“Introduction: Training for Political-Economic Statecraft” (Pt. I of II)

On Technology and Educational Systems

There are plenty of methods that an outside observer might use to develop an understanding of another nation. How somebody chooses to study that country, including their personal perspective or educational background, can affect overall impressions about its government, its culture, its history, its people. The average layman’s awareness of the country could be influenced by the opinions of others, regardless of how informed or uniformed those opinions truly are. A visiting tourist might be attracted to that country’s museums, landmarks, monuments, memorials, and other similar attractions. A political scientist is more interested in the inner-workings of its political system, whereas an economist looks keenly at its economic system. A military scientist, a social scientist versed in the art of war, is inclined to studying its armed forces, from the service rifle slung over the shoulder of an infantryman to the field ration inside his rucksack. An intelligence officer could be fluent in that country’s official language, familiar with its people’s everyday customs and mannerisms, able to camouflage their own activities without arousing suspicion.

All of these are valid ways of studying a given nation, but they are not the only ones, nor should one’s perspective be limited to those avenues. Two other ways include the rare opportunity of attending that country’s national educational system and encounters with its technologies. An exchange student could make friends out of fellow classmates. And an engineer may be intrigued by the technical specifications of whatever technology happens to be popular. The impressionable mind in either situation is capable of imparting lifelong experiences capable of changing their personal lives and perhaps their own nation upon return.    

Two important conclusions can be inferred from attempting to understand a nation on educational and technological grounds. There is the opportunity of learning how one generation of young people are capable having perspectives and viewpoints entirely different from those of their earlier generations. The history textbook at their desk, for instance, might frame the historical events surrounding the Second World War in a manner peculiar to their own nation. Then there is another opportunity of learning how those same young people mobilize their world through the technologies in their possession. A person who attended secondary school in the 1990s may have been accustomed to sending messages on a pager, whereas somebody else in secondary school during the 2010s was more familiar with sending messages on a smartphone. A pager and a smartphone are two different devices, but they both share a similar application within this particular context: to have conversations that cannot otherwise be conveyed through a phone call.

Just as the educational system is not always going to be politically neutral, the same can also be said for technologies not directly mobilized by young people. Technology is capable of becoming imbued with a particular ideology in mind, just as they can be attached to the cultural and social conditions that went into its development. Two well-known examples were cited in The Work-Standard (2nd Ed.), the Blockchain Technology of most conventional Cryptocurrencies and the Project Cybersyn of Salvador Allende’s Chile. Another important example included the World Wide Web (WWW) of one International Internet and its Work-Standard analogue, the Heliopolis Splinternet of an International Internet separated into independent networks of National Intranets.  

In the case of Blockchain Technology, there is the idea of running financial transactions independent of a centralized monetary authority, something akin to what was already explored by Friedrich August von Hayek in his 1976 book, The Denationalization of Money. Conversely, the Heliopolis Splinternet from The Work-Standard was partly derived from conceptual designs described by Ernst Jünger’s 1949 novel, Heliopolis, which came with its own depiction of a smartphone-like device called the Phonophore. It is important to note that while neither von Hayek nor Junger shared the same political-economic views, like the opposing views on economic planning or how post-1945 Europe should be united (q.v. Jünger’s The Peace and von Hayek’s The Constitution of Liberty), both men during the early 20th century realized the implications that Cybernetics would later have on the world by the latter half of the century and beyond.

This in turn implies that, behind all kinds of different technologies, there is a specific design philosophy setting the parameters of their intended functions and applications. Theoretically, one could recreate the political-economic ideology of an entire nation through widespread implementations of specific technologies, their effectiveness buttressed by policy-making decisions and formal changes to the legal code. The ideology can also be changed informally by young people, who may become empowered by such technologies to forever change their nations.

But there is a fundamental dimension where young people and technology intersect, and it has everything to do with how both interact with the political process of their country’s government. Back in The Work-Standard, I stated that Neoliberalism–Liberal Capitalism – and Pure Socialism advocated for two distinct types of Democratic governance. Neoliberalism favored the representative model known as “Parliamentary Democracy,” while Pure Socialism preferred a delegative model called “Council Democracy.” The political processes that occur under Parliamentary Democracy and Council Democracy are so fundamentally different that they in turn affect their corresponding economic systems.

