about.  Species being has, in hegelmarx and beyond, been cast in a positive light.  This site, while sharing in some of that naive optimism (the basis for the progressive dynamic, whether in reformist or revolutionary form), for the most part takes a grim view of the whole developmental dynamic of the semiotisized primate.

Man creates himself, mostly unconsciously, and with unintended consequences that become the new fundamentals.  Today's cognitive developmental crisis in the U.S. may be seen as a neccesary consequence of the culture of narcissism (Hall), as well as a contingent effect of the peculiarities of American politics (the crusade against reason combined with a deepening economic polarization).

The development of organizational webs, especially in finance, consumption, and politics is of far-reaching import.  Political networks on the right mobilize the forces of ressentiment and in so doing amplify the primate forces of dominance and deference at the expense of Bildung.  The political networks of mass consumption--not only producers of products but also producers and distributors of images--foster a culture of narcissism that, as Hall et. al. have argued, shatters the capacity for ego development, a development that is cognitive as well as characterological.  And financial webs have become the backers of the new right, thus amplifying ressentiment and reinforcing the ape within.  But more, they are now preying on the education sector, subverting  it both intellectually and organizationally (see Relay University).

An inkling of this disaster was evident in the response of the pre-Revolutionary Russian socialists (see Smith); post-WWII critics have also noted the increasing infantilization of culture (Moretti, Lasch, Barber, Hall et. al.).  But only now have these tendencies exploded onto the scene, with as yet unforseeable consequnces.  Hall et. al. must be given credit for providing the deepest insight so far into what is happening.  (see 1. nuclear accident and cognitive decay, and 2. U.S. corporations are already adapting sociotechnical systems to cognitive decay.)  Worse than stupid: current discourse on education--see NBC Education Nation.  More on worse than stupid:
American Exceptionalism: Education without Development (an assessment of the cognitive performativity of the rhetoric of reform)For the most advanced discourse in education, see Pasi Sahlberg, "A Model Lesson: Finland Shows Us What Equal Opportunity Looks Like," American Educator, Vol. 36, No. 1, Spring 2012.  (But compare this with his Finnish Lessons.  The American Educator article leaves out any specific reference to poliical parties, an effect of pervasive reactionary force field shaping the semiosphere.)

Freedom: 1. as the apotheosis of the individual and as antithesis of individuation, and 2. as a merely formal concept (absence of restraint).  As soon as one looks for the substantive (ontological, historical, contextual, praxiological) expressions of freedom, it quickly loses is glamour, its uncontested ideological purity (see Food article NYT and eat cook love www.cbc.ca/doczone/).  Just as, as soon as one looks at actual humans the myth of the people (Stark, Nietzsche) withers.


Ressentiment and the Mechanisms of Defense  

Developmental Divergence and American Politics: Cognitive Development in History

Bildung: Was Mozart a Communist?

Appetite and Entropy: Subverting Cognitive Development

Semiotic Regimes (cognition, ressentiment, and desire).

Progressivism to New Deal: the Keynesian Elite in the New Deal State


Philosophy and History

Benjamin R. Barber, Consumed: How markets corrupt children, infantilize adults, and swallow citizens whole (W. W. Norton & Company, 2007): review1,

Chase, Wrangham and de Waal

Makers beat takers

Bildung, cont.







Interview # 1: the Wellman Interview

(Photo: Saul Wellman, Robert, Thomson , David Doran, at Fuentes de Ebro, during the Spanish Civil War)

In the late 1940s Saul Wellman was acting head of the Michigan Communist Party.  The excerpt below is from my interview with him, conducted in Detroit in 1975 or 1976 in Wellman's home.

Wellman: Flint is what I consider to be the asshole of the world;wellman it's the roughest place to be.  Now we recruited dozens of people to the Party in Flint, and they came out of indigenous folk.  And those are the best ones.  But we couldn't keep them in Flint very long, once they joined the Party.  Because once they came to the Party a whole new world opened up.  New cultural concepts, new people, new ideas.  And they were like a sponge, you know.  And Flint couldn't give it to them.  The only thing that Flint could give you was whorehouses and bowling alleys, you see.  So they would sneak down here to Detroit on weekends--Saturday and Sunday--where they might see a Russian film or they might . . .  hear their first opera in their lives or a symphony or talk to people that they never met with in their lives.

P. Friedlander:  to me that's one of the most significant processes of people becoming radicals, is this . . .

SW: but you lose them in their area . . .

PF: right.  You lose them, but I think something is going on there that I think radicals have not understood about their own movement . . .

SW: right . . .

PF: something about the urge toward self improvement . . .

SW: right . . .

PF: and cultural advancement . . .

SW: right, right . . .

PF: and not to remain an unskilled worker in the asshole of the world . . .

SW: right, right.  But there are two things going on at the same time.  The movement is losing something when a native indigenous force leaves his community.  On the other hand the reality of joining a movement of this type is that the guy who is in the indigenous area looks around and says this is idiocy, I can't survive here.

and then seen through the lens of: Vygotsky in English: What Still Needs to Be Done
René van der Veer & Anton Yasnitsky,Integr Psych Behav (2011) 45:475–493

one of the best ways to asess the Cassirer version (and Brandom) of the historical trajectory of the "Enlightenment," is to take
Vygotsky in English as a discursive field of elements--Freud, Hegel . . . --; how does the western enlightenment tradtion figure with this decidely "Bolshevik"(and Jewish) circle; a developmental moment of great signficance in the maikng of post war europe--finland.


I should add a personal note.  My birth, in 1941, into a milieu of activist Communists, within which I spent the first eighteen years of my life, has been the empirical grounding of this concern with cognitive development (vs. ideology) as the fundamental existential modality, the Dasein of these human networks. The striking thing about the Dasein, as opposed to ideology, of the human networks into which I was born, was above all reading, thinking, discussing. The development of mind was the fundamental but scarcely conceptualized inner drive of that part of the Left, as I experienced it in the late 1940s and 1950s (but see Vivian Gornick, the Romance of American Communism).  It was not until the late 1970s and early 1980s, in response to the practical, soft-core but systematic racism of the degree-granting adult education program* in which I was employed, that I began to study educational issues, and especially the sociocultural cognitive historical-developmental theories associated with Vygotsky, Bronfenbrenner, Ceci, and many others.

