Friday, November 18, 2016

Nov. 15: The great American debate - without cause or effect.

One of the characteristics of North American privately owned news media is that they are almost never critical of big business. Of course not. The people who own big business also own them. That's why media commentators will attack anybody who isn't rich and influential. In fact, they just love to do it.  (The case of Trump has been exceptional - but I suspect that will change so long as he does nothing to  annoy big business.) In my local papers, this is obvious when a commentator deals with something like education.

Teachers are easy meat for commentators. They don't have much power. I thought of t hat as I read Norbert Cunningham's commentary on the problems of our schools. Mr. Cunningham knows nothing about education - but he just loves to rant at teachers.  (And he is also a man who never met a billionaire he didn't like.)

Mr. Cunningham  would never, ever think of criticizing anyone who is wealthy and influential. Indeed, that's true of everybody at the newspaper he writes for. If some kid gets arrested for spitting on the street, and faces trial, that's big story. If a wealthy person avoids taxes by putting his fortune into a tax haven, that's not a story at all. In fact, it never gets mentioned.

In the case of education, there is little difference in teaching methods across Canada - or North America - or beyond. I have taught in several provinces of Canada, in The Netherlands and in China. There are differences. But not in teaching methods. The differences are in social classes and in cultural values of the communities.

Working class students commonly grow up in communities which cannot afford the expense of education, and which have no social tradition of it. This has  nothing to do with the teachers, but everything to do with the community - and the parents. Jewish children, however, even those of working class background, grow up in communities that have a tradition of respect for learning. And it shows in the classroom. (As a child, I was fed the Christian word that Jews were naturally smarter than others.  That is pure racism. They aren't smarter but, oh, their attitude is way superior to that of Christians.)

The Chinese have a long history of respect for education. Sometimes it's excessive,  and puts a tremendous burden on the children. In the Netherlands, the whole society has a respect for education - and makes its schools as accessible as possible for everyone. The same is true in a society like Cuba's.

But these values are much, much less common in New Brunswick. What has to be reformed in New Brunswick is not the schools - it's the society. And that reform is going to be difficult in a society which is mired in conformity, and which reads the irving press.
Much of the commentary on the American election has been to boost one of the candidates over the other. But that's not the issue at all. Both the Republican and Democratic parties have long since abandoned any principle except serviing the rich and greedy. That's all that Clinton stood for and, as we shall soon see, that's all that Trump stands for.

There was no winner in this election.  What we watched was the collapse of American society, and the loss, even, of any sense there is one. Both Trump and Clinton were candidates of the collapse.  The road back to democracy is going to be a long and hard one for the U.S.
Would Trudeau approve a pipeline that would wipe out a marine species? You can bet that he would  But don't worry. You'll never read about it in the irving press.
What was notable about Obama's first election for the presidency was that he really had no policy on anything. And, in eight years, that never changed. He may be remembered as the most overestimated president.
It happens not just in New Brunswick. There's a pesticide industry that's choking the world. but don't worry about it. Just read the irving press, and you won't even know it's happening.
I include the piece below because I think it's right. But there has been no reason to believe that Clinton is any better. It's not Trump. It's not Clinton. It's the whole, corrupt and murderous U.S. political system.
Countercurrents is Asian. I haven't used it as much as a I should because I  have a much lesser understanding of Asian affairs than I should have; so I lean heavily to those articles which deal with affairs in the western world. However, the quality of countercurrents often seems to me to be the best of the alternate sources I have found. (So I'm going to work on my understanding of Asia.)
And here's a touch of reality. The 'moderate' rebels fighing in Aleppo, Syria, are the ones the U.S. has been supporting from the start. However,for so-called modrates, they have a strong streak of terrorism in them. However, the U.S., which has long been supporting and arming ISIS is now attacking it. So who knows? Maybe they'll soon be calling the moderate rebels   'immoderate'. And attacking them.
Is anything else happening in the world besides the the U.S election? Actually, yes.
Generally, both the commercial and the alternate news sources are yet to come to grips with the meaning and likely outcome of the American election. If Trump, for example, is going to seek peace with the rest of the world, It is difficult (impossible) to see why he has been courting hawks like Bolton and McCain for his cabinet.

And if he carries through  on his promise to forget about the environment and expand the U.S. use of fossil fuels, then the Earth has only a brief future left.
Nor is it possible to understand what Americans want. Large numbers are demonstrating to oppose Trump. But we  (and they) seem to have no idea of alternative goals.  Across the U.S., there are now neither answers nor even questions from any side.

This is not a matter of differences between candidates. It is the collapse of the American political system. Americans are angry. But they aren't entirely sure what they're angry at - and have no idea of how to explore what needs to be done.

No comments:

Post a Comment