Class Warfare in the Classroom


classwar

In Boston, an English professor is trying to sell his class on society’s collective guilt when said students are already believers in personal responsibility.

“We must encourage students to access the antagonist class positions of texts in order to demonstrate how the oppositional voices contained in them identify evidence of class struggle,” Christopher Craig writes in the December 2009 issue of Radical Teacher, “a socialist, feminist and anti-racist journal on the theory and practice of teaching.” “Through this critical process, we can show how the values and interests of the dominant class are not universal but repressive, intended to keep the power relations between the ruling and working class one-sided.”

“For most of us, learning to read texts this way helps us to see through the ruling class ideology that exists in everything from literature to the nightly news.” Craig teaches at Emmanuel College, a Catholic institution of higher learning.

“Hence, our ability to grasp and practice this kind of criticism provides us and our students with the tools necessary to understand literature from a class-based perspective and to acknowledge the ideological forces that attempt to shape our lives,” Craig argues.

Radical Teacher is published by the board of trustees of the University of Illinois.

“They had been encouraged to understand homelessness, unemployment, and crime, for example, as the result of various levels of personal responsibility or just bad luck,” Craig writes of his students. Craig teaches a course on the Political Novel.

“They are respectful, hard working and open-minded,” Craig writes of his students. “But their liberalism is rooted strongly in the idea of American individualism.”

“They see helping the homeless as an opportunity to integrate people back into an economic system where possibility flourishes. One needs only to learn the skills necessary for success..”

As you may have guessed, Craig has a problem with this view. “Most of them have not considered thoroughly how political policies contribute to creating inequitable conditions,” Craig states. “They correctly link the horrific consequences of Hurricane Katrina to the Bush administration’s failure to respond (pro)actively to the catastrophe, for instance.”

“But they have difficulty theorizing how the economic inequalities that existed in New Orleans before Katrina result from ruling class policies.” Craig fails to note that few characterized the pre-Katrina New Orleans as a free market mecca, at least for legal industries.

“They are unaware of Clinton’s assault on welfare in the 1990s,” Craig claims. “They have not heard about Bush’s deep budget cuts to social programs, his attempts to cut Medicaid, food stamps, and public housing, how his ‘Ownership Society’ allowed the wealthy to own more and be taxed less, or how the poverty rate increased to 12.7 percent of the American population under his administration (The Nation September 26, 2005),” Craig says of his sophomore classes.

“I suspect that my impassioned expression of these conditions offends students who are active in service learning,” he laments.

One hopes that it also unnerves those who double check his sources. As we have reported before, the Clinton assault on welfare consisted of renaming it Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), adding requirements that public assistance recipients seek employment and moving millions of cases to other federal programs such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI). “Differences between TANF and SSI benefits are substantial, and the transition from [Aid to Families with Dependent Children] AFDC to TANF may have increased incentives for recipients who were potentially eligible for SSI to apply for benefits and for states to encourage such efforts,” the Social Security Administration reports. “Between December 1996 and December 2003, the nonelderly SSI caseload increased by 8.6 percent (SSA 2004b, 21).”

Moreover, if President George W. Bush made such an attack on domestic spending, why did it balloon when his party controlled the executive and legislative branches of government? By the way, on those 2005 poverty numbers, the U. S. Census bureau reported in 2007 that, “the nation’s official poverty rate declined for the first time this decade, from 12.6 percent in 2005 to 12.3 percent in 2006. There were 36.5 million people in poverty in 2006, not statistically different from 2005.”

Despite his pessimism about getting his message across to his charges, Dr. Craig’s ratemyprofessors.com ratings indicate he is making some headway. His reviews are mostly favorable.

“An awesome, awesome man who makes you think every time you go to class,” one reviewer wrote. “In the semester I had him I’ve never thought so much about American Society. Very depressing, but soul searching is good. He is beauuutiful.”

“Taking a class with him is life changing, literally,” another reviewer wrote. “He’s brilliant.”

“This man keeps it real,” another reviewer claimed. “The class I had with him was a[n] 8 A.M. class and I looked forward to it. Will talk about the real things in life.”

Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/FBastiat FBastiat

    From here:

    "The history of all existing society," [Marx] and Engels declared, "is the history of class struggles. Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf … oppressor and oppressed, stood in sharp opposition to each other." They were quite right to note the political castes and resulting clashes of the pre-liberal era. The expositors of liberalism (Spencer, Maine) saw their ethic, by establishing the political equality of all (e.g., the abolition of slavery, serfdom, and inequality of rights), as moving mankind from a "society of status" to a "society of contract." Alas, Marx the Prophet could not accept that the classless millennium had arrived before he did. Thus, he revealed to a benighted humanity that liberalism was in fact merely another stage of History's class struggle — "capitalism" — with its own combatants: the "bourgeois" and the "proletarian." The former was a professional or a business owner, the latter a manual laborer. Marx's "classes" were not political castes but occupations. Today the terms have broadened to mean essentially income brackets. If Smith can make a nice living from his writing, he's a bourgeois; if Jones is reciting poetry for coins in a subway terminal, he's a proletarian. But the freedoms of speech and enterprise that they share equally are "nothing but lies and falsehoods so long as" their differences in affluence and influence persist (Luxemburg). The unbroken line from The Communist Manifesto to its contemporary adherents is that economic inequality is the monstrous injustice of the capitalist system, which must be replaced by an ideal of "social justice" — a "classless" society created by the elimination of all differences in wealth and "power."

    Give Marx his due: He was absolutely correct in identifying the political freedom of liberalism — the right of each man to do as he wishes with his own resources — as the origin of income disparity under capitalism. If Smith is now earning a fortune while Jones is still stuck in that subway, it's not because of the "class" into which each was born, to say nothing of royal patronage. They are where they are because of how the common man spends his money. That's why some writers sell books in the millions, some sell them in the thousands, and still others can't even get published. It is the choices of the masses ("the market") that create the inequalities of fortune and fame — and the only way to correct those "injustices" is to control those choices.

    • http://www.itecode.com eerie Steve

      Then why is it people who ascribe to his philosophy, like Jeanine Garafalo, Cameron Diaz, and all the other malcontents so god damn dirty.

      Look. What people do not understand about the communist manifesto is that they were not saying this is good, they were saying that the easiest way to create hell is to start with the poor, as if the course of history dictates there will always be a riotous bunch of cut throats who can be easily swayed with very little resources.

      To a degree, this guy could be considered the prototypical communist. Why? Because he will commonly kill you:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Marcinko

      I say if you want to be a communist, we will treat you like how the course of history dictates it! You want a class system? How about the good schools which get good grades get BRAHMAN status while the bad schools like in Bedford Stuyvesant or Detroit get UNTOUCHABLE status.

      Start off with collective punishment a la Saddam Hussein. Things like tazering for gum or binding and gaging them for disrupting the classroom or bat beat downs for fighting or napalm to the school shootings. That would get them cracking books real quick.

  • blotto

    If Prof.(?) Craig were true to his word then he would resign and ask that a minority take his place. After all isn't he part of the white ruling class? Isn't he oppressing the minority by being a teacher instead of some minority?

    No like the rest of the elite progressive left, they are hypocrites to the nth degree. They can shout all their denigrations of America because they are firmly ensconsed in their jobs-usually either as tenured professors, teachers or working for the government.

    Heck if Craig really believed in what he teaches, he move to Africa of S. America and work there.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Rifleman Rifleman

      Good point, and he'd work for subsistence, two hots and a cot.

  • Padraig

    Mr. Craig needs to move somewhere where there is real injustice and rail against the government. It's tough lobbing baseballs at the country with one of the highest standards of living and whose society is the most multi-cultural in the world. By the way, the majority of the world does not believe in a multi-cultural society. We have a fantastic society that no doubt has its flaws, but please go somewhere and rail against REAL injustices and racism. Unbelievable

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/lovesjeeves lovesjeeves

      excellent and thoughtful response…thank you.

      • student

        Do you truly believe there is no injustice in our country? That is terrifying

        • lovesjeeves

          Neither I, nor the thoughtful and excellent response I commented on stated there is "no injustice in our country"…..What is more terrifying is that someone would jump to such a kneejerk reaction by merely reading positive praise of our nation.

  • Bob

    One of the primary reasons that the percentage of poor in this country remains static or increases, has nothing to do with class, injustice, or inequality. It is because they keep redefining what it means to be poor or in poverty. This country has the most affluent poor people in the world. Our poor people suffer from obesity instead of starvation, our poor people have only one TV and DVD player. Our poor people’s kids have to play their video games on a PS2 instead of a PS3. This is not to say that there are not some areas and some people who are not in serious need of assistance, just not in the numbers that liberals would have you think.

  • USMCSniper

    Given the terrible record of public "education", it is dubious whether any rational individual would voluntarily pay for it, if it were not "free." Of all the government interventions into people's lives, has any been as great a failure as the sad spectacle of public education? The drug addiction of teenagers unable to cope with reality (so they have no desire to face serious issues like this); student crime and violence (since they do not understand why it is wrong to initiate force against others, after all the government does); functional illiteracy of thousands (all the more important so they can't read this); and most importantly the inability to think in principle (so they will not know when the principle of their rights is being violated). These are the results of inserting the power of destruction (to be applied towards brutes and criminals) to an act of production — education.

  • Don

    You realize of course, that the distinction between Class and Personal Responsibility is a False Dichotomy.

    :: ))

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