*This program, while under the auspices of a public university, actually paved the way for a new kind of for-profit degree-granting adult education in the United States.  See Senate Committee Report on For-Profit Colleges Condemns Costs and Practices, by Tamar Lewin (New York Times, July 29, 2012)

bridgeloop
Edward Hopper, Manhattan Bridge Loop, 1928

Bildung, cont.



•I have been using Hegelian language to characterize this developmental trajectory.  Bildung, one of Hegel's most important concepts, is the developmental dialectic of individual and society.  What I am suggesting is that the concept of Bildung be expanded to include the emergence of formal operational competence (Flynn), and that the Enlightenment was not simply the emergence of the scientific frame of mind, but more profoundly, it was a develomental leap.  It is this leap of development, this emergence of mind as a real force, that is a central otological feature of the "bourgeois" rather than the populist Left (the Wellman interview and all its isomorphisms as the "bourgeois" Left). In this sense, enlightenment as developmental trajectory--the emergence of science and formal operational complexity--is a continuous process from the time of Mozart to the time of George Charney* and Franklin D. Roosevelt.  (read George Charney's A Long Journey (Quadrangle Books, 1968) and Richard Yates' Revolutionary Road (1961)** to get a good sense of the end of this trajectory, partly but not wholly due to the terror known as McCarthyism).  Why I include "FDR" becomes clear upon reading Progressivism to New Deal: the Keynesian Elite in the New Deal State.  Note that I am using the term bourgeois as discussed in Franco Moretti, The Way of the World: The Bildungsroman in European Culture (Verso, 2000), and as defined implicitly by Lenin in What is to be Done? and Better Fewer, but Better.  What I am doing with this term bourgeois will become clearer only after reading the pages that make up this site.

Figure 1 is only one crude indication of the developmental catastrophe that has befallen non-elite Americans.  Finland's leading place among European nations, acording to Pasi Sahlberg (Finnish Lessons: What can the World Learn from Eductional Change in Finland: Teachers College Press, 2011) is rooted not just in the educational reforms of the 1970s, but in the immediate post World War II political environment in which the three major parties--Social Democratic, Communist, and Agrarian Centre--made education their major goal (pp. 16-17). Conversely, the stunningly poor performance of the United States, especially of its working class populations, is  in part a result of 1) the demonization of modern thought combined with 2) deepening economic polarization and a 22% child poverty rate and 3) the assault on public schools led by a coalition of right-wing Republicans and Wall Street buccaneers.  Not only is cognitive development a fundamental issue in the post-modern world. The history and fate of the "left" (in which I include the Keynesian elite and the broader milieu with which it was entangled) in America now appears in a new context: the defeat of the New Deal sealed our fate as a nation.  In figure 1 the U.S. as a whole is at the bottom.  But that portion of the United States whose cognitive modality dominates our political culture is below the bottom (the Palin zone).
  
*George Charney's A Long Journey is the most perceptive and intelligent memoir written by an American Communist.

**Richard Yates' Revolutionary Road can be read as an account of the inner collapse of the New Deal as Bildung.




Bildung (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

hegel
The term refers to the German tradition of self-cultivation, (as related to the German for: creation, image, shape), wherein philosophy and education are linked in manner that refers to a process of both personal and cultural maturation. This maturation is described as a harmonization of the individual’s mind and heart and in a unification of selfhood and identity within the broader society, as evidenced with the literary tradition of bildungsroman.

In this sense, the process of harmonization of mind, heart, selfhood and identity is achieved through personal transformation, which presents a challenge to the individual’s accepted beliefs. In Hegel’s writings, the challenge of personal growth often involves an agonizing alienation from one’s “natural consciousness” that leads to a reunification and development of the self. Similarly, although social unity requires well-formed institutions, it also requires a diversity of individuals with the freedom (in the positive sense of the term) to develop a wide-variety of talents and abilities and this requires personal agency. However, rather than an end state, both individual and social unification is a process that is driven by unrelenting negations.



Terry Pinkard, Hegel: A Biography (Cambridge University Press, 2000), pp. 49-50; 269-275; 369-370; 486-487

Shlomo Avineri, Hegel's Theory of the Modern State (Cambridge University Press, 1972), pp. 77-78; 132-139; 144-147; 166)

Franco Moretti, The Way of the World: The Bildungsroman in European Culture (Verso, 2000)

Marshall W. Alcorn, Jr., Narcissism and the Literary Libido: Rhetoric, Text, and Subjectivity (New York University Press, 1994)

Ressentiment, cont.

Ressentiment is civilization's evil twin.  It accompanies the rise of the state, and persists with greater force and effect into the twenty first century than anyone--except Nietzsche--thought possible.
 Ressentiment is the deep structure of the real, a fundamental element in the making of the West.  


Ressentiment emerged as an adaptive response to the discipline imposed by power in the first civilizations.  According to Nietzsche, ressentiment is more than simply a form of adaptation of an otherwise intact organism to power.  Ressentiment is the chief characteristic of “natures that, denied the true reaction, that of deeds, compensate themselves with an imaginary revenge.”  (Bernstein, Bitter Carnival, p. 102)  It is a fundamental reconfiguring of the organism, an alteration of Being, a transformation of Becoming.  It is something new, contrary to the existence of hunter-gatherers.  It is a particular type of Being that is the characteristic element of the age of civilization and the state.

This adaptive response is empirically and clinically developed in psychoanalysis's concept of the mechanisms of defense.

More generally, the developmental process, so central to the making of modern societies, was violently opposed by the forces of ressentiment, the multitude of reactive socio-cultural elites and their constituencies around the world, from the Catholic counter-Enlightenment (which reached its hysterical pitch in the Spanish Civil War), to Islamic fundamentalism, to the rise of Protestant fundamentalism in the United States, where we now know that the Scopes trial of 1927 was only prelude to today's massive fusion of the Republican Party with a reactionary mass unprecedented in American history.  This is discussed (somewhat adequately) in Ressentiment and the Mechanisms of Defense, and (unsatisfactorily) in Developmental Divergence: cognitive development in history.  

