Free Market Elite

Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: & / Teaching / Society / Social Order / Central-Decentral / Deschooling / Rants /

In 1971 I was matriculated at NYU as a doctoral candidate, my course work long since completed, while I passed around FLEX literature: inviting all people to advertise their skills in a free market for learning. Ivan Illich had argued that Christianity couldn’t be Christian so long as the Church maintained a professional priesthood: mass should be said by the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker … Illich extended that perception to the secular church of education, and I followed him to the hilt. We should be each other’s skill models, role models … teachers and healers. Kleptocratic control, the mental and legal monopolies accreted by the culture should be broken. Anyone with a skill to offer may offer it for sale, may give it away, may offer to barter for it … FLEX’s job was to offer registration for both buyers and sellers, to allow people to use public information to coordinate their own activities.

An NYU friend arranged for me to appear and speak at a teachers’ meeting. FLEX friend and trustee Ronald Gross said he looked forward to seeing me “outflank” the radicals there. So did I. But of course it never happened. It wasn’t the conservatives who derailed my presentation the moment it started; it was the radicals: in the person of the chief honcho at some alternative school in Staten Island. I was given the floor, he stood and took it from me. No one stopped him, not even Ron Gross.

But: I had already passed out the literature. No matter how fast the Temple of Jerusalem crucifies Jesus, it’s never quite fast enough: some of the words are still loose.

I was inviting teachers to advertise their claimed expertise in a free market, a market in which they themselves would be responsible for determining, charging, and collecting their tuitions. No, no, no. Teachers don’t dirty their hands with money, with contracts: any more than moderns kill their own animals to eat. My reception was about the same as it would have been had I gone to a convention of food retails and argued for everyone being shis own gatherer / hunter.

Interruption is my life-long experience. Once upon a time I believe that when god ratified my visions, filled me with a sense of the rightness of what Illich proposed, made me incandesce when I thought something myself that promised positive evolutionary steps, it was so that I could ameliorate society. By 1971 I was becoming content merely to be right: and take the interruption. I promised Life to deliver the message. Whether people were then saved by it was their business.

Jesus was responsible for saying what he said, doing what he did; it’s the society which is responsible for silencing him. Illich maintained the pattern, the Church cut his platform from under him: then the secular society added its own sanctions: getting his books off the shelves, driving best sellers out of print, cancelling TV invitations.

You can’t be in better company than when you’re silenced.

The alternative school clown who was commandeering my turn to speak challenged me to a debate in print, naming the organ that usually published him. I accepted, still standing, there on “my” floor. But then he rushed off, never gave me his card, never wrote out the name or contact details for the publishing organ which was to be our field of continuance. He never wrote, never send me his challenging article.

Any kleptocracy must master the art of managing, governing debate. Make sure, during slavery, that those who oppose slavery get rotten tomatoes on their soap box while those who promote and defend it get prime time. Smear and hobble those who would actually change things. Channel the resources to the status quo, the meanwhile promoting some moderate to the official position of Token Radical.

Anyway, there’s one detail that stands out in my memory from that meeting. I was proposing a free marketplace for learning. One of the state’s employed educators stood and said that what I proposed sounded


Understand: this teacher was black!

Of all people it’s the disenfranchised who should most vociferously prefer a free market. Equality can have no serious meaning outside of a free market.

But this black man wasn’t disenfranchised; he was employed: by the state!

The state obviates evolution / revolution by allowing some miserables into the social services. We can’t challenge government monopolies: what would happen to our security?

A free people would repudiate security. It’s an illusion at best.

“Okay, straight from the gut, kid. Here’s the deal. You can’t turn an enterprise around on the word of one guy from R&D. It doesn’t matter if he’s brilliant or even if he’s technical correct. The middle-level people just won’t go for that politically.”
“Truth and technology will win over bull and bureaucracy … That’s the story of the New Economy.”
“No, kid, the truth does not win. For a couple of quarters the truth gets somewhere maybe. If everybody’s real excited. But never in the long run, never. … The common wisdom always wins. Consensus, perception management, and the word on the Street. The markets, kid, the machine. …”

Bruce Sterling, The Zenith Angle

It’s hard to restore 4,000 censored text files, especially when you’re broke, old, losing your sight and hearing, your inventions plagiarized, not rewarded.
I’ll trim duplications.

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About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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