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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 3. Becoming Communist in the Global Class War: Centering the Critique of the Gotha Programme





A critical pedagogy of becoming in the global class war proceeds from the premise that the whole system of accumulating surplus labor-hours must be abolished through a series of stages developing out of the concrete conditions of currently-existing capitalism. Through a dialectical movement of negation, the future can be excavated from within the present. This is precisely what Marx sought to do in his Critique of the Gotha Programme, which is the focus of this chapter. Marx’s Critique was written in a different historical era, yet it offers important guideposts for a critical pedagogy that is oriented beyond capitalism and toward communism. We do not mine this text in the absurd hope of finding the key to transition, as if capitalism was a stagnant system just waiting to collapse into a higher stage of productive social relations. We are instead concerned with the historical content, relevant points of antagonism with social democrats, and purpose of the text. Before turning to this task, we lay the theoretical groundwork necessary for understanding Marx’s Critique of the Gotha Programme in relation to both its historical conditions and its position within Marx’s overall body of thought. At the end of the chapter, we delineate six key components of a Marxist critical pedagogy of ← 63 | 64 → becoming: a recognition and rejection of anti communism; an orientation toward the totality of life; an insistence on the connection...

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