Ressentiment and Bildung are two of the four fundamental ontologies of homo sapiens within modern societies.  They help to understand the major patterns in world history from the Enlightenment to the present.  (The other two fundamental ontologies will be discussed below.)
from Michael André Bernstein, Bitter Carnival: ressentiment and the abject hero (Princeton University Press, 1992), p. 28

Abjection and ressentiment can be distinguished most readily by their different relationships to temporality and to the urge for vengeance: abjection suffers constantly new, and usually externally imposed, slights and degradation, whereas ressentiment is trapped forever in the slights of the past.  . . . .  What “empowers” someone afflicted by ressentiment is the intensely focused, but impotent hatred with which he feeds his sense of having been treated unfairly, and his hope of someday forcing others to suffer in his place.


from Fyodor Dostoevski, Notes from Underground, p. 96-7

 Now let’s see how things are with people who are capable of revenge and, in general, of taking care of themselves.  When the desire for revenge takes possession of them, they are drained for a time of every other feeling but this desire for revenge. . . . .  Now let’s look at this mouse in action.  Let’s assume it has been humiliated (it is constantly being humiliated) and that it wishes to avenge itself.  It’s possible too that there’s even more spite accumulated in it than in l’homme de la nature et de la verite.  The nauseating, despicable, petty desire to repay the offender in kind may squeak more disgustingly in the mouse than in the natural man who, because of his innate stupidity, considers revenge as merely justice . . . .  In its repulsive, evil-smelling nest, the downtrodden, ridiculed mouse plunges immediately into a cold, poisonous, and—most important—never-ending hatred.  For forty years, it will remember the humiliation in all its ignominious details . . . 

ressentiment, cont.



The war between the forces of reason and the forces of ressentiment is the core reality of modern times, from the Enlightenment to the present (see McMahon, Enemies of the Enlightenment).  On the Enlightenment the work of Jonathan Israel can be taken as canonical (even though--or rather precisely because--he has come under criticism):  A Revolution of the Mind: Radical Enlightenment and the Intellectual Origins of Modern Democracy (Princeton, 2010), Enlightenment Contested: Philosophy, Modernity, and the Emancipation of Man 1670-1752 (Oxford, 2006), and Democratic Enlightenment: Philosophy, Revolution, and Human Rights 1750-1790 (Oxford, 2011). In addition, Arno J. Mayer, The Persistence Of The Old Regime : Europe To The Great War (Pantheon Books, 1981), is that rare Marxist who takes seriously the historical forces of reaction.

Two points of non-contradictory difference between Israel's account and my own take on these works in the context of the issues raised above: first, the Enlightement as a revolution of the mind indeed, but conceptually amplified by reference to the works of the developmental psychologists; and second, the Counter-Enlightenment of the ancien regime built on the forces of ressentiment, the psychological raw materials, that already permeated society, certainly from the first crusade onwards.  Israel approaches but does not explicitly develop the ontological-developmental dimensions of the Enlightenment. And Israel and Mayer similarly sidle up to but do not develop the ontological dimensions of reaction.  

The graphic to the right, Figure 2.  Topologies of the Two-Party System (semiotic regimes), summarizes the work of several pages on this site:

American Exceptionalism: the Psychometric Data
Developmental Divergence: Cognitive Development in History
Ressentiment and the Mechanisms of Defense  
Appetite and Entropy: Subverting Cognitive Development

For more on Figure 2, go to Semiotic Regimes (cognition, ressentiment, and desire).

Under Topology I list the depressive and paranoid-schizoid positions of Melanie Klein.  Notwithstanding my difficulties with the object-relations literature, I am following the rules of this site (especially the Cassirer Rule), and am therefore complelled to include it.  Of all the various authorities who could be listed with Klein, it was the ethos of transcendental empiricism that forced this appropriation of Klein through Clarke.  (continued below)

Figure 2.  Topologies of the Two-Party System
(semiotic regimes)

lorenzyellow
                            LEFT                        RIGHT  

TOPOLOGY            depressive*               paranoid-schizoid*     
POLITICAL STYLE      progressive                proto-Dorian
COG MODE               formal + concrete      pre-operational + gestural
                                                                            + psuedo-concrete

       *Simon Clarke, Social Theory, Psychoanalysis and Racism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003)       
the two-party discursive field


That is, when you begin with the empirical muck of the two-party discursive field, Klein's concepts work: they provide a map of the territory.  This is too pat, too simple, you say?  Maybe.  But consider what the two thousand year old man said of the creation of the Cross: "It's simple, it's too simple. I didn't know then it was eloquent!"

Yet that is precisely what the two-party discursive field is comprised of.  Two sets of simple, even simple-minded, rhetorical maneuvers or elements.  On the Right what one sees is a few floating signifiers that provide the theatrical framework for, and legitimation of, the expression of rage against the other.  This is developed in nasueating detail in Ressentiment and the Mechanisms of Defense.  The basic defense mechanisms of projection and displacement are the real content of the right wing political performativity of exclusion (racism, etc.).  These defense mechanisms cloth themselves in "traditional values." ("the 'sacred institutions' of the family, relgion and property."  See Carter, From George Wallace to Newt Gingrich.)  One need only watch the news to see this all play out.

On the Left the psychological elements are fundamentally different.  In Kleinian terms, reparations as the psychological mechanism of inclusion, the other presented not as demon but as victim, and enlightenment values present in diluted, even enfeebled form.

From the standpoint of cognitive performativity, the Right is far more primitive than the Left.  But one must keep in mind the hegemonic role of elites in controlling the production of discourse, even if the raw materials that they manipulate are ontologically prior.  These are the deep structures of history--the four fundamental ontologies.  Two of these ontologies are seen in action at the right.  What is not directly seen is the media manipulation that shaped this praxis (and the financial and other institutions that use their media).  At the street level all one sees is the theatrical expression of ressentiment and the as yet unnamed ontology.  (See the four fundamental ontologies.)

mosque
the dark side of democracy


The above is the dark side of democracy, something that the left has never wanted to face, except perhaps in its earliest instantiation--d'Holbach, referred to below, and Spinoza (Israel, Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the Making of Modernity, 1650-1750 (Oxford, 2001).

from A Revolution of the Mind: Radical Enlightenment and the Intellectual Origins of Modern Democracy (Princeton, 2010)

"Sovereign in appearance, in reality the common people in a direct democracy are the slaves of 'perverse demagogues' wo know how to manipulate and flatter them.  In direct democracy the people often have no real conception of what liberty is and their rule can be harsher than that of the worst tyrant.  Liberty without reason, held d'Holbach, is of scant value in itself; consequently, the 'history of most republics,' he admonished, 'continually conjures up the gruesome picture of nations bathed in their own blood by anarchy.'" (p. 64)

Figure 2 is the result of applying key texts of psychoanalysis (as summarized by Clarke, Social Theory, Psychoanalysis and Racism), developmental psychology (Piaget, Vygotsky, Bronfenbrenner, Ceci et. al.), history (Cash's concept of the proto-Dorian convention, Carter + Lowndes) to the mass of images, statements and performances available over the internet.  Figure 2 refers only to the "masses," a term that I will now define as the set of all humans who are the objects of elite manipulation.  This use of the term "masses" may offend some.  One could also refer to the same set of humans as the union {} of all audiences that are the objects of elite manipulation.  

