Emancipatory Education and Critical Pedagogy

A few basic parameters for the humanisation of education need to be outlined. For a start, this is the kind of education that should be initiated from “within” rather than “for” those seeking emancipation. Emancipatory education is never initiated by some external source, such as pre-structured training programmes already used by managers of standard management. These training managers rely on pre-conceptualised training regimes often framed as “modules” and “e-learning” that further managerial domination.29 Critical humanising education instead seeks to make domination and its causes obsolete. It has the objective to enhance critical self-reflection and reflections on domination. From these reflections an almost obligatory engagement in a struggle for emancipation will emerge. It will also indicate a continuous effort to make and remake critical humanising education. But one of the central problems of critical humanising education still remains:

How can those who seek emancipation

(who are exposed to ideologies that seek to divide them into atomistic individuals under neo-liberalism's master ideology of individualism, asphyxiating them as inauthentic beings in structures of domination)

participate in developing a critical emancipatory education?

Only as they discover themselves to be no longer just rather passive “interpreters” but active “legislators” of humanising educational projects will they contribute to the project of humanisation.30 As long as they remain confined to an existence within the inauthentic “as if” duality of “could be”—that simultaneously means no more than just “to be like” (a human resource)—humanising education cannot be established. Humanising education and critical pedagogy seeks to overcome life in an organisational-managerial existence of “simulacra”, a life that simulates rather than lives. It rejects the notion of “Impression Management” as conducted by many inside managerial regimes on a daily basis.31 Confined to these structures, the dominated will unwittingly or deliberately further the factual domination of managerial regimes and the ideological domination of Managerialism. This renders impossible any contribution to critically humanising education or critical pedagogy. Meanwhile humanising education remains an instrument for inquisitive and critical discovery that can never align itself to those who further domination as domination is all but a manifestation of dehumanisation.

The rejection of domination and its dehumanising consequences as well as an active engagement with emancipation and humanising education will remain a painful process. But for those who emerge as critically thinking subjects, “living less wrongly” will be viable only without further domination. Only openly facing many of the still-suppressed “humanisation versus dehumanisation” contradictions will lead to humanisation. Perhaps the solution to these contradictions is born in critical and emancipatory labour in order to bring about critical humanising education. But this can never be done by those cementing domination and dehumanisation but by those who engage in the process of achieving human freedom.

Similarly, the solution to the “dehumanisation versus humanisation” dialectics can never be achieved in idealistic-philosophical terms. In order for those seeking emancipation to be able to wage a fight for emancipation, they must conceptualise the objective and material reality of domination as well as those ideologies cementing it. The world of enhanced domination and ideological camouflage is by no means a closed world from which there is no exit. As hegemonic as neo-liberalism and Managerialism may appear, they are both not free from contradictions despite the harmonious picture they present of a society governed by the idyllic hallucination of a free market.32 There are human, natural, environmental, and, above all, natural resource based limits to business capitalism, consumerism, and their ideologies that promise eternal growth. These limits are useful to those seeking to transform domination into emancipation. However, as much as these realisations are necessary, they do not by themselves create a sufficient condition for emancipation from domination.

Instead, the realisation about the material condition of domination and its supportive ideologies of neo-liberalism and Managerialism opens up motivating forces for emancipatory action that inform emancipatory education and critical pedagogy. The simple discovery of the existence of “domination versus emancipation” does not automatically lead to a mechanical awareness of the anti-thesis to domination. But perhaps some of those cementing domination are already aware that they can never exist without those who comply with their requests. Those who enhance domination depend on what French philosopher Althusser has called “appellation”. Their ideologies of domination depend on issuing a “calling” that needs to be followed by those who are dominated. Without this dialectics, ideologies cannot work. It is for this reason that the forces of domination need to constantly invent, refresh, and reinforce the ideologies that sustain domination. Those asphyxiated in structures of domination need to hear the hailing of the ideologies that sustain domination while any conscious recognition of the “calling-effect” of ideology may in itself already constitute emancipatory thinking. Those seeking emanci?pation can reject the calling that asphyxiates people. They can reject the structures of domination and free themselves from them.

Perhaps the very same is true with respect to individuals who further domination. Discovering themselves as those who further domination may cause considerable mental torment. Yet it may be unlikely that such recognition and self-reflection—by itself—will lead to solidarity with those seeking emancipation. Trying to compensate such culpability through paternalistic treatment will keep them in a position of dependency. Meanwhile, a truly solidaristic human community requires its members to be able to identify with each other as reflective members dedicated towards human emancipation.33 This remains a collective enterprise.

