Gender, Process, and Praxis: Re-Politicizing Education in an Era of Neoliberalism, Instrumentalism, and “Big Data”

Gender, Process, and Praxis: Re-Politicizing Education in an Era of Neoliberalism, Instrumentalism, and “Big Data”

Jim Burns, Colin Green
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 31
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2101-3.ch002
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The authors establish an analytical framework comprising the socio-historical and ideological formation(s) and re-formation(s) of hegemonic masculinities as part of a system of governmentality. They use hegemonic masculinity and heteropatriarchal settler colonialism as lenses through which to understand and critique the historically gendered, classed, racialized, and sexualized assumptions that underlie education discourses based on conservative modernization through analysis of the historic relationship between education and the military, particularly gaming technology as curricular and pedagogical tools for recruiting and transmitting military values and skills. They finally urge that the “hidden curriculum” underpinning the power and practices of the education-industrial complex be made more visible, stronger curricular counter-narratives asserted, and they seek to uncover spaces of disruption and possibility, cognizant of the constraints that arise from the totalizing nature of conservative modernization in education and schooling.
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In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. (Dwight D. Eisenhower, January 17, 1961)

Like all iconic historical figures, Dwight Eisenhower both articulated and contradicted many professed American values. In his two terms as U.S. President, he sent the 101st Airborne Division (minus its Black soldiers) to Arkansas in support of the Little Rock Nine and argued that excessive military spending stole from “those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed” (Eisenhower, 1953). Yet despite his conviction that the threat of war had “humanity hanging from a cross of iron” (Eisenhower, 1953), in the name of the Cold War and at the behest of corporate power, Eisenhower’s domino theory rationalized America’s disastrous imperial involvement in Vietnam, and he approved the overthrow of democratically-elected governments in Iran and Guatemala, the consequences of which continue to haunt us. Eisenhower’s experiences as Supreme Allied Commander in Europe during World War II and as U.S. President provided a unique perspective on the evolving relationship between civil society, the state, industry, and the military. His warning about the military-industrial complex signaled his fear that opaque, unaccountable, undemocratic power, always historically contested by democratizing forces, would coalesce in a corporate state in which, as John Dewey (1985/1931) saw during the Great Depression, “politics is the shadow cast on society by big business” (p. 163).

America’s hetero-patriarchal settler colonial project (Arvin, Tuck, & Morrill, 2013), including its current imperial fantasies (Chomsky, 2016; Johnson, 2010), illustrates a historic restlessness and aggrieved entitlement to rehabilitate individual and national emasculation through restorative rationalized violence (Connell, 1995, 2000; Faludi, 2007; Kimmel, 2012). The post-World War II American Empire resulted in the permanent militarization of a society that has fully embraced its “exceptional” settler-colonial legacy, imbricated with violent frontier masculinities, by exporting institutional violence through the next iteration of colonial-capitalism: globalization. Whatever his limitations, Eisenhower’s (1961) warning about the “potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power” in the military-industrial complex, actually begun as public-private partnerships initiated by FDR, has proven tragically prescient. Corporations viewed those partnerships as opportunities to reconfigure democratic institutions to serve the interests of capital by capturing the vast resources invested in public institutions (Johnson, 2010). Since the 1970s, neoliberalism has solidified corporate-state power by reframing the public good as private interest with a concomitant upward redistribution of wealth and power (Harvey, 2005). Wolin (2008) characterizes that process as inverted totalitarianism through which corporate power expands while the state simultaneously abandons its role in protecting its citizens, the public good, and democratic life. Inverted totalitarianism produces a “managed democracy”—systems management writ large—with the U.S. a “showcase for how democracy can be managed without appearing to be suppressed” (Wolin, 2008, p. 47).

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