Government fails to get Marx for banning anti-capitalism in schools – Grace Cobb St Philomena’s
On Thursday, September 20, the British government introduced new directives banning the teaching of any material considered “anti-capitalist” in schools. This has caused outrage and disbelief among many students and educators, and the effect that this kind of rule would have on the education of young people as well as the realistic possibility of its actually being introduced has sparked much debate.
New measures set by the Department of Education (DfE) regarding the Relationships, Sex and Health curriculum are that schools should not use resources produced by organizations that take “extreme political positions.” “. This includes “a desire to abolish or overthrow democracy, capitalism or to end free and fair elections”, and the ban still applies “even though the material itself is not extreme, because its use might involve organizational endorsement or support. ”Examples of those blacklisted in classrooms include organizations like Extinction Rebellion and causes like Black Lives Matter. UK Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said the rules were introduced to ensure “political impartiality” and also prohibit any endorsement of illegal activities and failure to condemn illegal activities in favor of a society. cause. Therefore, the government is making a declarative statement that the ‘British values’ we instill in our children do not include learning about the ongoing fight against racial injustices and protests calling for action on climate change. , among many other relevant and important questions.
Restricting a wide range of political positions would create a unique focus on capitalism without counter-arguments, which could seriously limit the diversity of education British children will receive, as well as restrict their understanding of the vast political landscape. The association between anti-democracy and anti-capitalist that the government has used to justify these rules is extremely dangerous, because it presents the misconception that any alternative to capitalism is radical and extremist. Ms Pearce, English KS5 coordinator at Catholic Girls’ High Schools in St Philomena, says that “uniting anti-capitalism alongside extremist or racist groups is an outrage. This is part of a process that Mark Fisher calls “capitalist realism,” whereby people learn to believe that capitalism is the only viable economic system essential to the functioning of a liberal democracy. This is far from true, but it is a lie that serves the Conservative Party well.
The total failure of the government to recognize the place of democratic socialism in this debate is extremely dangerous, because instead of allowing children to become aware of alternative views to capitalism, they have associated all socialist positions with extremist ideologies in an attempt to create fear around identification with these concepts, and therefore a complete avoidance of any principle that is perceived as a threat to capitalism. As Ms Pearce said, “banning the distribution of material from socialist organizations is in itself an act of ideological manipulation”, and the government has failed to see how its attempt to protect democracy and “British values” , in fact, contrary. It is therefore essential that the future generation be aware and educated on the alternatives to capitalism; history and current events only prove that capitalism is certainly not always the most efficient system – on the contrary it is rather limited – as shown by the many financial crises that have occurred in capitalist countries, as well as current economic state of the United Kingdom.
In addition to the material that these rules prohibit in classrooms, the guidelines also mean that teaching young people to be constantly critical and analytical of what they are learning may no longer have a place in the classroom, because the government sponsored young people on the assumption that they are unable to critically assess multiple points of view and make informed choices for themselves about their own political views. It is possible that this attempt at political indoctrination of our young people could even reveal a government ploy to instill only capitalist and conservative ideologies in future voters, as the Conservative Party – known to have difficulty gaining the support of young voters – could potentially introduce this rule. in an effort to protect their power in parliament.
It is impossible to say how this advice would ever be put into practice, as students who have studied anti-capitalism in several subjects during their education – from learning about the Cold War in history to socialist views of Priestley in an inspector call in English – find it ridiculous that the government expects schools to wipe out every shred of opposition to capitalism. Grade 12 student Jasmine Ismond believes the guidelines mean that “schools could potentially omit important political issues that need to be discussed in order to fight for a more just society,” because from her perspective, “the term” political positions extremes “is very subjective”. As a result, she believes that “government guidelines on resources and organizations that cannot be discussed at school have left a huge gray area.”
Ms Pearce also shared serious concerns about the drafting of socialist concepts of education, stressing that “From Fabian society to the labor movement, socialism is a central feature of British intellectual life and political history. To suggest that such a story cannot or should not be shared with students because it reflects an anti-capitalist agenda is tantamount to censorship. Government directions also threaten to obscure the enormous influence of socialism on British art, literature and political theory. Moreover, the hypocrisy of the government’s views and the impossibility of enforcing such rules is truly revealed by their appreciation of prized British institutions and concepts derived from socialist thought, such as free access to education. education, as well as the recent increase in support nationwide. and gratitude to the NHS founded by socialist Clement Attlee, despite their willingness to remove associated ideology from the program.
Many have raised the question of where schools are supposed to draw the line in what is perceived to be anti-capitalist, as Ms. Pearce asked: “Do teachers have to understand that we can no longer share the novels with our students? ‘Iris Murdoch or the drawings? of William Morris, when they were proud socialists? Socialism is part of the fabric of British culture, not a threat to it. This echoes Shadow Chancellor John McDonnel’s assessment of the enormous impact these laws would have on what children will learn from their own history, as he has stated that “it will be illegal to refer to large swathes. of British history and politics, including the history of British socialism. , the Labor Party and trade unionism, which have all, at different times, advocated the abolition of capitalism ”. He also called the new guidelines a “new step in the culture war” and said that “this drift towards extreme conservative authoritarianism is accelerating and should be of concern to anyone who thinks democracy requires freedom of speech and a population. educated “.
It is clear that many believe that the government guidelines, although put in place to create a “safer” and more politically impartial environment in schools, risk hampering the awareness of the younger generation of the diversity of policies and ideas of the world in which they live, and warns that the government does not hesitate to censor material and ideas that pose a potential threat to its power.