In some cases, this might mean a somewhat uncompromising stance. If what characterises those dedicated to emancipation is still subordination to the consciousness of a master, true human solidarity can hardly follow. This is largely because they are prevented from transforming the objective-material reality which has made them and from engaging in “mutual and equal recognition”.34 But perhaps those who previously furthered domination can join emancipatory forces when overcoming fictitious categories such as human capital and human resources. This means they no longer see people as functions but as full human beings under the moral- philosophical concept of personhood. This might lead to the recognition of injustice administered by managerial powers that enhance domination to those deprived of their voice and deceived on the market that made them sell their labour.35 However, an outcome like this is only possible when those who further domination cease to make dutiful and deceitful, sentimental-religious, or individualistic gestures of pity and charity.

True human solidarity is found only in the true act of humanisation—in its living and lived praxis.36 It becomes a farce when domination enforcers call out “people are people” and yet do nothing—or even the very opposite—to make humanisation a material and objective reality. As a consequence, all concrete situations that produce domination must be transformed towards humanisation. Critical emancipatory demands towards an objective transformation of education will need to combat idealistic and overtly subjectivist ideas and must also avoid the danger of diverting attention away from the recognition of domination. But this is not to dismiss the role of subjectivity in the “objective versus subjective” dialectics that is so important in ending domination.

Objectivity can never be conceived independent of subjectivity as philosopher Kant has stated. Neither can one exist without the other. They can also not be “dichotomised” away, as the philosopher Hegel told us. Subjectivity and objectivity cannot simply be split—dichotomised—and put away as both exist in a living dialectics with each another. Any artificial separation of objectivity from subjectivity or the outright denial of the latter when analysing educational reality and moving towards humanising education might lead to a form of simplistic objectivism. On the other hand, the denial of objectivity in any critical analysis and subsequent action might result in an equally dangerous subjectivism. This might pilot people into positions of hyper-individualism that, in its final consequence, denies any collective action while also denying objective reality. Neither one-sided objectivism nor subjectivism—including subjectivism’s twin of overt psychologism—can be advocated as fruitful bases for the humanising of education. Instead, what remains successful is an awareness of the “subjectivity-objectivity” dialectics. To deny the importance of subjectivity in the process of transforming education remains perhaps naive but is a definite sign of one-dimensionality. Perhaps it is the unconscious enhancing of a philosophical and practical impossibility:

"education without people"

Such an overtly objectivistic position is as deceitful as that of pure subjectivism and simplistic individualism. In turn, this hypothesis builds yet another philosophical and practical impossibility:

"people without education"

Not just in evolutionary but also in practical terms, education and people can never exist apart from each other except when artificial non-educational institutions such as money and markets seek to infiltrate the inextricable “human-to-education” linkage. Both—people and education—can only ever exist as a continuous and seamless interface. Unlike neo-liberalism, no educational philosopher, nor virtually any other critical and realistic educational expert, has ever championed a triadic linearity of “human ^ money ^ education”.37 . Instead, many have correctly criticised the moment when subjectivism converted into ideology. The objective facts about education— just as objective managerial reality—exist in working relationships. These do not come about by fate, misfortunes, or “acts of God”. Educational relationships are products of human action and will never be transformed by simple chance or fate. When people produce social, working, and educational realities, they simultaneously transform that reality.

Under neo-liberalism, working and educational realities have become relationships defined by domination, resulting in severe contradictions such as those between people who enhance domination and those who are made their victims. As for the latter, it remains their task to alter domination and struggle for emancipation together with those who demonstrate real solidarity with them. They must acquire a critical awareness, not just of power but also of the pathologies of domination. Some of this awareness will come through the praxis of anti-domination battles. But one of the menacing impediments to the achievement of human emancipation remains the overall factual and ideological domineering reality that absorbs many within it. It thereby has the power to submerge, asphyxiate, and indoctrinate consciousness. Meanwhile, at a more functional level, domination always equals domestication:

"domination = domestication"

In order to no longer be prey to such ideological forces, one must emerge from these pathological ideologies and turn against them. The movement from “being-other-determined” to “being-self-determined” can only be achieved by means of critical educational praxis. It is only during the state of critical interdependence between domination and emancipation that authentic praxis develops. Without the domination-emancipation dialectics, emancipation remains impossible. Only this process can put an end to those furthering domination. To achieve this emancipatory goal, those seeking emancipation must confront reality and simultaneously act upon reality as they analyse it. A mere “perception” of reality still covered by the fog of ideology will not allow critical interventions to take place and the emancipatory project will not lead to a transformation of the objective reality—merely because it was no true reality but a perception of reality created by ideologies such as Managerialism. In cases of an ideologically infused perception, a faked objective reality can create false and misleading images of reality.

