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[Xmca-l] Re: What is a Pedagogy of the Oppressors?



I hesitate to intervene in this conversation, which is quintessentially, though by no means exclusively, American. But the subject heading "What is a Pedagogy of the Oppressors?" recalls for me Myles Horton's remarks, in his conversation with Paulo Freire:

   "I use the term /education/ in contrast to schooling. I decided
   before Highlander was started that I wanted to work with adults, and
   the reasons were that in growing up, commencement speakers always
   made the same speech that young people are the future leaders of
   this country. It's up to young people to make this a decent country
   and solve these problems. And I discovered what everybody else
   discovered, that they never had any intention of letting the people
   they were talking to do anything about society. It's a kind of
   pacification speech. The adults run society. Students don't run
   society. They have very little say within the schools let alone
   society, the larger society. So I decided I wanted to deal with the
   people who had the power, if they wanted to use it, to change
   society, because I was interested in changing society." (p. 182-3)

Freire and Horton educated the young, politically active adults in the oppressed section of their respective societies, who went on to build social movements and change society, though it appears that the job is far from finished. I make these points, particularly to the educators on xmca, in the spirit of Marx's "Theses in Feuerbach" #3:

   "The materialist doctrine that men are products of circumstances and
   upbringing, and that, therefore, changed men are products of changed
   circumstances and changed upbringing, forgets that it is men who
   change circumstances and that the educator must himself be educated.
   Hence this doctrine is bound to divide society into two parts, one
   of which is superior to society. The coincidence of the changing of
   circumstances and of human activity or self-change can be conceived
   and rationally understood only as **revolutionary practice**."

Andy
PS. Saw a great movie on this recently: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0375679/
------------------------------------------------------------------------
*Andy Blunden*
http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/


Helena Worthen wrote:
This discussion of an opposition between individualism and collectivism sounds like something out of the 1950s, when "individuals" were viewed as heroic if they stood up to "conformity." The demonstrations in Ferguson could just as well be seen as evidence of a collective resistance to oppression, not individualism.
Labor law provides for collective action because the power relationships of the workplace are so unequal that unless people work together to protect themselves, they are helpless. The language in which this right is named is as follows: "Concerted activity for mutual aid and protection." This language goes back to the earliest labor legislation in the US, the Norris-LaGuardia Act of 1932. It simply means that if you are doing something alone, by yourself, as an individual, to better yourself, you are unprotected and your employer can retaliate against you. If you are doing something with other people -- which means that you have done the work of talking with them and you agree about what you're doing -- then your employer cannot retaliate against you for doing it.

This is the most basic, bottom-level piece of labor law in the US. Every time someone at work speaks out against something dangerous or cruel or insulting, and does it with other people -- not as a lone individual, but as part of a group, which would include their union but doesn't have to -- they are invoking this right.
That's a completely different view of "collectivism" than what people have been bringing up on this list. When I look at YouTube videos (or on Vice) to see the young people moving around on the streets in Ferguson, I see concerted activity. Same here in Berkeley, where there have been numerous demonstrations including blocking I-80. I am glad they're doing it and I respect them for it.

Various labor commentators, by the way, have excoriated the police union for their behavior toward Mayor DeBlasio and other old NY unions for their failure to speak out against police killings of unarmed black men.

Helena Worthen
helenaworthen@gmail.com