The dark side of democracy?  The institutional and ideological framework within which all the forces hostile to Bildung--three of the four fundamental ontologies--are mobilized into an amalgam of primitive, deeply rooted behaviors, ressentiment, and desire.  E.g, in the 2012 Presidential election.  (See Aldridge, Walzer and Blanning.)
re.marx


Jonathan Israel, A Revolution of the Mind: Radical Enlightenment and the Intellectual Origins of Modern Democracy (Princeton, 2010) is a must read.  One finds the origins of the idea of emancipation, in all its vagueness and inability to get beyond a critique of the ancien regime based on bourgeois** premises; the origins of the (Leninist)marx idea of the party; and the origins (although weakly expressed) of the search for a "class with radical chains."  And of course, the intellectual sine qua non of the Enlightenment, a profound commitment to science and reason.  What one does not find is the farkakte* idea of the withering away of the state.  

And, speaking of farkakte ideas, the concept of a class with radical chains (which pretty much seems to mean the dispossed), is doubly farkakte.  It is not only contradicted by actual labor/radical history (Ranciere, Zelnick, the Wellman interview), but also by the very notion of species being, which--and here I go along with Wartenberg--is the central idea of Hegel-Marx.


*    "farkakte (Yid., פֿאַרקאַקטע) – an adjective, meaning 'screwed up' or 'a bad idea';  
          literally, 'crapped' or 'becrapped', cf. German "verkackte(r)" from Wiki

**   on the various meanings of bourgeois, see Bildung: Was Mozart a Communist?

[spring arbor u. library]





the dark side of species being


The effects of power deserve as much analytical scrutiny as the strategies and structures of power.  The people, for the most part, are niether innocent bystanders nor independent agents, but are, to varying degrees, effects of power.  (The same could also be said of elites.*)

from "'Species-Being' and 'Human Nature' in Marx", by Thomas E. Wartenberg, in Human Studies, Vol. 5, No. 2 (Apr. - Jun., 1982), pp. 77-95

Marx's great insight was to show how much of what we take to be' 'natural' ' and ' 'fixed' ' is the result of the social activities of human beings and therefore is subject to conscious manipulation. (Wartenberg, p. 82)

This critique asserts neither that capitalism will inevitably fall apart, nor that it is unfair insofar as it is based upon exploitation of the worker, although it is arguable that such critiques are also present in Marx's writings.  The best metaphor for this aspect of Marx's criticism of capitalism is that it stunts development of the human species, reducing the human being to a mere animal.  (87)

What I want to suggest is that, in rejecting the notion of a fixed human nature, Marx is following a basic claim of Hegel's social theory, the claim that the form in which individuality is conceptualized or instantiated in a given social structure depends upon that very structure itself. Marx accepts this view of human individuality as historically and socially conditioned, and then he turns it upon those theorists, both philosophers and political economists, who accept a particular stage of human development as definitive of "human nature." In a move similar to the one he makes against Hegel--but this time following Hegel's lead--Marx argues that such views of a fixed, ahistorical human nature treat a particular form of development--one that is empirically accessible--as yielding a metaphysical truth about the world. . . . 

Hegel-Marx on species being is only an initial formulation of an historical, sociocultural, cognitive developmental perspective.  And Vygotsky-Bronfenbrenner et. al., in confining themselves to educational issues, leave relatively unexplored what in fact could not really emerge as a problematic until the present, when we are beginning to see things hitherto unimaginable.  (But see Hall, et. al., Criminal Identities and Consumer Culture.)

The dialectical-developmental notion in hegelmarx in its early form has a hopeful, optimistic, progressive ring to it.  It did not understand that power could have the effect of producing a new kind of barbarism (of which the Holocaust is only the tip of the iceberg), and fuse this with archaic, pre-human forces on the one hand, while on the other hand produce an explosion of narcissistic desire, all of this being played out in the perverse theaters of public and private life.  Left for dead in this postmodern rubble of a species gone mad is Bildung.  

*Marx, Capital, vol. III, p. 180.  "Concentration of means of production in few hands, whereby they cease to appear as the property of the immediate labourers and turn into social production capacities. Even if initially they are the private property of capitalists. These are the trustees of bourgeois society, but they pocket all the proceeds of this trusteeship." (emphasis added)
re.marx, cont.


Class as usually spoken of is another, although not as obviously, farkakte idea.  If by class one is referring to hierarchies of wealth, power, function, status, and so on, then obviously history has been the history not of class struggle, but of a continual differentiation of the human population along such lines--a brutal and bloody history.  At one point the combination of the partial success of the New Deal and its European equivalents with the widespread ignorance among the beneficiaries of the New Deal of the conditions of life not only of the world's third world "masses" but also of The Other America, has obscured this fact of history.  

This illusion will shortly become impossible.  Certain segments of capital have become entirely predatory: the essense of the Republican Party's strategy--it's not really a strategy; it's a gambit--is to canibalize the nation, extracting as much wealth from it as possible, even if it means the destruction of the nation.

Notice I said certain segments of capital, not sectors.  The Keynesian elite in the New Deal state emerged out of the mass consumption sector--out of the input output relations of the mass-oriented firms.  That is, the specific structure of capital flows was the praxiological and institutional matrix out of which Keynesianism emerged--Keynesianism as the discursive-policy modality emergent out of the input-output relations of the mass consumption sector.  Is this a Marxist way of looking at the New Deal?  I have never yet seen Marxists deal with actual capital flows as defining features of elite politics.  What happens when you do this is that the concept of class must yield to a concept of sector.  And this concept of sector is based on the analysis of actual economic activity, ongoing, everyday activity.  "Marxism" has become almost entirely a form of moral posturing in the guise of economistic rhetoric notable for the absence of analyses of actual economic activity.

