The Reintroduction of the Teaching of Imperialisms

Anti-imperialism is one of Chavez’s main platforms. As he remarked in 2003:

In Venezuela, we are developing a model of struggle against neoliberalism and imperialism. For this reason, we find we have millions of friends in this world, although we also have many enemies (cited in Contreras Baspineiro 2003).4

I have dealt with the teaching of imperialism in schools at length elsewhere (e.g. Cole 2004a). Here I will make a few general points. Reintroducing the teaching of imperialism in schools I believe, would be far more effective than CRT in increasing an understanding of the nature of racism, and crucially linking racism to capitalist modes of production.

Students will need skills to evaluate the New Imperialism and ‘the permanent war’ being waged by the United States with the acquiescence of Britain. Boulange (2004) argues that it is essential at this time, with the Bush and Blair ‘war on terror’, and Islamophobia worldwide reaching new heights, for teachers to show solidarity with Muslims, for ‘this will strengthen the unity of all workers, whatever their religion’ (ibid. p. 24), and this will have a powerful impact on the struggle against racism in all spheres of society, and education in particular. In turn, this will strengthen the confidence of workers and students to fight on other issues. According to neo-conservative, Niall Ferguson (2003):

Empire is as ‘cutting edge’ as you could wish ... [It] has got everything: economic history, social history, cultural history, political history, military history and international history—not to mention contemporary politics (just turn on the latest news from Kabul). Yet it knits all these things together with ... a ‘metanarrative’.

For Marxists, an understanding of the metanarrative of imperialism, past and present, does much more than this. Indeed, it encompasses but goes beyond the centrality of ‘racial’ liberation in CRT theory. It takes us to the crux of the trajectory of capitalism from its inception right up to the twenty-first century; and this is why Marxists should endorse the teaching of imperialism old and new. Of course, the role of education in general, and teaching about imperialism in schools in particular, has its limitations and young people are deeply affected by other influences and socialised by the media, parents/carers, and by peer culture (hence also the need for media awareness). Unlike Marxism, CRT does not explain why Islamophobia, the ‘war on terror’ and other forms of racism are necessary to keep the populace on task for ‘permanent war’ and the accumulation of global profits.

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