08 April 2006

GIRL, 5, FORCED TO APOLOGIZE FOR HUGGING CLASSMATE: CAPITALIST DISCPLINE IN KINDERGARTEN
Nikki K. bulletined this, through Jenn... This has been going around: Girl, 5, Forced To Apologize For Hugging Classmate...






the scene of the "crime"




This is all happening in suburban Boston. Clearly what you have here is an obsession with rules. From the disciplinary perspective, Savannah Marino broke the rules, so she had to be punished. The Right goes to town, BTW, on this stuff, since it puts a bad face on the public schools and gives them publicity for the idea of privatization.


We can make connections between this sort of news headline and the idea of capitalist discipline. The apparent purpose of public schools under the current system is to inculcate habits of rule-obeying into young people: obey the rules, the teachers effectively tell the next generation over the space of thirteen years, so that when you graduate you can become exploitable/ disposable units of labor-power. This purpose occasionally runs into conflict with the wishes, hopes, and dreams of the units of labor-power themselves. Capitalist discipline in the larger world, by the same token, is today destroying its own seedbed by creating a world filled with ecological/ economic crises.


If we were to raise the community's children intentionally (for this is indeed what elementary school teachers do), we would not prioritize capitalist discipline, nor would we make "obeying the rules" the first and last purpose of schooling, as we do today. (By the same token, if we were to run an economy intentionally, we would not be careening toward ecological/ economic crisis.)

Hugging, indeed, is an expression of love. What would a school system based on love look like? How would it form the center of a community based on love, within a society based on love? There would doubtless be forms of self-discipline to replace obedience to externally-programmed rules, entailing learning of and respect for nature/ labor as an alternative to capitalist discipline.

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