Human Rights is a mechanism that we need in our world, even though it is impossible. It is impossible because the nations that enforce and “protect” it, demand it, are the nations that committed genocide and exempt themselves from war crimes, fomenting distrust from other nations.
Internally, national and local police systems, judicial structures, school systems, and the dynamics of domestic life, maintain and create as well as change and make invisible, the contours of oppression and the hierarchies of the local culture, whether it be racial, gendered, class and caste-ist, homophobic and heterosexist, or along the lines of patriotic and nationalist. In this landscape, human rights becomes a distant ghost for some people and communities deemed outside those deserving rights, including those criminalized or made to become “insane.” Who creates insanities and criminals but the dominant systems?
In this scenario, to argue for human rights is a spectacle, yet is necessary, fraught with contradiction, hope, despair, memory, and imagined futures.
CHINA Police – In Uygur minority Region – December 2014
Sir Ken Robinson, who has recently received the Benjamin Franklin Award, is a renowned thinker of educational reform. He speaks to the Educational systems that have proliferated worldwide, through the nation-state system and global colonial enterprise. This has created increasingly similar educational systems worldwide based on European enlightenment-era thought on a biopolitical education system which rests many of its basic tenets on assumptions, structures, discourses, and patterns of human worldview, an assumption of a ‘human nature,’ and on hierarchical and miltaristic structures that benefit economic systems, not people.
In this video on changing the educational paradigm, he presents many important concepts that we should think about in relation to how we ourselves, have formed our thinking. In creating forms of education that are ‘meaningful,’ where do we construct continuities, priorities, and disjunctures? When we do, who benefits from it and who loses out? How can communties create a structure that is now attempting to accommodate more diverse aspects of information, culture, tradition, hopes, dreams and failulres, into itself? In our efforts to ‘replace’ and ‘re-do’ our systems, what assumptions from our own education do we latch onto our view of a more ‘creative’ educational system that can ‘hold’ our children and the future of our nations and communities?
Aspects of this question are not covered in this video, while others are brilliantly commented on. One person should not have to cover ‘everything,’ in an issue. That is impossible, and unfair. Sir Robinson does not attempt to say that he is covering ‘everything.’ That is up to the rest of us. The issue is domination, oppression, who is allowed and not allowed? Also there is the issue of privilege, entitlement and the kinds of questions we ask in order to decide how to re-structure something like ‘an educational institution’ when local schools are behoven to the most powerful, wealthy, and often most-corrupt and socio-pathic of persons who have constructed and *want to maintain* their wealth and privilege. Many of them will resist to the point of killing and disposing of their created enemies. There is accountability to consider in this picture as well.
I do not mention these things in order to ‘darken’ or to dampen the motivation for change. Why do I mention these things to begin? Because in order to transform education systems, we must acknowledge how our identities and ways we live and think and desire and dislike, are all bound-up with our histories within the global colonization of life. Thus, many of our most cherished thoughts may be continuities that may prevent more creative ways of working with living within the economies that exist, to adjust to changes (or not), and also to prepare to live in a world where the economies are absolutely nothing like what has existed in our lives or imaginations. Then the topic is “who is governing” or “managing” or “controlling” these things? And can every person on the face of this planet expect to get everything they want? Some are willing to concede and negotiate. However, there are a vast number of people who conceive of their lives as an entitlement to get everything they want out of life. This usually means someone else, or another community, will suffer because of it. What must go into a ‘re-education?’ Let us ask ourselves this and begin to build the *capacities* required of what we may desire. Does what we desire exclude?
This may also include ideas of multiculturalism. To me, multiculturalism is a failure. Multiculturalism seeks *inclusion.* Inclusion into a system of exploitation and economies that must exploit and depend on its maintenance through military and economic power, expressed and managed through social institutions and worldviews, does not do away with hierarchy and injustice. In disturbing this, many of us may react by doing opposites, while not questioning how anti-authoritarianism may destroy powers, certain people and structures that may be beneficial. Entitlement and inpatience (getting our own way NOW!!!) kind of thinking is very dangerous, especially when we understand that all of us have internalized as live almost every moment as enlightenment-produced peoples and cultures. Colonized minds tend to think into re-colonizing in different ways, calling it ‘creative.’ In reality, it may be the same things dressed in new clothes. But the good news, I think, is that not every moment of our lives is that internalized colonization. And in other ways, resistance to colonizing is also part of the same dynamic. Resistance and dominance go hand-in-hand. They are related. If we think in different ways, then what will that look like?
Still the other problem is ethics? I know many people who think in creative ways and have great ideas and attempt implementing them. However, I often see some problems with this (not that we can ever get away from problems). Yes, nothing is going to be perfect and total. So that is important to tell ourselves. However, I mention this in a way to point out a form of colonization of the mind that we often do not examine. That is the reality of unethical behaviors passing for good creativity. Ideas of progress, internalized, so that ideas of older persons and the wisdom of older ways or traditions can be relegated to ‘old’ and ‘outdated.’ In other ways, it is racialized or subsumed within hierarchies. So we can say that if a woman thinks it, then it’s not good enough (unless it matches with a few elite men’s ideas), or it’s too black and doesn’t include whites, or it’s too Asian and therefore doesn’t do this or that, or it’s too ‘gay’ or it’s too this or that. We may be creative but in service of a ‘progress’ that demotes sustainable solutions and ideas, traditions and methods that may have already been practiced in traditions that were devasted and killed during the rise of nation-building and industrialization that globalized through colonial expansionist practices worldwide, then maintained by the elites of the world nations. It is not a moral issue. Those of us who have studied the world-system currently in mode, understand that it has been an act of survival to do it, lest our nation or community is starved by the elite, or invaded. To join the global elite game has been largely both an act of wanting to be the boss, as well as an act of survival in the face of more militarily powerful and who have the more resources.
To reform education will return to the same problem. To transform it, to shift it, will take large efforts on our parts, and to truly re-organize how we think about how we work with each other and our planet. What must be laid for the conditions of possibility to give birth to more just, creative, and empowering ways that honor our lives and begin to heal as well as build?