Against the Solicitation of Compliance
In its very basic form, training under the supervision of Managerialism demands colonisation for which compliance and cooperation of its victims remains useful. It involves a subject and/or an ideology that conquers another person and/or domain such as, for example, the lifeworld. Managerialism transforms persons into “things” while management training converts education into training that sustains domination. In sharp contrast to this, in emancipatory education subjects relate to one another through the hierarchical ordering systems of command and control and top-down, but under mutual and equal recognition, not via domination. Subjects meet in cooperation, establishing communicative action directed towards humanisation. Meanwhile, the practices of management training such as memorising so-called—but largely ideologically made-up—“key management concepts” asphyxiate people inside Managerialism. According to this rather missionary ideology, those who are not yet colonised shall be manipulated and dominated. The moral- philosophical concept of “personhood” is comprehensively destroyed when a person becomes an “it” (a human resource), a commodity to be bought and sold on the labour market. Set against being made into a tool or thing, any critical person who still feels the meaning of what it means “to be I” and “to be we” needs to indicate these personhood indicating feelings during their educational sessions.9 People also know that the “we” which calls forth a very own life inside the lifeworld, in turn, also constitutes the “I”, not as an atomised hyper-individual as in the ideology of individualism but as an “I-in-the-we”.
Mutual and equal recognition linked to communicative action can never involve a subject who dominates by virtue of managerial-positional power, nor through ideological conquest as in Managerialism, and also not through educational domination as established in management training programmes. As an alternative to domination, subjects are meeting to collectively and communicatively analyse the lifeworld in order to transform it. Even if in certain situations those seeking emancipation will not be able to fulfil their emancipatory vocation as critical subjects right away, the immediate item on their emancipatory agenda might still be the unveiling of managerial contradictions. This is useful when analysing domination in managerial and educational settings. Such critical reflections on the inherent contradictions of Managerialism are—somewhat down the track—capable of engaging some sort of communicative action when the emphasis moves from communication towards social action. This means that critical educators—in spite of their important, fundamental and indispensable educational roles—can never give in to Managerialism. They can never give up on emancipation nor can they determine, define or “own” students. Equally, emancipatory educators can never have a self-assigned right to steer students blindly towards one goal or the other. These are all methods of management training programmes designed to enhance domination.
As such, emancipation remains the task of students themselves. Human freedom and humanisation can never be gifts handed down to them. This would break communicative action apart and destroy the dialogical-critical bonds, thereby reducing students to mere “gift-receivers” while seeing them no longer as co-authors of emancipation. When capitalism unloads its petit bourgeois consumerist goods and ideologies onto people, Managerialism and managerial capitalism frame people as gift-receivers. As in authoritarian communication, this process demands the well- known “sender^receiver” linearity. It creates sender and receiver and leader and follower while demanding the cooperation of compliant victims.
Soliciting the compliance of the victims and asking for their cooperation are vital manipulative tools of any colonising ideology, and as such of Managerialism.10 Set against that is the non-manipulative cooperation among subjects engaged in mutual and equal recognition. It remains a core characteristic of communicative action that occurs only among sub- jects—not among the educational customers of management training. But mutual and equal recognition can never be a blind equalisation of every individual characteristic. Instead, it depends on people and students with a diverse range of individualities and it can only be achieved through communication. Talk, discourse, and dialogue remain essential in educational communication but it must always be underlined by cooperative action.11
In the theory of communicative action, there is no place for conquering students, colonising educational discourses or the lifeworld, or for taking over students in the name of Managerialism. Critical communication that—on behalf of emancipatory education—creates a deep cohesion among students is set against this. Communicative action can never be imposing. Similarly, it does not manipulate nor domesticate. Communicative action never sloganises or uses managerial buzzwords for rhetorical manipulations. Yet, in no way does this mean that the theory of communicative action will lead nowhere—to the contrary. And it also does not mean that participants in communicative action do not have a clear idea of what they want and what their objectives and learning outcomes are to which they have committed themselves in the process of emancipatory education.
Essential for communicative action is a commitment of the emancipatory educator to those who seek true education—not mere training— and this commitment is at the same time also a commitment to emancipation and human freedom. It is because of such commitments that educators can never attempt to colonise. Meanwhile, stage-managed, conquered, and manipulated obedience produces an adherence to Managerialism—not to emancipation. In the project of emancipatory education and communicative action, there is no vanquishing to a “well meaning” conqueror as there can never be a conqueror or a conquering ideology in the first place. Authentic emancipation is always a choice, free from external and ideological interference and from being placed in a “Sophie’s Choice” situation where human freedom is handed over to the manipulating powers of Managerialism’s “rational choice” and the infamous “prisoner dilemma”.1 2 . As a consequence, there is a dialectical ascendancy between communication and cooperation that might lead subjects to focus their attention more strongly on the managerial reality that—together with ideology—dominates them. Perhaps student responses to that provide the key to critical education and to challenging managerial regimes and Managerialism. Exposing managerial reality as problems of contradictions and domination enables students to place management out of its self-assigned ideological context of being a “technical” issue.
In opposition to the ideological practices of the dominant managerial and training elites, communicative action requires that the nondominating elements of a lifeworld centred on mutual and equal recognition are revealed. It means showing how the inherent setup of management damages the lifeworld while its ideologies seek to colonise it. However, communicative action and emancipatory education also mean that practically nobody can unveil the lifeworld “for” other people. This remains the task of students who engage in emancipatory education. However, one or a group of students may initiate this sort of “reality unveiling” with other students. During the process of ideal speech, students will become critical subjects of the educational communicative practice. The successive unveiling of managerial reality will be made possible by the consecutive unveiling of the lifeworld when positioned against the life- world-damaging imperatives of Managerialism. With this, students themselves will develop an authentic praxis of communicative action directed towards emancipatory education.
