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Manifesto for the Educational Revolution

[chapter 1] [chapter 2] [chapter 3] [chapter 4] [chapter 5] [chapter 6] [chapter 7] [chapter 8] [chapter 9]

Chapter nine

We are stumbling on the edge of a wild surmise that western civilisation is based on apartheid, on the belief that the minority is intelligent and caring and that the best hope for the dull majority is to entrust itself to the care of this gifted minority. Apartheid in Britain is not as black-and-white as in South Africa but the intention is the same.

For centuries this climate of thought and feeling was ubiquitous and there was no escaping its influence. The ruling minority devoted all the available resources of literature and religion, schools and universities and law-courts, political parties, the media to deny or submerge the ability of the many, and to present themselves as the heroes of a noble epic. We did believe that cabinet ministers cared for us, that judges were just and journalists independent, that scientists were fearless in pursuit of the truth, that literature and philosophy and what was called our cultural heritage were about helping the whole human race to find its way through the darkling wood, and that school and university education existed to make this wisdom available to all.

This dome of belief has now been cracked in many places. The distinguished journalists turn out to be Murdoch hacks, scientists line up for tinsel honours, drug companies act cruelly and irresponsibly in backward countries, university theologians perpetuate superstition. Radio and television interviewers treat strikers with scant courtesy but stock-exchange pirates with Upstairs-Downstairs deference. In museums, package tourists gaze at the insignia with which rulers ornamented one another. In the Top-Kapi palace in Istanbul they see the Order of the Garter with which Victoria invested the Sultan. There it is in a showcase, all the effrontery of a jewelled garter designed to create awe. Pure mumbo-jumbo. It registers.

We knew that Mumbo-jumbo and all the other gods of the Congo could hoodoo the black sub-men of the Congo, but these spells couldn't bind us. Now we gaze at one another with a wild surmise. Could it be that this western civilisation is not what it seems and that Mumbo-jumbo controls our world too? I'm suggesting that Rimbaud wasn't so far out when he said that "everything we are taught is false".

That is the awful realisation we are stumbling upon, that we have been totally misled. And more than that, that humanity cannot trust any ruling elite for the simple reason that the elite will ultimately turn to Mumbo-jumbo for support, in its efforts to dominate the rest of us. It is a fatal and inexorable flaw.

The only way out is that we should all participate in the running of our lives and of our society. The entry into that way is by encouraging the young to ask questions about everything, removing all trespass notices, and giving them the confidence to query all the great men, the revered institutions (albeit with courtesy) and come to their own conclusions about new initiatives on how to live together so that we can make the best use of our time on the earth. The way will be full of harms, and of doubts, not a known way. But of one thing there is no doubt. There is no future for humanity unless we are all involved in creating it. To do that we need a change of heart in the way we regard all our children and in our upbringing of them. That is what I mean by the educational revolution.

[chapter 1] [chapter 2] [chapter 3] [chapter 4] [chapter 5] [chapter 6] [chapter 7] [chapter 8] [chapter 9]

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