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18 July 2014

by John Passant

Spanking: not fit even for low-life politicians

Kevin Donnelly, the reactionary ‘educationalist’ heading up Tony Abbott’s school curriculum ‘review’, has come out in favour of corporal punishment in schools. Beating kids up does not ‘discipline ‘them. It brutalises them and teaches them violence is OK.

The fact that Donnelly holds such 1950s views, and I use the description deliberately since my Catholic schools beat me and many of my friends regularly back then, shows this is a government that wants to take us back to the ‘good old days’, and not just in terms of discipline, or even curricula, but more generally the stifling conservative social mores that the ruling class stuffed down our throats to help make us disciplined robots for profit.

It also wants us to take us back to a more repressive era of state control, even suppression, of dissent and a complete disempowering of unions (although unions are doing a good job of disembowelling themselves.)

The world has changed just a little since 1953. The capitalist drive for profit and its reinvestment hasn’t.
The pressures workers felt then workers feel today, and the responses are much the same. They want better health and education systems, an adequate standard of living and fair treatment for those less well off.

The difference is that in the 1950s and 1960s workers were prepared to fight for these things by striking and capitalism had an economic base sufficient to pay for better wages and improving social services and welfare. That was in the days when profit rates were high and the bosses could afford to let us have a few scraps from their banquet to keep us happy.

Now with global profit rates in decline as a consequence of the systemic drive under capitalism to be more ‘efficient’ by reinvesting more in machines than labour, the surplus out of which to pay higher wages and fund government spending is shrinking, or in some countries, disappearing.

There are a range of ways that capital tries to redress this systemic problem of falling profit rates. Cutting government spending on programs that help the working class is one. Cutting real, and in some cases nominal wages, is another. Lengthening the working day and the amount of unpaid work we do for the bosses is yet another.

Attached to these economic attacks has been a cultural shift in the ruling class and its ideology to more and more set up systems to teach and breed obedience. The school system is about training young workers to become obedient automatons for the profit system and inculcating good ruling class values of nation and family and subservience to our masters and betters. That is why the curriculum review will recommend a return to rote learning, history as dates, English as a language stuck in the 19th Century with strict rules to follow, geography as places, Latin as a language base … The emphasis is on the what, not the why.

That is before compulsory Christian prostletysing and obedience worship becomes the norm in all public schools.

Hand in hand with this mind numbing educational socialisation goes the body numbing thump thump thump of discipline. They want to brutalise kids’ bodies to brutalise kids’ minds. We need to resist both.