Such an educational development coincides with the development of trust and mutual and equal recognition among students. They will start to place the student-educator relationship at the centre by merging both into a project-based learning experience in which the critical educator moves into the position of being merely a moderator. In such a relationship, mutual and equal recognition become even more essential. Both student and educator will perceive a genuine dedication and authenticity that will be stronger than in previous stages as mutuality of trust develops confidence between educator and student.
Yet mutual confidence based on equal recognition is never naive. Critical educators believe in the critical potentialities of students who they never treat as mere “training objects” or solicit into become compliant victims. Instead of the management training assumption of “to-be-trained- objects”, they are convinced that students are capable of participating in the pursuit of emancipatory education that leads to humanisation. Simultaneously, however, these critical educators and students must also remain watchful and even mistrustful about the potential dangers of those enhancing managerial domination. They can never afford to underestimate the ideological powers of Managerialism as well as the institutional powers of management and its subservient training institutions. In other words, emancipatory education should be flanked by a healthy dose of mistrust directed towards those furthering domination. Accordingly, emancipatory educators and students should always be mistrustful towards the promises of Managerialism and the ideologies perpetrated in management training. Perhaps this is what it means to remain a realist.
Although mutual and equal recognition remain basic ingredients of communicative action, they are only a condition of the latter. Communicative action linked to emancipatory education must result from an active and critical encounter in which students are co-subjects in denouncing Managerialism as part of the transformation from Managerialism towards the human principles that govern the lifeworld. As long as those furthering domination exist within the structure of those seeking emancipation (e.g. in educational institutions), they can appear stronger than they are. Their induced fear of freedom may lead them to denounce and work actively against emancipatory education. As a consequence, critical educators must remain alert of the real possibilities the ideological powers of Managerialism and the institutional powers of management training are posing on them. As a result of the critical educational contact with students, many emancipatory educators may become firmly convinced of the need for a complete change of management training towards a more emancipatory approach to education. Such a move will allow the preservation of those humanistic elements of the lifeworld that are needed for a full emancipation of society. The idea of transforming rather than merely reforming will become clearer as the process of emancipatory education under the principles of communicative action moves on. Eventually, these principles will cease to be a theory and become a daily practice and subsequently an integral part of student lives.
Emancipatory students and those who previously accepted the ideological confinements of perceiving themselves to be managers begin to merge into a collective dedicated to emancipatory education. But there is no set timeline for such a merge and nobody can really say exactly at what point this is emerging. In any case, it is a long process that enables participants of communicative action to develop ideas that can become educational reality. For many educators, the contact with students can—equally—turn into rather spontaneous moments when suddenly a “student-educator” merger occurs. These unexpected moments can create entirely different values that reach far beyond the often rather asphyxiating curricula of management training. To those suffering inside managerial regimes and the distortions of ideological perceptions deformed by Managerialism as well as the loyal inhabitants of the sphere of business, the emancipatory images of a non-managerially guided lifeworld that are often made when new frameworks are developed and applied can be an enormous contribution to the understanding of the sociological and political-economical realities of work.13 What needs to be re-emphasised is the solidarity among students and, in fact, all participants of communicative action. It remains a vital instrument for any transformation of ideological management training into emancipatory education, whether occurring during the long process of communicative action or appearing as a spontaneous movement. It is the ideal speech principles that students and educators develop into an emancipatory praxis that become definite signposts on the road towards humanisation.
Perhaps this signifies somewhat of a “make-or-break” moment that makes communicative action possible. Quite indisputably, it becomes a practice that allows not just cooperation but collective action. Mutual and equal recognition “with” students does not occur simply because of a theory. It always occurs through a drive towards the humanisation of the lifeworld and working situations. Because of this drive, communicative action becomes an integral part of emancipatory education. One needs to stress that from the moment of mutual and equal recognition many students become part-takers in emancipatory movements. Perhaps this occurs because of the inherently human interest in humanising life and in rejecting regimes of domination.
Without a deep human interest that enables true educational cooperation, participants in emancipatory education can never become subjects of emancipatory activities. During this process, some solidarity will develop among the participants of communicative action, rejecting virtually all components of domination and competition. At no stage can emancipatory action forgo solidarity with students. In turn, communicative action draws on mutual and equal recognition and cooperation, bringing educators and students into a relationship that might be described as some sort of “fusion”. It can only be achieved when emancipatory educational activities remain linked to the reality of “The Human Condition”14, analysed under the principles of communicative action that drives emancipation.
Emancipatory education, communicative action, ideal speech, emancipation, and mutual and equal recognition infuse educational processes with life and one may be obliged to prevent Managerialism from asphyxiating and reformulating life in its image. Yet many participants attending educational sessions under communicative action may fear that in facing the needs and suffering inflicted upon the lifeworld by Managerialism, they might simply adopt an emotional protest in favour of quickly eliminating the worst expressions and symptoms of injustice without advancing to a deeper analysis of the causes of these injustices. They may denounce managerial regimes that foster injustice on emotional grounds. While this is a thoroughly justifiable emotional response to the pathologies of managerial regimes, it remains, nevertheless a rather unsatisfying and individualistic one that neither creates solidarity nor emancipation.