In front of the Sorbonne, 25 May 1968
Photo Guy Le Querrec, Magnum Photos
Knowledge, science and education have been intertwined with the phenomenon of power in the historical process. In the logic of the capitalist system based on the relationship of multiple exploitation and domination, knowledge, science and education have become a means of establishing power.
We can talk about the dual qualities of knowledge, science and education, these two qualities are the state of power in the relations of exploitation and domination, and on the other hand, they have the potential that enables them to transform into an act of liberation. Knowledge, science and education turn into a useful tool in the hands of the ruling classes in class social formations and serve to establish and reinforce the relationship of exploitation and domination over oppressed social categories. On the other hand, knowledge, science and education are important tools of the emancipation struggle of oppressed social categories.
In the capitalist system, knowledge, science and education are designed in accordance with the needs of capital. The enlightenment philosophy on which the capitalist system rose, declared the mind and science absolute authorities. The ideologists of the Enlightenment philosophy preached that with an unlimited pace of progress of reason, science and technology, human beings would create happiness and prosperity by gaining an absolute victory over nature and beings. This historical logic of “progress” took the form of absolute power as expected. Consequently, the ruling classes, privileged ones in the social system, won absolute “victory” over the oppressed social categories, over nature and beings. This was a victory for the privileged part of the social system, but a disaster for the oppressed social categories, nature and beings in the social system. The relationship of power, exploitation and domination is inherent in the social system, but the relations of exploitation and domination spread to the smallest cells of society and life and cause the system to be reproduced. In the historical stage we live in, the relations of exploitation and domination in the capitalist / imperialist system have become more complicated by getting more intertwined. Because society is divided into different classes and identities, exploitation and domination relations take place in all social categories.
Educational institutions are not independent from the capitalist system we live in and its operating laws. The functioning of the capitalist system based on the exploitation of surplus-value required education and educational institutions to be regulated in accordance with the needs of capital. The qualified workforce required by the capitalist system is created through educational institutions. In accordance with the spirit of the competitive functioning of the capitalist system, the “compatible” individual and society are created by “engineering” in educational institutions. Building an individual and society that is “compatible” with the system ensures the sustainability of the system and the power. More importantly, each individual “contributes” to the reproduction of the relationship of exploitation and domination based on their privileged social roles. In this respect, since the education system is organized in accordance with the interests of the capitalist system and the ruling class, everything in the education system becomes commoditized. Educational institutions and students become customers.
Teacher-student relationship in educational institutions reflects the subject-object relationship in the philosophical system. In this relationship, since the teacher-student relationship is handled with the subject-object understanding, subject educators accumulate information to those who are educated(objects.) Students are interpreted in the narrator’s (teacher) world of thought as “empty containers” or “bins” that must be filled with a pile of information. The more a student adapts to the education system and receives the information piled up on them, the better they are. In this respect, education has turned into an “investment”. In this relationship, the teacher is the “investor” and the student is the “object of investment”. The contradictions of the capitalist system and social structure turn into a conflict between teacher and student in educational institutions. Teacher-student relationship weakens the individual’s self-actualization.
The system in educational institutions and the role played by the teacher in the system make it impossible for the student to grasp the facts and reality. The information that the teacher conveys as a narrator to the student, who is the listener, turns into verbiage. In this relationship, not only the student but also the teacher becomes an object. They cannot grasp the facts and reality properly and cannot realize themselves. Since no relationship style that is not based on mutual communication and dialogue can be liberating, an education based on this method cannot be liberating.
Knowledge, science and education have an important function in deepening the relations of exploitation and domination over oppressed nations and nationalities, women, LGBTQ+ people who are ignored and marginalized due to the binary gender system, nature and assets. Knowledge, science and education reinforce the absolute authority of the system and power by deepening the relations of exploitation and domination in the capitalist social system.
Self-attributing things at this point weakens the possibility of solving the problem. Things have the potential to turn into exploitation, domination and power in relation to the social system. Revolutionary transformation of social systems and relations can reveal the liberating potential of knowledge, science and education. In this respect, transformation of knowledge, science and education into an emancipatory act requires radical transformations in the social system. People can reshape their own existence. Communal ownership can be substituted for the “ownership” understanding of the property world. The way people own nature and assets can only be purified from property, exploitation, domination and power relations through a communal system, culture and appropriation. The rejection of the dualist logic of the enlightenment philosophical system based on the subject-object relationship, on which the capitalist system rises, may make it possible to rearrange the teacher-student relationship. Overcoming the capitalist system based on exploitation and domination and building a communal life can be achieved with a holistic understanding of struggle against the whole system.
We are aware that a radical change of the system from today to tomorrow is unlikely. Alternatives to the system in all areas of life can be created in the “moment” we are in without being referred to the future. The struggle we are waging to make educational institutions “democratic and autonomous”, and accordingly our struggle for “equal, free, scientific, liberating, on everyone’s native language and accessible education” will ultimately be an important step towards the liberating education struggle we want.
A different world and education will be possible with the radical transcendence of the capitalist system and the construction of communal life.
REVOLT against capitalism, patriarchy, binary gender system, racism and anthropocentrism!
A different life and education is possible!
REVOLT for liberating education!
Socialist Student Movement