Thursday, December 04, 2014
A child's-eye view of robofascism
The above clip is from a child's game called Raft Wars 2. As with the original, cute little characters (including a baby) bravely battle a series of teams of bad guys.
But one of the teams in version 2 interests me. The bad guys are in blue and labelled "Security" - and not our security, obviously. This team appears more than once in the game, and has a helicopter and several missile-launching drones.
Is it too much to treat this as a sign of the times? More in a moment...
IT'S BEEN 40 years since the William Tyndale School scandal began to brew- ooh lefty teachers and their progressive methods, good job they were smacked down.
Except that such methods were not unique to that school, but were generally accepted and enshrined in the Plowden report. Today even more than then, we are aware of the multiple differences between children in their mental and emotional makeup, not to mention the multifarious traumas that they carry with them because of modern widespread family dysfunction.
A not-terribly-well-written 2008 review of the affair by a retired head (how come so many teachers can't write?) got a riposte from Brian Haddow, the deputy head at the time. He maintains that what made it important to smack down Tyndale was that implicit in a more cooperative learning approach is the principle of active democracy.
Up to a point. Tyndale was a gift to reactionaries because of the intransigence of the leadership. If the latter had taken time to sell their ideas to all those involved, tweak their systems in the light of experience, and soothe those who were upset, the outcome might have been very different. But the British are just as uncompromisingly self-righteous as any other nation - quite possibly we can blame the revolutions and civil wars of the eighteenth century onward, on the pig-headed Puritans that Elizabeth I contained for so long during her reign. So it was "my way or the highway" - and the fragmentation began.
As I recall, the leaks and counter-briefing began with a member of staff who was not a teacher and who didn't feel her views had been valued (some teachers today may find that their TA can be a challenge as well as an asset).
At any rate, Parliament got into the control issue and we now have inspectorate squads of Fault-Finder Generals roaming the country in search of schools to pick apart and justify conversion to the Latest Great Thing: Academies! The business model rules - if by that you understand widening disparity in pay, increasingly high-handed (and venal) management, etc. We've seen it all before in tertiary education.
Returning to Brian Haddow's letter, one of the things he says points the way to the debate we should be having today:
"We are tightly regulated and policed because of social fragmentation and a breakdown of ideological consensus."
I'm not sure when we did have consensus, except in response to the dreadful threat of the Nazis and then the need to rebuild our country after 1945. But economic globalism is driving fat wedges into our population, as billionaire Jimmy Goldmsith warned so clearly in 1994 during the GATT talks (see the interview here). With overpriced assets (especially houses) powered by ridiculous levels of debt, we cannot possibly drop our wages to compete with the emerging economies. The playing field has been heavily tilted towards mobile capital and against much-less-mobile labour.
And then there is identity. I find it really hard to understand why political leaders don't appreciate how much identity matters to people. Yorks v Lancs, Scots v sassenachs, one football team v another - surely it must be obvious that these reflect fundamental instincts that need to be handled very carefully. Yet the EU's insistence on totally unrestricted freedom of movement creates just the sort of strains that its starry-eyed Ode To Joy brotherhood theme was meant to deal with. There is no such thing as a unihuman.
Now since globalism won't work*, it must be made to work, and the hammer to drive the square peg into the round hole is: security.
The "conservatives" (they aren't) with their money-obsession, and the Left with its amorphous goodbuddy dreams are combining to create the conditions for fascism.
Do we really want a world full of robospies and ubiquitous buzzy drones? Do we have to make nervous old ladies check for beardies under the bed? Couldn't we just have national sovereignty and the Rule of Law?
*(Of course, it does work - most for those who matter most - otherwise it wouldn't be allowed.)
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