- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Capitalism is an ideology, not a force of nature

Posted by: Samuel Day Fassbinder ( Citizens for Mustard Greens, USA ) on June 30, 1999 at 10:22:18:

In Reply to: It isnt a justification, it simply is. posted by Gee on June 29, 1999 at 20:14:52:

: : SDF: People do not love children for the sake of any advantage. Motherly love is not a capitalist investment policy.

: You seem to be avoiding the point that a parent seeks in their childrens best interest and that comparative advantage (over over children) represents one facet of this.

SDF: You seem to be conflating motherly love (an instinct) with the desire to compete amongst those indoctrinated by capitalist society (a product of ideology).

: If the parents goal is for the child to 'be happy and do well in life' and in seeking that goal the parent uses advantages she could have shared then that is what happens.

SDF: Capitalist society is here represented as a force of nature, not as a conscious creation of human beings, just as RD said.

: It wasnt meant as some kind of justification (or damnation), rather to illustrate why parents able to offer such advantages are not likely to part with them.

SDF: One imagines a mother and baby alone on a desert island trying to get a competitive advantage over -- whom?

: : SDF: Concrete examples please.

SDF: I wanted concrete examples of your statement that "current public schools seem to think self esteem is a precious baby thing which mustn be upset by suggesting you could work on your math a little."

: Thirteen-year-olds in the United States and 11 other countries and Canadian provinces took a math test last decade. The American kids were last while kids from South Korea finished first.

SDF: And this example offers no proof and no suggestion that any discussion of "self-esteem" in American classrooms is at fault, or can even be CORRELATED (not to mention the much more difficult task of showing a relation of CAUSE) with low test scores. Have you observed a lesson on self-esteem in an American classroom? (I sure haven't.) If so, could you please identify the name and address of the teacher in charge, the school, the school district, and the American city where you observed this lesson?

: But in addition to having students do right-or-wrong calculations, the test also asked a subjective question: Do you think you're good in math?

: This time the South Koreans finished dead last while the young Americans finished absolutely first.

: I read "Exaggerated Esteem: How the 'Self-Esteem' Fad Undermines Educational Achievement" by a Dr Joseph Adelson which pretty much explained this as "to preserve a student's good opinion of himself is now assumed by educators to take clear priority over achieving academic excellence; the latter, indeed, is seen as a weapon aimed at the former, and the teacher's primary task is to blunt that weapon. For -- the reasoning goes -- if the work is too hard, the child will be discouraged and will be unable to learn."

SDF: How much does this doctor show he knows about 1) American teaching practices, 2) American school curricula, 3) comparative studies of teaching methodology between nations, 4) comparative studies of student exposure to curriculum between nations and 5) comparative studies showing the difference between parental commitment to children's education, and social commitment to education in general, in America and Korea? You've still not indicated anything close to a link between teachings on self-esteem (which you haven't documented) and test scores Hard data please, no slippery presuppositions padded with weasel-worded rhetoric.

Gee, do you believe everything you read? Studies of the TIMSS (which I think is what you're discussing) show that the above factors 1) through 5), plus all sorts of other unfair comparisons made in the test comparison, and not some imaginary "teaching on self-esteem" said to take place in American schools, are responsible for differences in the scores discussed in the TIMSS Case Study Project. Please see Harold W. Stevenson's "A Study of Three Cultures: Germany, Japan and the United States -- An Overview of the TIMSS Case Study Project," Phi Delta Kappan, March 1998, also the articles on TIMSS in the September 1998 Phi Delta Kappan, also Michael T. Battista's "The Mathematical Miseducation of America's Youth: Ignoring Research and Scientific Study in Education," Phi Delta Kappan, February 1999.

: : SDF: By this definition all education not directly coming from parents is "hitler youth," since it "mounts to political rearing of other people's children." Teaching eight-year-olds their multiplication tables -- don't do it, Gee thinks it's "hitler youth," leave it to the parents.

: You are following the fallacious belief that state somehow represents 'poeple as a whole' and therefore the whole would be pleased to do whatever they are told in edication.

SDF: Nope, I'm observing that by your definition, the state is creating a "hitler youth" whenever it hires an individual to teach 8-year-olds their multiplication tables, because this counts as "political (accomplished with state aid, and with the political presupposition that 8-year-olds need to multiply) rearing of other people's children." Of course the people should rise up in rebellion against this Nazi activity. And of course, given the above statement, we are all called upon to believe that the evil State consists not of human beings elected by the public at large but of some non-human presence that represents the people only through force and fraud, and which is of course impervious to the lobbying of parents at school board meetings that one can see everywhere in America.

: : SDF: Parents are not asking that other parents allow their children to die so that their children can have a "comparative advantage."

: They are not, but the reverse "do you want to give this up so they can have it?" is not gleefully agreed to.

SDF: Sorry, having dealt with quite a few parents in my lifetime, I don't believe that "comparative advantage" is a universal desire of human parenthood, even within capitalist society. Nobody really cares that much, for instance, about being the best student among a class of idiots.

It is, however, the domain of a narrow set of capitalist ideological faithful.

: : SDF: Yes it is. I have a business to run, and you are no longer contributing to my assets column when my liabilities column is sky high. I cannot afford bankruptcy merely for you. You are a liability. I throw you out, that's the bottom line.

: Or "we dont want you in our gang, tribe, commune etc" and youre thrown out. Poeple.

SDF: Sorry, people aren't usually thrown out of gangs, tribes, or communes when they no longer become useful. You obviously haven't been a member of any of these human societies. There is such a thing as group loyalty, just not in capitalist businesses.

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