Earlier elite sectors--commodities in international trade and the securities bloc (National Civic Federation)--have their own specific characteristics, including strategic goals (Free Trade vs. Protectionism).  And politics becomes a very dirty business when these old elites are forced, by a continually expanding franchise, and the emergence of the Keynesian elite, to compete in the electoral arena.  And of course these elites dominate the public sphere, more so today than ever before.  But to call them a class is to ignore their fundamental differences--their different input-output matrices, and the political strategies that flow therefrom.  It makes no practical sense to lump these vastly different elites into a single concept of class.  To do so only hinders understanding.

There are even deeper problems when one attempts to apply a concept of class to the Social Democratic and especially the Bolshevik workers.  I discuss this in Bildung: Was Mozart a Communist?  By taking seriously the dialectical tension between a class in itself (either as Platonic ideal or sociological category) and a class for itself (a praxiological concept whose inner contradictions are explored by, among others, Mark D. Steinberg, Proletarian imagination : self, modernity, and the sacred in Russia, 1910-1925.*  Bildung was the fundamental onto-praxiological element in relation to which concepts of class and politics were the means to this more fundamental end (Wellman interview).

*" . . . individual self-realization was linked to an identity and a purpose that went beyond the self.  Individual exaltation and devotion to the collective were assumed to be intertwined. . . .  at the level of ethics, the moral primacy given to workers' identity as human beings ultimtely acted to undermine class identity."
the dark side of species being, cont.

Figure 2 is a summary of what on the surface is the merely ideological division within the modern world. Yet we now know that the forces of the Enlightenment, as they developed in the 19th and 20th centuries, failed to grasp the deeply rooted nature of ressentiment.  Instead of ressentiment being merely the remnants of the old order (clothing itself in the rhetoric of "traditional values"), and merely a reaction to the Enlightenment, it was an essential product of the relationships of power, an effect of domination, that, far from withering away, has become the dominant ethos, the core performativity, of American politics today (Obama with his smoking gun!).  And not only in America, of course, but around the world.

This is where "Marxism" was and is so wrong . . . the Enlightenment did not acquire a proletarian or popular embodiment.  The ‘people’--the 'gray mass' as Zelnick's conscious workers saw them--became the mass base for right wing, nationalist, racist, xenophobic cognitive modalities, political cultures, and socio-culturally contextualized character formations. (Anatomy of Fascism, Clarke; Sugrue)  These are ontologically prior to the political forces that utilize, absorb, and manipulate them (Red Scare).  That is why answers to such questions as What’s the Matter With Kansas? (by Thomas Frank)  cannot be given in political terms or through political analysis.

Ressentiment is the dark energy against which the Enlightenment is powerless.  It continually bubbles forth and sometimes explodes as in the Town Hall meetings of 2009 and the Ground Zero mosque hysteria of 2010 (see RMD).  Some see ressentiment as backlash--as epsisodic and event-driven (ie, as reactions to ghetto rebellions, school busing, student radicalism); they are wrong.  There is a deep structure of rage that is endemic to our more broadly conceived historical situation (Nietzsche)--inchoate rage expressed in the theater of ressentiment that politics provides (The fascist aesthetic).  This is the heart of darkness at the center of civilization--and the core psychodynamic logic that generates the rhetorical performances and receptions at the heart of the Right.
re.marx, cont.

So why even mention Marx?

a.  because "he" is part of the developmental trajectory under discussion, and to omit "him" is to give in to the terror of anti-communism and the hegemony of elites, elites which have no redeeming intellectual characteristics (except for the Keynesians--but they too were objects of the terror of McCarthyism).  By giving in I mean an intellectually, developmentally destructive submission to power.  Submission to power is a major source of stupidity in the masses and perversion among intellectuals.  (See John McCumber, Time In The Ditch: American Philosophy And The McCarthy Era, Northwestern University Press, 2001)

b.  because what has become associated with the noun Marx is the untamed awareness of power--that is, the intellect free of the effects of power, wherever that intellect is to be found (on the streets of Detroit, the autoplants of Wayne and Oakland and Macomb Counties, in the offices of Blue Cross and Michigan Bell in downtown Detroit, and in the suburban homes of the well-to-do and in the universities they attend, and even in the land of Charles Murray's new losers*).

c.  because Marx articulated the concept of a continuous and accelerating social, economic, and cultural transformation of homo sapiens, a radical destabilization of being at the very heart of capitalism (see Hall et. al.).  This, in contrast with today's social critics, including "Marxists", whose politics is predicated on protecting the ontological configurations of the moment: the worker without a job, the consumer without enough stuff, the usual catalogue of victims denied access to the chance to "be all that you can be".  Missing entirely is the dynamic concept of Bildung at the heart of the making of the "conscious" workers of late 19th and early 20th century Russia.  And, as (d.) below suggests, this is to miss the heart hegelmarx thought.

d.  and because, as Wartenberg suggests, there really were two Marxes: a later positivist (Engelsian), and the earlier Hegelian, centered on a concept of species being.  I know this is a matter of much dispute, but if one is to avoid the developmentally fatal disease of cognitive sclerosis (an excess of exegetical fidelity), one must continue a development begun in the semiotic web of Hegel-Marx and bring it into the present as a living force, as activity (see Slavoj Žižek: We Need Thinking).  For example, consider the excerpt beneath Crows Flying Over a Wheatfield:

* Charles Murray's sequel to The Bell Curve (Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960–2010) applies his racist methdology to the white working class.
the dark side of species being, cont.