A somewhat different type of an ideologically engineered perception of reality occurs when changes in the objective reality threaten individuals and their class interests.38 To start with, there can be no critical emancipatory intercession into reality, largely because this reality remains fictitious as it is based on ideology. Making reality appear as fiction is designed to prevent a transition towards humanisation. The first phase of the educational process towards humanisation needs to establish concrete reality as reality. During the second phase, there will be an analysis of reality in conjunction to its legitimising ideologies. This should lead to a transition towards humanisation, largely because such critical emancipatory interventions challenge the class interests of those cementing domi- nation.39 At this stage and at an individual level, there might still be a tendency to develop psychological pathologies, corporate psychopaths, and perhaps even forms of neuroses. These incidents exist. As a consequence, it may become necessary to place a somewhat stronger emphasis on social as well as individual pathologies of capitalist reality. This emphasis can work as a defence mechanism when corresponding to overcoming a subjectivism that is made to appear disconnected from material reality.

When facts become purely subjective, they tend to lose their truth content while critical thought is denied on the basis of subjectivism. As a consequence, a certain loss of objective reality and truth can be the outcome while an overtly subjectified reality can become ideological.40 Often, these ideologies are created in defence of domination.41 Many of them are designed to discourage people from critical intervention into the realities of management and capitalism. Too many of those furthering domination know full well that these interventions would not be in their interest of maintaining domination. It would challenge “their” status quo that is still capable of asphyxiating many inside domination, rendering them impotent even when facing the pathologies of global capitalism.

But the unquestionably arising issue of critical intervention against maintaining domination remains. To explain educational action set against domination always means to clarify and illuminate emancipation in terms of its relationship to the objective-material facts that still promote domination as well as its actors, aims, and interests in keeping domination. The more people unmask the challenging realities of domination and capitalist pathologies, the more critically and self-consciously they will enter into the realities of managerial domination. In this way, many might consciously activate the subsequent development of their lived experiences. These experiences are often based on domination that, to a large extent, defines their private and working lives. Perhaps, there would not be any emancipatory action

  • • if there was no objective-material reality that sustains domination,
  • • if people were not designed as projected figures to function—largely unconsciously—in structures of domination, and
  • • if people were unable to transcend beyond domination, but
  • • if domination did not exist, people would not be able to perceive this reality for what it is nor understand it in order to transform it.

In dialectical thought, the factual existence of domination, the pathologies of the present world, and emancipation are intimately interdependent. But emancipation remains human only when it is not merely an occupation but a defining preoccupation. This occurs when emancipation is no longer dichotomised away from reflection, for example, by artificially separating practicalities from emancipation. Critical and emancipatory reflection remains highly essential to action and it always remains implicit in the requirement of explaining one’s own action. But it is just as implicit in explaining the conscious activation of a critical and emancipatory experience extracted from life experiences in domination.

For many, however, the requirement directed towards emancipation is not just a requirement in terms of explaining. Instead, it must reach beyond by entering into a dialogue with people about emancipation and directed towards ending domination. In any case, no reality transforms itself by its own. There is no automatism to end domination—just as there is no automatic move towards emancipation. Instead, it remains the moral duty of those seeking emancipation to explain their action directed against domination. And this corresponds with the verification of a need for critical emancipatory intervention by people, based on a critical analysis of the managerial reality and praxis of domination.

Humanising management education still remains “the” apprenticeship of people engaged in the contest for their own emancipation from domination. It is here where the roots of the process to humanise education are found. Those who begin to or have recognised themselves as being exposed to domination must always be among those who develop the humanisation process of education. No education is truly emancipatory that remains distant from those who are forced to exist inside the managerial structures of domination. Simply viewing and treating the latter as “unfortunates” will cement domination even further. Equally, presenting them with predesigned and pre-invented models of “to-be-followed- road-maps” to emancipation is likely to also further domination. Instead, those seeking emancipation from domination must find their own solutions. Humanising education emanates from authentic, truly humanist, and solidaristic generosity, not from faked humanitarian, charity-giving, simulated corporate philanthropy. It presents itself as a critical education of humanisation.

