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Marx, Capital, and Education

Towards a Critical Pedagogy of Becoming


Curry Stephenson Malott and Derek R. Ford

With the contradictions of capitalism heightening and intensifying, and with new social movements spreading across the globe, revolutionary transformation is once again on the agenda. For radicals, the most pressing question is: How can we transform ourselves and our world into something else, something just? In Marx, Capital, and Education, Curry Stephenson Malott and Derek R. Ford develop a «critical pedagogy of becoming» that is concerned with precisely this question. The authors boldly investigate the movement toward communism and the essential role that critical pedagogy can play in this transition. Performing a novel and educational reading of Karl Marx and radical theorists and activists, Malott and Ford present a critical understanding of the past and present, of the underlying logics and (often opaque) forces that determine the world-historical moment. Yet Malott and Ford are equally concerned with examining the specific ways in which we can teach, learn, study, and struggle ourselves beyond capitalism; how we can ultimately overthrow the existing order and institute a new mode of production and set of social relations. This incisive and timely book, penned by two militant teachers, organizers, and academics, reconfigures pedagogy and politics. Educators and organizers alike will find that it provides new ammunition in the struggle for the world that we deserve.
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Chapter 1. Becoming through Negation: Revisiting Marx’s Humanism





In this chapter, we begin the process of developing a Marxist critical pedagogy of becoming by turning to Marx’s approach to Hegelian dialectics. We begin with a brief outline of Marx’s take on Hegel’s dialectics. Because of the current crisis of capital, we look to Marx’s shifting conception of the falling rate of profit (which reflects his developing understanding of how contradictions operate within capitalism). We argue that this analysis reflects Marx’s developing understanding of what the negation of the negation means under capitalism. Due to the role that the United States continues to play as the center of global capitalism, these discussions focus on the U.S. We might note, drawing on Hegelian dialectics, that the hegemonic logic of capital serves the purpose of preventing the tendency of capital’s contradictions from leading to social transformation, or revolution. We argue throughout the chapter that critical pedagogy can offer a powerful tool in helping students and teachers situate their own experiences in this larger social, historical context, fostering self-empowerment and collective critical agency. In other words, in order to negate ourselves as alienated labor, we need to be able to see ourselves as such, see ourselves as the negation of ourselves as such, and, finally, engage in ← 13 | 14 → the negation ourselves. For Marx, as we will see below, this is the historical process of becoming, which, in line with Paulo Freire, should be conceived of as a never-ending process, one...

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