The activity of provincial, archaic and traditional elites (Persistence of the Old Regime), together with newer firms in the west and south, newly emergent crony capitalist formations (Enron, World Com), and now predatory financial institutions, in aiding and abetting the construction of the political structures of mass mobilization (Town Hall meetings) is decisive in determining the political effectiveness of anti-modern right wing movements, which otherwise might languish in a populist stew of ineffectual rage.*  But they do not call into existence these ontologies of ressentiment, of the right, of anti-modernism.  They merely utilize and shape them.  (see Elites in the Mobilization of Ressentiment)

One cannot understand the fate of the Russian Revolution except in this context.  The Revolution was doomed at the outset by the powerful presence of the forces of ressentiment, as Moshe Lewin and others have pointed out.  Doomed not merely by its condition of underdevelopment, but by the very nature, the deep structures, of cognition and affect (see Stalinism).  In the aforementioned links (Ressentiment and the Mechanisms of DefenseDevelopmental Divergence: Cognitive Development in History, and Bildung: Was Mozart a Communist?), I deploy the scholarly resources that help us understand this larger sociocultural developmental context.

That which is called Marxism can be taken as the Enlightenment embattled, confined, demonized and defeated. 

*Don E. Carleton, Red scare! Right-wing hysteria, fifties fanaticism, and their legacy in Texas (Austin, Tex. : Texas Monthly Press, 1985).  A must read.
These are not the owls of Minerva

crows

Vincent Van Gogh - Crows Flying Over A Wheatfield (1889)
the dark side of species being, cont.


 Today vast and powerful corporate webs devoteob themselves to stimulating regressive narcissistic desire, limitless envy, and unbounded appetite.  Their media are a continuous advertisement for this mode of existence, whether in the form of advertisements or news and human interest stories or the content of the shows themselves.  Figure 1 is the graphical representation of one of the effects of this. Another effect is United States: Obesity Rates, 1990 -- 2009   --->
                                                                                      This requires not only a critique of ourselves; it requires a critique of the "people", of the actuality of ressentiment, narcissism, victimhood (not victimization), desire--of a freedom that for the politically most significant subset of the "masses" means only the freedom to eat (fast food) and the freedom to kill (guns as the politics of fantasies of death, sometimes realized in Columbine, Aurora, Newtown . . . ).  

It is a fantastic irony that it is the hegelmarx conceptual gambit that provides the deepest insight into the collapse of the very ontological possibilities of the kind of politics that both Hegel and Marx envisaged, a politics of Bildung.  The argument that human nature conforms to the (Adam)Smith-myth (the myth modernized: "If anything, Marxism, with its fundamental humanism, does not even approach the utter materialism of present-day Western trends such as neoliberal economic theory, "rational choice" political science, neurochemical psychology, and reductionist Darwinist/geneticist sociology.") is shattered upon the rock of today's reality, where "chimpanzee politics" (de Waal) merges with the psychology of ressentiment and a regressive narcissism.  And where, as Figure 1 suggests, cognitive regression, not further development, is the order of the day.  Species being in a new key.  Only Nietzsche glimpsed these possibilities, although even he would be astounded by what we have become.
re.marx, species being circa 2008


from Hartmut Geist, "The Formation Experiment in the Age of Hypermedia and Distance Learning," in The Transformation of Learning: Advances in Cultural-Historical Activity Theory, edited by Bert van Oers, Wim Wardekker, Ed Elbers, and René van der Veer (Cambridge University Press, 2008)

Looking at the history of science, we find two different roots and basic ideas in scientific thinking: the idea and concept of evolution sensu Darwin, and the idea and concept of activity sensu Marx. . . .

 . . . the basic idea [of activity theory] is not "evolution," that is, the idea of adaptation to the environment, but "revolution," that is, change of the environment.  The dialectical analysis of human history, as it was done, for example, by Hegel and particularly by Marx, showed not only that humans adapt to the environment but also that they change it in accordance with their demands . . .  Activity is not an active adaptation to the environment but the transformation of the environment and--in inrtrerelation with it--of humans themselves.  Although this idea is not new, it has only begun to prove its explanatory potental.  Among the first to apply this idea to psychology were Vygotsky and one of his closest students, Leontiev.  (pp. 103-105; emphasis added)


Thus, what one finds in Marx (as in Hegel) is an incipient concept of species being as sociocultural cognitive developmental process that is both a consequence of past activity and the possibility of a future-oriented intentional praxis of self-transformation.  This is what makes the case of Finland so important (see excerpt to the left).  It also enables a developmentalist reading of Lenin's idea of the party that is entirely consistent with Zelnick, a party that virtually ceased to exist after 1920 (Lewin).  In its earliest incarnation this process was called Bildung.
the dark side of species being, cont.

Cognitive regression is likely to be one of the big stories of the 21st century.  Part of that story involves a direct attack on professional standards.

This New York Times story is about the Relay Graduate School of Education, part of the corporatization of American education.  It should be considered in relation to the text at the right about education in Finland.  Information on Relay's institutional network can be found here (Relay Graduate School of Education).

from 
Ed Schools’ Pedagogical Puzzle, by Sharon Otterman (New York Times, July 21, 2011)

“I can study Vygotsky later,” said Tayo Adeeko, a 24-year-old third-grade teacher at Empower Charter School in Crown Heights. She was referring to another education school staple — Lev Vygotsky, a Soviet theorist of cognitive development who died in 1934. “Right now,” she added, “my kids need to learn how to read.”

The debate mirrors a larger concern nationally, which is that by treating teaching as a trade instead of an art, and permitting new teachers to run their own classrooms from the first day, alternative education programs will, in the long term, reduce the quality of America’s teaching force. A great teacher, critics of the new approach argue, should also be trained in advanced work in his or her field, as well as be versed in child psychology, cognitive theory and educational philosophy, so he or she can work in any setting.

Lin Goodwin, the associate dean at Teachers College, describes Relay thusly: “What they are doing is teacher training, to follow a protocol, to be able to perform in a particular context, to know how to work in this way. And I think that what that does is it dumbs down teaching, and takes us back a few steps, in terms of our struggle in the profession for teachers to be seen as professionals.”

This development is stunning, not merely because it represents a dramatic decline of professionalism qua cognitive competence, (as understood in Finland, for example), under the aegis of our financier-led "educational reformers."  Just as stunning is the pathetic weakness of the real professionals, as represented by Teachers College.

