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Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism

To dissolve, submerge, and cause to disappear the political or governmental system in the economic system by reducing, simplifying, decentralizing and suppressing, one after another, all the wheels of this great machine, which is called the Government or the State. --Proudhon, General Idea of the Revolution

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Friday, March 31, 2006

Gatto on Corporate Liberalism at Microsoft

From the future is unwritten (hat tip to Mike West).

That great "progressive" Bill Gates, like all "progressives," is a great friend of "public" education. He's especially fond of government $$ for higher education. What that translates to in practice is the taxpayers underwriting the cost of training scientific-technical labor-power, and ideally overproducing it so that it's nice and cheap. James O'Connor had the number of "progressives" like Gates a long time ago. But two hundred years before O'Connor, Adam Smith observed that the main function of a state-subsidized liberal arts education was to produce an oversupply of knowledge workers and keep down their pay.

John Taylor Gatto. "The Richest Man in the World Has Some Advice for Us about College . . ."

On February 28 of this year, Bill Gates of Microsoft, told a gathering of the 50 American state governors that the United States has reached a competitive crisis which we were losing. This could best be combated by making college prep the sole function of secondary schooling, college prep for everyone, and college, too.

Those who couldn’t afford it should be subsidized by the states. In Erving Goffman’s chilling locution, college was to become a “Total Institution,” controlling all work in the economy....

In his monumental history of civilizations, Arnold Toynbee said that institutionally forced schooling was always about creating a mass of clerks for the prevailing bureaucracy. Not educated people who can think for themselves, but clerks – parts of a social machine. In your heart, you knew that, with or without Toynbee, didn’t you?...

China has mastered the techniques of the West and has gone far beyond them. It employs the ruthless logic of financial capitalism with a discipline it would be impossible to achieve in the soft-hearted management systems of the United States and Canada.

They don’t make things better than we do, but they do make them just as good and cheaper, by a factor of from six to thirty. It is fanciful to say, as Mr. Gates did, that if we just have more schooling, we’ll be okay. In the next 10 years, China and India, et al., will release ten million well-trained engineers in excess of domestic needs on the world’s skilled labor markets.

These men and women will bid for work against your own techie sons and daughters.

At sixteen cents or so on the dollar, the effect on wages will be a catastrophe for this important segment of middle-class life. Mr. Gates didn’t bother to tell his audience that Microsoft has already opened large colleges in China and India to train young people in those nations to its own specifications.

That puts a new spin on his appeal for universal college training doesn’t it? Perhaps you believe the corporate policy of Microsoft will prefer to continue to pay high wages when a stream of its own foreign graduates becomes available....

Saturation schooling, kindergarten through college, was a leadership response to the demands of a centralized corporate economy that replaced American/Canadian entrepreneurialism between 1880 and 1920.

What corporatism required was two things: A laboring mass – including a professional laboring mass of doctors, lawyers, engineers, architects and schoolteachers – who did what they were told without question, and a citizenry in name only, one which defined itself by non-stop consumption, one which believed that choosing between options offered by management was what democracy was all about.

Lockstep schooling, driven by standardized testing, testing not to measure learning but obedience, was the mechanism used to drive out imagination and courage....

Whatever education is, one thing is certain: It doesn’t take place locked in seats following the commands of total strangers, your obedience measured regularly by short answer tests. And it’s education we need to meet the future, not schooling....

We have the most efficient management in the world at a very high price: Mutilating the public imagination, vesting it in a handful of corporations. School was the factory producing incomplete human beings who were easy to manage. It worked for a century to produce national riches and a citizenry increasingly poor in spirit.


Anonymous Julius Blumfeld said...

"Mr. Gates didn’t bother to tell his audience that Microsoft has already opened large colleges in China and India to train young people in those nations to its own specifications."

What's wrong with that?

March 31, 2006 3:53 PM  
Anonymous joanne said...

The funniest thing here is that Gates is, of course, a college dropout:


March 31, 2006 4:10 PM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

I believe Gatto mentioned the MS schools in China and India by way of background: publicly funded higher ed means he doesn't have to pay for it himself any more.


Of course, mavericks who found companies don't want people like themselves rowing in the galley.

March 31, 2006 11:09 PM  
Blogger Bbo Wallace said...

Reminds me of that Biblical comment about gaining the world and losing your soul (the correct translation is "true self," a most perceptive comment indeed).

April 01, 2006 8:58 AM  

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