The UK education curriculum and propaganda

Lenin Nightingale 
RINF Alternative News

I began to jot down thoughts on the rapid infiltration of the UK’s education system by those espousing right wing dogma, and commenced thus:

UK Acadamies and profit-driven universities are nothing more than the first stages of corporate ownership of the education system. What started out as small scale enterprise will be acquired by franchisees, they, in turn, by corporations which can deliver economies of scale – a fewer number of staff, less qualified, and cheaper to employ – which a planned reduction of government funding will necessitate.

The end-game is to brainwash students. Every textook will be on a prescribed list. Educational establishments will become indoctrinational ones, which will buy curriculum packages prepared by right-wing think-tanks, marketed as ‘researched based’ (such ‘research’ not being specified), which will promise that students will be enabled to make ‘informed choices based on a deeper (i.e. right wing) understanding’.

Exam and essay questions will be based on false propositions which will shape the answer. For instance, ‘describe Tony Blair’s role in bringing freedom to Iraq’; ‘describe Ronald Reagan’s role in the economic revival of America’, ‘how does social security spending increase the national debt’?; ‘name the two main theories which explain the creation of the world’.

The answers will be in the textbooks, which will be full of right-wing rhetoric – ‘no free lunch’, ‘fiscal responsibility’, ‘shirkers versus workers’. Textbooks will only mention tax cuts for the rich and bankers’ bonuses in a ‘hoorah’ sense. Such brainwashing already flows from the sewers of the mass media, which at every opportunity mention the ‘budget deficit’ and the ‘hard choices’ arising from it. There is no mention of this ‘economic emperor’ being stark naked, that it is all a deception: Government borrowing only exists within computers. It is a game of several purposes. The restriction of ‘money’ creates economic slavery.

Those working full-time on low pay; those living precariously on zero hours contracts, and those on sparse unemployment benefits, are made to cling on to what little they have out of fear of losing it. Just enough money is given so as to deter riots. Television analysts merely repeat the economic data spoon fed to them by government. The unthinking class become so immersed in the illusion of scarcity that they take it to be the nature of reality. Similarly, spurious data on unemployment and economic growth is disseminated by governments and repeated by their lackeys in the media.

It is not just textbooks which have to be approved, for that is the fate of the teacher. Students will be encouraged to report teachers who vary from disseminating right wing propaganda. This already occurs in the USA, where students are encouraged to vote in the Campus Outrage Awards – nominations by right-wing students to expose ‘radical campus activists’ who ‘undermine the traditional curriculum’, i.e., the world was created in 7 days, and Lyndon Johnson sought to free Vietnam.

The Wall Street Journal, the mouthpiece of the corporations who will eventually own UK schools and universities, has called these awards ‘a great public service.’ Other American organisations which offer a portent of the future of UK education are: Eagle Forum Collegians, whose main issues are ‘fighting feminism and women’s studies curricula, opposing ‘the gay agenda’, opposing affirmative action programs, opposing multicultural approaches to education, and targeting the campus funding of ‘liberal student organizations’.

EFC helps students sponsor right-wing speakers. Intercollegiate Studies Institute: ‘ISI seeks to enhance the rising generation’s knowledge of our nation’s founding principles – limited government, individual liberty, personal responsibility, the rule of law, market economy, and moral norms’. National Association of Scholars: NAS organizes professors, graduate students, college administrators and trustees, and scholars who believe that there is a ‘dogmatic hostility to Western civilization, and turning the study of non-Western cultures into an instrument for denouncing American society’. Students for Academic Freedom: SAF suggests that students investigate the professors at their schools for ‘bias’ by searching voter registration records, and creating a spreadsheet of the data to send to SAF. SAF promotes the ‘Academic Bill of Rights’ nationwide to pressure schools that receive state funding to implement affirmative action-like programs to hire conservative lecturers. SAF organizes campus chapters , including ones in Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Duke, Brown, UCLA, UC-Berkeley, etc. SAF distributes and promotes the booklet ‘Unpatriotic University’.

Young America’s Foundation: From their mission statement: ‘Young America’s Foundation is committed to ensuring that increasing numbers of young Americans understand and are inspired by the ideas of individual freedom, a strong national defense, free enterprise, and traditional values’. Their major aims include: combating affirmative action, feminism, communism and Marxism’.

Teachers will repeat information from the epistles of the Propaganda Secretary, as nineteenth-century automatons wound up by their master. Those applying for a teaching post will be vetted against a McArthyite checklist. One of the tick box criteria will be that the teacher does not browse ‘Alternative News Content’, that is, sites that dare to contain uncensored information on American wars-for-oil, the slave masters of corporate capitalism, and the politicians and union leaders who are in their pocket, etc. Government censored publishers and search engines restrict internet discourse on ‘non-harmonius’ topics, and provide government spy agencies with data about ‘trouble-makers’. The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (2013), in it anti-hacker disguise, will put a legal gloss on what governments already do – read your emails, phone calls, texts, and browsing history.

Censorship is accomplished by geo-location filtering: the restriction or modifying of web content based on the geographical region of the user. In addition to countries, such filtering can now be implemented for states, city, town, and even individual IP addresses. Just as Google was forced by China to only show negative results for the web search Dali Lama and Tibet in an agreement that would allow Google to operate business in China, the same system of censorship and secret policing of citizens is developing now. Would you trust the government’s mainstream media to tell you the truth? Mainstream search engines have openly admitted to providing the US government with personal data including emails and web search behaviour. Some even openly display transparency type reports … It is important to know that your browser also stores information on your computer that could be used at will by the government or law enforcement at any time due to the Patriot Act without court order or subpoena’ (Giberu).