E.g.  Michelle Rhee, with degrees in public administation (BA) and government (MA), is  simply unqualified.  She appears to be completely unaware
re.marx, species being circa 2008, cont.


from Ulla Härkönen (University of Joensuu, Finland),  "Current Theories Related to Early Childhood Education and Preschool as Frames of Reference for Sustainable Education," in Institute of Sustainable Education, conference, 2004

 In Finland, for thirty years, theoretical frames for early childhood education and preschool have been outlined through Bronfenbrenner's ecological approach, Vygotsky's developmental theory, didactic theories and the psychological theories of learning, among which the latest is the constructivist theory of learning.

Bronfenbrenner's theory of ecological development (1979) has in Finland for almost thirty years been one of the most generally used theories to analyze the phenomena of early childhood education and, at the same time, of preschool. The importance of the theory of ecological development lies in the fact that personal development is seen in relation to different kinds and different levels of systems. This has introduced to the methodological principles of educational research a systems approach, according to which an object is studied as a system of its structural and functional relations.

Early childhood education and preschool have received strong theoretical stimuli from developmental psychology. This is true of Finland even today and evident also in this article. Developmental psychology theories are represented here by the often referred to theories of Bronfenbrenner and Vygotsky. They both focus their attention on human development and both have introduced a systems dimension to their ideas.
the dark side of species being, cont.

Yet another part of the story of cognitve regression is that the same financial bucaneers who are engineering the destruction of the cognitive-developmental praxis of education are also a major force behind the attack on science in the public sphere.

The power of institutional networks to shape the semiosphere in their own political and economic interest has not only been underestimated but ignored by liberal critics. By demonizing scientific--that is, formal operational--reasoning, right-wing media constitute a zone of proximal development that is especially powerful in its effect.  For those subsets of the population caught up in its web, it reinforces all the pathologies of ressentiment, demonizes scientific (that is, formal operational) thought, and fundamentally subverts development.  

We now have a situation where certain primate structures of identity and deference can be reinforced and idolized by powerful forces in society, at the expense of the development of bourgeois--that is, formal operational--structures.  (Mayer, Persistence, pp. 132-37; Hall, Winlow and Ancrum, Criminal Identities, Wrangham and Wilson, "Collective Violence: Comparison Between Youths and Chimpanzees"; Mazur, Biosociology of Dominance and Deference)

What if the most reactionary organizational machines of complex societies build their hegemony precisely on our most primitive biological inheritance, so that Franz de Waal's Chimpanzee Politics becomes the neo-chimpanizee politics of today's rightwing?  What if the humans on display in Ressentiment and the Mechanisms of Defense are in fact gangs (Wrangham) for whom the little bit of colored ribbon is the gang's fetish; and therefore, certain forms of "patriotism" can be traced to the behavior of primate gangs?  What if certain forms of patriotism rest on such primitive cognitive foundations that the nation as such is literally inconceivable?  


putting the Relay University revolution in context

•Hartmut Geist (above) and Ulla Härkönen (above) are examples of the tremendous expansion of the kind of thinking associated with Hegel-Marx (but not with Marx-Engels).  But Hegel-Marx must be seen as moments in the development of Mind, so that it is wrong to say that Geist and Harkonen are applying Hegel-Marx.  They are further developing a mode of intellectual activity that has many "moments."  

It is the general dialectical notion of activity theory that I applied to the task of understanding the Keynesian elite, and then to the task of understanding elites in general.  Elsewhere (Plane of Immanence) I have discussed the Keynesian elite in terms of Bildung: the cognitive-developmental, sociocultural dimensions of modern progressivism.  One of the most interesting aspects of such advanced elites is their intellectual development, their embrace of science, including the social scences, and a strategic dimension to their thought that goes well beyond firm-specific self-interest.

This was true in a different way and to a lesser degree of the strategic elite of the securites bloc (NCF and NRA); it was also true in a different way of the less radical post-war successor, the Committee for Economic Development (CED), of the Keynesian Elite.

What is striking in today's corporate segment (they lack the more developed sociocultural and congnitive developmental characteristics of modern elites) that is backing "educational reform" is its complete lack of such cognitive characteristics.  They are buccaneers, pirates, vampires, predators, not so much intent on destroying the nation (they lack the capacity to think in such terms) as they are intent on devouring it.

Makers beat takers





the dark side of species being, cont.



•Primatologists and other biologists have in the past twenty years produced important works on the relationship between the behavior of contemporary homo sapiens and our nearest relatives (chimpanzees and bonobos).  Best know of these is Franz de Waal (Our Inner Ape).  While Marxists and semioticians dislike this--in the past this use of biology served the political purpose of an apologetics for the existing state of affairs--de Waal and Wrangham et. al., on the contrary directly confront and negate this misuse of biology.

Indeed, because of the enormous divergent developmental possibilities immanent to modern capitalism* (exacerbated in the United States and minimized in Finland) not only youth gangs, but many behavioral modalities of modern right wing politics--see Ressentiment and the Mechanisms of Defense--are much closer to the behavior of chimpanzees** than to the behavior of Mozart, Goethe, and similar "communist" types of humans (the Wellman interview) to whom could be applied the concept of Bildung.

All the huffing and puffing about our educational crisis is itself not merely a symptom of that decline; it is also an active force driving that decline even further (Watch CNN and MSNBC to see what I mean).  One can say with confidence that the socio-cultural-political forces key to the creation of modern minds, having developed over two and a half centuries, and having been degraded if not destroyed in today's America, can hardly be recovered by some blue ribbon committee, the posturing of a Bill Gates, the demonization of teachers' unions, the implementing of a punitive regime of testing, and the predation of financial entrepreneurs in education.  For the United States, the enormous success of reaction in breaking the backbone of the enlightement as a cultural force has just begun to be felt.  Figure 1 is prelude, a lagging indicator, of cognitive decline.  What has been set in motion by the forces of reaction has an unstoppable momentum. One can see that for decades down the road the United States will continue to decline, a decline that is concentrated in the segments of the population most directly under the sway of the right-wing noise machine: white and black fundamentalists, and working class Catholics.  See Intel Science Talent Search 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012:  Finalists

To see how this undermines capitalism qua productive activity, click here.

  *  this developmental dynamic actually contradicts the generally static meaning of the term Being.  Better to say that the chief characteritic of human history is its ontological dynamism and instability.  Better to say something like species praxis rather than species being.  Even praxis, with its implication of a homogeneous actor, misses the point.  Ontological dynamisim, differentiation, disintegration; multiple ontologies, regressive ontologies . . . .

