Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The double-speak of neoliberalism

This caught my eye today:

"The covert nature of schooling is to internalise control of citizens"

That's the basic function of schools as was envisioned by the rulers of Prussia who wanted  loyal, obedient, homogeneous thinking citizens who would willingly go to war.

Bingo. We willingly do just that.

One particular piece of contemporary internalised double-speak which again only benefits our masters is the notion of 'equality'. What's wrong with equality? Well...

Don Brash talks of equality in the context of some members of our society getting 'special treatment'. Equality has been co-opted by neoliberalism along with other rhetoric such as 'freedom of choice' and 'individual responsibility'. The new meaning of equality is now all about the starting of a journey rather than the finish or outcome. So we have equal access to schools, medical care and the whole shebang of life-chances, but this equality does not factor in structural inequality that means Brash get to choose a private school while we get the shitty local. No sir, but that's all about 'individual choice' eh? I mean you're born human, how much more equal can you get?

This is bullshit of course.

Rather we should talk about 'equity' as in the outcomes are equal. So regardless of social position, ethnicity, gender, ability, first language etc, you should be able to achieve the same outcome: complete university, obtain a well-paid job, achieve good health etc.

Capitalism relies on exploitation to be successful thus inequality in inherent in our economic and social structures: poverty is part of the business. In the face of such inequality, we need equity. The world of Brash, Key, and Goff means few of us have the material, cultural and social capital to achieve in a way that wealthy white males can.

We need a step up. We need equity, not the smoke and mirrors of equality.

Equity is targeted benefits, it means higher funding for certain schools, subsidised transport, free books, more teachers and a breakfast programme. It means jobs, a minimum wage that is livable, fresh food that is affordable, and communities that are safe and supportive. Equity is the antithesis of neoliberalism.

True equality will only come with the death of capitalism. In the mean time, when you hear politicians cloaking their racist, classist, sexist agendas with the rhetoric of 'equality', first, vomit, then demand equity.

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