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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 4. The “Cynical Recklessness” of Capital: Machinery, Becoming, and Revolutionary Marxist Social Studies Education





In this chapter, we draw out an example of the process of becoming through negation by turning to the transition from industry to manufacture. We examine the birth of modern “education” as a result of this transition. The development of modern education is connected to contemporary right-wing education “reforms,” and in this area, we pay particular attention to the form and content of such reforms, as well as their effect on labor-power. Then, in order to make our critical pedagogy of becoming even more concrete, we sketch what a Revolutionary Marxist Social Studies education might look like and how it can harness the negation of the negation to push forward the transition to communism.

In particular, we show how the emergence of the industrial era of capitalism developed out of the manufacturing era through the invention of machines that would radically displace human muscle power with non human power, such as coal, wind, and electricity. In other words, the manufacturing era would produce the machine that would then destroy the very manufacturing era to which it gave birth. This revolution in production would lead to a legislative mandate for compulsory education as a result of the machine ← 93 | 94 → displacing human power, making possible the employment of young children and the subsequent intellectual degradation of the child and society in general. In other words, the capitalist state attempted, however feebly,...

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