For example, consider the case of the electoral processes in Parliamentary Democracy and Council Democracy. Parliamentary Democracy involves having an electoral body choose candidates from two or more opposing political parties to represent the voters at a Parliament. In Council Democracy, the voters are people within a given organization choosing candidates from among their ranks to delegate on their behalf at a Council. Granted, there are many nuances associated with Parliamentary Democracy and Council Democracy, but the key takeaway here is how they ultimately differ vis-à-vis the method that the electorate uses to vote for their favored candidates.  

With this particular idea in mind, it then becomes natural to envisage how the Student Government of a national educational system under Pure Socialism is capable of being distinguishable from a comparable equivalent within a similar national educational system under Liberal Capitalism. Two educational systems, existing in two separate nations with opposing ideologies, are capable of exhibiting far more differences than the curriculum taught in the classrooms and lecture halls. Perhaps the differences between two Student Governments are at their most intimate in the “Student Economy” operated by their respective Student Body.

What is a Student Economy?

A Student Economy is, at its most fundamental level, an extension of the national economy and its financial system, its “Financial Regime.” The Student Body engages in the everyday activities of their Student Economy in some capacity or another, both knowingly and unknowingly. In fact, the idea that something like a Student Economy could even exist may seem fantastical, if not outrageous. But its presence has made itself known in recent centuries through the same technology that made the usage of printed banknotes so commonplace, the printing press.  

The implications of a Student Economy pose many significant questions about the role of any national educational system and the everyday lives of a country’s youth. The very notion suggests that the national educational system does more than teaching the usual school curricula. Aside from the mundane, there is the idea of the national educational system imparting the political-economic Mode of Production, instructing the Student Body about how their government is organized in theory and practice, its legal jurisprudence on matters such as property and taxation laws, and the types of political and economic systems currently operating at this very moment. Laws concerning education, technology, and the youth are also covered under the scope of the Mode of Production concept from The Work-Standard.   

The subjects explored in the various Entries of The Third Place will be revolving around the Student Economy, its relation to the Student Body and Student Government, and its interactions with the rest of the nation. The following questions are just one of several examples that The Third Place seeks to cover:

  • Can there really be such a thing as a “Student Economy,” silently operating behind the foreground of everyday school life, influencing the decision-making process of the Student Body or their views on different ideologies?
  • What can be said about a Student Economy’s relation to Kapital and Schuld (if Liberal Capitalist) or Arbeit and Geld (if Pure Socialist)?
  • Are there any discernible social and class structures distinguishing Neoliberal and Socialist Student Economies?  
  • How does the Student Economy interact with the Student Body and does its presence become known to them outside of the classrooms and lecture halls?
  • Are there any noteworthy differences in encounters with Technology in a Student Economy comparable to what has been found regarding the national economy?
  • Is it possible for the national culture and traditions to exist separately from any prevailing ideology and on what basis does this become feasible?

The concept of the Student Economy is capable of existing, and it has been existing because of the national educational system being a concept in itself for at least the past two centuries. It was because of the printing press that a national educational system became feasible for European nations during the 19th century. Thanks to the widespread access to printed books, the industrialization of the Western world has ensured that the Totality of a whole nation can get a basic education in reading, writing, and arithmetic. However, it was not until the 20th century that the national educational system would undergo a political-economic transformation that has led to the development of two distinct Student Economies.  Both Student Economies were described in an Entry from The Work-Standard entitled “The State’s Educational Policies and Ranking System.” They are the “OECD-Type Student Economy” and “Socialist Student Economy (SSE).”

The OECD-Type Student Economy refers to a specific variation of the Student Economy that emerged among the Liberal Capitalist nations of the Western Bloc and the United States. It takes its name from the fact that these nations also happen to be member-states of the OECD (Organisation de Coopération et de Développement Économiques; Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). And the OECD, for those who do not know, was originally founded to be a sort of Western Bloc analogue to the Eastern Bloc’s CMEA (Council for Mutual Economic Assistance). Today, it acts as an international forum to coordinate socioeconomic policies, of which includes educational policy.

