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[xmca] Re: Question about workers ed in social democratic countries

Helena, I can put you in touch with people in South Africa and Sweden who could probably give better answers, but my first guess would be like this ...

Very, very early in history, even before the death of Marx let alone the founding of the Socialist International, social-democracy became a powerful force in Sweden. They adopted a reformist program and the SDP has been in government in Sweden for the *majority* of the 120 years since founding. They *invented* the welfare state. The workers' movement is integrated into the relations of power, for good or ill, more thoroughly then anywhere in the world.

The context of RSA is diametrically opposite. The SACP never adopted the "peaceful road to socialism" until after CPs had disappeared altogether in the rest of the world, were illegal up until Mandela's release and are still the main opposition party in RSA. The CPSA-run Trade Union federation remains a militant force. Because of apartheid, *social movements* (which have died in most of the world apart from Latin America) remain active and powerful in RSA and the CP is linked to them and still maintains a strong anti-reformist rhetoric.

You're the expert, Helena, but "Worker Education" could surely never have been the same once the Welfare State was established. I mean, who wants to go to the Mechanics Institute in the evening to hear a talk on Darwinism, when you can get a degree in it from a public education system? Sweden was the welfare state par excellence; South Africa never had one and capitalism had dropped the idea by the time apartheid came down.

I don't know if this answers your query, Helen. Do you want contacts?


Worthen, Helena Harlow wrote:
Hi --

I was at a presentation last week at our labor educator's conference. There were two presenters who appeared to have a fundamentally different view of workers' education. They were both from IFWEA (International Federation of Workers' Education Associations). One was from Sweden and one was from South Africa. The one from Sweden was talking about managing the social impact of unemployment by increasing the number and types of adult education opportunities -- free, maybe even accompanied by stipends. One of the session participants, from the US, asked if this was some kind of "educational Keynsianism" and the Swedish speaker agreed, with a smile.
(Note -- people in the US are talking about extending unemployment benefits and are aware the adult ed/retraining enrollments are counter-cyclical, but we do NOT program adult ed policy as a tool for managing unemployment.)

The woman from South Africa, who actually spoke BEFORE rather than after the Swedish guy, framed workers' education differently and said that much of the discourse about workers' education was "pedantic," which she said was a feature of social democratic education policy.

Can someone explain what's going on here?

I think that this may be where in the US, workers' education (labor education) differs from adult education -- but we don't have these terms (social democratic) to handle that distinction with. If I'm right in nosing out this difference it would explain the way Knud Illeris talks about "resistance."
Thanks in advance --

Helena Worthen
Clinical Associate Professor
Labor Education Program University of Illinois
504 East Armory, Champaign, IL 61820

Andy Blunden http://home.mira.net/~andy/ +61 3 9380 9435 Skype andy.blunden
Hegel's Logic with a Foreword by Andy Blunden:

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