Then, as if awakening from a dream, It suddenly occurred to me that all this has been said before, in an infinitely better and succinct way, by Aldous Huxley, in his visionary novel Brave New World, written in 1931, which contains a warning about education. The teachers of his future repeat the same mindless platitudes over and over, and before you know it, this indoctrination is a part of who students are. The internet, far from being a learning resource, will only serve to increase the masses level of immersion in entertainment. They are happy and content with their simple lives as shown in the novel when a character states, “We don’t want to change. Every change is a menace to stability,” (p. 53). Therein lies the problem. One of the ten controllers of the world states, “[there is] no civilization without social stability. No social stability without individual stability” (p. 28). The need for stability creates a government which believes that stability can be achieved if people think the same. Stability comes at a cost of not thinking or learning. The leaders in Brave New World suggest that “you’ve got to choose between happiness and what people used to call high art. We’ve sacrificed the high art” (p.150). The citizens of Brave New World do not see education as “some intensification and refining of consciousness, some enlargement of knowledge” (p. 119), but as a means to pleasurable inertia. “In Brave New World people embrace their oppression willingly…” (1). This is due to the teaching of the young, who receive more of a method of repeated programming than a process of learning, thinking and discovery.

This in turn produces a society that, “adore[s] the technologies that undo their capacities to think”. Huxley reiterates the power of this Gradgrindian repetition in his essay Brave New World Revisited, in which he states: “Children, as might be expected, are highly susceptible to propaganda” (p. 67). “Non-stop distraction of the most fascinating nature … are deliberately used as instruments of policy, for the purpose of preventing people from paying too much attention to the realities of the social and political situation (p. 45). In addition to the ‘oh look here everyone one of the royals has farted’ news items the Britsh Establishment promote, the senses are also dulled by alcohol (the soma of Brave New World), which, in reality, governments like the masses to consume. It keeps people in a state of docile numbness, which will be deepened by ‘virtual reality’ technology, which will further destroy learning.

In his essay of 1958, The Capitalist ‘Free Press’, Huxley states: ‘They did not foresee what in fact has happened, above all in our Western capitalist democracies … the development of a vast mass communications industry, concerned in the main neither with the true nor the false, but with the unreal, the more or less totally irrelevant. In a word, they failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions. …. Only the vigilant can maintain their liberties, and only those who are constantly and intelligently on the spot can hope to govern themselves effectively by democratic procedures.

A society, most of whose members spend a great part of their time, not on the spot, not here and now and in the calculable future, but somewhere else, in the irrelevant other worlds of sport and soap opera, of mythology and metaphysical fantasy, will find it hard to resist the enroachments of those who would manipulate and control it.

In their propaganda today’s dictators rely for the most part on repetition, suppression and rationalization … the repetition of catchwords which they wish to be accepted as true, the suppression of facts which they wish to be ignored, the arousal and rationalization of passions which may be used in the interests of the Party or the State. As the art and science of manipulation come to be better understood, the dictators of the future will doubtless learn to combine these techniques with the non-stop distractions which, in the West, are now threatening to drown in a sea of irrelevance the rational propaganda essential to the maintenance of individual liberty and the survival of democratic institutions’.

The arousal and rationalization of passions is nowhere better evidenced than in the ‘divide to rule’ ploy of stigmatising benefit claimants.

In remembering Huxley’s premonitions, a sudden chill came over me. Surely, I thought, teachers are not going to have children chant names, dates and facts concerning kings and queens and ‘British heroes’, only stopping to conduct the singing of patriotic songs? Surely, they are not going to tell pupils what to think, that is, asking how Queen Elizabeth united the English against the Spanish Armada, ignoring the fact that the Catholic (dispossessed) half of England prayed for Spanish success. Surely, no so called lecturer in nursing is going to babble directly off the government hymn sheet and declare that healthcare reforms will ’empower’ the ‘average Joe’, without encouraging students to analyse the intellectual shortfalls of such ideology? For, anyone who engages in such propaganda is but a minion of the Brave New World, engaged not in refining consciousness or enlarging knowledge, but in the dullard trade of repeated programming – the habitat of paint-by-numbers ‘academics’, who are employed by pick-pocket businesses disguised as universities, who charge £9,000 a year to deliver one and a half days of lectures a week, so as to confer a degree! Francis Bacon, turn in your grave!, but not so fast as not to be able to spit on the perpetrators of this mass deception.

Then, my chill turned to nausea, as I remembered that on March 26, 2014, the National Union of Teachers will ask its members to take part in a one day strike. Apart from this being a ‘pea-shooter against a tank approach’, this organisation is not advocating a strike against the curriculum becoming a conduit of right wing propaganda, oh no – the strike is about pay, and conditions of service! In my many years of Trotskyite tendency, I have never come across a situation in which this directive of Leon Trotsky is more applicable: ‘we must understand how to tear the workers away from their leaders’, to which I would add, and how to tear teachers and lecturers from their narrow self interest, and their bondage to the controllers of the world.

lenin nightingale 2014

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