The Socialist Student Economy (SSE), the overall focus of The Third Place, generally denotes the type of national educational system that emerged primarily in most Socialist countries. Any nation that has thoroughly adopted a genuine Pure Socialism, be it a Scientific Socialism or an Artistic Socialism, is capable of developing its own SSE.  

Over the course of The Third Place, I will be discussing about the key distinctions between the OECD-Type Student Economy and the Socialist Student Economy, and how both differ with regard to the Work-Standard. In particular, special attention is to be placed on the significance of the two Student Economies in regard to the three Modes of Production. Those three are Production for Profit, Production for Utility, and Production for Dasein.

Relation to the Modes of Production

In the US and most Western countries, an important educational policy issue concerns the role of governments in regulating and funding their national educational systems. It is in this particular policy issue that one finds two of the three Modes of Production outlined in The Work-Standard, namely Production for Profit and Production for Utility.  

Production for Profit advocates for the Student Body to be able to finance entire costs of their education, especially at the secondary and tertiary educational levels. In tertiary education, the university, the Student Body is expected to fund their post-secondary education by relying on the Kapital that their family had saved for them or borrow Kapital from financial institutions affiliated with their country’s Fractional-Reserve Banking System. Mundane activities such as borrowing “Student Loans” and seeking “Financial Aid” fall under this category. The same is also true for, in the case of the US, universities offering lavish amenities and facilities or spending large sums of Kapital on health insurance programs as an absurd form of Welfare Capitalism.      

As the cost of higher education rose to astronomic levels in the US and elsewhere, the mere suggestion of transitioning to Production for Utility has become fashionable among students, their families, and the politicians at Parliament. Here, the idea calls for the Parliament to either subsidize or finance fund the costs of education for every member of the Student Body within the Student Economy. In more extreme cases, the Parliament may decide to fully nationalize the entire Student Economy, becoming the sole entity responsible for the salaries of the teachers and faculty staff, all maintenance and upkeep costs, and control over every educational institution.

Beware that all Student Economies operating under Production for Profit or Production for Utility are not self-sustaining nor do they contribute any Meaningful Work to their nation’s wealth. Whether privatized or nationalized, the OECD-Type Student Economy is notorious for creating ever-growing amounts of Schuld because its daily operations are dependent on Kapital coming in from outside its own purview. That Kapital will have to either come from the Student Body or from the Parliament, and neither of which is going to be sustainable over the long term. In short, living beyond one’s own means of production is a recurring pattern associated with any Student Economy operating under the first two Modes of Production, but nowhere is this more apparent than in the OECD-Type Student Economy.

Granted, the Socialist Student Economies of the Soviets and Eastern Bloc, German Reich and others all had, in one capacity or another, the ability to make a full transition away from Production for Utility and toward the third Mode of Production. The only thing that they were missing was of course the Work-Standard and its capabilities. Should they adopt the Work-Standard, there is no doubt that their SSEs will be acting as the political-economic vanguard of their would-be financial offensives against the Liberal Capitalists.

Therefore, what can be said here about the third Mode of Production, Production for Dasein? Supported by the Work-Standard, a Socialist Student Economy is capable of becoming self-sufficient and self-governed. While the creation of Actual Arbeit conversion into Actual Geld under the Life-Energization Reciprocity (LER) Process can be harnessed by the teachers and faculty, the same is also true for the Student Body. In Production for Dasein, not only is the Student Body capable of funding their education, they will also have the Geld needed to build their post-graduation futures. Instead of having to spend years, if not decades, paying down Schuld, the Student Body will have the Geld that they will need to become members of the Totality in this metaphysical State of Total Mobilization. Unlike the rest of the national economy, the Vocational Civil Service (VCS) Planned/Command Economy, the overriding question that remains now is how the Student Body is going to find the Actual Arbeit that will be converted into Actual Geld.     

There are countless different ways in which the SSE is capable of playing its own role in the political-economic life of the Socialist Nation as a creator and generator of Arbeit and Geld. Of all the aims that compelled the Author to write The Third Place, this is one of them.  

Categories: Third Place

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