**"Collective Violence: Comparison Between Youths and Chimpanzees", by Richard W. Wrangham, Department of Anthropology, Peabody Museum, Harvard University, and Michael L. Wilson (Department of Ecology and Behavior, University of Minnesota, and Gombe Stream Research Centre, the Jane Goodall Institute, Tanzania [Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 1036: 233–256 (2004)]

In this context, consider the case of the Relay Graduate School of Education. This link provides information on two major capitalist interventions in the education "debate."  Relay University, which, taken together with the several major school reform organizations with which it is associated, is the instrument of a segment of finance capital.  

In contrast, the panels on the left provide information on a competing education-oriented corporate elite: the Members of the 2005 “Rising Above the Gathering Storm” Committee.  If you have looked at the above link, you will have noticed that the corporate members of this Committee are 1) multinational giants in high-tech manufacturing; 2) the leaders of elite educational institutions; and 3) and that this Report was prepared for the Presidents of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine.

Utilizing an input-ouput framework, the differences between this segment of financial capital and the subset of the high-tech, multinational manufacturing sector are profound.  The latter employ huge number of workers--human capital--and have a vital interest in the quality of the labor force they depend on.  In their report, RISING ABOVE THE GATHERING STORM, REVISITED: Rapidly Approaching Category 5, they emphasize above all the strengthening of America's public schools ("The recommendations made five years ago, the highest priority of which was strengthening the public school system and investing in basic scientific research, appears to be as appropriate today as then," chapter 5).  This elite has a concept of the national interest deeply rooted in its daily activities.

The predatory segment of financial capital (
Makers beat takers), on the other hand, has no such dependence on the mass production of quality human capital in the United States.  Their only interest is in diverting the flow of monies from public institutions serving the national interest into their own coffers.
              pisa
I use the term national interest advisedly.  Another farkakte idea of "marxism-leninism" is proletarian internationalism.  Since I have already disposed of the mythical concept of a class with radical chains it only remains to point out that politics occurs--at least for the more developed members of society*--in a national framework.  A modern nationalism, such as one finds in Finland, pursues the national interest by promoting the full development of its citizens.  Failure to do so can, in the long run, in today's global economy, lead to the disaster (for the United States) evidenced in Figure 1.

*Enormous numbers of voters are contained within localistic, provincial, even primordial (neo-chimpanzee--de Waal) political cultures.  At the level of cognition, they are pre-operational and gestural (see Donald)
the dark side of species being, cont.



•d'Holbach (and Spinoza) saw into the dark side of democracy--the "people." They saw that democracy could be merely the form--the theatrical framework--within which perverse demagogues could manipulate the darker elements in the human psyche.  These darker elements are identical with three of the four fundamental ontologies: our Primate inheritance, ressentiment, and regressive narcissism.  The fourth--Bildung (progressive narcissism--Moretti)--is the developmental quantum leap made possible by culture, just as culture and language were quantum leaps beyond mere biology.  Chase refers to the emergent property of human culture,  another way of refering to the quantum leap that culture represented.  Bildung emerges out of this emergent property of human culture--a second emergence.  Indeed, while Chase refers to the continuity of this first emergence with our primate inheritance--this is the import of Wrangham and Wilson's work--Bildung represents a definitive break with our primate inheritance--a break, and a negation.  It is Bildung as a mode of life that finally becomes the basis for modernity and development.  And it is Bildung that is now being undermined not only by the persistence of all the old crap, but also by new forces that have only recently emerged.
kan
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Below is Reference Matter
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Below is Reference Matter
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on intelligence.  [whiteness: stats, Intel, exit polls]

Racist approaches to cognitive performativity  emphasize intelligence as something individual, ahistorical, and socio-culturally a-contextual. They are also scientistic (Margolies): that is, the current of cognitive praxis that Margolies refers to as scientism, remains rooted in the seventeenth century thought of Rene Descartes, and thus has not particpated in the tremendous development of our cognizing powers represented by Kant+.  Scientism remains frozen at the beginning of the cognitive-developmental trajectory know as the Enlightenment.  The whole developmental trajectory of the Enligthenment from Kant onward is dismissed as frivolous humanistic rhetoric.

Thus, the scientistic and often racist approaches to "intelligence" insist on genetic factors as solely responsible for the test results that are the subject of analysis.  Anti-racist students of intelligence do not deny the inheritability of something called "intelligence."  But, because they take an historical and socio-cultural approach to cognitive performativity, they account for the actual development of modern humans in a way that scientism completely misses.

More generally, there are powerful political forces at work demonizing history and sociology, etc. because these works are inherently critical of naturalistic explanations of the current state of affairs (the Bell Curve by Murray and Herrenstein), while conservative elites reward works that support their unquestioned rule.  (See Tallis, Aping Mankind)

The approach of the

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A third ontological modality of homo sapiens, referred to loosely as consumerism and more precisely as a culture of narcissism (Hall et. al.), we are all too familiar with.  It has emerged as a significant phenomenon only in the past century.  

It is the fourth ontological modality of homo sapiens (by ontological modality I mean a coherent generative matrix of specific and persistent patterns of behavior) that may raise the hackles of Marx-friendly thinkers: our primate inheritance: our biology (notice I did not say biological roots, and even more emphatically I did not say biological essense). ➘ Chase: language-culture: a quantum leap; Bildung (within the field of culture): another quantum leap.  Wrangham vs. 







It is unfortunate that that Lenin died when he did; he was already rethinking these fundamental problems, had already, in having to face the limitations of the utopian strains in Marxist thought, developed an alternative, pragmatic (Hegel-Dewey) New Economic Policy (Lewin, Last Struggle).  It is not my view that, had he lived (and been healthy), the outcome would have been any diffferent: that which we call "Stalinism" was inevitable.  But he would certainly have produced some very interesting writings.  Even so, it seems that Lenin had come around to a view that today we call, with much imprecision and confusion, a mixed economy.

So what would a modern, pragmatic socialism look like?  How much would be a continuation and further development of the radical Enlightement, and how much a concession to market forces, and what would the significance of that be?


Does America Get the Campaigns It Deserves? ,PAUL WALDMAN AUGUST 17, 2012, american prospect

Medicare Myths, Debunked, PAUL WALDMAN AUGUST 16, 2012