Set against that is a form of domination-enhancing training that begins with the egoistic interests of those cementing domination, also called homo economicus ideologicus. Their ideologies enforce individualism that is fostered by subscribing to ideologies such as individualism, egoism, and the social-Darwinistic ideology of “a survival of the fittest” which was not quoted from Charles Darwin (1809-1882) but is instead Herbert Spencer’s (1820-1903) socio-biological ideology misrepresenting Darwin for deeply ideological goals to stabilise capitalism.42 Often these ideologies are cloaked by the simulated philanthropic generosity of corporate paternalism that cements domination even further and deforms those seeking emancipation into objects of its petty dehumanising humani- tarianism.43 It embodies domination while remaining an instrument of dehumanisation that wears the mask of humanism.44 This is why humanising education can never be developed and practised by those cementing domination, nor by hypocritical charity-giving philanthropists. It would be a contradiction in terms if those benefitting from domination did not defend their training regimes as being kind, paternalistic, philanthropic, or even humanistic. Set against faked humanism is a truly humanising and emancipatory education that requires the power of the educator and the educated. But those seeking emancipation will often find themselves in a position where they have been made powerless. From this, the following question arises:

How will it ever be achievable to move towards critical humanising education prior to a fundamental change of the economic imperatives that govern today?

Perhaps this remains the single most relevant question in the process of humanising education. Conceivably, an aspect of a possible answer to this question might be found in the distinction between today’s management training—that might only ever be changed through a political change—and humanising educational projects that can be carried out by those seeking emancipation in the process of organising themselves quite independently. Such a form of critical humanising education—that is also a form of humanist-emancipatory education—can occur through roughly two separated platforms:

  • 1. During the first juncture, those seeking emancipation expose the pathologies of an asphyxiated world of managerial domination and through critical reflections link it to educational praxis entrusting themselves to its transformation.
  • 2. During the second stage—in which today’s asphyxiating and pathological reality of managerial domination has already been trans- formed—education as critical pedagogy ceases to belong only to those seeking emancipation when critical education and critical pedagogy become a holistic educational project of “all” people, conducted during a process that might be seen as an “everlasting emancipatory educational process”.

During both periods, it remains imperative to carry out humanising educational projects through action formulated against domination. However, the confrontation of domination and pathologies takes place in the first stage through a fundamental change process of the way those seeking emancipation perceive the current world of managerial domination and ideological asphyxiations. During the second phase, the removal of hegemonic myths such as neo-liberalism—the redundant hallucinogenic belief system that, like a lapdog, follows the ideological and cryptoreligious faith-based catechism of a Hungarian aristocrat named Herr von Hayek, created and developed by an outdated political order of economic irrationalism and presented as free market and “invisible hand”, remains imperative. Hayek’s “Road to Serfdom”45 marks the conversion of feudal serfdom to the serfdom of “free market capitalism”. Under feudalism, serfdom was linked to a person—a local landlord, baron, or king—while under capitalism is becomes an anonymous system signified by Adam Smith’s hallucinogenic “invisible hand”. Yet the “ghost of capitalism” may still haunt the new emancipatory structures.46 This can impact negatively on what emerges from an educational “domination^to^emancipation” transformation.47

At the first stage, humanising education must deal with the challenge of two contradictory forms of consciousness: the consciousness of those seeking emancipation versus the consciousness of those cementing domination. This represents a contradiction between those furthering domination through managerial regimes and ideologies versus those who suffer inside such regimes and ideologies. But humanising management education should always take into account the potentially irrational behaviour of the latter as well as the outright dangerous forces displayed by the former. It must assess the domineering forces, ideologies, as well as their “missions and versions” of domination-cementing ethics, invented to sustain domination. This is set against “the ethics of resistance” found in Dussel’s “community of victims” and in Adorno’s dictum,48

“to resist everything that is imposed on you”.

But between these two versions of ethics there are huge differences as one remains a distorted form of ethics engineered to cement domination while the other is created by the community of victims for emancipation. Above that, a particular problem arises that is a clear dichotomy formulated by those who have been confined to live in structures of domination. These communities of victims often display self-contradictory patterns of behaviour. This has—by those cementing domination—rather successfully been turned into divided human beings and damaged personalities. They have been forced to live in pathological structures defined by their immediate surroundings. These socio-economic pathologies are often shaped by domination as well as overt and direct violence (police, military, secret service, surveillance, infiltration, etc.), by symbolic violence as well as structural violence.49 How these anti-humanising forces work against the humanisation of education is illuminated in the next chapter.

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